This week is part “story time”, part “Physical Effects of Corseting”, and hopefully an opportunity for others to learn from my early mistakes.
In early 2010 I purchased my first custom corset, which also happened to be a front-lacing corset – but these days, I would not recommend a front-lacing corset for higher reductions (tightlacing more than 6 inches) or daily waist training, and this post will explain why.
Why I chose a front-lacing corset for waist training in the first place:
In 2010 I was still in school which required copious time sitting in class, and I figured that if a corset has no laces in the back, then there wouldn’t be an annoying lump in the back when I’m resting against a hard plastic flat-backed chair.
I also figured that if I were to wear a corset in my sleep, a front-lacing corset might be more comfortable to sleep in since there wouldn’t be a knot at my back. I could fall asleep comfortably on my back, and if I ever needed to tighten or loosen the laces throughout the night, I could continue lying down on my back and easily reach in front of me to loosen the laces a bit – this (I figured) would disrupt my sleep less, as I wouldn’t have to sit up or get out of bed to adjust laces behind me.
Even though I was able to lace a back-lacing corset pretty well (since I had ‘normal’ back-lacing OTR corsets and homemade corsets for several years already), I had to admit that it was a pretty attractive idea at the time to not have to twist my neck to see what I’m doing in the mirror, and not have to twist my arms behind my back to lace up my corset every morning: a front lacing corset felt very intuitive; I didn’t even have to open my eyes to just tighten my corset in the morning and start my day.
I was also dealing with anxiety back in 2010 for several reasons (performing well in school, living so far away from family, dealing with a difficult relationship, etc.) and I figured if I ever had a sudden panic attack or began to feel claustrophobic, it would be easier and faster to cut myself out of a front-lacing corset. I also worked in a microbiology lab at the time so I was constantly around open flames and caustic reagents – and even though many lab coats have a fire-resistant coating, I figured that if there were ever a fire or if I ever spilled something on myself and needed to disrobe quickly, then – again – cutting the laces from the front would be faster and easier.
Admittedly, I was also attracted to the novelty / rarity of a front-lacing corset: I had seldom seen anyone else commissioning one – and I wondered why, because it seemed like the greatest idea at the time.
As it turned out, I was just reinventing the wheel – if front-lacing corsets were so functional and comfortable for everyone, they would have caught on long ago and survived through the centuries. It was after around 6 months of consistently training with this corset that I realized that a front-lacing corset is not as practical as I had hoped.
At first I blamed myself and my body… “Why had my waist training progress halted? Why am I experiencing discomfort when I feel that I was going about my training in a responsible way, and I had a made-to-measure corset? What was I doing wrong? Is my body just not made for corseting?”
It was only when I decided to stop training for a short time, let my body rest, and then start my training anew with a new custom fit corset with back lacing, that I realized that the issue was with the tool I was using, rather than my waist training technique per se.
Why I Don’t Recommend Front-Lacing Corsets for Tightlacing or Waist Training:
This post is not to bash the maker of my first custom corset – they were an engineer who made corsets in their spare time, and they discontinued shortly after my commission. My inexperience in ordering custom corsets combined with their inexperience with waist training at high reductions. The corset construction was strong and durable, and it gave a beautiful silhouette – however, although it matched my measurements, it did not fit my body for several reasons which could not be predicted by the numbers alone. This is one distinction between a made-to-measure corset and a truly custom corset that includes a mockup fitting.
If I remember correctly, my front-lacing corset was spiral boned all the way around the corset (with exception to the center front by the laces). This means it also included fine spirals in the center back – which I thought I would love for the flexibility, but the corset ended up being slightly too curved in the back for me. It was trying to create curve where my spine normally is, so I felt a band of pressure on the vertebra that was directly under the waistline of the corset – this led to a bit of lumbar pain when I laced down too much, and (where many corsets have the opposite problem of being too straight in the back) the front-lacing corset created an unnatural swayback in my posture while I was wearing it. The profile view in the corset was lovely, but it was not comfortable or healthy for me.
Also, this corset was conical in silhouette as I was interested in training my floating ribs at the time. instead of placing pressure in the front “tips” of my floating ribs, my front-lacing corset placed more pressure on the back of my ribs – imagine trying to close a door by pushing on it close to the hinge instead of near the doorknob. The torque just didn’t feel right. It felt like too much force with little efficacy, resulting in “hot spots”. (Now, if your body is a little larger and your corset affects mostly the adipose over your abdomen and doesn’t affect the placement of you ribs, you might not notice the difference in how the pressure is placed, but at the time I personally felt the pressure on my ribs).
The curve in the back and the pressure on my ribs could possibly have been eliminated if the pattern were improved and the construction slightly changed – perhaps taking out some of the curve at the back seam, installing flat steels instead of spirals, and making the ribs more rounded – but at the moment, this is not something I’m keen to experiment with – because there are other issues with front-lacing corsets, which I’ll continue below.
I also felt that more pressure was placed on my retroperitoneal cavity and kind of pushed my flesh forward, which is not a great idea. One big reason why traditional back lacing corsets work (and this is explained in further detail in my Corsets and Organs article) is because the majority of the pressure is on the peritoneal cavity which primarily consists of hollow organs, like the stomach and intestines. These are not solid organs (although they contain food, waste and air) and they are designed to move. They can also compress and flatten out of the way, like during yoga or pregnancy. As long as you have soft stools and good peristalsis, and as long as you take your time lacing down slowly, digestion and elimination should not normally be adversely affected.
But my front-lacing corset didn’t put pressure on the front (peritoneal) cavity – instead, it placed a lot of pressure on the back, where solid organs like the kidneys are location, and it made my tummy pooch out in turn. (You can see in my self lacing video, my abdomen was bulging a bit.)
One thing that would have made my front-lacing corset better would be if it included a modesty panel to support my abdomen where the lacing gap left no support. Alas, my corset didn’t come with one. Back in 2010, at the time I thought I would be okay because the bones sandwiching the grommets were flat steel – but I quickly learned that I needed more support, especially I was dealing with large waist reductions (my natural waist was around 28 inches and my corset was a size 20, worn with about a 1.5 inch gap in the front). I ended up having to make a separate boned modesty panel myself to help support my abdomen, avoid bulging and keep it flat.
Another reason why a front-lacing corset is not the best for me: as it turns out, I prefer to sleep on my stomach! I always start out falling asleep on my back, but more often than not I wake up on my front. However, having a big knot / bow in the front is uncomfortable to lie on (rather than “princess and the pea”, it was more like a mess of laces which felt more like the size of a tennis ball on my abdomen when I laid flat on it).
Under What Circumstances Would I Recommend a Front-Lacing Corset?
- If it’s a waist training corset that you’ll be wearing for long periods of time, I think a back lacing corset would be more appropriate – it provides the proper support and compression from the front of the body and not the back. I would not recommend a front-lacing corset here.
- Same if you’re tightlacing, or lacing down 6, 7, 8 or more inches – it will likely be more comfortable if you have a back lacing corset, not a front-lacing one.
- If you’re using a light reduction corset, say not more than 2-4 inches of waist reduction, for medical purposes or posture support, a front-lacing corset might be okay.
- If you have an abdominal hernia, especially an umbilical hernia, I would never recommend having a front-lacing corset.
- If you have mobility issues in your shoulders or strength issues and you are unable to lace up a corset in the back, then front-lacing is a reasonable option for light reductions (as mentioned before) but also, a fan-lacing corset might be an option for you.
If you’re making your own corset and you just have no access or funds for a front busk – try a metal zip, or closed front corset, or a corset that is laced in both front AND back.
A corset that is laced in both front AND back is better because you’re able pull in the front by two inches, then pull in the back by two inches, and keep alternating so that you’re bringing in both sides of the corset laterally (placing pressure pretty evenly on either side of the body), without creating any weird torque at the back of the body. Just remember that if the front of your corset has a lacing gap, it’s best to have a stiffened or boned modesty panel to support the abdomen.
Later on, I plan to make a video on fan-laced corsets, what they’re good for (and what they’re not good for), and pehraps a tutorial on how to convert a regular laced OTR corset into a fan lacing corset, if I have the time.
I’m also talking with a friend on making a collab video with helpful info on how to put on and take off a corset, whether you use a wheelchair or have issues with strength or mobility. This is still in the early planning stages, but I hope to share more with you later.
Again – hopefully my loss is your gain, and you can learn from my mistakes so you have a more comfortable corseting experience. Let me know in a comment whether you’d like to see those upcoming videos, and leave a question below if I’ve forgotten anything or if you’d like to know more about any other details of my front-lacing corset.
How many of you have stood in front of the mirror while wearing a corset, admiring the narrowness of your waist – and then you turn to the side and find that your profile leaves something to be desired?
