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Timeless Trends Hourglass Longline Corset Review

Lucy Green Hourglass Longline

Full disclosure: The hourglass longline corset featured in this review is one of the four new designs I helped create for Timeless Trends in 2015, along with the hourglass standard corsets, hourglass cinchers, and the newest Gemini corset.

This entry is a summary of the video “Timeless Trends Hourglass Longline (Comparison/ Overview)” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 13 inches high, from underbust to lap is 11 inches, and the center back is 13.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30.5″ (6.5 inch rib spring), upper hip is 31″ (7 inch high hip spring), and lower hip is 36″ (12 inch low hip spring), with the hip ties closed. (You can expand the hips for more room.)
Material Three layers of fabric. The fashion fabric is emerald brocade laminated to cotton twill, and it’s lined in black cotton twill as well.
Construction 6 panel pattern, constructed using the sandwich method. The roundness of the ribs can be found primarily in pattern pieces 2, 3 and 4, while the curve over the hips and bum are in panels 3, 4 and 5.
Binding Matching green satin bias binding, machine-stitched on both sides. Also has 6 garter tabs (the slim silhouette corsets only have 4 garter tabs).
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tap, sandwiched between the panels. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Modesty panels are not included in with the corsets, because unstiffened panels are somewhat unpopular amongst many customers. However, stiffened, boned modesty panels are now available for separate purchase, and can be suspended on the laces.
All hourglass corsets have front modesty plackets in matching fashion fabric.
Busk 21 inches long. 6 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, but it is reinforced with flat steels on either side of the busk.
Boning 26 bones total, not including busk. On each side, there are ten 1/4″ wide spirals, two flat steels by the grommets, and one flat steel by the busk.
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #0, with a small to medium flange. Finished in dark silver and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, most grommets rolled nicely. There are some splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces.
Laces Single face satin ribbon in matching green, 1/2″ wide. It’s relatively long and has no stretch, but single face satin is not quite as strong as double-face satin. I often add free shoelace for those who purchase longline corsets ($6 value) for customers who prefer it.
Price This particular style is $119 USD; other fabrics like leather or styles with swinghooks may be slightly more.
emerald-long-hourglass-corset
The emerald hourglass longline corset as it appears in the product image.

The ribcage is more rounded compared to the more conical “slim” longline corset. The hips are also more cupped as well, and provide for ample adjustment. We specifically chose to draft this corset with the upper hips nearly the same size as the rounded ribcage, so it can fit both men and women. Even if you have square-shaped hips where your upper hip is the same size (or larger) than your lower hips, you can open up the top part of the hip ties and tighten the lower part of the hip ties to have it fit just to your body.

The corset was also designed to curve around a broader ribcage, and accommodate some lumbar curve for a more comfortable fit.

Comparing the length of other longline corset brands to this one: the Timeless Trends longline has the most distribution from the waist up (suitable for those with a low waist); Orchard Corset’s CS-426 is more equally balanced in the length distribution from the waist up vs waist down, and Mystic City’s corsets tend to be drafted more for those with a high waist, as much of the length is distributed from the waist down.

If you’d like to learn more about the hourglass longline corset, I’m incredibly proud to say that they are available here in my shop.

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Interview and Chat with Sidney Eileen

Some may remember back in early 2013, I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Sidney Eileen to be properly diagnosed and treated for a 6-year-long anaplasma phagocytophilum infection (what we originally thought was Lyme disease) which left Sidney disabled, unable to walk long distances, unable to continue her artwork due to weakness and tremors in her hands, and suffering from seizures due to inflammation of the brain.

2 years later, in August of 2015, I finally had the opportunity to meet Sidney for the first time and we caught up on how she’s feeling after the treatment and the daily realities of chronic illness – we also talked about her contribution to the corset making community and her hopes for the future.

1:05 How are you feeling now that you’ve completed the antibiotic treatment for your anaplasma infection?

1:40 Are your symptoms expected to completely disappear, or are you looking at some permanent damage from your chronic infection?

2:15 How did you become interested in making corsets in the first place?

4:10 What is the value in being self-taught and having a community of other corsetieres to share different techniques with?

5:10 What about corset making do you specifically enjoy?

5:55 What is your favorite step of the corset making process?

6:10 What is your least favorite step about corset making?

7:30 What drew you towards teaching art and corset making, as opposed to only making corsets or taking commissions?

9:15 What are your future aspirations, now that you have a fresh start?

11:15 For other people who are just getting started with making corsets (or any other type of art), what words of encouragement would you offer to them?

You can find Sidney Eileen’s artwork and free corset tutorials on her website, sidneyeileen.com

Photo from the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium in California, 2015. From left to right: Me (Lucy), Zessinna, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry), and Sidney Eileen.
Photo from the North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium in California, 2015. From left to right: Me (Lucy), Zessinna, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry), and Sidney Eileen.
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Hourglass Corsets have Arrived!

black-leather-hourglass-corset

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.12.25 PM

I’m proud to announce that the hourglass silhouette corsets are now up in the shop!

Back in June, myself and Sarah (Administrator for Timeless Trends, beside me in the first picture) travelled to Bangkok, Thailand to redesign the Timeless Trends and Black Iris corset patterns.

The corsets still have their “essence” (they are still immediately recognizable as Timeless Trends) but they all now feature a larger rib spring and hip spring (so the waist can be cinched further), comfortable cupped ribs, and a neutral lumbar curve – these corset patterns were draped on a human body, so they are surprisingly comfortable.

We’ve also added extra features such as an extra pair of garter tabs (now 6 instead of 4) and front modesty placket under the busk. Stiffened and suspendable back modesty panels are available for separate purchase in white and black, with other colors possible in future.

Lucy in hourglass longline underbust, in emerald brocade
Lucy in hourglass longline underbust, in emerald brocade

Timeless Trends and I worked hard over the past several months to consider every element of the construction process of these corsets so we can preserve their lifetime warranty, and I’m extremely proud of the results.

Next week, I’ll be uploading an overview of the new hourglass longline underbust, as well as a highlights video of my experience working in the factory in Thailand to my Youtube channel.

In the meantime, you are welcome to ask any questions about details of the corsets, the redesign process, the factory conditions, or my Thailand adventures in general.

You’ll find the new hourglass silhouette corsets for sale here in my corset shop.

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Interview with Puimond of Puimond Progressive Corset Design

In July of 2015, following my adventures in Texas, I had the opportunity to travel to California and sit down with Puimond of Puimond Progressive Corset Design! I had been following Puimond’s work for many years (especially after learning that he’s originally from Canada too) and collected several corsets made by him, including the pearl PVC overbust, Wicked plunge overbust, and a custom longline corset (my smallest corset!). It was so exciting to meet him and get to know more about the man behind the label.

Skip ahead in the video to hear his answers to the following questions:

0:30 How did you get started making corsets?

0:55 What was your very first corset like?

1:40 What is your favorite project?

2:05  How many corsets do you think you’ve made in total in the past 18 years?

2:25 How do you think the corset industry has evolved in the past 18 years?

2:55 What is your favorite part of the construction process?

3:10 What is your least favorite step of the construction process?

3:30 Who would you like to work with, or what is your dream project?

4:35 What is your favorite reaction or a client to your corset?

5:10 What are some of your dreams and aspirations for your business?

5:35 What do you do when you’re not making corsets?

See what Puimond has in stock in his Etsy shop, or visit his main website here.

My Puimond corset, closed at 20 inches (my smallest corset). Click through to read my review of this corset!
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Interview with Amber Welch, Lovely Rats Corsetry

Following my trip to Thailand in 2015 to design the hourglass silhouette corsets with Timeless Trends, I spent three weeks in Texas. One of those weeks was in Austin, creating some informational videos for Timeless Trends, and the other two weeks were spent in Dallas where I stayed with Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry. Together we compared corset styles, patterns and construction techniques, we made a corset together using a custom pattern from the late Christine Wickham of Ariadne’s Thread, and she introduced me to Steven Universe (a show that changed my life).

