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!
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:
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.
The fashion fabric is black leather (also available in satin or cotton fashion fabric), and the lining is black cotton twill.
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.
One-inch-wide waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 Aseasoned 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.
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:
(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.
The fashion is silver satin. The strength fabric / lining is black cotton twill. Both layers are heavily interfaced.
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).
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).
Made from commercially sourced black satin bias binding, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished inside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Black 1/2″ wide single-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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).
Commercially-sourced black cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides (probably on a single pass, possibly by using a special sewing machine attachment).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
As you know, throughout 2015 I spent about 2 months traveling for business. You might recall my Thailand adventures video and my Texas adventures video, so here is a brief continuation of what happened in California in July of 2015. (Unfortunately I broke my phone and I had also misplaced some memory cards for my travel camcorder for two years so I lost a lot of my footage – but by some stroke of luck I found one of my SD cards which had a few tidbits of footage).
The clip with myself, Sarah, and Jim Cox (the owner of Timeless Trends) at the beginning of the video above is of one of the first prototypes of the Gemini back in June of 2015 in Bangkok. I had included a very short clip of this in my Thailand video two years ago, but I didn’t want to give away too much about the two different silhouettes and the cut, but now that the Gemini corset is for sale, I’m comfortable extended version now!
There were some great workshops during this weekend, including:
Jasmine (Sind & Satin): how to create her signature ribbon cinchers without a side seam.
Jessica (Ties That Bynde): how to drape and modify patterns from start to finish, and how to grade sizes of a standard size collection.
Sidney Eileen: flossing and other couture hand-finishing techniques.
Jasmine Starfire (the coordinator): millinery techniques that can cross over to corsetry, including using bronze molds on silk petals to make custom flower embellishments.
Amber (Lovely Rats): how to pattern-match / motif-match.
And there were also opportunities to stay longer and visit the amazing fabric market in the LA area.
I also got to catch up with Sidney Eileen, and interviewed Sidney on how her health has improved since the 2013 fundraiser to help treat her lyme and anaplasma infections.
After the Symposium I decided to stay for an extra two days in California and take in what the LA area had to offer (what I could afford at the time). Unfortunately I did not make it to Disneyland, but Laysa and I went shopping in Burbank, visiting stores like Pinup Girl Clothing, What Katie Did, and Unique Vintage. Laysa also took me to Venice Beach where I touched the Pacific ocean for the first time, and the two of us also spent a day with Puimond and his two adorable and well-behaved dogs, Dobby and Handsome (RIP to them both, they passed away I believe in 2017). If you want to see the full interview with Puimond, click here.
I wish I had more footage to show but it really was a whirlwind trip of about 4.5 days! I definitely would love to visit California again in the future. Californians, if you can think of anything that is an absolute “not to be missed” attraction that you think I should see next time I’m there, leave a comment below and let me know!
This entry is a summary of the review for the “Emma” underbust corset in black mesh, 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:
Center front is just short of 10.5 inches long, the princess seam is 10 inches, the side seam is also 10 inches and the center back is 11.5 inches long.
Rib spring is 6″, hip spring is 6″. The waist does tend to run a bit large / expand in mesh corsets. Offers a gentle (modern slim) silhouette.
The mesh parts are single layer hexagonal-hole “fishnet” style netting (seemingly industry standard for OTR). The front and back panels, boning channels and binding are all black cotton bull denim (a coarse weave twill).
5-panel pattern (10 panels total). Mesh panels were assembled together, and seams were sandwiched by boning channels on the outside and inside. The channels straddle the seams and reinforce the seams.
One-inch-wide waist tape made from single-faced satin ribbon, stitched on the inside of the corset and secured at boning channels. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Matching black cotton twill, machine stitched on both sides. The front was stitched in the ditch and the back has a top stitch. 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
5.5 inches wide, unstiffened, made from 2 layers of black cotton twill. 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, also finished in black cotton.