Everyone knows that wearing a corset nips in the side of the waist (at the obliques), giving you the illusion of a more narrow waist. And the interesting thing is that a corset can also do this without really reducing the waist at all: where a cross section of your torso is usually oval or ellipse shaped (wider from side-to-side than it is front-to-back), a corset makes it more into a circle – simply by placing pressure on the body bilaterally (on either side of the body), and allowing that volume to distribute more front-to-back. Liz from the Pragmatic Costumer wrote about this in more detail a few years ago on her blog.
The downside that some corset wearer’s see, especially if they naturally have a more flat abdomen, is that a corset often makes you look wider in the profile than you did without the corset – this is due to the redistribution of your flesh, combined with the thickness of the corset as well (you’re a couple of inches smaller underneath your corset).
Your Corset Profile can have Two Shapes:
For simplicity’s sake, there are two main ways the front of the corset can look – it can be totally flat, or it can be “dished” or curved to create a more concave front. The Victorians were known for their dished-front corsets and sometimes exaggerated lower tummy pooch (likely more exaggerated in medical illustrations and fashion plates than in real life) but the lower pooch was actually considered attractive and womanly at the time.
But with the popularity of the straight-fronted S-bend corsets at the turn of the century, you can see that it resulted in the illusion of even more dramatically nipped waists, as the majority of the volume was coming off of the sides and little to none in the front. Arguably, if you were to take an Edwardian corset and a Victorian corset with the same waist size, the Edwardian might look more nipped in in the front view but thicker in the profile view.
I should give a disclaimer here: whichever corset you personally find “prettier”, there is no universal right or wrong way that a corset should be (despite the Edwardian propaganda above). Some people like the concave dished front, while others like an extremely flat and rigid front. It often comes down to the corset maker’s aesthetic, combined with the natural body type you have, the effect you’re striving for in a corset (including how much waist reduction), and what you personally find comfortable.
So the “dished vs straight” debate is not only subjective, but it’s also conditional.
It also depends on the posture you want to achieve. The straight-fronted, S-bend corsets had a habit of thrusting the body into an overcorrected posture – they weren’t slumping, but they were also flexing their lower back in an unnatural way. When I had X-rays done of myself while wearing various corsets, my chiropractor found that rigid-fronted, Edwardian-inspired corsets encouraged a very unnatural, kyphotic neck curve in my body. The corset pushed my chest forward, and my shoulders and hips back, which forced my head to come forward as a counter-balance. In some people, this might eventually lead to neck strain, pain, cervicogenic headaches, etc.
Meanwhile, when I wore a more Victorian style corset, it allowed me to maintain a more neutral posture and my spine was in a more natural alignment. So, just because a corset gives you a flat front does not mean you have necessarily have a healthy posture.
A couple notes on terminology before we start comparing corsets – I’ll be using layman’s terms here as much as possible:
so when I say “cross section” that means the transverse plane,
when I say “profile” that means the sagittal plane,
and when I say “front view” that means the coronal plane.
My Uncorseted Waist
This is a screenshot of me from 2012, around a time where I was not consistently waist training. My natural waist is around 27 inches.
It’s well and good to compare different corsets, but keep in mind that I am naturally very wide from the front, but when I turn to the side I practically disappear, so my cross section is very oblong. My oblique muscles might “resist” compression more compared other people, and my lower abdomen is not prone to “pooching” – if I and another woman were to wear the same corset in the same size and stand side-by-side, it might look very slightly different on each of us.
Contour Corset “Summer Mesh” Mid-Hip Underbust
My Contour corset is almost totally flat in the front. This one is 20.5 inches in the waist, laced closed.
- In the profile, it makes my body look slightly thicker than it is naturally (while not wearing a corset)
- In the front view, it looks shockingly nipped in on the sides (this isn’t even my smallest corset!)
- In the cross section, I might actually be a bit thicker from front to back than I am side to side.
Puimond PY09 “Curvy” Underbust Corset
My Puimond corset is actually half an inch smaller than my Contour corset (it’s 20 inches laced closed), but despite being smaller, it looks less dramatic.
- In the profile, you can see that the front is slightly dished, but in an attractive way, at least for me. It’s nipped in slightly at the front but it doesn’t create a dramatic ski slope at the pelvis. Also notice that I don’t look that thick in the profile.
- In the front view, the sides are obviously nipped in, but it doesn’t look as dramatic as the first corset.
- So in this corset, if you looked at the cross section, the distribution of my waist is still slightly ellipse shaped with more of that length being side-to-side rather than front-to-back.
- This shape is nearly a circle though – probably the closest to a circle compared to any of the other corsets here.
C & S Constructions
Let’s look corset with a more dramatically dished front like the one below from C&S Constructions. This corset is also 20 inches, but I’m wearing it at 21 inches because it wasn’t custom made for my body (the ribs of the corset were a bit too narrow for my own ribcage).
- In the profile view, the waist is pulled inward, and actually I have a slight forward leaning posture which is interesting. It is a deliberately curved front to make sure that the profile looks slender. (But it also gives a forward leaning posture.)
- In the front view, the waist is still nipped on the sides, but it’s still wider in this view than it is in the profile view.
- So the cross section of my waist is still an ellipse, that is wider from side-to-side, just a smaller one.
Sparklewren Cranberry Butterfly Overbust
Let’s look at my Sparklewren overbust, which is closed at 23 inches (so we can see how less of a reduction / a bigger waist may affect the cross section and silhouette).
- In the profile view, her corset gives me a very flat front here, in fact possibly slimmer than some of my smaller corsets that are patterned differently.
I vaguely remember having a conversation with Jenni (Sparklewren) about this probably 5 years ago. She told me that she likes to preserve the flatness in the profile as much as possible, but once the waist is reduced by a certain amount (i.e. under 18 inches in circumference), some dishing in the front may become necessary to achieve further reduction.
- In the side view, there’s nipping in at the waist but it appears to be very clearly wider than the profile, but it’s still a lovely silhouette.
- So the cross section is more clearly an ellipse.
Versatile Corsets “Mimosa” Cupped Overbust
The “Mimosa” overbust by Versatile is another corset that gives me a slender profile and flat abdomen. This is a size 22″, but I’m probably wearing at 23.5 or 24 inches here. (It wasn’t a full custom, just the waist measurement and bra size were taken into account).
- The profile view is relatively flat, similar to how my abdomen looks naturally.
- The front view is a bit more gentle and sweeping – not a super dramatic silhouette, not nipped in sharply at the sides.
- Obviously the cross section of my waist is more of an ellipse.
All this being said, it’s worth reiterating that this might be subjective for my own body. I naturally have a pretty wide waist, but if I turn to the side my abdomen is very flat. It is more likely that a corset would make me a bit thicker in the profile compared to a different person who has more of a protruding abdomen.
Profile Silhouette in Someone with a Protruding / Hanging Tummy
(Thanks to my aunt for modeling this early custom corset I made for her back in 2012). You may remember my aunt from this tutorial on pulling a hanging tummy up into your corset. She’s had a few children and she’s a more mature woman and has developed a bit of hanging tummy. She asked for a corset to provide back support and to flatten her tummy under her work uniform, but not give a shockingly dramatic waist from the front, which is why it’s not that much of an hourglass. This corset is a size 34″ if I remember correctly; drafted to give her a 6 inch reduction which is about 15% reduction.
- I specifically used a spoon busk for her, and you can see that this corset makes her slimmer in the profile. Arguably, most of the reduction came off the front instead of the sides of her body.
- In the front view, it gives a relatively natural looking hourglass from the sides.
If you want to see whether your corset makes you thinner or thicker in the profile view or front view, you can measure this using calipers.
If you want a very rigid front (as rigid as possible), you might be interested in adding carbon fibre bones adjacent to the busk – they’re about 24x more stiff than a flat steel bone, and you’ll find these exclusively at Vena Cava Design.
Conversely, if you want your corset to have more of a dished shape, I will make a video next week on how to curve your corset busk to your preference. The process is very similar to curving the back steels.
I hope you found this helpful! Just a note that there is no right or wrong way, some people like the concave dished front, some people like an extremely flat and rigid front. it all depends on your body type, your subjective preferences, your natural posture, and the aesthetic of the corset maker and how they pattern your corset as well.
Leave a comment below telling me whether you prefer the flat front or the dished front better for your own corsets. If you have any question regarding the “flatness” or “dishiness” of any other corset in my collection, as well as the rigidity of the busk, the posture it gives, etc., feel free to ask.
Over the past little over a year, I reviewed a whopping nine different mesh corsets, and many of them had very different types of mesh (different fibers, weaves, stretchiness and quality), and not all mesh corsets are made equal! It can be a little different to tell them apart on video and confusing when there are so many different terms, so let’s go through the most popular types of mesh for corsets and discuss the pros and cons for each one.
Featured in my past reviews:
- Orchard Corset: CS-201, CS-411, CS-426 underbusts; CS-511 overbust
- Mystic City: MCC-64 (old stock)
- Glamorous Corset: Bella cincher, Emma underbust, and Jolie longline.