In this interview, you’ll find Amber’s answers to the following. Feel free to skip ahead in the video to hear the answers that interest you most!

 

0:30 How did you first become interested in making corsets?

0:50 What was your first corset like and how far have you come since then?

1:15 How did you come up with the name Lovely Rats, and how does this relate to corsetry?

1:50 What has your favorite project been so far?

2:10 Who would you like to dress in the future, or what would you consider a dream project?

2:25 Tell us more about your personal aesthetic and how you’ve branded yourself.

3:01 What other brands or designers do you look up to?

3:35 What is your favorite step in the corset construction process?

4:15 What is your least favorite part about making corsets?

4:30 What are your dreams and aspirations for Lovely Rats?

4:55 What do you do when you’re not making corsets?

5:25 If you weren’t making corsets, what do you think you’d be doing?

5:45 If you had any advice for people who follow you or want to make a corset, what kind of encouragement would you give them?

Visit Amber’s Etsy Shop, or her website here!

What questions would you ask Amber if given the chance? Leave a comment below and she might answer you!

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Mystic City MCC64 Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Mystic City MCC64 Corset (Mesh Longline Underbust) Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 12 inches high, from underbust to lap is 10 inches, and the center back is 13.5 inches (but this is sweetheart shaped). Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 32″ (8 inch rib spring), upper hip is 36″ (12 inch high hip spring), and lower hip is 40″ (16 inch low hip spring). This is a pear-shaped, longline corset.
Material The solid cotton parts are two layers of black twill (the fashion layer is a finer weave of twill, while the lining is a coarser bull-denim). The mesh panels are made with a cotton type of fishnet, which is available in a variety of colors. (Read more below for more info on the mesh.)
Construction 6 panel pattern, probably assembled using welt-seam method for the twill panels, and the twill boning channels sandwich the single-layer mesh panels.
Binding Commercial black satin stretch bias binding, which combined with the mesh panels provide a bit of give or ease. 4 garter tabs, 2 on each side.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, exposed on the inside of the mesh panels, but sandwiched in the twill panels. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Stiffened (boned) black twill modesty panel, suspended on the laces. Modesty placket under the busk, which is also boned.
Busk 11 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. It is a standard flexible busk, but it is reinforced with flat steels on either side of the busk (plus the boned modesty placket).
Boning 27 bones total. On each side, there are ten 1/4″ wide spirals, two flat steels by the grommets, and one flat steel by the busk. The last remaining bone is in the modesty placket under the busk.
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #0, with wide flange. Finished in silver and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, most grommets rolled nicely. There are some splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces. There is a lot of friction lacing up but probably because of the modesty panel.
Laces The original lacing that came in this corset was a springy nylon-based shoelace, but my friend had switched out those laces with double-faced satin ribbon instead.
Price $119 USD as of 2015; the all-twill version of this (no mesh) is $89 as of 2016.

 

This sample was in a larger size than I usually take; I would have fit the size 22″ in this corset because it’s so curvy, but I had borrowed this particular corset from a friend when I was visiting the US in 2015.

The large, rounded ribcage and generous “hip shelf” allow for ample room for those who are naturally curvy or are advanced corset-wearers capable of large waist reductions. The hip ties along the front of each hip allow for modest expansion of the bottom of the corset, in case the wearer is particularly pear-shaped and needs the extra few inches.

The sweetheart shape in the center back is a nice touch and even somewhat helps combat muffin-top. The center front has quite a long point at the bottom though, and as someone who carries most of my torso length from the waist up, I personally found this to be a touch longer than comfortable on my body.

The fishnet-type fabric used on the mesh panels is very common among mesh corsets, but they do stretch and break down over time. Since 2015, MCC has changed their mesh to a polyester based fine weave mesh instead of the fishnet, which appears to hold up a bit better.

The particular sample I received had a reinforced waist tape – I believe the original waist tape is made with cotton twill, but after some concerns of the twill waist tape eventually breaking down or tearing, it appears that MCC had gone back and installed satin ribbon underneath the twill tape to help it hold up to tension.

Visit Mystic City’s shop here to learn more about this corset and dozens of others.

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Dark Garden Bespoke Corset Process – Measurements and Mockup Fitting

Today I’d like to walk you through the process of ordering a custom corset – specifically, a custom overbust from Dark Garden.

Some of you may remember I had a number of corsets on loan from Dark Garden in 2014, where we agreed to send me 4 corsets for review (two overbusts and two underbusts from their signature line) and then send them back.

But over the years, it’s become clear that the majority of overbust corsets simply don’t fit me. I consider myself to have a long torso and a low waist. Most OTR overbusts don’t rise up high enough on the bust, and some are too long from waist to lap. And almost all of them are not made to accommodate a full bust, and I’m not even that large! But I’m built strong – I have broad shoulders, well-developed traps and a fleshy back.

I looked through the available options on their website and in their brochure, and Autumn herself recommended the Aziza for me – a sweetheart overbust designed for fuller busts, and can be made with adjustable shoulder straps.

The measuring guide was emailed to me. They directed a ribbon to be tied around my waist. But because I’m 15 lbs heavier than my last measuring tutorial 5 years ago, my apparent smallest waist is 1-2 inches higher than my true skeletal waist and the ribbon had a tendency to slide up. I don’t want this to reflect on my vertical measurements, so I was a rebel and used a belt just slightly snug, to act similarly to the waist tape of a corset, and took all my measurements in reference to the bottom edge of the belt.

 I was wearing a fitted shirt with a well-supportive bra that was not too padded. I was also wearing soft yoga pants so I could easily pull it aside to take the lower hip measurements when it came to that.

This was the list of measurements (see my video for a live demonstration):

dark-garden-corsetry-measuring-guide
Custom corset measurement guide. Model: Autumn Adamme, the owner/ founder of Dark Garden.

Waist to waist over shoulder. Starting at the marker on your waist in front, take the measuring tape vertically over your shoulder, down your back, to the ribbon at your back waist. I’m looking at the measurement in the mirror, but you can also sort of mark it by feel with your fingernail and then look at the measurement.

Bust circumference is around the largest part of your bust with a bra on. Make sure the tape is not slouching or angled too much around the back; it should be parallel with your waist and also the floor.

Ribcage. This is your underbust measurement, so I measured directly along the bottom edge of my bra band. I also took the measurements with a full exhale, and a full inhale. My exhale measurement is about 30″ and my circumference with a full breath is about 32.5″. With a comfortable inhale, I measured 31 inches, but I also mentioned to them that I had a tendency to squish upwards in corsets so don’t be surprised if I need 32 inches instead.

Natural Waist. I moved my belt up very slightly to get my natural waist measurement at the bottom line of the belt. Don’t suck in or push out your belly, because you’re probably not going to be sucking in the whole time you have the corset on either.

Hips 3 inches down from the waist is not in the diagram, but you measure 3″ straight down from the waistline. and then pivot the tape at that spot, and measure the circumference of your hips parallel with the waist. This is just about where my iliac crest naturally sits.

Hips Hips 3 inches down from the waist is also not in the diagram.  Again measure 5” down from the waist, pivot the tape, and take the circumference even all the way around. In my demonstration here, I’m probably even riding a little high with the tape in the back, which is why a mirror or having someone help you can be helpful.

Now for the vertical measurements:

Waist to Ribs. you measure from your underbust or underwire down to the waistline, which is the bottom of the belt for me. This shows how long of a waist I have naturally as it’s typically between 5.5 and 6 inches.

Waist to Bust. (Not illustrated.) Measure from the fullest part of your bust directly down to the waistline. Again, remember that you should be wearing a supportive bra for this if you’re full-busted. Some people say to measure from the nipple down, but different people have nipples in different spots so that’s not totally precise. I asked Autumn if I should follow over the contour of the underside of the breast, and she said no just go straight down so that’s why you see the tape is pulled taut.

