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Camellia’s Corsets: Short Torso Mesh Cincher / Waspie Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Camellias Women Petite Steel Boned Waist Trainer Corset Short Torso Mesh Body Shaper” made by Camellia’s Corsets on Amazon. Note: I purchased this corset with my own money and reviewed this of my own volition. Amazon affiliate links help support my site and the price does not increase for you. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 9.5 inches long, the princess seam is 8.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 8.25 inches and the center back is 9 inches long.
I chose the size 24″. When I measured this before wearing, the ribcage was 26.5″ (rib spring of 2.5″), the waist was 23.5″ laid flat, (which stretched to 24″ while I was pulling on it with my hands), and the hip was 30″ (hip spring of 6″).
Material The panels are made from what appears to be 2 different types of mesh, but they’re actually attached to one another. The outer one is a honeycomb, fishnet appearance, which we so often see in many other OTR mesh corsets. The layer underneath is a sort of finer-weave mesh, and it has a bouncy, foamy kind of plush feel. The fabric content says 90% polyester, and 10% spandex so it has some give. The binding and boning channels are thin cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 1-2-3 converge downwards, and panels 4-5 create the curve over the hip.
The panels were assembled together with seam allowances facing outside, topstitched on the underside – and then cotton boning channels laid down on the outside, single boned on the seams.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, made from black single-faced satin ribbon and secured down at each boning channel. Almost full width (extends from serged seam near panel 1, to the boning channel by the back grommets.
Binding Black cotton twill, machine stitched with a slight top-stitch on both outside and inside (may have been done on a single pass). No garter tabs, but there are two loops at the top to hang it from.
Modesty panel Just under 6″ wide, unstiffened, finished in 2 layers of black twill, and attached to one side with a row of stitching.
In the front, there is a 3/4 inch wide modesty placket extending from the knob side of the busk, unstiffened and finished in black twill.
Busk 8.5” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly wider than a standard flexible busk, around 3/4″ wide on each side, and about the same flexibility as a standard flexible busk.
Boning 14 bones total in this corset, 7 on each side. Single boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steels, also ¼ inch wide.
Grommets There are 18, two-part size #00 grommets (9 on each side). They have a small flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Washers present in the back. The grommets at the waist feel very slightly loose in the back after half a dozen wears (2 inch reduction) but have not fallen out yet.
Laces ¼ inch wide, black, flat, nylon, shoelace style lacing (standard workhorse laces).
Price Available in black mesh and white mesh, both $35 on Amazon.

 

Camellia’s Corsets mesh short torso / waspie / cincher, $34.99. Picture courtesy of Amazon (click through for listing).

Final Thoughts:

I was surprised by the curvy, round-rib silhouette it gave, but the fabric is quite moldable to the body because the label states it’s 10% spandex. Although the binding and the waist tape hold the top edge, waist and bottom edge from stretching too much, it definitely has a lot of give.

My corset measured a bit small in the waist when I initially received it, but I could also tell that it did expand over time as I wore it in more – so perhaps they deliberately run a bit small in anticipation of some stretch. If you need considerable mobility, this piece will provide you with that, but expect some ease to also occur over time.

One part I wasn’t aesthetically crazy about was the fact that the fabric gave too much at the boning channels, allowing the steel bones to “flare” away from the body (especially at the hips), creating little spots where they poke out. This gives the impression that the corset isn’t pulled taut against the body, when really the binding is quite snug against my hips but the bones simply don’t lie flat.

Also, the waist tape was found to be uneven on each side at the center front – I would have cared if it were uneven in the back, but as the flaw is front and center, this is unfortunately quite noticeable through the transparent mesh.

The fabric by the back grommets and around the busk seems to not be reinforced with any interlining, which is a concern for longevity. I do see that the grommets are shifting slightly over time as I’ve worn this corset in, although none have fallen out yet. Camellia’s Corsets only recommends 2-3 inch waist reduction in these corsets, so I would not advise this for tightlacing, but more for a temporary gentle cinch and fashion use.

Learn more about the cincher on Amazon.

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Timeless Trends Galaxy Mesh Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Galaxy Mesh” hourglass standard length corset. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Full disclosure: The hourglass corset featured in this review is one of the four new designs I helped create for Timeless Trends in 2015, and I am a retailer for Timeless Trends. If you’re interested in learning more about the corset and you would like to support this site, I’m incredibly proud to say that the galaxy mesh corsets (and over 100 other styles of TT corsets) are available here in my shop!

Fit, length Center front is 11.5 inches long, the princess seam is 10 inches (5.5 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 13 inches long.
When I measured this before wearing, the ribcage was 28.5″ (rib spring of 6.5″), the waist was 22″ and the hip was 32″ (hip spring of 10″). Gently rounded ribcage and cut over the hips, just meeting the iliac crest.
Material Single layer of good quality synthetic corsetry mesh, which stretches less than the “fishnet” style netting in many other OTR corsets. The front and back layers are made from the galaxy mesh fabric which is soft to the touch, like a really soft jersey, not quite flocked but brushed material – and that is laminated directly to cotton twill. The boning channels are also made with this reinforced galaxy material.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 1-2 converge downwards, and panels 3-4 make the curve over the hip.
The panels were assembled together and boning channels laid down on outside – one bone on the seams and one bone in the middle of the panel. On the inside where the seams are, plush velvet ribbon was laid down to protect your skin against any pokey seams from the mesh.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, made from black grosgrain ribbon and secured down at each boning channel. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of galaxy fabric, machine stitched with a slight top-stitch on both outside and inside (may have been done on a single pass). No garter tabs in this corset as they would be visible under the mesh.
Modesty panel By default, TT corsets don’t come with a back modesty panel, but boned and floating modesty panels are available for separate purchase.
In the front, there is a 1/2 inch wide modesty placket, finished in matching galaxy fabric.
Busk 10” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk, which is reinforced with a flat steel adjacent on either side.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 11 on each side. Single boned on the seams and also single boned in the middle of the panels with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steels, 3/8″ wide, as well as the flat steels adjacent to the busk.
Grommets There are 28, two-part size #0 grommets (14 on each side). They have a small flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in gunmetal grey / pewter. Rolled nicely in the back, and washers present.
Laces ¼ inch wide, black, flat, nylon, shoelace style lacing (standard workhorse laces).
Price Available in galaxy mesh, but also a plain black mesh is coming in the future!
Sizes range from 18″ to 36″, $119 USD.

 

Galaxy Mesh hourglass standard length underbust corset. Pattern by Lucy’s Corsetry, styling by Vanyanis, and produced by Timeless Trends.

Final Thoughts:

While the pattern of the hourglass corset was on myself and Sarah (and about 2.5 years old now so nothing new), the stylist, Lowana of Vanyanis, definitely outdid herself on this piece. For many years, TT and myself had said that we might not ever carry mesh corsets – when the factory had experimented with using mesh as a corset material in the past, it was often sports mesh / fishnet style material that’s so popular nowadays, but they hadn’t been able to find a way to have the corset withstand the longevity tests. TT and myself have a lifetime warranty on all our corsets, but most types of affordable mesh simply can’t last a lifetime, and we wanted to be able to confidently stand by our guarantee.

However, during her last trip to Bangkok, Lowana was able to source the same good quality corsetry mesh used by so many reputable corsetieres, and it completely changed our stance on mesh corsets! I can also tell Lowana’s input in the spacing of the boning (one on the seams and one in the middle of the panels for a more even and comfortable distribution), and her characteristic velvet ribbon protecting the wearer from the seam allowances on the inside (corsetry mesh can be “pokey” when cut and the velvet adds a cushion).

If you’re interested in learning more about the corset and you would like to support this site, I’m incredibly proud to say that the galaxy mesh corsets (and over 100 other styles of TT corsets) are available here in my shop!

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Did Victorian Women Break In Their Corsets?

 

Many moons ago, one of my Tumblr followers asked: “Did people season their corsets in the 19th century?”

Short answer:

Not really. But they molded to the body much faster than many corsets made today, and some corsets came out of the factory already seasoned, in a sense.

Long answer:

Victorian corsets were usually single layer and molded quickly to the body

The vast majority of corsets in the 1800s were utilitarian, daily pieces – often a single layer of cotton, with lap seams that were either wide enough to hold a bone, and/or separate channels that were sewn on externally or internally. I have tried some single layer corsets and MANY multiple layer corsets, and single layer corsets always mold to the body faster and season very quickly. If you’ve ever had a mockup fitting, think of how well the single-layer mockup fits you, and how much heavier and stiffer the final corset feels in comparison, even with the same or similar measurements.

I also own some single layer corsets – some homemade, some factory samples, and some that were deliberately commissioned as a single layer like my Bizarre Design corset, and they have all felt fairly broken in after only 1 day.


Victorian corsets had a different construction (and shorter stitches)

In the case of those single-layer homemade mockups or samples that I’ve worn for extended amounts of time, they also started falling apart faster too, mostly at the seams. But why wasn’t this the case in Victorian corsets?

I remember at the Symington museum collections where they have dozens of antique corsets from the 19th century you can touch and study – there were hand-written factory specs of many corsets, but one of them in particular caught my eye because this one said that it was sewn with a stitch length of 26 stitches to the inch (the stitches were less than 1mm long!).

Check out the teeny tiny stitch length on this antique corset, as compared to the busk knobs or my thumb – even in “non tension bearing” seams like the quilting or boning channels!
(From the Symington Collection: Leicestershire County Council Museum Service)

Compared that to an OTR corset today, which has about 8.5-9 stitches per inch. (Of course, thread quality strength matters too, not just stitch length.) With a shorter stitch length, there is less “sliding and redistribution of the threads so you get less of a shear force. And with lap seams, flat felled seams, or seams straddled by a boning channel, these types of seams put much less stress on the thread compared to, say, the sandwich method that is popular today.


Whalebone (baleen) molded to the body with body heat and perspiration

Remember that prior to steel, the corsets contained whalebone which were thinner, lighter and – when exposed to warmth and moisture – the baleen became very malleable and could be bent in pretty much any direction. So when the corset is put on, the warmth and perspiration from the body would soften the corset more – and when the corset was removed, the bones would get the chance to cool and dry out, but could retain the shape of its wearer.