This is a very open type netting made with cotton or polyester – it looks a bit like string or yarn twisted or knotted together. It is very flexible, can be a bit stretchy, and usually has a hexagonal shape to it. (As we know from nature, hexagons maximize the area inside each hole while minimizing the materials used for each wall – so the fishnet can cover a large surface area while not using much fabric to do so.)
Pros: fishnet is probably the coolest and breeziest type of mesh, and it comes in many different colors – Mystic City used to sell these with red mesh, blue, orange, green, etc. Orchard Corset regularly keeps these stocked in black and tan (and sometimes white), with occasional limited colors like red, gold, and navy blue. This is the most ubiquitous type of mesh corset, so it’s easy to find.
Cons: this fabric has a lot of give and definitely stretches out over time. Because there’s technically only a few threads holding in each bit of the fishnet within the seams, it can rip over time.
(I don’t know whether you call it a pro or a con, but the net leaves temporary impressions in your skin so when you take off the corset it looks like you have lizard scales. It looks cool but can feel rather itchy.)
A slightly more tight-knit version of fishnet is used in Brazil, and I noticed that their mesh corsets have smaller, square shaped holes instead of hexagonal – I feel that this might work better for corsets as it has a clear warp and weft to follow.
My Madame Sher mesh cincher is still holding up very well and I’ve worn it every summer for the past 4 years. It can still show a little damage over time, due to the nature of the fabric, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its longevity.
Featured in my past reviews:
I believe that the newer stock of Mystic City corsets also use this mesh, and this is becoming probably the standard in many custom corsets.
Corsetry mesh is a synthetic fine woven net. It is fairly stiff and slightly reminiscent of the fly screens that you would see on windows and doors (except this is polyester/ nylon, and not aluminum or fiberglass which real window screens are made from).
Pros: corsetry mesh is smoother, stronger, and less likely to warp with wear. You can somewhat achieve a more conical rib with this type of fabric, but I’ve found that it still has relatively more give compared to more rigid, multi-layer cotton corsets.
Cons: this mesh is not as breathable as the holes are smaller (and it’s a synthetic fabric so it can feel plasticky). It can occasionally rip (usually if the seam allowances are not wide enough and it pulls from the stitching. Also, this type of mesh can be quite pokey. If any seam allowances do end up poking into the body, these threads can be snipped off with nail clippers and the rest pushed back under the fabric.
Tips for corset makers on reducing the “pokey” seams while using this type of mesh:
- Some makers if they’re very particular, they might melt the seams with a small flame or a hotknife, but this can also risk warping the mesh from the heat.
- Another simple way around this is by sewing the corset with the seam allowances on the outside of the corset (facing away from the body) and putting thick boning channels overtop so they won’t poke through.
- Vanyanis uses a plush velvet ribbon on the inside to further protect from any pokiness, and she taught Timeless Trends this finishing technique as well when she styled their OTR mesh corsets.
Featured in none of my previous corset reviews.
Bobbinet is almost exclusively used in custom corsets by specialist corsetieres, for very lightweight corsets and foundationwear under couture dresses. It’s been used by designers like Crikey Aphrodite, Morúa Designs, Sew Curvy Couture, Laurie Tavan, Karolina Laskowska, Crimson Rose Corsetry, Ivy Rose Designs, etc.
It’s made from cool and breathable cotton – it flows well over curves and is super lightweight. It has a lot of give, and as such it’s often used in a double layer for extra strength (and a bit more opacity if desired). Because it’s cotton, it can also be dyed – but it’s such a delicate fabric that I wouldn’t train in this. You’re not likely to see this used in OTR corsets.
Tips for corset makers: Ivy Rose Designs made a tutorial on working with bobbinet for Foundations Revealed. If you’re not an FR member and you would like to become one, please use my referral link (there’s no difference in price).
Aida cloth (or Java mesh)
Featured in none of my previous corset reviews.
When you look at mesh corsets in the Victorian and Edwardian periods (e.g. their activewear corsets while playing tennis, or the corsets used by British women during the colonialization of India and other places of warmer climates), the mesh they used sometimes looked similar to this. Aida cloth is intended for cross stitching and comes in various weights and counts, so not all Aida cloth is made equal.
Pros: Aida cloth is cotton, so it’s a natural, breathable and cool fiber, and it can also be custom dyed.
Cons: Aida cloth can be difficult to source, and can also fray and shred.
Tips for corset makers: The Bad Button made a tutorial on working with Aida cloth on Foundations Revealed. If you’re not an FR member and you would like to become one, please use my referral link (there’s no difference in price).
Featured in my past review: Contessa Gothique semi-mesh sweetheart underbust
This is a beautiful lightweight fabric (think of the stiff tulle you’d find in crinolines / underskirts), but better suited as a semi-mesh corset with plenty of reinforcement. The tulle in this corset is limited to relatively straight panels (not super curvy ones), and the tulle is flanked on all sides – bones on either side (as well as the center of the panel), and even the binding at top and bottom is coutil to prevent stretch or warping.
The waist tape also takes the tension at the waistline, so the tulle is mainly just preventing the flesh from bubbling out of the “windows” but it’s not contributing to the actual reduction of the waist in a significant way.
Pros: it’s pretty, easily sourced, and comes in almost any color imaginable.
Cons: I think if it were forced to take more of the tension, it might risk tearing. The tulle makes for a lovely and delicate look – but I wouldn’t use this for everyday intense training.
Featured in my past review: JL Corsets / Sultry Confinement “Christine” underbust
This (I’ve been told) is also the type of mesh used by Restyle for their mesh CU underbust, and I think Mystic City has experimented with this in limited styles as well.
Sports mesh is also known as athletic mesh, tricot fabric, or (especially in the US) “football fabric”. This type of fabric is what’s often used in shoes and team jerseys, and also the non-stretch mesh pockets found in luggage and schoolbags, as well as non-stretch mesh laundry bags and gear sacks. It’s made from polyester and can come in a rainbow of colors.
While it may look similar to fishnet at first glance, it behaves very differently – it has little to no give or stretch, and the holes look more circular (or sometimes square), as if they were ‘punched’ out of the fabric (this is what gives it its tricot look) – however, if the holes were really punched out, this would weaken the fabric. Where fishnet looks like the ‘yarn’ is the same width everywhere, the sports mesh will have areas that look thicker and thinner – many of them have an almost ‘checkerboard’ appearance.
It’s a bit difficult to find the right type of sports mesh online, even when trying to use the correct terms and definitions, as fabric sellers on Ebay, Etsy and Alibaba will often use long strings of vaguely related words. If I can find a reliable source for this fabric in many colors, I’ll link it here, but I recommend going to a local fabric store and testing the stretch out for yourself – the right type of mesh should have little to no stretch, whereas fishnet is designed to stretch and give.
But the sports mesh costs only maybe $2 more per yard than the fishnet (therefore costs $1 more per underbust corset, depending on the size), and it comes in as many colors, for better quality and strength – so I would encourage more OTR corset manufacturers to test this fabric.
Pros: Imagine all the pros of fishnet without the cons. Sports mesh has bigger holes more on par with fishnet, so it’s more breathable than the corsetry mesh (which is a “plasticky” feeling fabric). It also doesn’t stretch out or warp as easily as fishnet. Sports mesh can come in a huge range of colors, as JL Corsets demonstrated with the corset to the right.
Cons: while sports mesh is stronger than fishnet, it’s not invincible – where there are holes, there is the risk of it catching on something and damaging the fabric. Also, while I actually prefer sports mesh compared to the fishnet, but I suppose because of the sports connotation some people might think it’s less cute than the fishnet.
Heavy Duty outdoor mesh
Featured in my past review: Contour Corset summer mesh underbust
This is a heavy duty mesh, similar to synthetic outdoor upholstery mesh. The only thing I can compare this to is the type of fabric you’d find on deck chairs or boat seats, but to this day I have not sourced the exact same fabric that Contour Corsets used to use.
Pros: this heavy duty mesh is the strongest type of mesh in this list, and comes in a rainbow of colors (in the video above I showed my gold corset, Strait-Laced Dame has a metallic silver and purple corset, and the one to the right shows the sky blue option).
Cons: this mesh is difficult to wear against the skin, absolutely requires a liner but I pretty much always wear a liner anyway. It takes a long time to form over curves, Fran said that the break-in process for one of her corsets lasted up to 100 hours of wear.
Featured in my past case study: Homemade Sport Powermesh “Corset”
This is specifically designed to have stretch and give, with mild compression – it has spandex in it. You’d find this more in Merry Widows and girdles as opposed to “real” corsets. However, it has its uses (especially those who love a strong cinch combined with maximum mobility).
The rough version of a powermesh corset I made for myself featured satin coutil front and back, boning channels and diamond waist tap – but never finished the binding on it (it means I can wear it under my clothes and it creates a surprisingly smooth line – and this mesh doesn’t really fray as it’s a knit).
Pros: it makes a very flexible and comfy corset, allowing you a lot of movement.