Waist to top side front. When they say the “side-front”, this is what I tend to refer to as the princess line or the princess seam in my other videos. This measurement will tell them how high you want the top edge of the corset to be over the swell of the bust, so it’s more your preference as opposed to strictly your body measurement. If you want a demibust, measure a little lower. If you want full coverage, measure higher.

Waist to underarm. This is taken at the side seam. You don’t have to go right up into the depths of your armpit, but rather just choose the height at the side where you’d like your corset to stop. Try not to bend over as this will affect the length. Too long and it will dig into your pits, and too low and you may get some spillover and not enough support. Try to take this measurement with your arm down as much as possible.

Waist to top edge at the center front. This will tell them how high you want the neckline to be at the busk, so measure lower if you want plunge, or higher if you want to cover more of your cleavage. I’m using my shirt as a reference again, but of course you can choose whatever height you’re comfortable with. 

Waist to bottom front. This should be long enough to cover any lower pooch if you have any. But if it’s too long, it’ll poke into your pubic bone, and if it’s too short it may not hold your tummy properly. Find a happy medium around your hip flexor that still allows you to sit down comfortably.

Mockup of the custom Aziza overbust from Dark Garden.
Mockup of the custom Aziza overbust from Dark Garden.

Here are a few photos of myself wearing first mockup (there are plenty more photos included in the video) – this first fitting was a long distance fitting, done by email. I was directed to try and take the photos head-on and not too angled, and to fill the screen as much as possible with just the corset; full body shots were not necessary.

I was asked to measure the width of the gap in the back of the corset at the top, waist, hips and bottom edge. As you can see, I already have a broad back, and I definitely squish upwards and needed several inches more space at the top.

After evaluating this, Autumn said that she’d rather do a second mockup fitting. Fortunately we would both be in New York at the end of March, so we met up so she could fit me in person, which was a whole lot easier because she could adjust the shoulder straps appropriately and poke and prod at me. She could also visualize my squishability, and understand those slight asymmetries and idiosyncrasies of my body, like my funky left hip and that my left breast is half a cup larger than my right. This made the mockup twist on me slightly, even though it felt completely centered on my body, it obviously didn’t look as such. Autumn unlaced and relaced it until it looked right, and marked the modifications right on the mockup.

Shortly after, my final Gold Aziza corset was finished and sent to me! I am obviously thrilled with this corset (you can see my initial reactions in the video above, around 11:45 mark), but you will need to see my official review to hear my full thoughts on it! (Blog post for this will be published soon!)

aziza-corset
Final Aziza corset by Dark Garden.

Huge thanks to Autumn Adamme and the whole crew at Dark Garden for making this dream come true and allowing me to document the bespoke process from the customer’s perspective.

Do you have a custom corset from Dark Garden? How was your experience? Let us know in a comment below!

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Isabella Corsetry “Petite Josephine” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Isabella Petite Josephine Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 22″: Center front is about 11.25 inches high, from underbust to lap is 9 inches, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 23″ (it was 2nd hand so it stretched slightly), ribcage is 29″ (7 inch rib spring) and lower hip is 33″ (11 inch hip spring). “Longline” for someone with a short length, conical in the ribs and cupped over the hips.
Material 3 Layers: Fashion fabric is black satin. Interlining in between, and lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern, and constructed with the sandwich method with double boning on each seam.
Binding Commercial black satin bias binding. No garter tabs.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel You have the choice of ordering any Isabella corset with a sewn-in panel, a separate panel, or no panel. This particular corset didn’t come with a modesty panel.
Busk 9.25 inches long, heavy duty wide busk, with 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced.
Boning 20 bones total, 10 on each side. Double boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels on the seams, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets. (My original Josephine has 2 extra bones.)
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in black and spaced a bit closer together at the waistline. Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely. There is a lot of friction lacing up but probably because of the modesty panel.
Laces Black double faced satin ribbon – no spring, very strong and flat.
Price $175 USD base price for the immediate line corsets (but on an indefinite sale; around $150+ depending on the color/ fabric).

 

Isabella Corsetry is run by a woman named Erin in Sacramento California. The Isabella Corsetry brand offers three ranges:

  • the “Immediate” line for standard-sized, in-stock corsets in simple fashion fabrics (OTR corsets), which is only the most popular 5-6 underbust styles.
  • the “Made to Order” line for standard sized corsets, but they can be made in your choice of fabric (choose among 200+ fabric options, or send them your own custom fabric), in 18 styles.
  • the “Custom” line if you prefer the corset made to your measurements and specifications, and you can choose among the 18 styles or request your own style.

Josephine longline corset by Isabella CorsetryFor awhile, the Josephine corset was one of the curviest OTR corset styles on the market, and I believe it was probably the “original” pattern that many other companies had copied over time. The Petite Jo was the answer to those who loved the look and the curviness of the corset, but had too short of a torso to comfortably sit down in the original Josephine. Now Isabella has come out with the Katherine, which is marketed towards waist trainers or tightlacers who have gone as far as they can in the Josephine!

The only caveat I found to ordering from Isabella Corsetry is that the wait times are quite long, especially if you’re ordering your corset from outside of the US. While the shipping time was stated to be 2 weeks to Canada, I found it took closer to 6 weeks for me to receive my order, which made me wonder if the in-stock corsets were actually made to order.

The other thing I noticed is that both my original Josephine and my Petite Josephine had stretched an inch in the waist over time with very regular use – however, I’m impressed that they did not have any ripped seams, popped grommets or other structural issues; they’re strong garments certainly capable of withstanding months or years of waist training, as long as you take into account the stretch factor.

See more on the Isabella Corsetry website here.

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Ties that Bynde ‘Helen’ Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Ties that Bynde ‘Helen’ Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 10.5 inches high, from underbust to lap is 10 inches, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30″ (6 inch rib spring) and lower hip is 34″ (10 inch hip spring). Mid-hip in length, conical in the ribs and cupped over the hips.
Material Fashion fabric is teal satin and a beautiful black dupioni silk yoke or belt. Boning channels are made with black coutil (covered in dupioni silk) and there is a cotton floating lining in a fun retro rockabilly print (I told her to surprise me).
Construction 6 panel pattern (probably) in a very interesting pattern with the yoke/ belt and flared panels above and below. It seems like it was designed through creative draping! Fashion and strength fabric flatlined, single external boning channels, floating lining.
Binding Commercial black satin bias binding. No garter tabs.
Waist tape 3/4 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Original corset does not come with a modesty panel, but I purchased one for $25 extra. 6.25″ wide, boned (resists crumpling) and suspended on the laces, finished in black coutil and black dupioni silk. Tiny 1/4″ placket in front.
Busk Tapered busk! (thicker on the bottom than the top), 10 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly more rigid compared to a standard flexible busk.
Boning 20 bones total, 10 on each side. Single boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels and 1/4″ flexible flats, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 44 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in black and equidistantly spaced (3/4″ inch apart). Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely. There is a lot of friction lacing up but probably because of the modesty panel.
Laces Black flat shoelace style lacing – no spring, very strong, long enough, no complaints. :)
Price $200 base price (standard size and no modesty panel). Modesty panel is another $25.

 

A quick, backlit snapshot while I was breaking in this corset (hips still worn a bit loose).
A quick, backlit snapshot while I was breaking in this corset (still worn a bit loose, so the hips weren’t fitted yet).

Ties that Bynde is a business based in Detroit, Michigan, run by independent corsetiere and all-around super woman, Jessica. Jessica not only takes custom corset commissions, but she also frequents conventions as a corset vendor, creates entire lines of corsets and couture outfits every year for fashion shows, attends corset conferences and lingerie symposiums, teaches corset making classes, AND she is also a contributor to my book Solaced, where she discusses the insurance-covered, therapeutic corsets she makes for herself and others.