Steel bones do not have these same properties, especially some of the cheaper, rigid, less-comfortable flat steel bones often found in budget OTR corsets.


Side note: Second-hand / hand-me-down corsets were more common than you think!

Anthropologist Rebecca Gibson has studied the skeletons of impoverished French women from the 1800s and she said that it wasn’t uncommon for corsets to be be passed down from mother to daughter, or from mistress to maid – hand-me-downs and 2nd-hand purchases were a thing in the 19th century! So in that sense, the corset was already very much seasoned, but Gibson’s research also showed that just because they were seasoned doesn’t necessarily mean that they fit well – because the corset might not have matched their measurements.


Some corsets were steamed and “pre-seasoned” before being sold

After the industrial revolution in the 1830s, some factories actually steam molded their corsets which is kind of like rapid seasoning before it ever sees a body. Here’s one example from the V&A museum:

1887 steamed and molded wedding corset, Edwin Izod. Courtesy of the V&A Museum, London, UK. Click through for more info.

Quote from this page:

To improve shape, performance and comfort, manufacturers claimed numerous inventions. One of the most successful was the steam-moulding process developed by Edwin Izod in 1868, and still used in the 1880s to create elegant corsets such as this one. The procedure involved placing a corset, wet with starch, on a steam-heated copper torso form until it dried into shape. The result was a beautifully formed corset, whereby ‘the fabric and bones are adapted with marvellous accuracy to every curve and undulation of the finest type of figure’ (The Ladies’ Gazette of Fashion advertisement, London July 1879).

 


Victorians were accustomed to restrictive, non-stretch clothing

Almost all clothing today contain at least a small amount of spandex/lycra for comfort and positive ease. With the exceptions, say if someone puts on a nice work suit with no stretch they think it’s confining enough – imagine when they put on a corset for the first time and they’re introduced to the concept of negative ease! I’ve found that when someone is new to wearing corsets, they have a much more positive association with it if they only wear a corset gently for a small amount of time and build up from there (as opposed to taking 6 inches off their waist immediately and wearing it like that for 12 hours). As Ann Grogan of Romantasy says, “You wouldn’t put on a pair of 6-inch stilettos and run the Boston Marathon, would you?”

Soft children’s corded stays, for no waist reduction – fastened by buttons in front, and contains no bones (not even baleen). (From the Symington Collection: Leicestershire County Council Museum Service)

For this reason, I consider the seasoning process as important for a novice’s body, or probably more important for the body, than it is for the corset.

Victorians, on the other hand, had no stretch in their clothing per se (although pleats and gathers do what they can), and wore stays from childhood. Now, these stays wouldn’t take much (if anything) off their waist, they were corded stays and fastened with buttons instead of laces – but they would be quite snug and be close to fitting their natural waist measurement – such that their waist circumference was probably held more or less constant even as the rest of their body grew.


Tightlacing was less common; light reductions were more the norm

Props to Alexa for pointing this out: Most Victorian women didn’t tightlace, but rather their corsets were worn more for support (bust support and back support), supporting the heavy skirts, and perhaps gentle cinching. So even when worn daily, their wear might not be as rigorous as someone who laces down 6-8 inches and wears it 23/7 today.

This one study from the Victorian era mentions that corsets were typically laced with a reduction of 1.5 to 4.5 inches, with the average being just 2.5 inch reduction from the natural waist (26.5 inch natural waist, and 24 inch corseted waist). When you consider that a reduction of 2-3 inches is recommended during the modern seasoning process, it’s really not all that different from how many Victorians wore their corsets all the time.


How long was a corset supposed to last, anyway?

This antique corset was guaranteed to not break for 12 months! This implies that other brands or makes may not have lasted that long with daily wear.
(From the Symington Collection: Leicestershire County Council Museum Service)

Another thing to consider is how long a typical corset lasted back then. Some corsets boasted that they’re guaranteed to last 12 months, which implies that many other corsets didn’t last that long (but, as we know from Gibson’s research, hand-me-downs were not uncommon so they probably got a few years of use, and they mended and repaired where they could).

Some Victorian women may have bought a new corset every few years or up to multiple times in a year, depending on the family’s wealth, the quality of the corset, and the amount of wear and tear on the corset from the woman’s activities. But they would likely find it unreasonable to expect a corset to last 5-10 years or up to a lifetime, the way that some people consider modern corsets to last.

So although Victorians didn’t having a seasoning regimen the way it’s been popularized today, their corsets were very different to modern corsets. Today, corsets come out of the factories fairly flat, and often contain multiple layers of fabric (often a mix of fibers too, like polyester). They’re decidedly crunchy due to the starch and sizing, and they contain almost exclusively steel bones (which don’t change properties when exposed to body heat), AND also consider the fact that that people today are not used to wearing restraining clothing.

I hope this answered the question as to why seasoning was probably not done during the Victorian era, but was also likely not required.

If you have any comments or questions on the matter, leave a comment below!

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Glamorous Corset “Jenna” Sweetheart Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Jenna” overbust corset in blue satin, made by Glamorous Corset. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is just short of 15 inches long, the princess seam is 15.5 inches (9 inches above the waist, 6.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 14 inches and the center back is 12.75 inches long.
Bust spring is 7″, hip spring is 9″. The silhouette is gentle (modern slim).
Material The fashion fabric is blue satin, and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 5-panel pattern (10 panels total). Panels 1-2 give space for the bust, and panels 2-3-4 make the curve over the hip. Constructed using the welt-seam method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of blue satin, machine stitched on both outside and inside. Stitched in the ditch on the outside, and topstitch inside. There are also 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel 6 inches wide, unstiffened, made from satin on the outside, and black cotton twill on the inside. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, finished in blue satin.
Busk 14” long, with 6 loops and pins, the bottom two are a bit closer together. Stainless steel busk which is very slightly wider and slightly stiffer than standard.
Boning 20 bones total in this corset, 10 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 28, two-part size #00 grommets (14 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. There are a few splits on the underside of the grommets, and due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch much.
Laces Black, ¼” wide flat nylon “workhorse” shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 30″ closed waist (in blue).
For black and white satin, size range is 18″ – 40″
For sizes 18-30″ the price is $79 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Available on the Glamorous Corset website here.

 

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A Brief History of Hysteria

The history of the “medical condition” of hysteria is a long, winding, somewhat convoluted one. In its earliest definitions, hysteria was a term to describe trauma or disease of the uterus (hence the word “hysterectomy” to remove the uterus) – or even to describe a vengeful or mischievous uterus that detached itself from the pelvic region and wandered around the body.

4000 Years Ago, Ancient Egypt:

It’s said that the concept of the wandering womb came about around 4000 years ago in ancient Egypt, although the term “hysteria” wasn’t coined until around 2400 years ago by Hippocrates. Now, in general there was some stuff that Hippocrates got right – indeed he’s considered the father of western medicine. But he had some really interesting and wrong ideas about the uterus.
In old Greek, “hystera” (without the i) referred to the womb, which is where we get terms still used today like “Hysterectomy” – removal of the uterus.

2400 Years Ago, Ancient Greece:

Hippocrates lived around 400 BCE, and wrote / taught about the “wandering womb” – that the uterus was not anchored in place but was like an animal with a mind of its own, traveling around inside the body and wreaking havoc on other tissue and organ systems like a delinquent. All the symptoms caused by the womb’s antics is what they collectively described as hysteria.

The wandering womb was said to cause heart problems, liver problems, respiratory problems, it could cause a host of neurological issues, everything from headaches, to epileptic seizures (known as “Hercules’ Disease”), to unexplained paralysis (which might now be classified as conversion disorder).

Symptoms of hysteria include:

  • Sleeping too much, or too little.
  • Becoming disinterested in past hobbies, or too interested or obsessive in hobbies.
  • Showing apathy or lack of care, or having anxiety, irritability and caring too much.
  • Having high libido, or low libido.
  • Being too quiet and mute, or being too talkative and loud.

I think you get the idea. There was a very narrow range of “acceptable behavior” and if a lady swung too far out of that range on either side, she could be diagnosed with hysteria.

1500-500 Years Ago, Middle Ages in Europe:

In the middle ages, hysteria was tied to sorcery, witchcraft and demon possession and so – naturally – of the treatments was exorcism. Hysteria was a disorder of exclusion – if every other known disease had been ruled out and doctors couldn’t come up with an official diagnosis, then they believed that it was a disease brought about by something “intangible” and “not well understood” and therefore a result of the devil. And of course, since women were thought to have brought about original sin (re: Eve and the serpent), women were thought to be either naturally prone to “evil”, and/or more naïve and impressionable to evil spirits. Exorcism often involved physical and mental torture of the patient, and many women didn’t survive this “treatment”.

150 Years Ago: Victorian Era in Europe:

By the 19th century, at the height of Victorian fashion, hysteria had become a blanket term for emotional, sexual or mental disorders suffered exclusively by women. Some people blamed quintessentially “feminine” objects and garments for the disease (like corsets!) while other people thought that corsets helped prevent hysteria. But honestly, when I first started researching the history of hysteria, I was surprised by how little it was tied to the corset (the real history of corsets and stays are only close to 500 years, while hysteria is 4000 years old, so this is unsurprising).

Hysteria was a particularly popular diagnosis in the 18th and 19th centuries – in fact the 2nd most diagnosed condition after fever. According to author Laura Briggs, one doctor in the 19th century had a 75 page publication listing all the possible symptoms of Hysteria (and said that list was still not exhaustive)! It was estimated that 25% of the female population was affected by hysteria in some form or another. So Hysteria was still this vague, catch-all, umbrella diagnosis that could manifest in any different ways (it had hundreds or thousands of different “faces”) – as long as the patient possessed a uterus. If you, as a lucky owner of a uterus, disturbed the peace in any way, you could be diagnosed with hysteria and hauled away to a sanitarium or insane asylum.

We’ve discussed the many “symptoms” of hysteria, but what were the causes?

Some claimed that hysteria was due to the uterus becoming too dry and light. (Did the uterus become a helium balloon and just float off somewhere else in the body??) So doctors recommended ways to keep the uterus moist and weighted…. Except not really, because another source said that hysteria was caused by too much fluid retention in the pelvic region, specifically because the female was not purging her body of “female sperm”. (!?!!?)