Cons: are that although it is still a single layer corset, because it’s a finely-woven synthetic material, it can get a little warm compared to the other types of mesh. This corset will definitely not give you a conical ribcage, as it stretches around every natural curve of your body. Also, the bones a not placed relatively close together, there is a risk of parts of the corset shrinking or rolling up in places (which is why it’s most often used in girdles, where the garter straps / suspenders keep it pulled down and smooth).
These are the most popular types of mesh and net used in corsets, but if you’d like to see even more examples of mesh, sheer, and summer corsets, (including some made from lace, organza, and horsehair), I have a whole gallery over on this permanent page! Do you know of other types of mesh that are used for corsets that I didn’t mention here or in the gallery? Comment below and let us know.
(Please note that this post contains affiliate links – LucyCorsetry may earn a small commission on Amazon and Etsy purchases made through the following links.)
Today marks six years to the day since I first created LucyCorsetry.com
I admit, at the time I dragged my heels about making it in the first place. My then-boyfriend and several of my online friends had been encouraging me to create a public blog for many months, but I didn’t see the point of it at the time. Back in 2012, Youtube was still profitable (not so much anymore) and I saw having a website as just a way to divide (and thus dilute) my time, energy, and audience.
Finally, I was convinced that a blog would help organize my content and make it more easily searchable, plus it could provide useful transcripts for followers who were hard of hearing and couldn’t make the most of my Youtube vids (2012 was still a time when automatic Youtube Closed Captions were… hilariously inaccurate, to say the least).
January 5th, 2012 was the day that I “bit the bullet” and created this site… and it’s been a bit of a wild ride ever since.
Every New Year since then, I’ve written a personal post about my successes, failures and lessons from the previous year. Click any of the links below if you’re interested in reading my previous posts (which may give more context to this year):
A Focus on Weight and Health
After several years of burning the candle at both ends, I suffered a serious case of burnout in late 2016, following my nutrition graduation. 2017 was the year that I was forced to address my health and prioritize my physical, mental and emotional needs. In less than 6 months I ended up losing 42 lbs (19 kg / 3 st) by treating myself as my own nutrition client and walking an average of 3.5 hours a day at my treadmill desk.
As a result, I was finally able to fit into (and thus review) corsets that I had purchased as far back as 2013, and I felt like a rock star at my family reunions and during several photoshoots this past summer!
While I had initially planned to vlog my weight loss journey on my secondary channel, in the end I chose to stay relatively quiet about it while I reassessed my motives, my personal definition of body positivity, and the kind of positive influence I wanted to have on my audience. In late 2017 I decided to deliberately gain back a little bit of weight in a healthy way, in order to increase my strength and normalize my cycles. I promise to talk about my personal journey in a series of videos in 2018, now that I finally feel ready to do so.
67 videos and over 90 blog posts!
Once upon a time, I had a goal of creating over 100 videos a year. That was stopped in its tracks with a series of injuries starting in 2014, and what essentially became a year-long sabbatical while I was finishing up nutrition school through to 2016. I resolved to catch up as much as possible through 2017, and it was (mostly) successful. In 2017, I wrote over 90 blog posts (some were catch-up posts for videos as far back as 2015, many were for this year, and over 30 are for future posts in 2018). I also uploaded 67 Youtube videos in 2017 (my goal was 52 vids).
- 27 of those videos were corset reviews, some of which I had owned from 2013 and never showed. (For those counting, the total number of corset reviews I’ve done is now 174 reviews of other brands, and 22 case studies of my homemade corsets).
- As promised, I made adventure videos my trips to California and England, as well as the Vollers factory tour (the second factory I’ve toured since the Timeless Trends factory in Thailand back in 2015).
- I also finally gathered the courage to create some of the longer, comprehensive videos and articles I’ve wanted to make for years. These are posts that required considerable research and/or were subjects that others may find controversial or difficult to talk about. Some of my favorites from 2017 include:
Corset Database was Launched
This is probably my proudest achievement of 2017. In reality, the Corset Database project had been incubating between Lori (Bound Angel Designs) and myself since 2014, but the realization was slow-going as we lacked the time, funding, and technical support to make it a reality. Once Sunny joined the team in early 2017, everything fell together quickly and Corset Database was launched in March!
Now Corset Database boasts 137 standard-size corset styles across 36 brands, suiting budgets from $15 to $650. Corsets can be filtered according to the rib spring and hip spring, your desired silhouette, shape of top or bottom edge, whether you need extended sizes (under 18″ or over 38″), location of the seller, or whether you plan to waist train or not.
As proud as I am of this database, I know that it can still use a lot of work to make it faster, better, stronger, and a more comprehensive resource, so I’ll be updating it with even more styles throughout 2018.
CAD: A New Skillset and New Opportunities
In 2015 I collaborated with Timeless Trends to redesign their pre-existing corsets and create the curvier hourglass line.
In 2016 we released the Gemini corsets, which (to my knowledge) is the first of its kind – providing the option of either conical or cupped rib silhouettes for the same general style of corset, according to customers’ body types and taste.
In 2017 I was invited to create more designs for Timeless Trends, and with the help of Caroline Woollin’s expert instruction in her book, I was able to quickly pick up Computer Aided Design (CAD) as a pattern drafting tool. By mid-2017 TT and I finalized the patterns for the upcoming Gemini short-hip corsets (a hybrid between the current hourglass and Gemini corsets, bringing together the best of both worlds) as well as the brand-new Libra corset which is designed for a completely different body type! While production has been pushed back considerably due to factory disruptions, I’m assured that these new styles will be released in 2018!
Three Amazing Photoshoots with Rosalind Guder Photography
I completely acknowledge the absurdity of “shying away from the [still] camera” when I’ve been a consistent vlogger on Youtube for the past 7 years – but the truth is, I’ve somewhat avoided professional photoshoots between the years of 2014-2017 as I prioritized other projects (and again, with the weight gain in previous years, I didn’t feel quite like myself).
However, when Rosalind Guder contacted me and said that she would be in the Toronto area this summer, I just couldn’t pass up the chance of working with her! I gained a newfound confidence in June and July, working with Rosalind and modeling the amazing Bur Oak ensemble from L’Atelier de LaFleur, plus a few additional pieces from my personal corset collection.
Mina LaFleur herself pulled a few all-nighters and helped style the first of these three photoshoots, and was an amazing assistant the day of. It couldn’t have gone more perfectly, and we all made a fantastic team. It was incredibly fun and I can’t wait for the next time I can work with both Rosalind and Mina!
A Focus on Family
In late 2016 I decided to try out 23andMe, and it was a fascinating and eye-opening experience in many ways. However, the most valuable part was finding some of my DNA relatives. Through these connections, my family found huge branches of our family tree, and especially a rich history of our East Indian side. Unfortunately we still know relatively little about our Ghanian, Chinese, and Aztec ancestry (largely due to adoption, Anglicization of names, etc), but we’re more optimistic than we were before, now that we’re in touch with many new cousins.
Throughout the summer and autumn of 2017, there were family reunions on both sides of the family – by pure serendipity, several cousins we had never met before (our ancestors lost touch decades ago, back in Jamaica) happened to also live right in the Toronto area!
In addition to finding new family this year, I also nourished the relationships with my pre-existing family, the family I’ve always known, and gave them higher priority in my life in 2017. I was bridesmaid (and emergency seamstress) to my cousin in her wedding this past year, and I cherished spending time with my siblings and cousins more this year than in previous years. Also, my dog Tibby will be 16 this coming year and due to her bladder schedule and various medications, I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in well over a year – but I believe that pets are family to the very end, so sleep is a necessary sacrifice in order to comfort Tibby in what is very likely the last year of her life.
Plans for 2018
This is the part where I cringe a bit, because my intentions for 2018 aren’t that much different from my previous plans for 2017.
New Ebook – last year I had the intention of completing my new ebook (a buyer’s guide and beginner’s manual for the corset novice), which had incidentally also been on the back-burner since 2014. In fact, I first made the announcement for this in mid 2016 when I put my consultation service on hiatus! I can only imagine how embarrassed I might be by the contents of that book had I released it in 2014 as intended, as I’ve learned so much more about corsets in the past 4 years. However, it’s gotten to the point where I feel as though it’s a disservice to “hoard” corset knowledge, even though it was through fear of embarrassment that kept much of this under wraps in the past. I have an obligation to share what I know, so this guide will be of higher priority in 2018.
New Videos – there are also videos that I’ve been afraid to film in previous years: research that pertains to Physical Effects of Corseting; more fitting advice; more sewing, alteration, and repair tutorials – the time-consuming and difficult topics! I will also be branching out my video topics in 2018. As I approach the 6-figure subscriber mark, I’m learning how important it is to diversify. I know that followers are also interested in my nutrition videos and haircare videos, as well as more fun and light-hearted fashion videos. I’ve already finalized the 2018’s video lineup, and it’s going to be amazing.