The Helen corset was a star in my corset collection – there are several features that make corset relatively unique, including the black dupioni ‘belt’ and copious external channels, and the sweetheart top edge of this underbust corset.

I adore the look of sweetheart underbust corsets, and if you have a problem with corsets pressing painfully against your sternum, then this may be an option that avoids your sternum altogether. However, I have a freakishly high sternum, and  personally find that I sometimes get mild indigestion if my corset doesn’t come high enough in the front (this is true of both cinchers and all sweetheart corsets, so it’s not a mark against Ties that Bynde at all). Plenty of my friends are able to wear sweetheart corsets quite comfortably, though.

Size 24″ is an in-between size (Jessica normally makes her standard size corsets in every-other size (e.g. waist sizes 22″, 26″, 30″, etc). Upon reading her size charts, I quickly realized that her 26″ would be too big for me but the 22″ would be too small. Jessica offered to make me a size 24″ at no extra charge which was incredibly generous of her. If you needed custom fit (where you change the rib and hip springs or the length of the corset) this would be an upcharge, but I found that my body fit the standard size 24″ fairly well.

See more of Jessica’s work on Facebook.

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OOTD with Corset: Edwardian-Inspired High-Waisted Skirt

This past spring I went shopping at Value Village (and my mom found a few cute things at Ross during her last visit to the US) and I was able to throw together a cute work-appropriate outfit that allows you to show off your cinched waist without exposing your corset.

The best part is the outfit cost a total of $25 CAD (less than $19 USD), including the shoes (which were new, but still donated to Value Village).

Edwardian high waisted skirt and ruffled blouse, circa 1916.
Edwardian high waisted skirt and ruffled blouse, circa 1916.

The ruffled, key-hole neckline blouse ($12) will look familiar to many of you, because it’s HeartSoul brand which Ross always stocks. I love this blouse and have it in half a dozen colors! If the neckline is not appropriate for your workplace, you can switch it out with a shirt with a higher neckline.

The charcoal grey high waisted pencil skirt ($4 during VV’s 50% sale) extended from underbust to just below the knee, and has a kick-pleat in the back. If it were a little longer and fuller, it would be very reminiscent of the skirts that were so popular in the Edwardian period (c. 1916). A few corsetieres today even make corset dresses or corset skirts, where the corset is built into the garment itself.

But for my outfit today, the skirt itself is slightly elastic and fits nicely with or without a corset underneath. If I wanted to wear a corset with a more dramatic waist reduction, I could probably use a cinch clip in the back to make the skirt fit more closely over the corset, and then hide the clip in the back with my hair or a blazer.

The great thing about the high waisted skirt is that it’s high enough to completely cover my corset (the CS-411 mesh in this case) and I can use my blouse as my corset liner. This allows me to skip having an additional layer of clothing under my shirt – which was particularly fantastic the day I recorded this video, because we had an unusual heat wave that week!

Dat Booty. (American Duchess Edwardian Manhattan Boots)

I paired my outfit with a pair of black faux suede shoes with a genuine 4-inch stiletto heel ($9 during VV’s 50% sale), which brought my whole outfit to $25 CAD (not including the corset). Of course, if I wanted to go full Edwardian, I’d probably invest in some practical booties, probably from American Duchess.

Some critics say that this was a popular look in the 1980s, to which I respond that history repeats itself – the 80s took inspiration from the 1910s and the 1950s, so we’re just about due for the next cycle!

What do you think of the high-waisted look? Leave a comment below!

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Corset Connection ‘Flora’ Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Corset Connection ‘Flora’ Underbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized: Center front is about 11.25 inches high, from underbust to lap is 10 inches, and the center back is 11.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 28″ (4 inch rib spring) and lower hip is 32″ (8 inch hip spring). Modern slim silhouette.
Material This style of corset has 2 main layers. Fashion fabric is ivory brocade (interfaced) and the lining is white cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern, constructed using the sandwich method. Double boned on the seams, with the bones sandwiched between the layers.
Binding Bias strips of matching ivory brocade, machine stitched on the outside and inside. Also includes 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. Starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and goes to the back edge.
Modesty panel Back modesty panel is 6 inches wide, unstiffened, finished in matching ivory brocade, and sewn in (can be easily removed if desired). No modesty placket in front.
Busk Heavy-duty busk (1″ wide on each side), 9.25 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly more rigid compared to a standard flexible busk.
Boning 24 bones total, 12 on each side. Double boned on the seams with 1/4″ wide spiral steel bones, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 24 two-part grommets, size #0 (larger hole), with a small to medium flange. Finished in silver and equidistantly spaced. The splits in the back do catch on the laces.
Laces White round poly cord – I prefer flat nylon lacing, and laces can easily be switched out.
Price $99 on the Corset Connection website.

 

Flora underbust in black satin. Photo: LeMew photography.
Flora underbust in black satin. Photo: LeMew photography.

The Flora corset is cut straight across at the top edge, and is gently rounded at the bottom edge. I’m happy to see that the busk doesn’t bow outwards too much at the bottom, so this style of corset can give you some posture support while remaining relatively stealthy under clothing. The busk is rigid enough to provide a little bit of lower tummy support, but not quite as much as a longline corset.

The gentle (modern slim) silhouette will nip waistlines from people who are naturally apple-shaped, and can provide some posture and abdominal support without giving a very dramatic silhouette. However if you’re naturally curvier, you may want to check out a different corset style with more of an hourglass silhouette.

The Flora corset is available in satin, brocade and even PVC, and in colors black, ivory, and red. Available from sizes 18 up to 44 inches, it’s suited to even full-figured corset wearers. The Flora corset is also available for both women and men.

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How to Avoid Gas & Bloating when Wearing a Corset

Trapped gas in the body can be an uncomfortable or even painful experience (my cousin was once hospitalized for what everyone thought was appendicitis and it turned out to just be gas). But when you put a corset overtop of a gassy tummy, it can be even more uncomfortable. Your stomach and intestines are the hollow, membranous organs that take up arguably most of the space in your peritoneal cavity. According to Dr. Bob Jung (an orthopedic surgeon and Cathie Jung‘s husband), when these organs are relatively empty and not bloated with gas (or waste), they can flatten easily to accommodate the compression from a corset. However, when these organs are filled, there is a competition for space in the body which results in discomfort when corseted.

Therefore it’s in our best interest to minimize the amount of bloating when corset training. Unfortunately, many people try to change their diets simultaneously when they start corset training, opting for a high-fiber and ‘clean’ diet, and while this may indeed be better for you in the long run, your digestive system might be shocked by the abrupt change – unable to deal with the sudden increase in fiber, your bowels may protest and you may experience more gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc. Hopefully this post will help you pinpoint what is creating your gas, and what you can do about it.

What causes gas?

Foods: beans, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.), dairy if you’re lactose intolerant.

Drinks: carbonated beverages, milk (see above), hidden artificial sweeteners (especially the sugar alcohols: sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol etc.)

Your gut health: whether your intestinal flora is balanced and you are creating the necessary digestive enzymes.

Eating/ drinking habits: How quickly are you consuming your meals? Are you taking small bites and chewing slowly and thoroughly? Are you drinking enough water every day? Do you habitually chew gum or suck on candies throughout the day?

Other behaviours: Do you breathe more through your nose or your mouth? Do you tend to suck air through your teeth when you’re tense?

I wouldn’t necessarily say to swear off all the food and drinks above – that may be too much of a diet/ lifestyle change for some, and there are many benefits to eating beans and vegetables (as long as you don’t have an allergy or lectin sensitivity). But choosing your foods wisely, preparing them in a different way, or moderating how much you consume at a time can go a long way.