In the 1700 and 1800s they also blamed “bad air” for hysteria, so when a woman “got the vapours” it meant their womb was acting up. You might have heard of smelling salts which were used to rouse fainting women (this worked by creating a sharp inhalation reflex, which was said to oxygenate the body), but the salts also were supposed to help with hysteria. Smelling salts were not pleasant in aroma; they were made with ammonia. Taking in the pungent odors through the nose at the top of the body was thought to repulse the uterus so it would be driven down through the body. Doctors also recommended applying sweet perfumes and scents to the groin to lure the uterus back to its assigned seat, so to speak.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of contradiction and nobody could really agree as to what caused hysteria, what the mechanism is, or how to cure it.

The horrific “treatments” in the name of hysteria:

Smelling salts, while not pleasant to actually smell, was probably one of the ‘preferred’ treatments for mild hysteria. Others recommended spreading dung on the upper lip or in the genitals (which is anything but hygienic).

Hippocrates said that pregnancy could keep the uterus anchored in place and prevent it from wandering – but the caveat, he says, is that the action of childbirth could cause the uterus to act up again and encourage it to wander. So, he seems to have implied that regular relations with one’s husband to keep the patient like constantly impregnated would be the answer.

Rachel Maines, author of “The Technology of the Orgasm”, has written extensively about the “treatment” for hysteria involving what we would now consider sexual abuse. Forced vigorous pelvic massages – manual stimulation administered by the doctor, or this task could be delegated to the nurse or midwife. According to this chapter in her book, when doctors complained that they were getting too tired stimulating the patient or it took too much of their time, that’s when sexual vibrators were developed as a popular substitute.

Lucy’s Added Thought: Even though hysteria is millennia older than the Victorian era, perhaps one of the reasons why it seems to be so intertwined with this era (apart from more literacy and more surviving written documents about the disease during the 1800s), is that there seems to be this connotation that compared to all other times in history, the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain seemed to be the most sexually repressed and these values were said to be spread to other cultures and countries around the world through colonialism during this era.

1885: Sigmund Freud and Male Hysteria:

Sigmund Freud was erroneously blamed for the widespread belief of the wandering womb, when really the theory had existed for millennia. When I looked more into it though, Freud started learning more about Hysteria from Jean-Martin Charcot around at the end of the 19th century, around 1885. Charcot popularized the theory that men could suffer from hysteria as well, especially soldiers. Many of the symptoms Charcot described would later be known as “shell-shock” and then post traumatic stress disorder. Freud put forward the belief that female and male hysteria was basically the same thing, related to anxiety neuroses – which was sort of laying down more framework for what we now know as anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorders, and PTSD although that wasn’t what they was called yet.

So in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Freud and Charcot and a few others were working to reclassify many of hysteria’s symptoms into new diagnoses, admittedly a lot of those were also wrong and often harmful and now rejected too – but they did claim that hysteria was a psychological, neurological and emotional disorder presented by survivors of trauma. It was not physical disease reserved only for those who own a uterus, and they promoted hypnotism and talk therapies. Freud even diagnosed himself with hysteria at one point, but there was so much resistance around male hysteria from the rest of the medical community that he flip-flopped and started calling hysteria a “feminine” disease again later on.

Meanwhile there was still a lot of messed up shit happening in the name of “treatment”. It seems that spreading dung on yourself and exorcism had both fallen out of favor by this time (thank goodness), but of course there was still sexual abuse and smelling salts as I had mentioned earlier, they were also injecting things into the uterus, cutting or burning away the genitals with fire or chemicals (Dr John Harvey Kellogg was said to be particularly supportive of female circumcision), using electroconvulsive therapy or shock therapy, among other stomach-churning things. And this was all happening well into the 20th century.

1920 – 1980: The Fall of Hysteria:

Hysteria as a diagnosis plummeted drastically after the 1920s in part due to women’s suffrage, but also a huuuuuge factor was because so many people, men and women, across different countries and cultures, started to present symptoms of PTSD during and after WW1 and WW2 that doctors could no longer deny its association with experience and trauma, and that it had nothing to do with gender. However, hysterical neuroses was still mentioned in the DSM-II in 1968, and was only officially deleted when they came out with the DSM-III in 1980.

 

Like I said before, Hysteria has about 4000 years of history, and it’s a convoluted history. Obviously there were multiple and contradictory hypotheses that existed at the same time about both the cause of Hysteria and the symptoms as a result of the condition, and also there’s a lot of disagreement about the timeline of it and who believed what about it prior to the 1900s. Also it’s worth noting that I am not a historian (I’m trained in modern biology) but I’ve tried to touch on events as fairly as possible in this article and clear up some misconceptions about hysteria.

I’ll post links below if you want further reading on this topic. Comment below and let me know the most absurd thing you’ve heard about hysteria!

 

Links for Hysteria (for further reading):

https://www.jstor.org/stable/30041838

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/maines-technology.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25273494

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480686/

Did Victorian era doctors use vibrators to treat hysteric female patients with orgasm therapy?

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Outfit of the Night: Monica Dress (with Gemini Corset)

 

Today I’m doing an OOTD of my Morticia dress from Pinup Girl Clothing. This is the older version with the side zip (I have never tried their updated version which is just closed on the side and you have to shimmy into the dress). I purchased this dress back in early 2014, so this dress is almost 4 years old and is still in good condition.

This has become my go-to “little black dress”. I’ve worn this to business dinners, friends’ weddings, my graduation last year, etc and I’ve been able to dress it up to look more formal, or dress it so it’s more appropriate for business settings, so it’s fairly versatile. This is the size small, and it has fit me at every weight from 125 to 150 because it’s quite stretchy. It’s got some powermesh from the underbust to mid-thigh, so at the higher weight my dress was a bit squeezy (but I’m accustomed to corseting so snug clothing is nothing new).

There are upsides to having a zipper: it makes getting into and out of the dress easier of course, but the downsides include the zip possibly getting caught on all the ruching and breaking the teeth. Also the side with the zipper can look a little lumpy and create an asymmetric silhouette – and I find this to especially be the case if I’m not wearing a corset. If you are corseted, it seems to be a little less noticeable, but the asymmetry is still there.

The neckline is somewhat adjustable, it is not “Elvira” levels of plunge, but it has a fairly defined sweetheart. But if you are more modest, you can pull up the ruched jersey to fully cover your bust, and it tends to stay nicely in place – I’m not typically worried that the fabric is going to fall or shift or move. But if you want to be sure, you can always add brooch in the center front to pin it in place and create a somewhat square neckline.

This dress also has enough support in the bust that I’m able to go braless in this dress. It has a non-stretch satin lining in the bust, and I actually find it’s more comfortable to go braless. The dress kept me very supported – no movement of my bust, even on the dance floor – but some people don’t like the way it flattens their bust, so if you’re in that group, you can feel free to wear a structured bra underneath and it will contribute to more roundness and projection of your bust.

Under this dress I’m wearing one of my Gemini corsets, which has a gently rounded top and bottom to prevent any points showing from under the dress. And like I mentioned when I reviewed the convertible dress from Victoria’s Secret – the plush ruched material, as well as the fact that it’s a matte fabric and a dark color, help to camouflage any edges. But if you want even more of a smoothing effect, you can wear high-waisted control top underwear or tights, which nicely smooths over the edges even under dresses that are thinner than this one. I’m wearing these ones over my corset and under my dress.

This dress is one of the pricier ones I’ve ever purchased, it was $168 USD when I purchased it new nearly 4 years ago. I have to admit, in the past year or so I’ve been buying retro fashion almost exclusively from second-hand buy and sell groups on Facebook. I’m part of PUG Swap & Sell, as well as the Canada Only PUG and Rockabilly Swap & Sell. You have to be ON TOP of it if you want to catch a Monica (especially size small or medium), because those things get snatched up within 5 minutes. But you know me, I love a deal and I especially love second hand clothing because it gives them a new life and prolongs their use before ending up in a landfill.

If you have this dress, what do you think of it? If you’ve tried one with a zipper and without, tell me which you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

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Rebel Madness Waist Trainer Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Rebel Madness Black Waist Trainer Corset Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 12 inches long, princess seam is 10 inches (5 inches from the waist up, 5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 12 inches long.
Rib spring is 8″, lower hip spring is 10.5″ (different from the measurements on the website, which states a rib spring of 7″ and hip spring of 9″). Ribs are slightly conical, and the hips are cut up to stop just at the iliac crest.
Material 3 main layers – fashion fabric is a finer black twill, interlining is also lightweight cotton, and lining is a more coarse black twill (may be bull denim).
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge towards the lower tummy, panels 3-4 give space for the hips, and panels 4-5-6 give some space for the upper back. Panels were assembled with the welt seam method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, installed “invisibly” between the layers. It’s a full-width tape stretching from center front to center back.
Binding Commercially-sourced black cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides (probably on a single pass, possibly by using a special sewing machine attachment).
Modesty panel 6.25 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. Not sewn into to the corset – it’s suspended on the laces using grommets.
There’s also a 1/2-inch-wide unstiffened black modesty placket in front, extending from the knob side of the busk.
Busk 10.5” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk, with an additional ¼” flat steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset, 8 on each side. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. One of the bones by the grommets is spiral steel (so the back is a but more flexible than usual when lacing up) but the bones at the center back seam, on the outer edge of the grommets, are flat steel. The bones adjacent to the busk are also flat steel.
Grommets There are 28, two-part size #0 grommets (14 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in black. They’re very nice quality (similar quality to Prym brand) and have rolled beautifully – definitely an improvement from the smaller silver grommets used in their old stock of corsets!
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide nylon cord / shoelace. They are a bit springy / spongey, but they hold bows and knots well and they are definitely long enough.
Price Available in black cotton (reviewed here) and black satin. Sizes 18″ up to 34″ closed waist.
As of 2017, the price is $83 USD. Find it here on Etsy.

 

Rebel Madness black cotton short trainer, $95 USD. Model unknown. Picture courtesy of Awin / Etsy.

Final Thoughts:

Rebel Madness’ corsets tend to be more lightweight and flexible compared to many other corsets at a comparable price range – so although this corset is advertised as a waist trainer, if you are used to your OTR corsets being more on the thick or rigid side, do keep in mind that this will be more lightweight than you’re accustomed to.