Solaced in Paperback – …. *sigh* I’m ashamed about how long it’s taken to get this finished. Solaced as an ebook has been out for 1.5 years now, and the paperback is beyond late. While there were some hiccups along the way (the person I had chosen to design the internal layout of the book couldn’t follow through; plus I made the choice to replace some stories, and finally dealt with a piracy issue later in the year), at some point I have to acknowledge that finished is better than perfect. I resolve that Solaced will be out in paperback in 2018.
New Timeless Trends Corsets – another resolution from 2017, I had resolved to design more OTR corsets for customers who have neglected / under-served body types within the corset community. The difference this year is that I’ve already done my part of the design process, and I’m excitedly waiting for production of the Gem-short hip and the Libra corsets!
Tying Up Loose Ends – this year I’m “going back to school” again! I clearly have an issue where I can’t stay out of school (don’t worry, I’m not going on sabbatical again this year)! The difference is that these nutrition CEUs are self-led and can be completed as my schedule allows. I’m also much more organized and disciplined than I was two years ago, and have better stamina regarding spinning multiple plates. (Hopefully.)
More Giveaways! – as I approach 100 000 subscribers on Youtube, I’m compelled to give back to this amazing community. In 2017 I had relatively few corset contests and giveaways, and I would like to do more giveaways across all my social media in 2018, including a huge one once I reach the 100k mark!
Here is to an amazing 2018 for all of us. Thank you for sticking with me for the past six years, and I hope to make the corset community proud this year.
What are your goals, hopes and intentions for 2018? Leave a comment below, I would love to know!
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 year I felt much less productive than usual; nevertheless, I did manage to accomplish more than half of my goals:
My redesigned website was launched in late February, creating a cleaner, less cluttered and more streamlined experience. Additionally, my Corset shop has become easier to navigate and more products added, including the Gemini corsets (see below!)
Solaced: 101 Uplifting Narratives About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope – my first kindle book was published on Amazon. This was a labor of love; I personally invested over $6000 into this project and poured over nearly 2000 contributor’s stories, narrowing them down to the main 100 stories (plus my own). This has been a huge joint effort and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make this book a reality! In the future, there may be a sister compilation focused exclusively on how corset makers stumbled upon this industry, and why they decided to dedicate their livelihoods to the craft.
Also in May, I joyfully witnessed my high school best friend get married! Unexpectedly, I also stumbled upon love that day. After 10 years of hearing zany stories about the bride’s crew from undergrad, one of them eventually gathered the courage to ask me out. (The bride was pleased!) (And so was I!)
Through late September and well into October, I unfortunately suffered a bad flare-up in my neck (likely related to my car accident two years prior) which left me in excruciating pain. I spent much of this time lying flat on my back on the floor with no pillow, as it was the only way I could relieve the pain. This put a damper on my productivity as I was hoping to catch up on old blog posts and Youtube videos during this time.
Despite the setback, October saw the release of the Timeless Trends Gemini corsets! This was my exclusive line that I’ve been slowly working on since June 2015 on my Thailand trip. For the first run we decided on two neutral colors and natural fibers: the black cashmere and the creme cotton. In 2017, we plan to introduce the Gemini in more colorways and fabrics.
Also in late October, I did away with my office chair and invested in a treadmill desk (I will be making a video about this very soon!). Despite my doubts, I have seen a huge change in my body in a short amount of time thanks to walking slowly 4-6 hours a day. I lost 25 lbs in two months (combining my walking with a sensible nutrition plan – treating myself as my own nutrition client), my sciatica and the crepitus in my knees are almost completely resolved, I’m more awake and alert throughout the day, my back has strengthened and my shoulders are less tense, and my Winter Blues has been much, much better than it has been in previous years. Although it was a huge investment, it’s been one of the wisest things I’ve done for my health and well-being – ever.
After handing in my final project and completing my board exams at the end of August, a very exhausted/burnt-out/happy Lucy finally walked the stage, graduating as a registered nutritionist at the top of my class with an average of 94%. I’m currently working to relaunch my vlog channel for those who are looking to supplement their waist training regime with a personalized nutrition plan!
Plans for 2017
Solaced in Paperback – While I was hoping that this would have been done before Christmas, unfortunately plans fell through with both the person I was working with for the internal layout, and also with the photographers I was consulting with. The perfectionist in me may never be satisfied with the final version of the paperback, but I know that so many people are waiting – so this will be a priority over the next coming months.
New Ebook Coming – Consultations have been on indefinite hiatus through 2016, as I’m currently working on an Ebook that answers 90% of questions covered in my previous consultations. This buyer’s guide and beginner’s manual means to empower the reader to navigate through the industry and find the corsetiere that perfectly matches their aesthetic, their physiological needs and their training goals. I’m updating and adding information that I’ve never included in videos or blog posts before, such as identifying higher quality corsets from the knockoffs, as well as scoring awesome designer corsets second-hand. When this Ebook is completed (I’m looking to launch in late spring/ early summer again), consultations may resume, but in a different format.
More Corset Designs – After the success of the Gemini line, Timeless Trends has invited me to create more designs with them over 2017. This is very exciting! I already have ideas for at least 5 more corsets that cater to “neglected body types”. My hope is to have at least 2-3 of these cuts released in 2017. Previously, the hourglass and Gemini corsets were developed and graded all by hand. This year I’m starting off on the right foot by upgrading my skills and taking some CAD courses so I can easily draft and grade corset patterns digitally.
More Videos – in 2015 and 2016, I had the goal to create at least 60 Youtube videos. I achieved that in 2015, but unfortunately with finishing school, publishing a book, and creating a new corset line, my videos fell by the wayside and I only made 26 videos on my corset channel, plus 2 on my vlog channel. However, this coming year my goal is to consistently upload 1 video per week (52 videos) across my two channels. If I happen to make more than this, I’ll consider it a bonus! I have more Physical Effects of Corseting videos planned, as well as reviews of couture corsets made from independent corsetieres, as well as some sewing and repair videos planned for this year. Making Youtube videos was my passion, and I’m excited to get back into filming!
Nutrition Business – I’m keeping this a secret for now, but just know that it’s coming. ;)
Here’s to a great 2017, everyone!
Do you have any resolutions, dreams, or business goals for the coming year? Let me know in a comment below!
This is a summary/ transcript of last Friday’s rant. You can watch the video, or read the abridged version below.
Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you…
This is a term in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Sorrows, and while it may not be in the OED (yet), it’s important nonetheless. Sonder is an important part of empathy, and it’s what I hope to share through my book.
It is so easy to take a person, their experiences, and their whole lived existence, and condense them down into a hard statistic: cause and effect. Before and after.
Don’t get me wrong: as a biochemist who dabbled in research and academia (before my creative side pulled me away) I still think quantitative studies are awesome because they can definitively show a correlation between two events (causation, however, is a different monster).
Coincidentally, Derek of Veritasium uploaded a vlog last week called Why Anecdotes Trump Data and showed that while (scientifically speaking) a longitudinal quantitative study with a large cohort is always more credible — sometimes personal experiences and strong, relatable narratives are more memorable, and carry more weight (emotionally speaking), even when the scientific evidence is not so strong.
While I would LOVE to do a longitudinal study on the long term physiological effects of corset wear (I’ve been saying this for a good 3-4 years now), I do not yet have the resources to do so. But every study starts with a proposal. And Solaced (the Corset Benefits book), while full of “anecdata” that may very well be pooh-pooh’d by some, will inevitably start a conversation.
The Importance of Empathy and Stories of Adversity
Through this anthology, over 100 writers have poured out their hearts and opened themselves up. Some have recounted past horrors and made themselves vulnerable to let you to step inside their heads and live vicariously through them for a few minutes.
Now, I know that normally “vicarious” is associated with something positive. A lot of the stories in this book are about adversity, and I would even warn that some stories may be considered triggering to some readers. But in many ways, stories of overcoming adversity is important too.
Not all of the testimonials in this book will necessarily have “happy endings” because:
- In a true first-person narrative, the end of the story is the writer’s true lived experience up to that moment. Therefore it’s not really an ending.
- “Happy Endings” imply perfection, and no life is perfect. The stories you will read in this anthology are far from a perfect outcome — but you will see where the writers have come from and where they are now. For some people, it’s not about perfection. It’s about a journey towards recovery, improved health, a highER quality of life than they once had. It’s inspiration and motivation to use the tools you’ve got (even if that tool is a simple corset) to get yourself to a better place.
The real question: why didn’t I write this entire book myself?
Well, gosh. That question sounds like I didn’t even do any work for this book. Even though there are over 100 writers who contributed to this book, I still put in a considerable amount of time and effort as the organizer, compiler, main editor, interviewer, and transcriber (for people who were too ill to write and sent in their stories through phone or Skype). I also consulted lawyers, made sure the writers were compensated (out of my own pocket), followed up on contracts, etc. — so it’s not like I had NO role in this book.