Tips on minimizing gas production when wearing a corset (or anytime):

Carbonated drinks:

From my 25 questions tag video – I’m also guilty of drinking fizzy drinks and corseting, and pay for it every time.

There is no biological need for fizzy drinks, so avoid them if they’re not offering anything to your quality of life. If you must have a carbonated drink, let it bubble on your tongue and go flat before swallowing. My guilty pleasure is sparkling mineral water – no sugar, no phosphoric or citric acid to erode the enamel of my teeth if I let it sit in my mouth, no food colouring to stain my teeth, and no artificial sweeteners/ sugar alcohols to cause bloating.

Beans and pulses:

When I was in university I lived off a lot of dry beans, because they were even cheaper than canned beans but they did require more preparation when cooking. Some people say to soak the beans overnight and toss the water in the morning to avoid excess gas, then add the rinsed beans to your cooking. I often opted for lentils because they create less gas – and they’re small so they don’t need to be pre-soaked and they cook up relatively quickly.

Cruciferous vegetables:

Cooking your cruciferous vegetables can destroy some of the saccharides that cause bloating – this goes for beans as well – but overcooking your vegetables can denature some of the other nutrients as well, which leads to the next tip…

Take an enzyme supplement if you need it:

“Beano”  supplements the enzyme alpha-galactosidase which your body doesn’t normally produce – it helps to break down those undigestible sugars (essentially what our body sees as another form of fiber) so it doesn’t create gas and bloating in our gut. In the case of dairy, you can use lactase (“Lactaid”) which helps to digest and break down the lactose sugar if you are lactose intolerant. Of course, if you don’t need these enzymes, it’s not necessary to take them – and I hope it goes without saying that if you have food sensitivities or allergies unrelated to digestive enzymes, it’s better to avoid those foods completely.

Chew slowly:

Digestion starts in the mouth – your teeth grind up food and the amylase and other enzymes in your saliva start the breakdown process. The more time you spend chewing and the finer your chyme, the easier digestion will be for the remainder of the journey. As Ann Grogan also states, choosing smaller portions and eating slowly will help you recognize that full signal before you get to the point of feeling overfull, as overeating is discouraged when wearing a corset. On the topic of chewing, I personally had to give up my daily habit of chewing gum. Gum helped me with stress relief in some ways, but it eventually led to TMD symptoms and consistently upset stomach – so now I sip water instead of chewing gum, and manage my stress in other ways.

Stay hydrated:

Fran Blanche mentions several times in her own posts that it’s so very important to stay hydrated when wearing your corset – drinking enough water makes sure that your blood pressure and blood volume is regulated, which prevents wooziness or circulation issues, and to regular body temperature through sweating. Enough (not excess) water will also keep your digestive and urinary tract functioning properly, as well as keeping the other fluids in your body in the proper dilution – including your saliva and mucous. Gross to think about? Maybe. But having thick saliva or phlegm (or not enough at all) may contribute to swallowing more air or causing digestive upset.

Go slow when introducing new foods (or a new lifestyle):

I know that it’s easy to get swept up in a whole new lifestyle when you start waist training, and you might want to toss your old ways, cut out your old foods cold turkey, eat 100% clean, start a new exercise regime, etc. And for some people, that “all or nothing” approach might work for them – but for many others, this may cause them to feel sick and they may need to slowly change their habits over time. If you’re looking to introduce more fiber-rich foods, perhaps add them in a little bit at a time over the course of a few weeks so your digestive system has the time to adjust to the change. If you’re giving your diet and fitness regime a complete overhaul, maybe start with one or the other (either your meals or your exercise habits) and then phase in the other over time – that way, if you feel ill or have tummy troubles, you’ll better be able to pinpoint the culprit. Talking to a nutritionist or trainer can help you create a system or schedule.

See a doctor if your consistently bloated or have digestive issues:

Your natural gut flora may affect gas too, or what enzymes your body can naturally produce. If you are always having stomach or bowel issues, you might want to see a doctor, dietician or other trusted professional to investigate the issue. A solution may be as simple as cutting out foods to which you’re sensitive or supplementing probiotics, or it might be something bigger like undiagnosed IBS or diverticulosis which might go on for years without people really doing anything about it – so if you have digestive issues to begin with, definitely talk to your doctor before even trying a corset.

Let it out:

If social situations allow for it, and you feel that you’re going to burp or pass wind, just go for it. Your body has this function for a reason, and trust me, you’ll physically feel better for it.

*Please note that this article is provided for information purposes, and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. Please contact your trusted physician if you plan to wear a corset for any reason.*

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Wearing Corsets with a Stoma – Interview with Kitty

Kitty is a writer based in Canada, who runs the site Girly-Girl’s Ileostomy Blog – a no-nonsense explanation of life with an Ileostomy, as told by a foul-mouthed individual with no shame

Last year I received several questions from viewers wondering if it’s safe to wear a corset if one has an ileostomy. Having no personal experience, I asked around. One helpful follower then introduced me to Kitty’s blog, and to my surprise I also found that there were a few different corsetieres who specialize in making corsets for ileostomates.

I love Kitty’s candor, and found it fascinating that she is not only able to wear corsets with her ostomy, but also that her corset is used for stabilizing her hepaptosis (floating liver) and scoliosis. Her posts on corsetry can be found here and here. I asked if she would be willing to share a bit more of her personal experience on my blog, and she graciously agreed.

(Please note that this is in context of an ileostomy only, and may not work the exact same way for other types of stomas. If you have a stoma and would like to wear a corset, please speak with your doctor!)


 

When did you take an interest in corsets? Was it merely aesthetic, or was there something else to it as well?

Kitty: I first became interested in corsets as a young girl. They resembled my TLSO backbrace I wore for ten years to stop my spine from curving any more with scoliosis, except they were beautiful–a celebration of the female shape instead of the hard plastic ugly shape I had been fitted for at the Children’s Hospital.

Are your doctors okay with you wearing a corset? Did any of them have objections due to negative myths?

Kitty: One of the doctors I had in British Columbia actually signed papers saying I needed a corset for my back, but stupid me, I never got around to fighting that out with the insurance company.

You had experience with back bracing when you were younger – many of my viewers/ readers have scoliosis, and some have said that they worry that wearing a corset might trigger unpleasant memories of being braced. In your experience, how does a corset differ from the back brace (comfort-wise, aesthetically or otherwise)?

Kitty: Ah, silly me,  I already answered about the back-brace. It was a very unpleasant time being braced and physically and emotionally bullied by both teachers and my peers, but it really has no bearing on me now. I have gotten the perspective of years behind me, and to take that thick plastic foot-ball players’ uniform compared to my delicate corset–well, there really is no comparison.

How did you go about finding a corsetiere who was comfortable making the proper accommodations for your medical needs (e.g. asymmetric construction for scoliosis, access to your ileostomy, ensuring that your organs were properly positioned with the right silhouette and reduction)?

Kitty: I was fortunate enough to live near the same corsetiere as Dita Von Teese goes to–it is called Lace Embrace in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I found it quite by accident while searching for such on the internet.

How is your corset made differently to standard corsets? Are you able to access and change your ostomy bag easily? Does the corset prevent your bag from filling properly and create discomfort or bloating?

Kitty in her custom peach underbust Corset from Lace Embrace Atelier, which offers back support, lifts the stomach and liver, and features a concealed flap to access her bag.
Kitty in her custom peach underbust Corset from Lace Embrace Atelier, which offers back support, lifts the stomach and liver, and features a concealed flap to access her bag.

Kitty: My corset has a side panel that flows smoothly over my ileostomy bag, that I can simply unhook whenever I need to dump my bag. The bones were also removed from that section, though you couldn’t tell if you looked at it, which was the point.

I have suffered no ill-effects of my corset, I have even slept in my corset. I just have my normal bag on, and fit the corset over it easily, tie it up, and I am ready to go.