9” long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk (1″ wide on each side) with an additional ¼” spiral steel bone adjacent to the busk on each side.
22 bones total in this corset, 11 on each side. Double boned on the seams with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones adjacent to the busk are also spiral steel. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (probably stainless steel).
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 much.
The laces are black, ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace. They are a bit springy, but they hold bows and knots well and they are long enough.
Available in sizes 18″ up to 40″ closed waist.
Comes in black mesh, white mesh, and 4 shades of satin.
Sizes 18″ – 28″ are $79 USD, and sizes 30″ – 40″ are $84 USD.
Only available on the Glamorous Corset website here.
The Emma corset is a mid-length mesh corset that offers gentle waist reduction. If you have a seated torso length that is less than 10 inches, you may be more comfortable in their shorter “Bella” mesh cincher, and if you prefer a curvier, longer corset, their “Jolie” longline may suit your preferences.
The mesh is the OTR standard “fishnet” type cotton netting, which offers breathability and quite a lot of flexibility, while the sturdy double boning adds body and rigidity to the corset for posture support and vertical tension. Do keep in mind that because the mesh can expand, this mesh corsets (like other mesh corsets) can expand 1-2 inches when worn (I find this is true of nearly all OTR corsets with this kind of fishnet material, regardless of the brand), so if you’re looking for a specific waist reduction, you may need to go one size down from your usual size – but ensure that your ribs and hips will fit that smaller size as well.
One viewer on Youtube asked about the similarities and differences between this Emma corset compared to True Corset’s mesh cincher, which I reviewed a few years back. For the similarities, both corsets have the same number of panels, and the top and bottom edges are cut straight across in a similar way, and the type of mesh / fabrics used are comparable, but that’s where the similarities end. The measurements are different (in the True Corset, the rib spring is +5 inches, and the hip spring is +8 inches. In this Emma, the rib spring and hip spring are both +6 inches). The Emma also has a slightly different construction technique (double boned, and the boning channels seem to be reinforced as well) – and because of the heavier boning, it lends a smoother, more mild silhouette than the True Corset. If I recall correctly, True Corset dipped or sealed their steels in a kind of shrink tubing, whereas in the Emma corset, they used cotton channels on inside and outside.
Welcome to another Fast Foundation Friday! Today we will explore the question of whether you’re able to ride a bicycle / motorcycle while wearing a corset.
While I don’t own a motorcycle or a bike (so I can’t give you a live demo unfortunately), I do however know a few corset wearers who do ride bikes or motorcycles. The have informed me that the corset works on a bike similarly to how corsets helped cavaliers on their horses in the 19th century: the corset helps correct posture while on the motorbike, it can act like a kidney belt to prevent organ jiggling especially over gravel, and it can provide another layer of proprioceptive feedback (telling you when you’re leaning and when you’re straight).
One acquaintance who rides motorcycles, Deanna, contributed to my Solaced book. Hers is the first story of the Back Injuries chapter, you can read her story for free if you go to Amazon and read the kindle sample. In her testimony, she mentioned that she had wiped out on her motorcycle twice – once before discovering corsets (and wearing a corset helped in back recovery) and quite a bit later, she had an accident again – this time while wearing her corset. The second time she had an accident, she said she had injured almost every part of her body except where her corset covered (armor indeed!).
Regarding bicycles, there are many accounts of corset wearers biking while in a corset. The first person that comes to mind is Sarah Chrisman, author of Victorian Secrets. She is a lifestyle corset wearer and has many pictures of herself on a bike as well as many resources from the Victorian era regarding bicycling.
For those who are looking for some advice regarding how to start riding your bike while in a corset – some common sense tips include getting used to riding your bike without the corset, and getting accustomed to wearing your corset before jumping on a bike. Learn how to breathe, bend and move in a corset before your first bike trip, and learn your bike paths and figure out how much you’ll be exerting yourself.