The prices of Rebel Madness corsets are also extremely reasonable for an entry-level corset (I’ve noticed that corsets made in Poland tend to be lower in price in general), at $83 in their Etsy shop.

Do you have this corset, or another corset from Rebel Madness? What do you think of it? Leave a comment down below!

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Why Do So Many Corsetieres Go Out of Business?

Almost every month I go through my corsetiere map and make notes on which corset makers are inactive, which have closed down their businesses and websites, and I add new makers that are popping up all the time on Etsy. Like with many craft / creative home businesses, it’s difficult to make corsetry a lucrative career.

Even I took custom commissions for a few years, and while I had no shortage of clients wishing for a corset (I was one of the lucky ones), I had my own reasons for going on an indefinite hiatus.

Because of my corsetiere map, corsetieres contact me when they want to be added or when they would like to be removed. In the latter situation, while I never pry as to their reasons, they often tell me anyway, and many of their grievances boil down to the same main points over and over again.

Although I cannot (and will not) go into the specific set of reasons as to why any one specific corset maker has decided to shut down their business (as that would be betraying their confidence), I can speak generally about it – perhaps discussing this would be helpful in having customers understand that corsetieres are human too, and for other corset makers out there, it can help them avoid the same mistakes.

 

Corset Supplies are Scarce and Expensive

Making a corset is relatively complicated, as far as garments go. There are a lot of specialty components that go into it (like a busk and steel bones) and depending on where you live, sometimes even good quality 2-part grommets are difficult to source. Most people can’t find these at their local fabric shop, and most corsetieres order online. The materials themselves can often add up to at least $50, before you even put your time into making the corset! This is one reason why corsets themselves are more pricey than other, more common articles of clothing.

Many corset makers end up supplementing their income by creating accessories – corset liners are simple and fast to make, as well as storage bags, or boleros, or dresses or other outfits that go well with their corsets. These are not only made from materials that may be less expensive / easier to source, but they typically take less time to make, so the designer can bring in enough to support themselves.


Corsets Take a Long Time to Make (and have a steep learning curve!)

Someone can buy 2 yards of fabric for $20, make a dress out of it in 2 hours and sell it for $50, so she ends up paying herself $15 per hour. Many people wouldn’t even bat an eye at spending $50 for a simple handmade dress. But let’s say you buy corset materials for $50, and spend 20 hours making a corset. If you paid yourself the same hourly rate ($15 per hour), then that corset will cost a minimum of $350, and (while this is actually a very reasonable price for a custom corset these days) so many people are not willing to pay that much.

Too often, fledgling makers enter the scene with competitive introductory pricing, such that some of them are not even paying themselves minimum wage, and this influences the market and drives down prices for everyone. (And we haven’t even gotten into the hidden costs of running a business… see the “Unexpected Expenses” section.)

There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day, so how do some corset makers make more money with the time that they have? A lot of them get help or take on side jobs:

  • More and more corset makers are now holding sewing classes classes, where people come in for a weekend and pay a fee to be taught how to make their own corsets. These classes are seemingly pricey (many start at $300 for a group class, up to and above $1000 for private instruction), but it’s a way for makers to supplement their income. As a student, if you think about the fact that you can buy a corset for $300 or learn to make as many corsets as you like for $300, the price of a class becomes justified (if you enjoy sewing, that is). And for the corsetiere, it’s an opportunity to take a break from the laborious work of crouching over a sewing machine all day.
  • Some makers take on interns to help (maybe once a week), so the interns learn how to make corsets for free without having to pay for a one-on-one class, and in return the maker gets… essentially unpaid labor. (From what I understand, depending on where you live and the type of industry you work in, this is an ethically grey area.)
  • Some fashion schools allow (or even require) at least one semester of free study, co-op experience, or internship. These “private study” semesters can dramatically help local designers, as flocks of students look for corset-making instruction and need to get their minimum hours filled.
  • SO many corset makers ask their husbands or siblings for help, even if it’s just tipping bones or setting the grommets.
  • Some makers even hire a virtual assistant to take care of customer service and admin (because dealing with people is not everyone’s strong suit – more on that later in the “Artists Sometimes Suck at Business” section).
  • Many corset makers go the way of ready-to-wear corsets. After a few years, corsetieres will likely notice that there is a certain “average” of measurements or proportions from their clients, and they can make one or several standard corset pattern(s) that will maybe 60-75% of bodies. Then they can batch out their corsets in bulk, which is much more efficient on time compared to custom corsets – it means you can stack your fabric layers and cut out several corsets at once, you can stock up on the same length bones and busks all the time (instead of cutting them to length or special-ordering them for each corset), and you don’t have to waste as much time switching tasks. However, after awhile, standard sized / stock corsets can be depressing (see the section “Beggers Can’t Be Choosers“).
  • Some corset makers make enough to be able to hire a team to make corsets in a small assembly line – so even when paying their team an hourly rate, since they have specialized machinery and people with specific skills, everything goes much smoother and faster. But of course, that special machinery comes at a hefty price – and training those workers takes time and money too.

Oftentimes when a corset maker burns out and stops making corsets, it’s because they were working alone for so many years without any help whatsoever – they were doing all the labor and admin themselves.


Making Corsets is a Full-Body Workout.

Cutting fabric on the floor; cutting and grinding bones; hammering or pressing grommets; spending hours upon hours in front of the sewing machine – these can be very labor-intensive and can cause injuries if you’re not prioritizing the ergonomics of your work area.

After my car accident in 2014, I wasn’t able to sew beyond very short periods of a few minutes (essentially short mending jobs) because I couldn’t crane my neck down for extended durations. Some people with muscle weakness need help cutting bones or setting grommets. Some people have arthritis in their hands and don’t have great dexterity in their fingers. And if you are sewing 12+ hours a day, almost every day, it can start to create a lot of wear and tear on the body.

Some corset makers do become more skilled and faster at making corsets, and some get better equipment so the process is more ergonomic (but that costs money too).


There Are Unexpected Expenses When Running a Business

Many corset makers only charge for the cost of materials + their labor in making the corset (and corsetieres have a habit of underestimating the number of hours required to finish a project!). But there are so many more expenses involved in keeping your business alive. Here are just a few “hidden costs” in any creative business:

  • Registering your business.
  • Filing for a trademark / copyright.
  • Admin work – bookkeeping, answering emails, etc.
  • Doing footwork / research / testing for the suitability of materials in your projects, or upgrading your skills.
  • Liability insurance for yourself, any employees you might have, insurance on your studio or dwelling, and insurance on your equipment and inventory.
  • Repairs and servicing for your machines / equipment.
  • Electricity that runs the equipment everyday (overhead).
  • Seller fees for Etsy, Ebay, and whatever you’re using to process payments.
  • Web hosting and maintenance.
  • Some countries require that businesses of any size, even the “hobbyists”, file your taxes every quarter. That’s every 3 months! That eats away at your time you’d rather spend Making Things, and some businesses are required to pay taxes every quarter.
  • Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant that knows all the legal stuff around running a business, and what’s claimable and not claimable around tax time (but this is a very wise investment and highly recommended – what I pay my accountant is much less than the amount I save by doing my taxes properly).

A corset maker can raise their prices to cover these fees, but that is a double-edged sword because it means fewer people are willing to buy from a brand that charges more.


Beggers Can’t Be Choosers

When I started making corsets, I considered it an amazing creative outlet. I could make any design, any color, any silhouette I wanted, with any combination of embellishments. I could let my imagination go wild! But when I started taking commissions, it became a case of “10 plain black waist training corsets in a row”, and while I take pride and put care in all of the corsets I make, it quickly became boring, soul-draining work.

Many corset makers now turn away prospective customers who want a plain underbust corset, because these makers only want to focus on luxury or couture work (and that is their right and their prerogative! If they’re able to maintain a successful business while turning away commissions, more power to them!). Other corset makers will take any commission they can get because it pays the bills – and what was once a lovely creative outlet for them has become a sad, drudging job.


Artists Sometimes Suck at Business…
…. Also, Difficult Customers Exist

Another potential issue with bespoke corsetry is that it’s so very personal: it’s designed to fit just one person exactly (even down to their anatomical asymmetries and idiosyncrasies) and the colors, fabrics, and embellishments are to that client’s specific taste. And oftentimes, if that commission is not 110% to the client’s standard, that is the difference between the maker getting paid and not getting paid. Of course, the maker should know this coming into the business – and know what’s fair and unfair in business dealings.

This is where contracts would be useful when taking commissions: be absolutely clear as to what’s included in the outfit / costume / corset commission, what communication and tasks are required of both the maker and the client (yes, some tasks are required of the client, like taking body measurements, being clear about what types of embellishments and how much, giving feedback during mockup fittings, etc), when payment(s) are due, etc. so there is less miscommunication and confusion.

Depending on a corsetiere’s PR skills, one really bad review can potentially ruin a maker’s reputation and put them out of business. (Some corset makers are really really good at making corsets, but their customer service leaves something to be desired.)

Several makers who have owned corset companies for 20+ years have all told me something similar (and somewhat controversial): for better or for worse, when it comes to the corset industry, it’s seldom that a laid back client comes along. While many don’t quite hit “bridezilla” status, occasionally a customer comes close, and the corsetiere has to learn how to be a good businessperson (not just a good artist) and know where to draw the line with “pickiness”: when to either put their foot down and when to cut their losses.

More unfortunately, there are many corset makers who hear nothing but crickets when their clients are happy with their commissions, and they only ever hear from their unhappy customers. This seems to be more universal: no matter what the industry or what the product / service is, unhappy customers are always louder than the happy ones. And this hurts businesses in real ways:

Let’s say a hypothetical corsetiere sells 50 corsets on Etsy. 48 of those customers are happy, and 2 of them are unhappy.

Let’s say only 3 of the happy customers leave 4 or 5 star reviews, but both of the unhappy customers leave 1-star reviews. That makes her Etsy rating look really spotty, close to a 60% satisfaction rate, even though in reality they have a 96% satisfaction rate.

I would not be willing to purchase from a corsetiere with a 60% satisfaction rate, would you? I might even think that they’re stealing photos from other makers and distributing knock-off designs, and the “three positive reviews” might be fabricated / shill reviews, or from customers uneducated about genuine corsets.