You mentioned in your blog that you have issues with your ligaments, and the corset helps keep your liver from dropping. How does that condition affect your daily quality of life (is it painful or nauseating), and how does the corset help?

Kitty: With the corset, it lifts up both my stomach and liver which otherwise float a bit inside of my abdominal cavity.

One of the concerns I’ve heard regarding stomas is the risk of hernias. Was the extra pressure from a corset a concern for you in this situation – or do you think that the specific application of pressure on your abdomen by the corset would help to prevent such a hernia from occurring?

Kitty: Because I tie it correctly, my organs are not being pushed down to the bottom of the corset, but lifted, and I have never felt like my stomach was bulging or that I might be getting a hernia. The corset lifts pressure from that area and transfers it up to my rib-cage.

Were there any drawbacks you found to wearing a corset?

Kitty: The only drawback is you will need someone to help you tie it up until you get a hang of it yourself! I still have yet to do it alone!

Were there any other unexpected benefits that you discovered from wearing the corset – either physically or emotionally?

Kitty: Of course the benefit is a sexy silhouette, you always have grand posture, and you feel pretty darn good doing so :)

What advice can you give to others who have an ostomy and are looking into corsets (either for fashion or for therapeutic purposes)?

Kitty: For ileostomates: dont be afraid to try on or wear corsets. if you buy one already made, have the seller make a snap-panel over your bag area so you can let that bugger breathe and do what it does best. Eat as you normally would, but more grazing during the day and avoiding dumping one big meal all at once into your stomach.
I chose a corset in a pale peach so it would go under all of my clothing, but that is a personal choice–it’s up to you!
<3 Kitty

Huge thanks to Kitty for sharing her experience with us! If you’d like to read more about Kitty’s custom corset from Lace Embrace, here’s her post on her fitting appointment, and here’s her post on her finished corset.

 

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Ava Corsetry ‘Carmen’ Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Ava Corsetry ‘Carmen’ Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized: Center front is about 11.5 inches high, from underbust to lap is 9.5 inches, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Hourglass silhouette with rounded ribcage and rounded hip. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30″ and lower hip is 34″.
Material 2 main layers, fashion fabric is red poly taffeta, and strength fabric is black herringbone coutil. Black floral lace and tulle on the decorative front panels and “hip fins”. Very lightweight corset!
Construction 5 vertical panels, with a 6th semi-circle hip panel. Constructed using the welt-seam method. Internal boning channels are made with strips of coutil, and the herringbone lining is semi-floating in a couple of places!
Binding Bias strips of matching red taffeta, machine stitched on both sides. I like how narrow and delicate the binding looks on this corset!
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sewn between the layers. The partial tape starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and ends at seam between 4-5.
Modesty panel Back modesty panel is 6 inches wide and finished in the same red taffeta. Unstiffened and stitched onto one side of the back of the corset (easily removable). 1/2″ wide modesty placket in front.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side), and 10.5 inches long. It has 5 loops and pins, with the bottom two closer together. Two 1/4″ wide flat steels adjacent to the busk help to keep the abdomen flat.
Boning 16 bones total, 8 on each side. Two by the busk and 4 by the grommets are 1/4″ flat steels, while the side bones are likely spirals.
Grommets 24 two-part grommets, size #00, small flange, quite sturdy. Silver finish. The taffeta is pulling away from the grommets (see discussion below).
Laces Black flat shoe-lace style lacing, no spring, easy to pull and tie.
Price About £209 to commission the Carmen corset in your size. Upgrade to custom fit is very reasonable (starts at only £10 more) depending on how much your own measurements deviate from the standard size chart.

 

Carmen corset made by Ava Corsetry. Model: Miss Betsy Rose
Carmen corset made by Ava Corsetry. Model: Miss Betsy Rose. Click to go to Ava’s site!

The Carmen corset is one of the most creatively constructed corsets I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. It’s a clever combination of internal boning channels, and hidden boning channels to create a corset with a semi-floating fashion layer that allows for a comfortable semi-circular hip panel and decorative mini-pannier (hip fin). The corset is surprisingly lightweight overall, and the taffeta sits smoothly around the body. I’m usually not a “taffeta” type of girl, but I adore this corset.

The black lace against the fiery red fabric lends a certain Spanish flair, and I can’t help but wonder if the corset was named after the Bizet’s opera of the same name, based in Spain in the mid 19th century.

The only construction issue I found in the corset is that the taffeta started to distort in the back and pull away from a couple of grommets at the waistline. However, I have personally found that this is a property of taffeta – almost all of the taffeta corsets I’ve ever owned over the years have done the same thing, but this remains only superficial/ aesthetic damage – as long as the strength fabric does not distort, the grommet should not pull out. If I were to replace the grommet with another of a wider flange, the distortion wouldn’t be visible at all.

At the time I purchased this corset (February 2015), Ava Corsetry was operated by the incredible Danielle MacDonald. (The name Ava was inspired by the elegance of Ava Gardner.) The business has since changed hands and a new corsetiere (Lyzzy, who also works with Kiss Me Deadly) now runs Ava. Danielle was sure to choose her successor very carefully and ensures that her future customers remain in good hands. Check out the Ava Corsetry website here.

(Watch Habanera from Carmen below – with vocalists in genuine corsets!)

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Corset Liner Master Post + Comparing 5 Brands

Back in 2011 I made an introductory video on corset liners, what they are used for and what you can use as a substitute (tank top, tube top, etc). But at the time I had only experienced one brand of corset liner, and in the past few years I’ve tried a few more from different companies so I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each today.

What is a corset liner?

A liner is a thin, stretchy, breathable garment that you wear underneath your corset which provides a barrier or buffer between your skin and the corset.

Liners do two things: they protect your skin against chafing, and they help keep the corset clean. I’ll go into more detail below.

Liners are typically made from a very stretchy fabric and designed to be smaller than your natural waist. A well-fitting corset liner, when unstretched, should be about the same waist measurement as your corset’s closed internal waist measurement, so when you’re lacing down, the liner will shrink back with the corset and remain smooth around your body.

Preventing wrinkles or folds under the corset will help keep you more comfortable and prevent pressure sores that might have otherwise occurred if you wore a bulky shirt under your corset instead.

You can purchase specific corset liners, which look like hourglass-shaped tube tops. Most corset liners are for underbust corsets – they cover only from the underbust to the upper hips.

 

Corset liners help protect your body

If you are lacing without a liner, the rigid corset may drag against your skin and pull it in uncomfortable ways, resulting in chafing and bruising. Laces can also cause rope/friction burn if the corset doesn’t have a modesty panel. Corset liners are sometimes made with a relatively slick fabric which allows the corset (and laces) to glide over the liner, reducing the risk of chafing.

A good liner can also prevent your skin from being scratched by a split or rough grommet. All proper liners will also be breathable and moisture-wicking so will help keep your skin comfortable and feeling cool and dry throughout the day.

 

Corset liners help protect your corset

White corset liner by Corset Connection, one of the liners being compared in the table below.
White corset liner by Corset Connection, one of the liners being compared in the table below.

If you’re wearing a corset on a regular basis, especially in warm weather, you’re going to sweat quite a lot. Your body also produces sebum, and trillions of bacteria and yeast cells grow all over your skin and feed of the oil and cholesterol in your sebum, kept in a careful balance to protect you from external pathogenic germs. You are also constantly sloughing off dead skin cells and losing downy little hairs from all over your body. Also, if you use skin products like lotions and perfumes, these can also transfer onto your clothing! This is why some people are understandably disgusted to learn that corsets are rarely (if ever) washed.

Corsets should not be washed regularly, for several reasons which I discuss this article.  It’s imperative that the corset be kept as clean as possible and washing be kept to a minimum.The catch 22 is that corsets can be damaged by being washed, but they can also be damaged by not being washed! The salt in our sweat and the acidic pH of the mantle of our skin can break down fibers in delicate fabrics like silk. Also, an unwashed, dark, damp corset can create a breeding ground for microbes, and affect that delicate balance of critters on our skin – making us more prone to skin infections – yuck!