While on your bike, in your corset, pace yourself so you don’t get too winded e.g. when going up hills, and don’t be afraid to stop and loosen the corset if you feel the need to. I will always say safety first on the road, so if a corset prevents you from turning properly to check any blind spots behind you (regardless of the vehicle) then you may want to consider going without the corset – take it in your bag and put the corset on when you get to your destination.
Do you have any other ideas or questions you want answered in future Fast Foundation videos? Leave a comment below!
In this post we’re going to discuss corset alterations to adjust the fit of your corset, and when it’s worth it to try to go DIY, when to leave it to professionals, and when to cut your losses and just toss (or sell) your corset.
Before I get to that, I will say that if you absolutely hate sewing and you have the funds to commission someone else for alteration or repairs, there is no shame in doing so. Back in 2010 I made a video titled “Should you buy a corset or make one?” where I explained (with math and tables, in all my nerdy goodness) to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a corset or making one by myself.
But one thing I didn’t factor in was your willingness to learn and how much you value your time. Let’s say it takes ~20 hours to make one good-quality-yet-relatively-simple corset. (This is about right for me, as I’m a very slow and meticulous worker.) If you have no desire to learn how to sew, and you’re lucky enough to have a job where you’re paid over $30 per hour, that means you can work 10 hours and commission a corsetiere to make you a custom corset for $300 (instead of making a corset in 20 hours and saving yourself $300). If you have zero interest in sewing, it’s better to go with the former situation as you’ve just saved yourself 10 hours of labor.
Just as there’s no shame in buying a custom corset if you can afford it (and you simply don’t like sewing), there’s also no shame in sending your corset to a tailor or corsetiere for alterations – nor is there anything wrong with selling your poorly-fitting corset to someone who would fit it better, and buying a new corset that will fit you correctly! Consider your personal situation and use your discretion.
By the way, altering your corset is something you do when your return / exchange period has expired (or if the company you bought your corset from doesn’t have a decent exchange policy). To see the various exchange / return windows of different OTR corset brands, see my page “Can I Waist Train In That Corset?”
With that said, let’s start with fitting issues with your corset, and what can be done about each.
If the corset was constructed using the sandwich method (and only the sandwich method), it’s probably fastest and easiest to add hip ties. The advantage with hip ties is that you can adjust them as you train down your waist – if the waist is loose, you can tighten the hip ties to be snug around your own hips, and as you tighten down the waist, you can loosen up the hip ties to accommodate your own hips as that corseted hip spring gradually becomes larger – so the hips of your corset always fit. With a corset with a fixed hip measurement, there’s a narrow window where it fits best, without being too loose or too tight.
Time needed to add hip ties: 2-4 hours.
If your corset is not made with the sandwich method, or if you don’t like hip ties, you can add hip gores which are easiest to do by slashing the middle of the panel, that way you don’t have to take out the boning and pick out all the seams between the panels.
Time needed to add hip gores: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores.
Some people asked if “rib ties” are a thing. Technically yes – you can do the same thing on the top half of the corset compared to the bottom half. But generally there’s a bit more pressure on the ribs than there are on the hips, especially if it was a conical rib corset. If you put in rib ties, even in the most straight-ribbed corsets, they will automatically create a cupped-rib corset. Another concern is that over a longer time, those laces would push against your ribcage and that pressure might get uncomfortable over time.
So I would recommend only gores for introducing more room in the bust or ribcage. With gores, you can also control how round or how conical you want the ribcage to be.
Time needed to add “rib gores”: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores
If you want to add hand flossing to the gores to strengthen the seams, give yourself extra time for that!
The steels by the grommets are too straight and hurt your back.
You can also do this in the front, curving the busk itself, or the steel bones adjacent to the busk. It can create a slightly “spoon busk” effect so if you have a protruding tummy, the busk “scoops” it up and in. However if you are very slender (you have a flat tummy with protruding pubic mound), then I might not recommend curving the busk inward, as the bottom of the busk might jab into your pubic bone.