If many other prospective customers look at their poor ratings and think along the same lines, that corsetiere’s business suffers – she could be one of the most talented artists of our generation, but some people might never even give her a chance.

So if you purchased something off Etsy or even off a maker’s website and you were happy with your purchase, please consider leaving that corsetiere (or costumier, or artist) a positive review, or a testimonial that they’re able to share on their site – it only takes a minute, and it can really help with their reputation. If you have a bad experience with a corset maker then by all means speak your truth – but when you are happy with your product, also take the time to promote what you love, because some corsetieres’ livelihood depends on your feedback.

 

These are just a few reasons why so many makers decide to shut down their businesses. There are obviously many more reasons than these, some much more personal to the individual – this is why there is an entire industry (books, courses, mentorships, summits, etc) on how to properly run a business as a creative – no one is born knowing this, and most of us are flying by the seat of our pants, learning as we go. But if we’re to stay in business, we must be aware of these things and learn how to avoid them as best we can.

If there are any big reasons that I missed regarding why corsetieres or costumiers choose to leave their businesses, feel free to leave a comment down below and let me know. As always, be respectful in the comments.

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Orchard Corset CS-411 LONGLINE Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “CS-411 LONGLINE underbust (Orchard Corset) Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 12 inches long, princess seam is 11 inches (5.5″ above the waist, 5.5″ below the waist), side seam is 10 inches and center back is 12.5 inches.
Underbust 28″ (6 inch rib spring), waist 22″, low hip 32″ (10 inch hip spring).
Material 3 main layers – the fashion fabric is black cotton twill (also available in satin), flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in black twill again. Very stiff interlining in center front panel.
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). Constructed using the sandwich method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers.
Binding Made from matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. Stitched in the ditch on the outside, and topstitch on the inside. There are no garter tabs.
Modesty panel Slightly under 6 inches wide, made of a layer of black satin and a layer of twill. Unstiffened, and attached to one side with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired).
The modesty placket in the front is also black twill and ¼” wide, extending from the knob side of the busk and not stiffened.
Busk 11″ long, with 5 loops and pins (last two are a bit closer together). Slightly heavier busk, slightly under an inch wide and fairly stiff.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset. On each side, 6 of them are spirals about ¼” wide (double boned on the seams) and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24 two-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side), with a small flange, spaced equidistantly. On the underside there are many splits, but they don’t catch much on the laces due to the choice in laces.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy.
Price Available in black cotton, black and white satin, and black brocade (I recommend the cotton finish for longevity and smoothness). Sizes go from 18″ up to 46″ closed waist.
Sizes 18″ to 32″ costs $72 USD  |  Sizes 34″ to 46″ costs $75 USD

 

Final Thoughts:

This was another one of those OTR corsets that I felt really indifferent towards as I took it out of the package, but it ended up giving a surprisingly really lovely silhouette once I wore it in for a time.

The silhouette of this longline CS-411 corset is reminiscent of the original CS-411 with sweeping lines and somewhat conical ribs. The hips are slightly more “cupped” below the iliac crest, however, compared to the original. I also feel that this version is slightly more curvaceous than their standard CS-411, and that could be why it fits my body better – I do have a longer torso though, and I tend to believe that longline corsets are generally more flattering on my body so this could be influencing my opinion.

While this corset is available in a cotton fashion fabric and satin fashion fabric, I would personally recommend the cotton as it’s is sturdier, doesn’t wrinkle as easily, is harder-wearing (doesn’t pull or fray as easily), abrasion-resistant and is generally better at hiding wear and tear.

If you’re not a fan of the springy synthetic “workhorse” style shoelace that comes with this corset, Orchard also carries has some higher quality laces (double-faced satin ribbon and paracord) in an assortment of colors. I personally much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces, but paracord is said to be the strongest type of cord.

One thing to look out for is that the “bunny ears” are also consistently set high on the waist on Orchard Corsets (sometimes higher than the waist tape and always higher than my natural waist), but this is an easy fix – you just need to relace the corset, and I have a tutorial on that here.

See Orchard’s CS-411 longline corset on their website here, and remember that my ref code CORSETLUCY takes an additional 10% off your order (I don’t get any kickback from this coupon code, so use and share it freely).

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How Vollers Makes Their Corsets: A Factory Tour!

Welcome to the detailed tour of the corset factory in Portsmouth England from back in 2015, where we’ll see how Vollers Corsets makes their corsets.

A surprising number of tools and attachments used in this video were the same ones used 50 or even nearly 100 years ago, and it’s a bit like walking back in time, seeing how their workroom is optimized to make a simple underbust in as little as a couple of hours.

Don’t let that fool you though – each machine (and the machine’s operator) is specialized for a specific task, and many of their employees and members have been working with Vollers for decades. This means that they are highly skilled at what they do, and it also means they’ve seen how the family-owned brand has grown and changed – and how some parts have stayed the same!

While the various parts of this video were filmed out of order (and several different corsets were being assembled at once, so you may see the corset style change), I’ve tried to organize it here chronologically in order of how a corset would normally be assembled.

If you’d like to skip ahead to any specific part of the assembly process, use the time points below. Enjoy!

  • 0:25 Antique corset patterns
  • 1:25 Cutting the corset patterns
  • 1:40 Corset busks of various lengths
  • 1:45 Cording panels (sent to a processing house)
  • 2:30 Organizing WIP (work in progress) corsets for different orders
  • 3:30 Cutting spiral steel bones to length and adding on U-tips
  • 4:50 Sewing on the boning channels (twin-needle machine)
  • 5:45 Inserting the steel bones
  • 6:00 Installing the busk (both sides)
  • 7:30 Sewing on the binding (single pass using a binding attachment)
  • 8:20 Securing the binding with a bar-tack
  • 8:45 Modesty placket & modesty panel (back flap)
  • 9:50 Inserting eyelets
  • 11:00 Lacing up the finished corset

What parts did you like about the corset assembly process? What parts would you do differently? Leave a comment below!

And click here if you’d like to see the Vollers Corsets Interview, or click here to go to the Vollers website.

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Glamorous Corset “Dita” Leather Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review for the “Dita” underbust corset in black leather, made by Glamorous Corset. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is just short of 12.75 inches long, the princess seam is 10.5 inches (5.5 inches above the waist, 5 inches below the waist), the side seam is also 10 inches and the center back is 13 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, hip spring is also 7″. The rib is ever so slightly cupped, but appears more conical. The silhouette is a moderate hourglass.
Material The fashion fabric is black leather (also available in satin or cotton fashion fabric), and the lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). This pattern may be designed to be worn with a slight gap in the back, because panel 4 has the most flare over the hip. Constructed using the welt-seam method.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of black leather, machine stitched on both outside and inside. Small tidy topstitch on the outside, and raw inside (leather doesn’t fray). There are also 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
Modesty panel 6 inches wide, unstiffened, made from leather on the outside, and black cotton twill on the inside. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired, but the leather may “scar”). In the front, there is a ¼ inch wide modesty placket, finished in black cotton.
Busk 11.5” long, with 5 loops and pins, the bottom two are a bit closer together. Standard flexible busk ( ½” wide on each side) and the busk is slightly stiffer than standard.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
Grommets There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small / medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. Only a few splits on the underside of the grommets, and due to the choice in laces, they don’t catch.
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon “workhorse” shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Price Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist. Comes in black leather, and also various shades of cotton and satin if you’re opposed to leather.
Leather corsets: Sizes 18″ – 30″ are $89 USD, and sizes 32″ – 40″ are $94 USD.
Non-leather corsets are a bit less expensive, at $69 USD.
Available on the Glamorous Corset website here.

 

Final Thoughts:

Dita underbust (shown here in satin instead of leather), model unknown. Starts at $69 USD. Click through to visit Glamorous Corset.

This corset would be a good fit for someone with ribs and hips that are the same size – so if you are athletic and have well developed lat muscles, or if you happen to have a fuller ribcage and / or a more narrow pelvis, this evenly-balanced corset will give space for your ribs while not flaring too much at the hips. However, if you’re more of a curvy hourglass or pear shape, you might feel more comfortable in a different style that won’t compress your hips.

This corset is one that I warmed to over time. The very first time I put it on, the leather was stiffer and the corset gave a gentle reduction and a silhouette that looks like “) (” parentheses, which is not my aesthetic favorite. But as I wore it in over time, the leather softened and it molded a bit better to my body, I saw its true silhouette come out and it gave me a kind of comic book “Superhero V” shaped torso that looks impressive on both men and women. As such, this corset would be great for cosplay and costumes (and yes, it comes in brown for my steampunk loving readers!).

So this is just another example where we should not judge a book by its cover (or rather, should not judge the corset straight out of the box!).

For those who are opposed to leather, this corset also comes in cotton and satin – although I can’t speak for their silhouette and fit being identical to this one once seasoned.

Find the Glamorous Corset Dita and other styles in Glamorous Corset’s shop here.

Do you have the Dita corset, or another piece from Glamorous Corset? Let us know what you think of it in a comment below.

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Buying Used / Second Hand Corsets – FAQ

Over the years I’ve gotten an influx of questions about second hand corsets. Like other used clothing, they tend to be much less expensive and you can occasionally find “unicorns” (rare finds from corset makers who have retired or passed away). But can you trust a used corset to fit well or be as strong as a new corset? Are there any health concerns? Is it gross or shameful to buy second hand? I answer your questions here!

 

 

Isn’t it “gross” or unhygienic to buy a used corset?

I personally don’t see a problem with going gently used, as long as you know that it’s gently used and the previous owner is trying to convince you that it’s brand new – and as long as the corset is relatively clean or not used during unhygienic activities. Many people only wear their corset with a shirt or liner underneath, so technically the corset has never touched the skin on their torso, and the corset may not be any more “dirty” than a blazer.

I buy second-hand corsets where I can (I like discounted clothing as much as the next person), especially if I know the previous owner through the corset community and we’ve already developed good rapport. 90% of my closet is probably from thrift shops like Goodwill or Value Village. There are certain items that I don’t buy used (socks, stockings, underwear or bathing suits), and I will only buy shoes used if they look and feel almost brand new (look at the scuff marks on the soles) and don’t have signs that someone bled in them, for instance.