But wearing a liner between your body and the corset means that the liner will take this abuse instead, and the liner can be washed regularly, saving your corset and keeping it clean and fresh.

Are you absolutely required to wear a liner under your corset? Of course not; a garment is yours to do with as you wish – but if you want your corset to last as long as possible, then it’s a great reason to start!

 

Thin stretchy shirts can be a corset liner substitute

If you don’t have access or can’t afford real corset liners, there are many products that will do as makeshift liners. Some of my favorites include thin cotton babydoll t-shirts (as they are thin, close-fitting, stretchy and breathable), seamless microfiber camisoles and tank tops in the summer, and microfiber turtlenecks in the winter. I have even heard of people wearing body stockings or leotards – just make sure you have some way of going to the bathroom in these, as you don’t want to be in a rush and discover that you have to remove your corset to do your business!

However, most shirts have their limitations: they are usually cut to suit a natural waist, and they’re unlikely to shrink down enough with a corset – the result is a few wrinkles in your shirt under the corset. This is usually not the end of the world, and many people are fine with this especially if their corset is only a moderate reduction and they’re not training 23 hours a day. In shirts that tend to wrinkle on me, I will slide my hands under the corset before tightening and try to bring the fullness of the fabric away from the sides of my waist (where there’s the most pressure) to the back, where it’s less likely to irritate.

 

Corset liner =/= Faja

Both liners and fajas are stretchy and designed to fit smooth around the body. However, they have some important differences:

A corset liner is breathable and moisture-wicking. It’s not shapewear, it’s not so strong that it’s going to pull your waist in by more than an inch or so.

A “rubber cincher” or faja is still stretchy, but it has more resistance so it may bring in the waist by a couple of inches. But the main difference is that it’s not designed to be breathable. The rubber or neoprene coating keeps you warm and encourages you to sweat. The rubber cincher makes you hot and sweaty, whereas a corset liner keeps you cool and dry – literally opposite effects!

Let’s compare the stats of all the corset liners:

The table is pretty wide, be sure to use the slider at the bottom to see all the brands.
BrandContour CorsetsChabaMeTimeless TrendsMadame SherFabrizia Barros CorsetsHeavenly CorsetsCorset Connection
Price$45 USD each, or $125 for set of 3.$15 USD each$19 USD each$20 USD for a pair$18 USD for a pair£14 GBP (~$18 USD) each$20 USD each
Type of FabricSynthetic 4-way stretch Spandex fabric (not swimsuit fabric).75% Bamboo
20% Polyamide
5% Spandex
Cotton and spandex (4-way stretch)Cotton jersey (4-way stretch knit).Cotton and elastane (4-way stretch knit).Synthetic spandex fabric (feels like swimsuit fabric).Cotton and lycra (thinner than Madame Sher).
# of seams2 seams (I wear the corset with the seams to the front and back, and the tag on the outside).Zero seams (woven tube).2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).1 seam which is designed to be worn toward the back of the body, where the laces are.1 seam, and the seam is kind of lapped so it's flatter than a typical seam allowance.
Custom or StandardCustom to my measurementsStandard (sizes S, M, L)Standard (I wear size small). Available in size XS - XXL (18 inches to 42 inches)Made to match my corset sizeMade to order? (I received samples)Custom to my measurementsStandard (size medium)
Colors availableBlack, beige, BlackBlack, whiteNudeNude / beigeBlack, whiteBlack, white, ivory, nude
Length (Unstretched)14”11” (size medium), 10" (size small)12”10”10.5”12”10”
Circumferential measurements (Unstretched)Waist is 20", underbust is 26", hips are 32”.Size small is 20” along the entire length, size Medium is 24” along entire length.Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 34”. (corresponds to size 24" hourglass corset measurements)22" waist, same as my corsets - but the underbust/ hips were not to my measurements.Waist is 24", underbust is 26", hips are 30".Waist is 21", underbust is 28”, hips are 29”.Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 27”.
Stretch Test190%170%150%150%150%152%155%
ProsElastic ribbon on the top and bottom helps keep it in place. You can fold your liner over the top and bottom edges of your corset, which helps protect the binding from wear, abrasion, or underboob sweat. Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin and stretchy.Smooth, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, no seams. Mostly natural fibers (good for those who are sensitive too all synthetic liners).Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics. Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics. The fabric is infused with a skin toning / conditioning moisturizer (lasts up to 15 washes)Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin.Pretty stretch lace on the top and bottom edges, which is flatter/ lower profile than a thick folded sewn hem.
ConsNot quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Most expensive option (worth it, in my opinion).Fabric is more plush and less slick. The woven hem may leave temporary marks on the skin.Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey). If you can cinch down more than 6" in the waist, you may want to go up a size.When on my body, it tends to shorten a bit so it doesn't cover the full length of my corset. Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey).Needs to be hand washed to maximize the moisturizer. Stretches out the more you wear it.Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Also it's a weird shape, and the seam creates a point at the top and the bottom that tends to extend beyond the edges of my corset.The lace has a habit of rolling over on itself - if this annoys you, go with one of the other corsets with a more sturdy hem. Also, cotton wrinkles a little more than the synthetic liners.
Award:Most stretchy, most smooth under corsets. Lucy’s personal favorite.Affordable, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, 2nd-most stretchy. Lucy’s 2nd favorite.Comes in the biggest size range. Breathable, moisture-wicking.2nd least expensive, most moisture-wicking.Least expensive, unique skin moisturizing properties.Most slippery.Softest to the touch, most breathable.
Link:http://contourcorsets.com/liners.htmlhttp://amzn.to/2fhEl78https://lucycorsetry.com/product/corset-liners/http://www.madamesher.com/en/designs/tight-confort/1/cotton-liner/1/https://www.facebook.com/fabriziabarroshttp://heavenlycorsets.com/shop-now/#!/Corset-Liner/p/23280799/category=5525899http://www.corsetconnection.com/corset-liner/

Have you tried a corset liner brand not mentioned here? Which brand is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

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Immersing Corsets in Water – some considerations

Corset with exposed steel bones

 

If you plan to immerse your corset under water (in order to wash it, dye it a different color, or you plan to wear it to the beach, pool or water park), there are a few things to consider. I have received a surprising number of emails (in the past month especially) from various people wanting to know if it’s okay to swim in their corset.

Although I know of at least two people who have occasionally taken a dip while wearing a corset, and a handful of other models who have worn corsets in water-themed photo shoots (see below), I know that I would not personally swim in a corset. I am not a very strong swimmer, and I need to have full lung capacity and full mobility when I swim – so I know that I’d prefer not to cinch my waist or restrict my ribcage when swimming laps. If I were frolicking in the shallow end and just wearing a corset under my swimsuit for a bit of shape without intending to swim, this might be a different story.

Katelizabeth Waisted Creations Corset betta fish
Creative “Betta Fish” themed photo shoot, featuring a tightlacer in water. Corset and outfit by Waisted Creations. Model/MUA/photo by Katelizabeth Photography. Click through the photo to read more about this photo shoot!

Why do so many corsetieres not recommend washing their corsets?

If your corsetiere creates a custom piece for you and they mention in their wear & care information that the corset should not be washed, please follow their directions. The biggest concern regarding consistently wetting your corset is that the steel bones may rust over time. Also, fabrics like silk and even polyester satin can water stain, and fabrics that are not colorfast will have the dye bleed and fade. JoAnn Peterson (owner of Laughing Moon Mercantile) also taught me that if multiple-layer corsets are made with different fibers (for instance are strength fabric of cotton and a fashion layer of wool suiting) they will have different shrink rates – especially if the fabric isn’t pre-washed – so your corset may end up warped, wrinkly or bubbly if it ends up shrinking.