(On another note, I did write material and introductions to nearly every chapter, and soon realized that this book might be 2000 pages long — so, much of it was scrapped or stored for later for several future mini ebooks… One project at a time.)
Who cares about a book filled with the testimonials of strangers?
Please refer to the above statements on empathy. Also, there’s nothing quite like a true, first-person testimonial straight from the source — even though a quantitative study is strongest form of research, the sworn testimonies in this anthology will always be stronger than me referring to a “friend-of-a-friend-who-claimed-blah-blah-blah.” It is more credible and more “clean” than a game of broken telephone.
I’m flattered that some people care so much about the content I write that they prefer to exclusively read my work, and are less excited about reading the experiences of others. But I feel it’s important to remind you that I do not pull knowledge out of the ether! I have useful research skills and have done my own footwork, yes — but a lot of what I know is because of people in the community just like these writers — because of YOU.
I am indebted to others for freely sharing what they know, because that is how we collectively grow. Knowledge is power, and it is meant to be shared — and everyone deserves a voice, not just myself.
So for those who object to this anthology, I think we’re focusing on the wrong question. Instead of asking “who cares about the stories of strangers,” the question should be: “Given that these ‘strangers’ granted me this platform in the first place, what good is my platform if not to give leverage to those voices that would not otherwise heard?”
Photo [Right]: Juno Lucina is one of the writers for Solaced – you’ll read her story of her personal transformation, The Art of Aging, in the Mature Corseting chapter.
As we take the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on the Solaced Corset Anthology, I’d like to make sure that we’re on the right track. Since the corset community has made this book possible in the first place (first by helping to build the list of corset benefits on this page, and then by submitting more in-depth experience for the book), it’s only fair that you, the community, also have a say in what stories end up in the final book.
I was initially worried about not having enough stories for the book, but after over 150 prospective writers (about 120 of whom submitted stories) as it turns out, I have too many stories now, and my editor has told me to cull. I’m very bad at this and need your help.
This book will have more of a focus on the therapeutic (physical and emotional) benefits of corsets, and there may be an opportunity to make another volume focused around the corset community and industry in general, as well as other “softer” stories (so whatever stories will be cut from this book, will likely make it into the next one!). Below you’ll find the list of topics/ chapters: you get a say in which topics interest you most, and which ones you would probably skip.
You can also let me know in your comment whether you prefer Kindle, Paperback, Audio, or another book format! Kindle will be the first to be released, but I will almost definitely bring the book to print a bit later on. Other formats I will consider if the demand is high enough.
Thanks so much for your feedback!
Solaced: 99 Uplifting Narratives about Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope
Chapter list (NOTE: This has been edited to reflect the final version of the book)
- Back Injuries – structural support after physical trauma
- Spinal Curve – support or correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, or lordosis
- Breast support – including treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome
- Weight Loss & Lifestyle – using the corset as a kickstarter or external lap-band
- Hypermobility & EDS – preventing subluxation
- Disability – seven stories of how corsets help with various physiological disorders
- Fibromyalgia – promoting muscle relaxation and drug-free pain relief
- Gastrointestinal Disorders – helping with the symptoms of IBS, chronic constipation, and ulcerative colitis
- Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis – using compression to reduce period cramping
- Post-Surgical Abdominal Weakness – support of the abdominal muscles following surgery
- Armor – the corset’s protective role during car accidents or against violent aggressors
- Body Positive – recovery from eating disorders and body dysmorphia
- Post Partum – treatment of diastasis recti, symphysis pubic dysfunction, and post partum depression
- Gender Identity – overcoming gender/body dysphoria, assisting in expression
- Anxiety & Depression – using deep pressure therapy to improve mental well-being
- Autism Spectrum – using deep pressure therapy for those with ASD
- PTSD & Coping with Adversity – pressure therapy following traumatic or difficult events
- Mature Corseting – wearing corsets from middle age and onward, commentary on aging
- Corsets & Metaphysics – essays on Reiki and the chakras
- Newspaper Clippings – a small collection of Victorian newspaper articles on corsets saving the lives of wearers
- Potpourri – stories that don’t quite fit in with the others
Which topics do you look forward to reading the most? Leave a comment below!
This year was a big one, as I had spent nearly 2 cumulative months in travel. Additionally, I’ve been making Youtube videos for 5 years now, and have had the blog for 4 years. I admit that in the last two years my frequency in updating the blog has decreased considerably, but I do make an effort to post about the most important topics, some of which I’ll discuss below.
The first few months of this year were spent largely grinding with work, slowly recovering from my car accident from November 2014, and spending some time reading more about small business, productivity, and personal growth. I took a short course with Cathy Hay (of Foundations Revealed) on running a creative business which has revolutionized my perspective and given me the edge I needed to, say, hop on a plane heading halfway around the world with only a few days’ notice and follow my dreams.
Business and Website changes
Consultations had returned for the first half of the year, with the new Skype option being highly successful – but this was put on hiatus during the second half of the year due to my international travel and then going back to school. I hope to resume consultations next year on a limited basis during spring, and return to them full time after August with a new option for nutritional coaching once I pass my board exams.
In January the highly successful Before / After page was created, to showcase the success stories of corset wearers and waist trainers of many different shapes and sizes. Next year I plan to add even more stories, and update the success stories from the original contributors. It remains one of my most popular posts on my website today.
This year I also had my name and logo officially trademarked which was an exciting step forward for my business!
Other highlights of this year included making a case study of 3 Wasp Creations corsets, giving an interview with Kitty from girly-girl’s osteotomy blog, doing a walkthrough for a bespoke overbust corset from Dark Garden, and discussing this year’s findings of the anthropological study on how corsets affected the spine and ribcage of impoverished Victorian women.
As always, the Lace Base and the Corsetiere Map continue to grow and improve. The Lace Base has now become a more interactive and easily searchable table, and its corresponding corset dimensions calculator has had more corset brands and styles added to it over the year. The Corsetiere Map has seen some corset makers go out of business this year unfortunately, but the trend is still slowly upward with the total number of makers now at 325 and counting.
I admit that my Youtube channel has been relatively “meh” over 2015. With my accident recovery, my unexpected travelling schedule, and then school starting, videos fell on the back burner and that’s one regret I have this year. However, I completed my goal to upload at least 60 videos this year (in fact, I completed 67 public videos in 2015, for a grand total of 528 videos in the last 5 years!).
Included in this year’s videos were 22 corset reviews, 6 unboxings, and 7 interviews (if you include the written interviews with Rebecca Gibson and Kitty!)
Decluttering and confronting materialism
Over the past year and a half I have been indulging in a deep purge. Even though I had moved house 4 years ago, I had to admit that I hadn’t fully finished unpacking those last few “miscellaneous” boxes, and I probably didn’t miss what was in them! I was one of the many people who jumped the KonMarie bandwagon around February. I read it twice, six months apart – and today I still find items I can discard or donate. To say that I’ve purged at least 25% of my total belongings wouldn’t be an exaggeration!
It was interesting to confront my relationship with material things, and how I value items differently depending on whether I had purchased them vs whether I received them as gifts, regardless of their price. I would say that I reduced my corset collection by at least 25% as well – and I had to admit that my pride of having a very large corset collection was interfering with my mental well-being of being constantly surrounded by just too many corsets. I got rid of a lot of my fabric stash as well – coming to grips with the fact that I am simply no longer interested in finishing certain sewing projects or costumes for which that fabric was originally purchased. I also got rid of a lot of my paper clutter, including the notes of my least favourite courses from high school. By selling my clothing to local consignment shops, I ended up making a few hundred dollars – and when I have fewer items and I spend less on trivial items, I don’t feel bad about upgrading the few things I really do use on a daily basis (like finally getting a new cell phone, after using a broken old one for 3 years).
This year I did a huge amount of traveling. In March I went to NYC with Mina of L’atelier de LaFleur for the Grand Corset Ball. Getting to meet Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace, Cathie and Bob Jung (the Guinness World Record holder of the smallest corseted waist on a living person) and model/ activist Kelly Lee Dekay was an amazing experience.
In June I flew to Thailand to work with Timeless Trends on their new hourglass corset line, and to prepare for some future corset styles. Taking in the food and culture in Bangkok was incredibly eye-opening and humbling. It was two weeks of extremely hard work but I loved every moment of it, partially because of Sarah’s wit! Even when absolutely exhausted, everyday was full of laughter. I’m very grateful for Jim and Black’s hospitality and we’re already talking of planning another work trip in the future, and perhaps spend a bit more time to appreciate more of what the beautiful country has to offer.
In July I spent three weeks in Texas, partially filming videos for TT, partially catching up with old school friends and partially spending time with Amber Welch of Lovely Rats Corsetry. During the couple of weeks with Amber, we filmed an interview, made a corset together and shared our corset construction techniques, and she introduced me to Steven Universe – after which point I became a barnacle on her couch and watched all the available episodes. Amber and I flew straight from Texas to the North American Corsetry and Lingerie Symposium in California, where we met so many amazing corsetieres from across the US, including Sidney Eileen (and did an interview with her here), Jasmine of Sin & Satin, Alisha of The Bad Button, and I saw many friends again including Jessica of Ties that Bynde, and Heidi of Strait-Laced Dame.