(If your corset contains carbon fiber bones instead of a malleable steel, you don’t have a chance in heck to bend those bones. Don’t even try.)
Time needed to curve the back steels: 10-20 minutes.
The corset is too long (you can’t comfortably sit down in it)
Cutting down the top edge will stop the corset from pushing up on your bustline, while cutting the bottom edge of the corset will stop the corset from digging into your lap when you sit down.
For a very long corset that’s problematic on both top and bottom, do not attempt to just cut down one edge and “fudge” the fit by changing where you put the waistline of the corset on your body. If you’re tempted to cut corners, you’re better off selling the corset and using the funds towards a better-fitting, shorter corset for yourself.
Cutting down the corset involves removing the binding, removing the bones, cutting down the corset fabric, cutting down the bones (and busk), retipping the bones and putting them back in, and finally sewing on the binding again. See my video tutorial here!
Time needed to cut down your corset: 5+ hours, depending how many bones you need to cut down.
The corset is too short (it’s not fully covering or supporting your lower tummy, and/or may be causing some “muffin top” at the ribs or back)
There are not a lot of effective ways to lengthen a corset. If you are stuck with that corset, then pair it with some shapewear: control top briefs can help pull in and support your lower tummy if the corset stops too high on your hip, or a longline bra can help smooth your ribs and the skin along your back if the corset stops too low on your ribs. But honestly, if at all possible, I would exchange that corset for a longer one – or if an exchange is not possible with your vendor, just sell the corset and use the funds toward a longer, better fitting corset.
The corset is too big or too curvy – can you take in a corset?
To “take in” a corset the professional way, where you would never have known it was altered: you would have to apart the corset completely – seam by seam – and cut each panel smaller. But there are so many seams in a corset that it would probably take longer to alter a corset than it takes to make one from scratch. Also, by ripping apart so many seams, it’s possible to damage the fabric beyond repair (and if you don’t have sufficient seam allowance, you’re done for).
You can make a new corset by gutting the last one for parts and reusing the busk and bones, or you can sell your old corset if it’s in good condition and use the funds towards a new, smaller corset.
Time needed to properly “take in” a corset: 20+ hours depending on the complexity, number of panels, etc.
Bonus: you hate the unstiffened, attached modesty panel
Some people hate modesty panels. If you just want to remove your modesty panel, and it’s a standard unstiffened panel of fabric that’s simply sewn into your corset – just take your seam ripper and detach the modesty panel from the rest of the corset. The exception is a WKD corset, where you might have to cut it out instead because it’s sewn right into the lining of the corset and you don’t want to compromise the integrity, the strength of the corset by removing it.
Time needed to remove a modesty panel: 2-5 minutes.
This entry is a summary of the Vanyanis “Ruby” Corset Review video. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Center front is 12 inches long, the princess seam is 8.5 inches (4 inches above the waist, 4.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 9.5 inches and the center back is 11 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 28″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 22″, and hip is 34″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribcage is very conical, and the hips are gently cupped.
3 main layers: the fashion is red satin with black lace overlay. The strength fabric is herringbone coutil, and the floating lining is a soft black cotton.
7-panel pattern (14 panels total). Panel 4 is designed to curve over the hip so there is no true “side seam”. Construction: satin was flatlined to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement; each seam was stitched at least 4 times for extra strength). Internal bone casings laid down, and covered by a floating lining.
2 cm wide (slightly less than an inch) cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric.
Made from strips of black duchess silk, machine stitched on outside and inside. Stitched in the ditch on the outside and tiny topstitch on the inside.
Awesome modesty panel in back – 4.75″ wide, finished in matching red satin / black lace overlay on outside, and cotton inside. Quilted and boned with 2 horizontal and 2 vertical bones, and comes with snaps to easily suspend the panel on the laces, or remove the panel when desired.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from the knob side of the busk, covered matching red satin with black lace.