 

How can I tell if my corset is used or new?

There are differences between gently used and new corsets, the way that there are differences between used and new shoes. Look for the following in a NEW corset:

  • Crispier feel to the fabric, due to the sizing and starch used in the fabric (factories almost never pre-wash their fabric)
  • Stitches are all even
  • Steel bones are all straight, not twisted or warped
  • No wrinkling around the fabric
  • No shifted grommets in the back
  • The laces may feel springy too (if they are nylon OTR shoelace), and they might need to be “worked” a bit before they start gliding through the grommets like it’s second nature.

Used corsets might still show some traits of the above, depending on the construction and quality, and exactly how much it was worn by the previous owner.

 

This antique corset has teeny tiny stitches – about 25 per inch – and would show less shifting of stitches compared to the OTR corsets of today which have around 6-8 stitches per inch.
Corset courtesy of the Symington Museum Collections in Leicester, UK.

How does the construction play a role? A used corset that’s constructed with the sandwich method may show some slight shifting of the threads towards the waistline (where there is the highest tension), whereas with a corset with all external boning channels, this shifting in the stitching is harder to see. It’s also easier to see this shift if a corset has a longer stitch length, compared to if they used a shorter stitch length.

Other changes you can see in USED corsets (applies mostly to OTR corsets):

  • If a corset is very lightly boned with a several inches of unsupported fabric between each bone, you might see more wrinkling at the waistline compared to corsets with more bones (and more evenly distributed bones).
  • With the bones themselves, flat steels may have curved slightly to conform to the lumbar curve of the wearer over time, and because of this concave curve, the fabric along the grommet panel might have slightly wrinkled.
  • Grommets might have shifted slightly towards the center back seam if they’ve had tension placed on them. (A grommet should not be like falling out of its hole as this is damage, but in a used corset don’t be surprised if they are not perfectly lined up with laser precision.)
  • With a really well loved corset, you will likely notice that a corset doesn’t like to lie flat like it did when it was new. It may look slightly wonky and might also retain the roundness of its wearer when taken off.
  • The fabric will be softer than when it was new.

 

How much “stretching” should I expect in a used corset?

An OTR corset (depending on its quality and the style of construction, and depending on how often it was used) may commonly stretch 0.5 – 1 inch in the waistline. Some may stretch even more, and this should be stated by the previous owner if the corset has stretched to the point where it’s considered a completely different size.

Also, mesh corsets stretch more than non-mesh ones, and corsets with a partial waist tape tend to stretch more than corsets with a full waist tape. I was burned once where I bought a 2nd hand corset off ebay that was stated to be a size 22″, but in reality had a waist of 26″ because it had stretched out so much by the previous owner.

The most lucky buys are situations where the first owner tried on their new corset once or twice, and then decided it wasn’t for them – essentially selling an unseasoned, effectively new corset.

Sidenote: will the ribs and hips of a corset stretch out too?: The waist will almost certainly expand more than any other part of the corset, because it’s the place of highest tension. A well-fitting corset should ideally create a gradient where there’s compression at the waist, which dissipates up and down so that there’s essentially no pressure at the underbust and the hips. But some change to the fabric may still occur.
One really good quote from Laurie Tavan is that “we as corset makers of course never want our corsets to stretch out [such that the measurements change] but it is actually good to have some ease on the bias” as it helps the corset lie smoothly and it’s more comfortable as well. A couple of other corsetieres I know will deliberately cut specific panels on a slight bias (e.g. along the bustline, or around the front hip) to mold smoothly around curves and prevent wrinkles.

To some effect, all fabric, even the industry favorite herringbone coutil, are going to stretch on the bias a bit. The measurements of the underbust, waist, and hips will not change by too much in a good quality corset because the binding will hold horizontal measurements at the ribs and hips, and the waist tape will hold the waist measurement – but along the bias in other areas of the corset, yes there will be some ease, and this is actually a good thing for a comfortable corset that “molds” to the body.

 

I recently purchased this Restyle corset 2nd hand, and it still looked and felt new from the first wear because the previous owner listed it for sale after only trying it on briefly. It was essentially “new” but at a great price, with cheaper shipping than if I bought it new from Europe.

Do I have to “re-season” or “re-break-in” a used corset?

Let’s go back to the shoe analogy: when you break in new shoes, its purpose is to soften the shoe and get it to mold around your foot so it doesn’t give you blisters. In a pre-used corset, the threads have already shifted, the corset has already softened, and the fabric has already eased along the bias (helping an effectively “2D plane” of fabric to better wrap around the hills and valleys of a 3D body), so the corset will likely be more comfortable and you will probably be able to lace it tighter than if the corset were “factory fresh” new.

If you’ve had the pleasure of being fitted for a corset in a brick-and-mortar shop, they will probably lace their floor sample on you which has been worn by hundreds of other customers, and it will feel less crunchy and more comfy than the brand new corset you purchase and take home. But let’s say you exclusively wear that new corset for several weeks or months; if you were to go back to that shop and try on the floor sample again, I bet you would probably be able to say, “nope, this is not my corset. It is A seasoned corset, but it’s not MY seasoned corset.” Same way that a mom can tell her baby apart from another baby with very similar but non-identical features.

So you may not have to “re-break-in” a pre-loved corset. However, if this is your very first corset and you have no prior experience with waist training / tightlacing etc, you will probably still want to ease yourself into it slowly and NOT go as tight as possible on the first wear. Baby steps.

 

Any fitting issues I should worry about in used corsets (that I don’t have to worry about in new corsets)?

If you lace up your corset to find that the ribs or hips are bigger than your own, then no amount of wearing your corset is going to make it shrink to fit (but this is the same with new corsets!).

If the original owner had a noticeably asymmetric body, such that their body placed different amounts of pressure on different sides of the corset, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to make the corset perfectly symmetric again. Especially if that corset was laced on an angle or ended up twisting on their body over time, unfortunately I have never figured out how to get the corset to untwist.

 

If you have any other questions regarding gently used corsets, feel free to leave your questions below! If you have anything to add (or if you agree or disagree with anything here) also leave a respectful comment below and let’s continue the conversation.

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Corsetry & Romance Custom Silver Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the Corsetry & Romance Silver Sweetheart Underbust Review video. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length (Custom fit) Center front is 11 inches long, the princess seam is 10 inches, the side seam is 12.5 inches and the center back is 15 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 29″ (rib spring is 7″), waist is 22″, and hip is 33″ (hip spring is 11″). The ribcage is gently rounded, and the hips are very cupped. Somewhat longline corset, and very high back.
Material The fashion is silver satin. The strength fabric / lining is black cotton twill. Both layers are heavily interfaced.
Construction 7-panel pattern (14 panels total). Palina says that the number of panels vary with the size of the corset (larger corsets can have as many as 11 panels per size), the complexity of the pattern, etc. Construction: fashion fabric was interfaced and panels assembled with a topstitch. Single boned on the seams. Lining is also interfaced, panels assembled and topstitched, but the lining is floating (not attached to the fashion fabric).
Waist tape TWO waist tapes in this corset, one attached to the fashion fabric and one attached to the lining. Both 1 inch wide, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (center front to center back).
Binding Made from commercially sourced black satin bias binding, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished inside.
Modesty panel 4.5 inches wide, finished in matching silver satin on outside, and cotton inside. Boned with 3 horizontal and 2 vertical bones, and suspended on the laces with ribbon.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from the knob side of the busk, covered matching silver satin.
Busk 10” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side) and a bit flexible, but there are added flat steels adjacent to the busk to add stiffness. They are also gently curved to create a spoon busk effect.
Boning 18 bones total in this corset, 9 on each side. Single boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel. There are flat steels by the busk as well. However, corsets with more panels may have more steels.
Grommets There are 36, two-part size #00 grommets (18 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced a bit closer together at the waistline, and finished in black. No splits on the underside, no damage to the fabric around the grommets.
Laces Black 1/2″ wide single-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).
Price Price for a made-to-measure underbust corset starts at only $130 USD plus the cost of materials. Overbusts start at $160 plus materials.
Embellishments cost extra (e.g. flossing is another $15 USD).


Final Thoughts:

Model: Me (Lucy Corsetry), Photo: Rosalind Guder Photography, Corset: Corsetry & Romance, boots from Aldo, blouse and earrings from Vanyanis.

Corsetry & Romance is a one-woman business in Poland, owned and operated by Palina.

This piece is exquisite and definitely underpriced for its quality. I gave Palina a huge amount of artistic license with this piece (to the point where I didn’t even look at pictures before it was sent to me, so the final result was a total surprise!). I told her what colors and embellishments I like, and I gave her my measurements, and left the rest up to her.

The center front sweeps down to create an underbust sweetheart shape, but the top edge rises up to a very high back to hold in any “muffin top”. I find I can almost “lean back” in this corset and have ample back support, even along my thoracic spine.

The lovely Chantilly lace is sewn into the top binding around the underbust, and carefully gathered or “ruffled” as it tapers towards the waistline. A delicate silver ribbon, just 1/8″ wide, is threaded through the lace and fastens in a cute bow in the front.

The busk and some of the steels were carefully pre-bent to created a quasi-spoon-busk shape in the front and promote a certain posture and silhouette in this corset. On the loop side of the busk, it’s one continuous piece of fabric that wraps around the busk, with buttonholes for the loops to peek through which prevents any possibility of the center front seam ripping open.

The cording over the hips is one of my favorite features of this corset, as well as the bone flossing. There is a lot going on in this one little corset in terms of embellishment, but it was all tastefully combined to creates a beautifully elegant piece in the end, without being overwhelming or overdone.

The modesty panel and a storage bag are both included in the (already very low) price of this corset, and I honestly don’t know how Palina is able to work such magic with prices as low as she charges.

Corsetry & Romance has no official website at this time, but you can get in touch with Palina via her Facebook page.

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Corset SNAFU? Here’s how to Repair / Mend (Most Types of) Corset Damage.

 

Several of you liked the video/post I made on corset fitting issues and how to alter your corset to improve the fit, so I decided to make a “Part 2” where we talk about mending and repairing your damaged corset – and when the repair is manageable, or whether you should cut your losses and “sacrifice” the corset to reuse its hardware in a new corset.