 

Why were so many advertisements for washable corsets in the early 1900s?

Corsets made in the 1800s that were designed to be worn every day (especially for the working class) were often made from a single layer of hardy cotton and not made in vibrant colours – so there was little worry about different shrink rates or dyes bleeding. Back when corsets were made with reed and whalebone, these come from plants and animals that live in the water, so wetting them occasionally actually helped to condition them, and keep them supple and flexible. Old, dry baleen was brittle and prone to snapping or splintering (which is where the rumors of corsets causing “broken bones” likely came from – it was broken baleen, not broken human bones!).

(Above is a silent film advertisement from the 1910s for Warners corsets, which were guaranteed not to rust, break or tear. By the 20th century, the vast majority of corsets did contain steel bones, though.)

When baleen was first replaced with steel, it was initially a type of ‘mild steel’ ribbon. While in England last year during a visit to the Symington collection, I had the opportunity to see how thin, flexible, and badly rusted these older steel bones were. A few styles of corsets back then had little deliberate slits or gaps in the boning channels, which allowed you to remove the bones before you washed the corset and easily replace them afterward!

Lara Corsets comments: “This ad showing a corset getting wet was shocking at the time because it was common knowledge that soaking a corset would ruin it. Corsets of the 19th century in general are often starched and steam molded to have a certain shape. Washing will literally wash out all of that shaping. They were never intended to be washed. Steel busks were usually paper, fabric or leather wrapped and would absolutely rust. The enameled steel was a big step forward in the 1890s but on OLD enameled flat steels the surface crackles and rust forms quickly. Washing often causes huge rust stains. These Warner’s corsets that claimed to be washable were boned with coraline which was thread wrapped reeds. The only metal on those corsets was the busk, grommets and side steels (if there were any).”

Corset with exposed steel bones
Antique corset with exposed steel bones. This particular style was likely to display the (then) newfangled spirals, but several other corsets had similar slots to remove the bones from the corset prior to washing. From the Symington collection in Leicestershire, England.

Today, modern technology has greatly helped prevent rusting and corrosion of steel. Flat (spring) steels are covered with a white coating and tipped with a tipping fluid, silicone or teflon. Wide busks are made of stainless steel (similar to modern silverware or your kitchen sink) so it’s more resistant to rust.  Spiral steels are galvanized – they’re given a thin coating of zinc to help make them more resistant to rust, but even zinc can corrode over time, so nothing truly makes steel bones rust-proof forever (especially in the case of poor-quality steels sometimes found in budget corsets, which are not coated or galvanized properly).

The difference between workhorse corsets and collectible corsets

Please note that the recommendations and antique ads for washing your corset were intended for workhorse corsets – garments that were designed to be used every day, hold up to high tension for a short time, and eventually wear out. Other brand advertisements of the time boasted that their corsets lasted up to a whole year of use! (Consider the mentality today, where so many people think they can purchase one OTR corset, wear it daily and have it last 5, 10 years or more – not likely today as it wasn’t likely then!)

I’m sure that in 1910, hardly any woman of the time would predict that one of their daily undergarments would become a collector’s piece today – yet here we are. Again, it’s important to note that these garments were not intended to last 100 years. Areas of the cloth can become thin from damage by the elements: fluctuations in moisture and humidity, UV and other radiation, too acidic or too basic pH, or can even be eaten away by moths and microbes. Fibers can dry-rot and become delicate, and you may not see microscopic damage until you handle the corset in some way!

I’ve gotten some traffic recently from antique corset owners who are interested in washing their corset to get rid of the staining and grime the corset has collected over the years. Personally, I would not wash an antique. While the salt and oils from the body left over from the corset’s previous owner can cause some damage to a corset, the strong basic pH of cleanser and the agitation of washing is by far worse for the longevity of the corset – even if that antique contained baleen, and even if it was once intended to be a workhorse.

Additionally, there is a catch-22 with how thoroughly to cleanse an antique. If you use a gentle cleanser, these sometimes contain conditioners that stick to the fibers of the corset and can cause product build-up. Washing with a gentle cleanser will also not kill all the spores that may have settled into the fibers of the corset over decades, which, once wet, can encourage the growth of mould and mildew in your valuable collectible. If you use a harsher cleanser, this will undoubtedly damage the fibers irreversibly! Please consider carefully the ramifications of washing an antique. You will notice that museums don’t wash all their corsets; and many of them are very badly stained. They know that cleaning an antique can possibly destroy it, and would rather put a dirty corset on display than none at all. Despite their manufactured sturdiness, these pieces have become precious and delicate with age, so treat them as such.

Therefore, the information below on getting your corset wet (and in the video, for suggestions on how one might wash a corset) are intended only for contemporary corsets – often modern OTR and workhorse corsets – and not for couture pieces or antiques. When in doubt, always ask the corsetiere or seller their views on wetting or washing your corset.

What should you do if you get your corset wet?

If your corset does end up being immersed water, either for dying reasons, washing, for a photo shoot, or just by accident, it’s best to air-dry it as fast as possible, perhaps in an area with a warm breeze, out of direct sunlight if you’re worried about color fading. If the corset is white, then the UV rays in sunlight have a bleaching effect, and can also naturally deodorize and disinfect – but do be aware that UV rays can also break down the fibers of a corset faster. Absolutely never throw your corset in a tumble dryer!

Still want / need to dunk your corset in water?

Cathie Jung beach corset
Cathie Jung in one of her swimsuit-style corsets

If you do plan to wet your corset on a regular basis, here are some tips to keep your corset functional and beautiful for as long as possible:

  1. Don’t be incredibly attached to your corset. There is a possibility that it’ll get ruined, even when it’s made to specifications below. Perhaps have an OTR corset set aside for those soggy situations, instead of wetting a custom/ couture corset.
  2. If your corset has multiple layers, be sure that those layers are the same fiber (e.g. cotton inner and cotton outer layers). These fabrics should preferably be pre-washed and pre-shrunk before the corset was constructed.
  3. Your steel bones need to be properly coated, galvanized, tipped or otherwise made rust-resistant.
  4. Your grommets should preferably be iron free (and also nickel free if you’re sensitive to that). The most common is brass (an alloy of copper and zinc). Some grommets are made with aluminum as well.
  5. If you are a really hardcore trainer and you’re invested in having a corset for all types of situations, and you’re also not allergic to latex or rubber, consider a rubber corset. Bizarre Design and Fantastic Rubber are both well-known for their rubber corsets. Cathie Jung and Michele Köbke both have been seen wearing ‘swimming corsets’ (although it’s not known whether Cathie has really been in the water with hers!). But know that rubber does not breathe and wouldn’t be best for your skin or your internal body temperature if you were to wear it for long hours in the hot sun.

 

Lara’s Expert Tips for Washing a Corset:

 

Don’t wash your antique corset unless you are willing to take a chance in compromising it’s strength further if not completely as well as possibly making it worse that it’s current condition. Now, when I am willing to wash a corset here is my method and what I recommend to my customers for the corsets I make them:

  1. In a basin, tub or sink – fill a few inches deep with lukewarm water and a mild soap (No woolite!). Good old Ivory bar soap, Fels-Naptha, or Orvis soap are great choices.
  2. Place corset within, and push it around a bit. Spot scrub any stained spots gently – consider the fabric before you brush or rub too hard – a brocade would not withstand harsh treatment. No need to soak. Rinse immediately – Do not wring ever.
  3. Lay out a thick dry towel and lay the open corset upon it. Roll the towel with the corset and gently press as much water from the corset as possible. Repeat with a fresh towel as needed.
  4. Hang the corset over a rod, hanger or something similar with a fan or two blowing directly upon it. This will get it dry as fast as possible and help to discourage rust from forming.

Do you swim in your corsets, wash them, or otherwise wet them regularly? Leave a comment below and let us know what steps you take to keep your corset in tip-top shape.