11” long, with 5 loops and pins, the bottom two a little closer together. Wissner brand, 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. The busk is also covered in a matte black powder coating.
30 bones total in this corset, 15 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel, and more flexible than usual, so it could curve to the lumbar spine. There are 4 flat steels by the busk (2 on each side).
There are 24, two-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-to-medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in gunmetal grey or pewter. No splits on the underside.
Black 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough). Finished with nice metal aglets.
Available in sizes 20″ up to 30″.
Price is $795 AUD (converts to about $635 USD).
VIP mailing list members get $100 AUD coupon, which brings the price down to $695 AUD (about $550 USD).
Vanyanis is a couture brand based in Australia, run by Lowana O’Shea.
This corset is the best quality OTR piece I’ve ever seen. Made with herringbone coutil, expertly-matched fine lace, black hardware, evenly distributed steels, and an insanely comfortable pattern, Vanyanis has set a new bar for factory-produced corsetry.
For the pattern of this corset, I believe Lowana mentioned that this started out as the same dimensions and silhouette as her “Alecto” corset (a standard size, made-to-order Vanyanis product made by Lowana herself, introduced back in 2014) – however, the “Ruby” Corset was cut to have points on the top and bottom edges and to ride a bit higher over the hip. The “Lilian” corset is a grey / silver satin, and cut more straight across the top and bottom edges, but still the same general pattern.
And of course, the “Ruby” and “Lilian” corsets were made in a factory under Lowana’s supervision, which is why she describes these as an “off the rack” collection as opposed to the usual “ready to wear”.
One of the best features about this corset is the painstakingly pattern-matched lace in this corset. Because the lace had to be cut to each panel and flatlined (as opposed to pieces overlaid when the whole corset was finished being assembled), Lowana says that there was quite a lot of time and care (and stress) put into this step at the factory, and quite a lot of fabric wastage as well as they had to think about having sufficient seam allowance on each piece. This drove up the price of the corset – but it has a truly stunning final effect.
Lowana says that this corset is definitely strong enough for waist training, but due to the delicate nature of the lace overlay, it might become “roughed up” over time, so do keep in mind that the more you wear this piece, the more worn it will look.
This is Lowana’s first OTR line and as such it’s a small run to start (only 25 of the Ruby and 25 of the Lilian corsets in all sizes). If these sell well, Lowana is interested in making more colors, styles, and perhaps extended sizes as well.
This entry is a summary of the “Friendship Corset” Case Study (Collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry). If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Center front is 12.5 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10.75 inches and the center back is 11.25 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 29″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 23″, and hip is 35″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribs are gently rounded and the hips are slightly cupped, giving a comfortable and flattering silhouette that was designed for my long torso and low waist.
3 main layers: the fashion fabric pink rainbow crystal organza, fused to white herringbone coutil – and the lining is a “Monet” inspired printed lightweight quilting cotton. Boning channels / binding were custom dyed satin coutil.
6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge towards the lower tummy in center front, panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip. Construction: organza was fused to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement). Single external boning channels laid down (one on each seam and one in the middle of each panel), and the lining is floating.
One-inch-wide twill cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Matching strips of green satin coutil, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished on the inside. No garter tabs (I don’t use them anyway).
None, as we were short on time and I tend to lace my corsets closed in the back anyway.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from under the knob side of the busk, covered in the lining fabric, and stiffened with coutil.
12” long, with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk, slightly wider than 1″ on each side, and very stiff. The busk extends into the binding.
24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (the bone on the center back edge is 1/2″ wide, and the bone on the “internal” side of the grommets is ¼ inch wide).
There are 22, two-part size #00 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. There is the occasional split on the underside of the grommets (my doing as this was my first time using her grommet press) but they’re all holding in securely.
Granny Smith apple green 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).