Let’s explore the various types of corset damage, one by one:

 

A seam rips in your corset

I’m starting with this one because it’s one of the most extensive types of damage, and it’s the one that corseters tend to panic the most over.

If it’s only the threads that have snapped, and not the fabric itself that has torn or disintegrated, it’s mendable. The “quick and dirty” mending job is to whipstitch that seam very tightly back together by hand. Although this mend is visible, it will be quite strong, and if you wish you can cover it in lace appliqué (and put lace on the other side of the corset to make the embellishment symmetric, so it looks deliberate).

Time needed to whipstitch a seam closed: 20 minutes, depending on the size of the rip. If you’ll be embellishing your corset afterwards to cover the mending job, give yourself extra time.

If, however, you want to repair the seam in a way that no one will know that the damage had ever occurred in the first place, the complexity of this depends on the number of layers and the construction of the corset. It can be a straightforward job in a multi-layer corset with laid down boning channels. But in a multiple-layer corset, you’ll have to remove the binding on top and botom, remove the bones in the area, essentially take apart that corset down to its tension-bearing seams and then put it back together. There are risks associated with this method – if the seam allowances were trimmed small and the fabric has a tendency to fray, the corset may not be able to go back together exactly the same way it did before due to extensive damage to the fabric.

Time needed to take apart the corset and put it back together again: Up to 10+ hours, depending on how quickly you work and how complicated the construction is. Some might prefer to just make a new corset half from scratch.


Broken steel bones

This repair is (relatively speaking) easy peasy. Remove the binding on one end of the corset, just up to the affected boning channel. Remove the broken bone, and measure the full length of the bone. Order a new steel bone online, and the most difficult part is waiting for that bone to arrive in the mail. Once it comes in, simply slide the new bone into the boning channel, then sew the binding back on.

Time needed to replace a broken steel bone: 1 hour (plus a few days / weeks of waiting for the mail).


Bones that are too bendy in the back

Left to right: Heavenly Corsets (Elle Corsets), Xandriana, Azrael’s Accomplice, and Tighter Corsets, all corsets with different types and levels of bowing, for different reasons.

While this isn’t “damage” per se, it can absolutely cause one grief when trying to lace up and remain laced. The bones might kink and poke into your back, or the lacing gap may bow or warp. In this scenario, you can absolutely replace the bones with stiffer ones if you like (see above for the process). If you don’t want to mess with the boning, try adding more grommets in between between the pre-existing grommets (especially at the waistline), as well as tightening the boning channels if they’re too loose and allow twisting or twirling of the bones within the channels. I have a whole video / article on how to do these modifications here.

Time needed to replace bendy steel bones: 1 hour (see above)
Time needed to add extra grommets: Perhaps 20 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
Time needed to tighten the boning channels: 10 minutes, plus a good quality zipper foot.


Broken busk

Busks come in a multitude of colors, like these by Narrowed Visions. If you’re going to be replacing the busk, why not spruce up your corset at the same time with a colored busk? (Click through to Etsy).

The knob / pin / peg of the busk is basically a rivet that was hammered into a tiny hole within a steel bone. Therefore, it’s theoretically possible to get a rivet setter and hammer it back in (or find another rivet of the same size and use that instead). If you lost the knob, if the knob isn’t staying put, and you can’t find a rivet, you can try to get a little screw that somewhat matches the size, and screw it into the busk (use a flat nut or bolt in the back, and obviously get the type with a flat tip and not pointy).

Time needed to install a rivet or screw to replace the busk pin: >1 hour.

If you wanted to completely replace the busk, this is possible with corsets that have a reasonably “self-healing” fabric (i.e. not materials that show perforations, like leather or vinyl). To replace the busk, first order your busk and ensure that your new busk is the same length as your old one, with the same number of loops & pins, and they align in the same spots. If the knob side of your new busk can fit into the loop side of your old busk, this cuts your work in half because you only have to replace the damaged side.

Remove the binding and the anchoring seam (do not touch the center front seam), take out the broken busk, and replace it with a new busk. Sew your new anchoring seam, then put the binding back on.

Time needed to replace the busk with a new, identical one: 30 minutes per side.

Another thing you can do is get rid of the busk altogether.

Time needed to make a closed-front corset: ~ 1-2 hours.
Time needed to replace the busk with front lacing instead. ~ 2-3 hours.

Bonus: What if the loop side of the busk isn’t broken, just bent?

This type of damage on the busk is most often due to not fully loosening the laces in the back before attempting to undo the busk, so that one has to twist and struggle to unclasp the loops and knobs. As long as the corset is sufficiently loosened in the back, the busk should easily undo.

For the bent loops, these can be gently hammered or bent straight again, taking care not to make the loop “ziggly” or bending it too far in either direction. For the knobs/ pins, I would not ever recommend hammering them as they may lose their anchor and fall out.


Bones that have worn through their boning channels

Lovely Rats Corset featuring external boning channels and also flossing on each channel – both great ways to protect and prevent bones from wearing through the fabric.

If you’re just starting to notice a bit of wear or thinning along the fabric, you can floss the ends of the bones to prevent them from sliding around and preventing further damage.

Time needed to floss a boning channel: Give yourself like 10-15 minutes per motif, depending on your experience level.

If the bone has already worn a hole through the fabric, depending on how much it’s damaged you might need to patch over it or add external boning channels to cover it up. With external boning channels, this is your opportunity to get creative – use matching channels for a subtle effect, or decorative / contrast channels to spruce up your corset. To make the repair look deliberate, whatever you do to one side of the corset, also do to the other side.

If you’re going to add external channels, you’ll have to remove all the bones from that channel (or the whole corset, if you plan a major overhaul). This is a good opportunity to a look at the bones and be sure that they’re properly tipped and not sharp. If the bones were incorrectly prepared, you might have to take all the bones out and tip them properly and put them back in, which might extend your project by an hour or two.

Time needed to add one external boning channel: ~ 1 to 1.5 hours.
Time needed to add external boning channels to the whole corset: ~ 3-4 hours, depending on number of channels, and removing and putting on the binding again.


Grommets that have fallen out

Once the fabric around a corset has become so frayed and damaged that the grommets are falling out, you have no choice but to reinforce that fabric and / or use different grommets that are larger and have a wider flange.

The hardest part is sourcing your grommets and a matching setter that will set the grommets properly and not smush or crush them. If you already have these on hand and you don’t care about the grommets being all the same size or style (say you just want to replace the one grommet in the back), then it will be a super easy job.

However if you want all your grommets to match, you’ll need to take pliers and remove all the grommets one by one, and (preferably) add a reinforcing interlining in the back panel which will help the grommets stay in more securely

Time to change 1 grommet: 10 minutes
Time to remove all grommets and put in new ones so they all match: at least 2 hours (1 hour to remove the grommets, another hour to put new ones in). For a longer corset with more grommets, give yourself even more time.

 

I think I’ve covered most or all of the possible SNAFUs that can happen regarding corset fitting or damage that can be altered, modified or repaired.

If there were any I missed, let me know in the comments below! Also, if there were any (practical) modification or repair videos you would like me to make in the future, feel free to comment and ask.

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Rebel Madness “Ocean Lagoon” Mesh Underbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Rebel Madness “Boho” / “Ocean Lagoon” Mesh Corset Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 11 inches long, princess seam is 9.5 inches (4 inches from the waist up, 5.5 inches from the waist down), the side seam is 10 inches and the center back is 11 inches long.
Rib spring is 7″, lower hip spring is 14″. Ribs are slightly conical, but the mesh allows some flexibility in the ribs. I recommend this for someone with a high waist and full hips.
Material The mesh parts are single layer synthetic corsetry mesh. The front and back panels are 3 layers (fashion fabric is decorative lightweight cotton, another cotton interlining, and black twill lining).
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 2,3,4 and 5 all have some ease over the hip to create ample space over the hips. Panels were assembled with seam allowances facing outward (so as not to scratch the skin) and decorative lightweight cotton boning channels were laid down on the outside.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape made from grograin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset (obviously also visible on the outside due to the mesh). Seems to be full width (center front panel to center back).
Binding Commercially-sourced black cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides (probably on a single pass, possibly by using a special sewing machine attachment).
Modesty panel 6.25 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. Not sewn into to the corset – it’s suspended on the laces using grommets.
There’s also a 1/2-inch-wide unstiffened modesty placket in front, extending from the knob side of the busk, also covered in the same fashion fabric.
Busk 10” long, with 4 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Standard flexible busk, with an additional ¼” flat steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset, 8 on each side. On each side, 5 of them are spirals about ¼ inch wide – single boned on the seams. One of the bones by the grommets is spiral steel (so the back is a but more flexible than usual when lacing up) but the bones at the center back seam, on the outer edge of the grommets, are flat steel. The bones adjacent to the busk are also flat steel.
Grommets There are 20, two-part size #0 grommets (10 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in black. They’re very nice quality (similar to Prym brand) and have rolled beautifully – definitely an improvement from the smaller silver grommets used in their old stock of corsets!
Laces The laces are black, ¼” wide nylon cord / shoelace. They are a bit springy / spongey, but they hold bows and knots well and they are definitely long enough.
Price Available in the blue decorative fabric you see here, but also available in a more simple all black design. Sizes 18″ up to 28″ closed waist.
As of 2017, the price is $95 USD. Find it here on Etsy.

 

Final Thoughts:

Ocean Mesh mini underbust corset by Rebel Madness, model unknown. Image courtesy of Awin / Etsy. $95 USD.

This corset goes by several names, like “boho mesh”, “ocean mesh” or “lagoon mesh”. If you search any of those names on Etsy, you will find the listing – or you can find it here.

Because this corset is longer from the waist down than it is from the waist up, it would suit someone with a high waistline / deep pelvis, or it could conceivably be worn as an “active longline” corset (a term coined by Electra Designs, where the bottom edge of the corset covers the hips and lower abdomen, but the top leaves the ribs mostly free for expansion and movement). While I would still not recommend exercising or working out in any corset, this corset does leave my upper ribs more free for deep breathing, as I have a longer torso.