After the Symposium, I spent a few more days in Los Angeles with model-photographer Zessinna, taking in a few of the things LA had to offer. We spent a day with Puimond (his interview can be found here), we went to Venice beach another day, and we went shopping in Burbank, known as being the shopping area for corsets and pin-up attire. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Disneyland, but I resolve to go one day!
I returned home for about three weeks in August. During this time I was able to squeeze in a corset commission and register to go back to school. During this time period there were also a few losses – including one of my oldest school friends who passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was a highly emotional time, but I had to push forward.
Later in August I travelled to England to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry (for my second year, and their third year running). Highlights of the trip included meeting Mr. Pearl and Immodesty Blaize amongst all the other wonderful corsetieres who attended this year for the first time, and seeing some wonderful people again like Lowana of Vanyanis, Cora of The Lingerie Addict, and Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden (the keynote speaker from the previous year).
After the conference was over, I spent a few days with Katie of What Katie Did which was a joy (see our interview here), and then spent my last few days in England down in Portsmouth with Ian and Corina Voller of Voller’s Corsets where I got to see their factory and interview them as well.
Returning to School
Only 4 days after returning home from my England trip in September, school started where I’m studying to become a registered Holistic Nutritionist – and have been studying ever since with a standing average of 98.9 % for the first quarter. While it’s prohibited to give away any specific details about the curriculum, I’ve been absolutely loving the material and coursework and I can’t wait to graduate and combine my new knowledge with my previous skills in this industry.
Looking to 2016: upcoming projects
In late 2015 I announced my upcoming corset benefits compilation book, which I hope will be ready by spring 2016 (so far, corresponding with 100+ contributors have been like herding cats!).
In 2016 I would again like to create at least 60 Youtube videos, although the majority of my time and energy will be in getting my book out and studying for the first few months this year.
I’m also creating another curvier design for Timeless Trends, which I hope will be in production by May (there’s a special reason that I want it completed by May!) and have ideas for at least 4 other corset designs, and depending on which are approved, some may be produced by the end of 2016.
Later in 2016 I will also be graduating from nutrition school, and I hope to travel more once my studies are completed.
I also hope to have more giveaway contests in 2016 compared to 2015; I’ve missed giving back so much and I want my followers to feel appreciated for their incredible support over this past half a decade.
Thank you all for sticking by my side – I am thrilled for what 2016 will bring. Do you have any exciting plans for 2016? Let me know in a comment below! <3
The corset has been the inspiration behind iconic photographs, songs, body piercings, and various other art pieces, but I’d like to take a moment and create a gallery to highlight some of the lovely corset-themed jewellery, accessories and adornment. If you have a corset enthusiast in your life and you’re looking for a holiday gift for them, perhaps these will give you a few ideas:
Corset Inspired Jewellery
There are only 5 people in the world who own these tiny detachable busk earrings: Silent Songbyrd, LadyTigerLily, RandomCorset, The Steel Boned Baker, and myself. Byrdi was the genius artist who created and cast these earrings in pewter – each miniscule busk peg made from the head of a pin, and each busk being unique so the corresponding half of each earring can only be matched to its partner. They can be worn with the busk half in each ear (as LadyTigerlily shows above), or if you have multiple piercings you can wear them together. Although they’re not available for sale currently, I’ve suggested that Byrdi market these someday, as they would make a lovely gift for corset enthusiasts – if they are eventually made on a larger scale, I suggest wearing them with your hair up! See the earrings modelled by us Youtube Corset Vloggers in our interview at Orchard Corset!
Another friend of mine, Lowana from Vanyanis, has created these beautiful pendants and earrings fashioned from her new line of laurel engraved busks, which are the only busks of their kind in the world. The busks are originally sourced from German Wissner busks, some of the finest quality busks made today – each busk loop is then individually engraved and the contrast black color set using a modern annealing process in Australia. Lastly, the busk loops are detached from the busk with the greatest of care and a jeweller attaches the busk loop to the jump ring and hung onto a solid sterling silver necklace or earring hooks. I find them to be a beautifully mysterious “understated statement piece”. Those who know what a corset is will almost immediately recognize the busk loops as they are, but those unfamiliar with corsetry will simply consider it an ornate keyplate. Amazingly, this jewellery supports four different artists – the busk maker, the corsetiere/designer, the engraver and the jeweller.
Abbey, the woman behind Forge Fashion in New Zealand, is a corsetiere, costumiere and jeweller who has had her works modelled by celebrities like Lady Gaga. She creates stunning and elegant pieces with extra spiral steel bones, like this necklace. Her Etsy store can be found here.
Vollers Corsets have had corset-inspired jewellery for many years, made in silver by a local jeweller exclusively for the oldest corset manufacturer in England. They have busk-themed and lacing-themed bracelets, rings, necklaces and even little busk-loop cufflinks options, and these are not your delicate costume jewellery – these are substantial, as you may derive from the photos! Unfortunately these listings no longer appear to be on the Vollers website, but last summer I spoke at length with Corina regarding their themed jewellery and their availability – if you’re interested in any of these pieces, I would encourage you to contact Vollers via email.
Too Sweet from Poland is an incredibly talented designer who makes miniature versions of her favourite corsets – featured here are recreations of Snowblack’s “My Secret Garden” corset, and Retrofolie’s pattern matched corset featuring Alfons Mucha’s “Primrose and Feathers” (which I particularly love, as it’s a pendant inspired by a corset inspired by a painting). See more of Too Sweet’s creations here!
Jewellery for your Corsets
I’m in love with this jewelled corset by Ferrer Corsets. The Carmine Passion corset is a radiant red cupped overbust with gold busk and grommets, and amazing sparkling golden wire “flames” with attached red and clear stones adorning the cups. In the second photo you can see how each piece starts with a curved base similar to the underwire of a bra, with small loops to sew it to the corset. Each one is built up and made to curve smoothly around the cup – and of course, would be made to order to fit the wearer.
Institut Corsetologie has an Etsy shop that sells one-of-a-kind adorable ornaments to add bling to your corsets, including little hanging tokens that can be hung from your busk, or dangling chains of multiple charms. They are made with your corset in mind, and Miss K ensures that the non-sharp pieces won’t catch on the outer fabric for your corset.
While not a piece of jewellery specifically for the corset, the chatelaine has a long and rich history amongst Victorian women and have been used to denote the status of the woman wearing it. Indeed, “chatelaine” means “woman of the house” (derived from the French word for a house for nobility, chateau) and the woman was the keeper of all the keys! While at first a glorified keychain, the chatelaine was later used to hold sewing tools, perfume, and other small tokens and notions, sometimes gilded and jewelled. Even if a chatelaine became heavy, the support from a corset would help distribute the weight. There have been a several proponents for bringing back a variation of the chatelaine, allowing people to hang their clutches, wallets and handbags from their corset – with style, of course! See my 2011 video of how I made my own chatelaine, or pick up a copy of Sarah Chrisman’s newest book (where she describes how she made her own chatelaine as well), “This Victorian Life“!
Do you know of any other corset jewellery, or do you make your own corset jewellery? Let me know in the comments and it may be added to this list!
After nearly a week of spending every waking (and non-school) hour reading over 1000 entries for the giveaway, here is the shortlist (top 50) from which the winners for the Retrofolie corsets will be chosen (after the photo). The winners will be randomly chosen from this group of 50 tomorrow (Sunday) and announced on Youtube!
There were many tears in the process of choosing this shortlist, because there were hundreds that truly need and deserve to win. While there was no particular science to who got chosen, here are a few points:
- both people who have previously owned corsets and who haven’t owned a real corset were chosen
- if the contestant did own a corset previously, the people who wore their corset often were chosen over those who said that they owned 10 corsets but rarely wore any of them
- on average, those that were chosen had a tendency to write a little more (at least a few sentences) than those who wrote very brief, 1-sentence entries or sentence fragments. It allowed me to “get to know” the person better and more fully understand their circumstances. Their first language didn’t play a factor; there are many on this list whose first language isn’t English
- race, gender, and country of residence were irrelevant (this contest was open worldwide)
- those who have been subscribed to my channel longer had a better chance of being chosen compared to those who only subscribed for the contest
- those who struggled financially were more likely to be chosen over those who mentioned that they were more affluent
The Top 50 Entrants:
Update: the winners have been chosen! Congratulations to those who won – the draw can be viewed in the video below:
If you are already subscribed to my Youtube channel, you will already know about the massive corset giveaway launched this past Monday. Julianne of RetroFolie (a fellow Canadian corsetiere) and I have collaborated to arrange a giveaway – three lucky winners will receive a custom fit and custom designed RetroCouture underbust corset, together valued at over $1000 USD! This is to celebrate my upcoming 5 year anniversary of making videos on Youtube, and recently reaching over 75 000 subscribers!