The pattern was a posthumous gift from one of my closest friends in the corset community, Christine Wickham (A Girl From Down Under / Ariadne’s Thread). Christine did a lot for the corset community during her active years from around 2011 – 2014 (including spearheading a fundraiser for me to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry). I also worked with Christine on a number of projects; she was the illustrator for my Corset Designer Doll and she also helped rework my logo. But one of the things that she was most well-known for was that she developed her own underbust corset pattern and released it online for free in the “Learn to Make Corsets Like a Pro!” Facebook group so other fledgling corset makers could use her corset pattern as a place to start.
What I didn’t know is that she was also working on a made-to-measure corset pattern as a gift for me. The only other person she told / showed this pattern to was our mutual friend Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry (to have Amber check over the pattern and suggest improvements). Christine passed away suddenly in July 2014 after a yoga injury led to pulmonary embolism, and it shook the whole corset community. It was less than 72 hours between her being fine and being gone.
Christine and her generous nature is still regularly discussed among my group of friends, and when I stayed with Amber for two weeks in July 2015, she printed out the pattern that Christine had planned to give me. We decided it would be a good tribute to her memory to create a corset from the pattern, using a combination of our materials / tastes and construction techniques – thus the “friendship corset” was born, a collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats, and Lucy’s Corsetry.
See the video above for all my commentary on the different parts of construction, why certain elements were chosen over others, and what I learned from this “mini internship” at Amber’s studio. If you’d like to see my interview with Amber (done at the same time as we were collaborating on this corset), click here.
This entry is a summary of the review video “CS-511 Mesh Overbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:
Center front is 15.5 inches long, princess seam is 16.5 inches long (10 inches above the waist, 6.5 inches below the waist), the side seam is 14 inches, and the center back is 13 inches long.
Full bust spring is 11″, and lower hip spring is 14″.
The silhouette is hourglass, but the flexible mesh allows for more contouring around curves = giving more of a rounded ribcage, and hips of the corset can contour around your own hips, whether your hips are slanted or shelf-like.
Single layer of fishnet style black mesh, and the boning channels / are made with an outside layer of black cotton twill and internal layer of polyester grosgrain ribbon.
Pattern & Construction
6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 give space for the bust, panels 3-4 curve over the hip. Construction: Panels were assembled and then boning channels sandwiched the seams (on outside and inside), covering and reinforcing the seams.
One-inch-wide waist tape made from grosgrain ribbon, sandwiched between the boning channels. Full width (center front to center back).
Made from matching black cotton twill. Machine stitched on both sides, stitched in the ditch (between the corset and the binding) in front, and a necessary top stitch on the underside. 6 garter tabs (3 on each side).
5” wide and unstiffened, made from 2 layers of cotton twill, and attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching – this is easily removed, and you can also remove the tags in the back by removing that seam with the modesty panel, in case you find that the tags show through the mesh.
There’s no front modesty placket in this corset.
14” long, with 6 loops and pins (last two are a bit closer together). Standard width busk (half an inch wide on each side), but Orchard’s busks tend to be more rigid (less bendy) than other busks of the same width.
14 bones total in this corset. On each side, 7 of them are spirals about ¼” inch wide, in single channels, equidistantly spaced. Then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide, sandwiching the grommets.
There are 24, two-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a small-medium flange and are finished in silver. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart.
The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but it “stretches out” and the springiness dissipates over time. Orchard also sells double-face satin ribbon if you prefer.
Available in waist sizes 18″ to 40″, in black and in white mesh.
Sizes 18-32 are $79 USD, and sizes 34-40 are $82 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY
Full disclosure, this corset was sent to me as a sample. I normally take a size 24″ in OTR corsets, but as I’ve been shrinking rapidly this year I requested the size 22″. Brittney from Orchard Corset suggested I go a size down, to 20″ because the mesh has a tendency to expand over time. The thought of wearing a size 20″ in an OTR overbust was a bit mind-boggling, but I hesitantly agreed.