The mesh is a great quality, finely-woven synthetic corsetry mesh. Although we’ve been conditioned to think “natural fibers are superior” when it comes to corset strength fabrics (like cotton coutil) due to their breathability, the truth is that synthetic mesh fabrics tend to be stronger – and because they are a mesh, they are still lightweight and breathable. However, as always, I would recommend wearing this corset with a shirt or liner underneath to prevent chafing and to protect your corset from the sweat and oils from your body.

One concern I had was that the decorative blue fabric seemed a bit transparent (at certain angles, the edge of the spiral bones show through the channels) and I was worried that it would be too thin to keep the bones in place without eventually wearing a hole through the fabric after several months of use. Magda and Maciej (the Rebel Madness team) ensured me this would not happen, as they test all of their designs for at least 6 months before putting them on the market. So far I’ve not seen any damage or wear to this corset (but I have so many corsets that I don’t wear this one daily), so for now my worries are assuaged. However, I’m thinking about adding some decorative flossing on top and bottom of each boning channel in a delicate light blue or deep purple floss, which will add even more security against any future issues.

The prices of Rebel Madness corsets are also extremely reasonable for an entry-level corset (I’ve noticed that corsets made in Poland tend to be lower in price in general), at $95 in their Etsy shop.

Do you have this corset, or another corset from Rebel Madness? What do you think of it? Leave a comment down below!

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England Adventures: Oxford Conference of Corsetry (OCOC), Interviews, Factory Tour & More!


At last, after 2 years I’m sharing with you some highlights of my trip to England, and what you can expect at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry if you choose to attend in the future.

There were unfortunately some restrictions placed on what could be photographed or filmed and what couldn’t, and so I filmed very little in 2014 (the first year I attended). In 2015 I filmed a little more, after seeing what other attendees freely filmed / photographed without getting a slap on the wrist – but here’s a nonexhaustive list of limitations (just so you won’t be underwhelmed by the lack of footage in the video above).

  • At Jesus College, where conference was held, you’re not allowed to portray it in any way that could be considered an advertisement.
  • You’re not allowed to show certain signs or crests or logos in video or photography.
  • Regarding the conference itself, I was respectful of attendees who didn’t want to be shown on camera (but when you’re at a conference you’re constantly surrounded by people).
  • I would have loved to do a dozen corset reviews or interviews at the conference as well, but I was not allowed to favour the work of any one maker over the others (if I interviewed one, I would have to interview all of them, and there wasn’t enough time to do so).
  • You’re was also not allowed to film the models or photographers when they were at work.
  • Obviously you’re not allowed to film the workshops in their entirety, as that could be giving away the presenters’ trade secrets.

So what was left that I could film included old architecture and gardens, the backs of people’s heads, tiny snippets of talks, and piles and piles of corsets (of course, the corsets were the whole reason I was there!). I’ve pulled together what I could here, and in this video I’ll also be talking about what I got up to before and after the conference (in both 2014 and 2015).

 

Corset Pilgrimage, 2014: Oxford, London, Leicestershire, Birmingham, Bath

Lowana of Vanyanis (right) and myself in the car (also with Jenni of Sparklewren in the front seat), all of us excited to head to OCOC 2014!

The location itself felt like I was staying at Hogwarts. I’m not certain if there are any buildings in Canada that are quite as old as those in Oxford, and I felt a combination of reverence and the heebie-jeebies. You could choose whether you wanted to share rooms with a friend or whether you wanted your own place (I recommend bunking with a friend – it’s less expensive as well). When you check in at the college, they assign you your room. Attendees are all scattered around the college, you’re not all in one giant rez.

At the conference there’s always a room with a corset pile on a giant table. Corset makers can bring their corsets and label them and leave them here for the weekend for all other attendees to study and try on (if you allow trying on of your corsets). This room is locked after hours so your belongings are protected. Again, I was not allowed to conduct any interviews or corset reviews at the conference, but I did do a couple of interviews (Beata Sievi of Entre-Nous in Bath, and Lowana O’Shea of Vanyanis in London) after the conference in 2014.

Autograph for Christine Wickham from Mr Pearl. It reads, “To Dear Christine / Love is the Messge / Love has no time or space. / Mr Pearl”

There was also a table set up for Christine Wickham, of Ariadne’s Thread, as it was her crowdfunding that helped me afford to travel to England to the OCOC in the first place. Christine passed away unexpectedly in July 2014, just a few months after the campaign ended, and a month before the Conference of Corsetry. I commissioned Sarah Chrisman to hand-bind a book with blank pages, and anyone could come and write a note to Christine or to her family.
I ended up bringing the book 2 years in a row, and at the conference in 2015, the one and only Mr Pearl signed her book.

On the Saturday night, there is a dinner gala where you can dress up in formal or semiformal wear, and many of the corsetieres wore their own creations.
In 2014, the special guest and keynote speaker was Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden, and how her business had evolved over 25 years.

Some of the classes and workshops in 2014 included:

  • Drawing inspiration from architecture and nature, guided by Alison of Crikey Aphrodite
  • Couture hand finishing techniques by Ian Frazer Wallace of Whitechapel Workhouse
  • Studying antique corsets including the bird’s wing corset, with Jenni of Sparklewren
  • Grading different sizes for standard sized collections by Marianne of Pop Antique
  • Working with Worbla and other interesting materials with Barbara of Royal Black

Let’s rewind a bit and talk about going to the Symington corset collection in Leicestershire before the 2014 conference. I made plans to meet Lowana of Vanyanis at the airport, and we made an appointment to study some of the antique corsets in their collections. It was simply amazing; we were allowed to touch the corsets with clean bare hands. See the video for many examples of the corsets we studied there.

This antique corset has teeny tiny stitches – about 25 per inch – and it was considered impressive if the corset lasted 12 months before needing replacement!
Corset courtesy of the Symington Museum Collections in Leicester, UK.

After the museum, Lowana and I went to Birmingham to the Jewellery quarter and spent a day at Sparklewren’s studio. Marianne of Pop Antique was there too, and Lowana hired Inaglo Photography for a day there. I also had a small turn in front of the camera.

After the 2014 conference, I toured different parts of London and Bath – parts with Lowana and Beata, and parts solo. I was particularly excited to visit the roman baths, because my grandmother visited them in the 70s and loved them so much. I’m named after my grandmother but never met her, and it was of an odd importance to me that I walked the same areas she did when she visited England over 40 years ago.

Again, if you’d like to see the interviews I did in Engand in 2014, click here for Beata Sievi of Entre-Nous in Bath, and Lowana O’Shea of Vanyanis in London.

That was the summary of my whirlwind 2014 England trip! Continue reading to learn what I got up to in 2015.


Corset Pilgrimage, 2015: Oxford, London, Portsmouth

Joni (Rainbow Curve Corsetry) and myself (Lucy Corsetry) hugging a really, really old tree somewhere near the fields where Harry Potter’s Quidditch games were filmed.

The Oxford Conference of Corsetry in 2015 was structured similarly to the year before. That year I was only in England for about 5 days, so there were fewer opportunities for tourism, and the itinerary was a lot more jam-packed. I arrived just hours before conference festivities began on the Friday, so I went walking in downtown Oxford with some other corsetieres like Sara of Exquisitely Waisted Designs, Karolina Zarzycka with the label of her own name, Dee from Luscious Pearl Designs, and Joni from Rainbow Curve Corsetry, and we checked out some different sites where Harry Potter was filmed. Later that evening all the attendees went to Bill’s for a casual meetup and grub before lectures and workshops started the next day.

This year, I decided to share a dorm with Laurie Tavan, and as we’re both quiet people who completely nerd out on the minutia of corsetry and aren’t afraid to help each other out, she was the perfect roommate for that weekend.

Again on Saturday night, there’s a semiformal dinner, and the keynote speaker for 2015 was Immodesty Blaize, who gave an amazing performance and then gave a beautiful speech afterward.

Workshops and classes in 2015 included:

  • 3D printing and other interesting materials with Barbara of Royal Black.
  • Pattern matching workshop conducted by Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden.
  • Question and answer period with Mr Pearl.
  • Building your own website and SEO with Fionna Pullen.
  • There was also a class on integrating corsetry into other clothing (led by Ian Frazer Wallace of Whitechapel Workhouse) – arguably the class I was most excited about on the itinerary that year – but that particular year, attendees were divided based on skill & experience level, so not all makers were allowed to attend all workshops. This is the one detail that I would change in the future with OCOC; if all attendees pay the same amount to attend the conference, they should all be able to sit the workshops they’re most interested in. Attendees only learned that we were segregated into different classes after we had already paid for our tickets.
Katie Thomas (right) and myself in the WKD London boutique.

After the conclusion of OCOC 2015, I spent two days with Katie Thomas of What Katie Did. She showed me the headquarters in London, where all the amazing lingerie and corsets are stocked for online orders, and showed how their business operates on the back end – from testing samples, to online customer service, to working with celebrity stylists, to order fulfillment. I also learned about the “What Katy Did” books and the history behind the name, and also we took a trip to their boutique on Portobello Green and saw how they ran their shop. I also got to try on a few corsets, and of course Katie and I sat down for an interview! If you’d like to see the whole interview, click the link in the cards, or in the description below.

Katie’s family also took me to Basildon park, a gorgeous estate where they filmed parts of Downton Abbey. I’m so grateful to Katie and her family for housing me for a few days and showing me such hospitality.

After two days with Katie’s family, I took the train south to Portsmouth where the Vollers family kindly put me up for two nights, and allowed me to tour their factory and see how one of the oldest corset companies in the world runs their business and makes their corsets. They have lots of nifty tools machines, which you can see in this detailed video. Naturally, what would a visit be if I didn’t also interview Corina and Ian, the owners of Vollers corsets?

I wore Vollers Veco corset dress to the formal dinner at OCOC 2015, and then visited the Vollers factory after the conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving the Voller family, I went straight to the airport and flew home.

Unfortunately I was not able to make it to the 2017 conference of corsetry, but from the sound of it and all the pictures, it seems like it was their best year yet.

Many thanks to the coordinators and presenters at OCOC, Christine Wickham, Lowana, Jenni, Glo, Beata, Katie, Laurie, the Voller family, and everyone who made my two trips to England as wonderful as they were. The next OCOC meetup is in 2019 and I’m determined to attend again – and hopefully spend a little bit longer time there to take in more of what England has to offer.