The very first time I put on this corset, I thought it would never fit – but as I wore it in more over the weeks, I did indeed notice that it stretched out, to the point that I can wear it with their recommended 2 inch gap in the back. The hips of this corset are quite large (seemingly much larger or has a higher tendency to stretch compared to the bustline) so I would be more comfortable wearing this corset with a “V” shaped lacing gap, which seems to be par for me with OTR overbusts.
However, this is by far the most affordable mesh overbust currently available on the market, starting at $79. The other mesh overbusts include What Katie Did ($375 USD), and Dark Garden ($895 USD) can be out of many clients’ budget. I can see the mesh CS-511 being used by those who would like some breezy bust support in the heat of the summer, or wearing this corset under strapless dresses (there is a white mesh version as well for summer brides). Because my mesh corset has a few construction imperfections (it’s asymmetric over the hip), I’d be more likely to wear this corset under my clothing as opposed to overtop anyway.
CORRECTION FROM THE VIDEO: Orchard Corset’s mesh underbust corsets usually have bones are evenly distributed around the waist – and the bigger the corset size, the more bones are included – this is still true. However, it seems that this isn’t the case for the mesh overbust corsets (at least, not from what I’ve seen in pictures). It appears that all sizes have the same number of bones, same as with their all-cotton or satin corsets.
Shop for the CS-511 mesh overbust corset from Orchard Corset here, and remember you can save 10% by using the code CORSETLUCY (I don’t get any kickback from this, it’s strictly a coupon/ discount code for you).
it has no underwire (so there is no metal for the corset to shove into my chest, as well as no wire to pop forward over the top edge of my corset)
the band is wide enough that it doesn’t cause a thin roll of flesh pinched under the band and the top of the corset
it doesn’t cause “muffin” or flesh spillover in the back
it’s comfortable enough to wear all day, and doesn’t leave marks or scars on my skin
it still gives moderate support and a relatively flattering shape in the cup (which my Genie bra didn’t really do)
Bonus points if the bra is also low-cut enough to wear with my scoop-neck shirt (which is the one thing my Enell Lite didn’t do).
Knixwear is a Canadian company that started by making menstrual underwear, and they launched a Kickstarter for the Evolution bra in September 2015 to revolutionize the modern bra. They well surpassed their original goal; in fact I was one of 13,642 backers to help crowdfund over a million dollars on their project. I received my bra this summer and tried it out for a couple of weeks.
The Knix says it’s 8-in-1 because it’s reversible so you can have two different colors (I chose the black and beige), and comes with black and beige convertible straps which can be worn traditionally, criss-cross (racer) back, or even halter if you wish (although I wouldn’t recommend strapless).
My true bra size is 30F, but I normally sister-size to 32DD because it’s easier to find in my local shops. The way that Knix sizes their bras is by the “+2 inch” system, which puts me at an approximate 32C (size 2 in the Evolution bra). As my underbust (bra band) measurement is naturally 29 inches, I anticipated the band to feel loose on me while giving a bit of “quad boob” in the front, and I was right. So if you have a full bust and small band like I have, you will likely have to heavily sister size as well.
However, when I wear a corset, my body tends to “squish up” and my natural 29″ ribcage becomes closer to 30-31 inches in a corset – so the loose band of the bra fits me better in a corset than without.
Support-wise, it’s equivalent to a light support sports bra (for low-impact activities – I would not do contact sports in this bra). It gives slightly more support than the Genie bra I reviewed previously, and it’s comfortable and moisture-wicking in the heat of the summer.
One feature I like about it is the bonded seams instead of sewn, so it lies flat against my body and doesn’t cause welts or marks on my body. (Because I have a darker complexion, I also get hyperpigmentation scarring on my skin – this bra doesn’t leave marks on my body, even after wearing it for hours.
Knixwear says that their bra band doesn’t roll up, and I’ve found this to be mostly true. The one thing I would love is for the band to be a little longer, even by an inch or so.
I got the padded version, not because I want extra fullness in my cup but rather for coverage and smoothness, and it does its job. Regarding the shape of the cup – it’s not a shape I personally find the most aesthetically pleasing, but I may be biased towards my underwire, molded-up balconette bras that I wear almost daily. But I like how the Evolution bra looks under fitted t-shirts, especially graphic tees where I don’t want to stretch out the design in front.
The scoop neck design also prevents the bra from peeking out under my scoop-neck shirts. I’d be interested in trying one of their V-neck bra designs to see if it gives less “boobling over” in the front.
This entry is a summary of the review video “REVIEW: Pearls & Arsenic Red Swarovski Corset” which you can watch on YouTube here:
Center front is 11.25 inches long, princess seam is 9 inches (3.5″ above the waist, 5.5″ below the waist), side seam is 8 inches and center back is 12 inches.
Underbust 26″, waist 22″, low hip 33″.
Conical ribcage. Comes down low over the tummy, and sweeps up high on the back. This type of corset would fit someone with a high waist.
2 main layers; fashion layer is red satin, with many “garnet” (dark red) and “ruby” (light red) colored tiny Swarovski crystals. The strength fabric (lining) is black cotton coutil.
6 panel pattern (12 panels total). Panel 3 gives space over the hip, and panels 5-6 give plenty of space in the back. For construction: both layers were flatlined and treated as one. Panels were assembled and topstitched (seam allowances on the inside), and internal boning channels (cotton twill) were laid down to cover the seam allowance.
1.25″ wide waist tape, made from single-faced satin ribbon, exposed on the inside of the corset and secured down at boning channels. Partial width (from seam between panels 1-2 to seam between panels 5-6).
Bias tape made from matching red satin, neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside with a small topstitch (may have been stitched in one pass, using a special attachment). There are also 4 garter tabs (2 on each side).
7.5 inches wide and finished in red satin fashion fabric / black cotton lining. Unstiffened, but quilted with many lines of stitching. Attached to one side of the corset with a line of stitching (easily removed if desired), and finished with binding on top and bottom. In the front there’s a slightly stiffened placket, 1 inch wide, finished in red satin, extending out from the knob side of the busk.
10″ long, with 5 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly wider (3/4″ on each side) and slightly stiffer than a standard flexible busk.
14 steel bones not including busk. On each side, 5 spirals (1/4″ wide) are single boned on the seams, and 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
24 grommets total (12 on each side), size #00 two-part grommets with small-to-moderate flange; set a bit closer together at the waistline, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets. I see no splits in the back, and the back panel is very good at not bowing or warping (see Final Thoughts).
Strong 1/4″ black nylon flat shoe-lace style laces; they have a bit of string, they hold bows and knots well, they glide well through the grommets, and they are long enough. (I would love to switch out the laces for some lush double-face satin ribbon to match the rest of the corset!)
Although the corset in this review is a sample, Pearls & Arsenic corsets start at $193 USD.
There are hundreds of small Swarovski crystals encrusting this corset, arranged in a gradient of deep “garnet” red crystals at the top and tapering down to lighter “ruby” red crystals towards the bottom. These were all hand-applied by Raven herself, and you can tell it was done with care – just the right amount of adhesive was used and each crystal was cleanly applied so there were no strings or residue oozing out from under the crystals. There was also care to keep the design symmetric on both sides, and to not have any crystals under the loops of the busk so it could be fastened properly. The crystals are also holding on securely and none of them are falling off.
On the center front and center back of this corset, there is a heavy-duty interfacing / canvas / buckram, or some other stiffener that helps keep the center front smooth (wrinkle-free) and flat, and prevents the back steels or grommets from warping or bowing along the horizontal plane. I seldom see corsets stabilized in this way and I found it interesting.