Additionally, if you feel that corsets have granted you a better quality of life, you have the opportunity to make history and contribute to a very special compilation book that you can share with loved ones and associates to help demystify and destigmatize corsetry.
All the necessary information is available in the video below! Be sure to open the Youtube video in a new window and comment under the Youtube video, not under this blog post.
The contest is open worldwide, and contest closes November 2, 2015 at 23:59 EST (UTC−05:00).
If you are interested in contributing to the compilation book but do not want to enter the giveaway contest, you have until the end of November to email me your first draft. More information about the book will be coming after the contest is closed. <3
Good luck to all entrants, and thank you for an amazing 5 years, over 500 videos, and 75000 subscribers!
To start, I want to say that I did bring my camcorder to New York last weekend, but got very little footage – so a video recap would have been bit boring with just my face waffling for 10 minutes as per usual.
I suppose I’ll start from the beginning: back in October 2014, I was delighted to receive an email from Melanie of Lace Embrace Atelier, with news of her Kickstarter campaign. The Grand Corset Ball was to be in the style of La Gracieuses Modernes balls from the past, and would help fund Melanie’s antique corset exhibit, “Fashioning the Body”.
I asked both my sister and my boyfriend if either of them would be interested in attending, and both expressed mild interest at the time but made no commitments. My plans, my health and my finances had a wrench thrown into them in late November due to the car accident, and I truly didn’t know how long I would need to go without a corset in order to fully heal from the ordeal. I felt horrible about not being able to contribute to the Kickstarter at the time, and thus made the announcement that I wouldn’t be able to attend the ball (which is why a few people were a bit surprised to see me there after all!).
After a few months of recuperation, I finally got the green light to start wearing corsets again from my doctor at the end of January – by which time, neither of my prospective dates were able to go to New York that weekend with me. The ball was approaching fast, so I asked Mina LaFleur of L’Atelier de LaFleur if she was going since I knew she lived relatively close-by in Toronto; we could fly down together and share accommodations. She graciously agreed, and only about 3 weeks before the event, we bought our tickets. We also made some loose plans to visit Body Worlds, the Met Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Frick Collection, Central Park, and FAO Schwarz while we were there. (Perhaps a teeny bit ambitious for less than 48 hours in NYC!)
Fast forward to the day before the ball: Mina and I arranged to meet at the airport on Friday morning, and after a brief period of Marco Polo via cellphone, finally found one another in the terminal. Our first flight had been bumped, so we had a 90-minute wait in front of us. I purchased an obscenely large choux bun for the novelty (not a wise choice in retrospect, as I was to be fitted for a corset later). Mina and I boarded our flight, and then we sat on the runway for another hour or so. Thankfully, we had plenty to talk about!
We finally checked into our hotel about 2 hours later than anticipated. I had made plans to have a mockup fitting with Autumn Adamme of Dark Garden, so we dropped our bags off at the hotel and took a cab over to Tricia’s Millinery shop, House of Nines Design. I have only had a couple in-person fittings with corsetieres (as opposed to remote fittings) so it was educational to see what Autumn looked for and how she tweaked the toile. The pic on the left shows my excitement:
After excitedly discussing the ball and Mr. Pearl, we said our goodbyes and decided to walk back to our hotel, during which time we sufficiently checked off “get lost in NYC” from our Bucket Lists. I made amends for the choux bun at dinner that night with an amazing feta, avocado and butternut squash salad at the Stone Street Tavern.
The next day, Mina and I only got to see Body Worlds Pulse and a tiny portion of the Met Museum, but I found it incredibly interesting. At Body Worlds they have a liver which shows natural hepatic grooves from the ribcage – and not caused by corsets – which somewhat confirms the findings of the article I referenced in my Dr. Oz response last month. I would have taken a picture of the liver, but they have a strict no-cameras rule in the exhibit.
At the Met, we mostly focused on the Chinese tapestries, Fragonard paintings and the armor exhibitions. We also indulged in a selfie on the balcony before quickly rushing back to the hotel to get ready for the ball. Mina created everything in her own ensemble, from the dove-grey overbust with asymmetric lace, to the matching palest-blue taffeta bustle, to her reticule and tiara. I wore a lace-smothered gold overbust made by Sparklewren (originally made for Immodesty Blaize) which complemented the vintage cream lace sari purchased from Zessinna last year. (My great-aunt, who lived in Pakistan, was the first to teach me to tie a sari when I was a child, but Laysa kindly gave me a refresher as it had been awhile.)
Evidently there was some miscommunication about the starting time for the ball as Mina and I (as well as a few others) arrived a bit early, so we passed the time by chatting and of course taking pictures in the powder room until they were ready to accept us in the ballroom.
I saw many familiar faces at the ball – Kirk Whitmer (deux lunes) and his wife Kerstin, Ian Frazer Wallace (The Whitechapel Workhouse), and Autumn Adamme of course (Dark Garden), all of whom I had met last summer in England at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry.
When the Royal Court had arrived, I was too shy to introduce myself to Bob and Cathie Jung, so Melanie led me over to them and formally introduced us. It was a dream come true to tell them how much I appreciated their immense contribution to the corsetry community, including their willingness to be in the spotlight of mainstream media to educate others about modern waist training (even though Cathie insists that they are just normal, everyday people), their modern medical tests that demonstrate real-time physical effects of corsetry (including cross-section CAT scans of Cathie while wearing a corset, years before the more recent MRI scans), and Cathie’s slow training over close to 40 years being a responsible influence for those who also aspire to train; teaching others that slow and steady wins the race. Cathie is a living testament that a corseted lifestyle, while not for everyone, is very possible and can be done comfortably while maintaining good health.
Other people that I was too happy to finally meet and chat with included designer and model Kelly Lee Dekay (seen above); Jasmine Ines, corsetiere behind Sin & Satin; designer Rachael Reichert; model and illustrator Flora Jasper, and many many others – thanks to Vilma, Debbie, Cassie, Raquel, Samantha, Ellie, and everyone else who came up to me that night, as I’m naturally a painfully shy person and if it weren’t for you I probably would have sat in a corner all evening. :p
Later in the night, there was a Q&A session with Cathie and Bob where we could all approach them with our questions, as well as a dance lesson (which I sadly missed), a non-competitive fashion show where people showed off their hand-made and commissioned outfits, and at midnight, two burlesque performances by Perle Noire and Aseult.
After the ball, Mina and I spent the night packing and indulging in some New York pizza (another thing to check off our list!), and with less than 3 hours sleep, we finally said goodbye to NYC and headed home. Since we didn’t get everything finished on our itinerary, we agreed that we definitely have to return to NY again in the future, and for a longer stay next time! ;)
As mentioned on Facebook, this ball was an amazing opportunity for many of us in the corsetry community in North America to come together for the first time. It’s a beautiful thing when we can all stand in solidarity and support one another’s work, approaching one mutual interest from completely different directions and knowing that coming together only strengthens our community. The night of the ball, there was no sense of competition for waist size, sewing skills, historical knowledge, or dancing ability. I was nervous going in, but honestly it was so worth it for the networking alone (and the music, performances and countless pretties were a bonus too!). I sincerely hope that there are more events like this in the future.
Thanks to the friendly people of New York for the lovely weekend, thanks to Mina for being an awesome travel companion, and huge thanks to Melanie for organizing the ball! I’m sure this will not be the last of such events.
In less than a week, my website will turn 3 years old. This past October, my Youtube channel turned 4 (for all intents and purposes). More than ever I realize the importance of running a blog and a channel side-by-side, as different people have different ways of sourcing information. Before we charge ahead, I will preface this by saying that 2014 was not exactly my most productive year (I didn’t meet some of my goals), but it may have been the most exciting year so far. Read on…
As 2014 draws to a close, I feel that it’s only fitting to look back with respect to the notable corset makers that are sadly no longer active in our community, whether by choice (closing commissions) or by passing on. These wonderful, talented artists will never be forgotten. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list – so if you would like to add anyone, please feel free to comment below.
In Memory of those who have Passed On:
2000, April – Iris Norris (The Independent Corsetiere).
Iris lived in London, England, and worked as a seamstress for 38 years (and later on, a model) for Gardner & Son Corsets, Ltd until they closed their doors in 1981. According to Staylace, Iris carried her love of corsetry over such that she continued to take commissions until the beginning of 2000. She passed away in April of that year, at the age of 78. I was not active in the corset community at this time, but felt that it would be respectful to include her as she helped pave the way for other independent corsetieres to succeed. Read tributes to Iris here on Staylace, and also here and here on corsetiere.net.
2003, July – Michael Garrod (True Grace Corset Company).
Michael Garrod started his business in 1982 and ingeniously incorporated some of his knowledge in glider aircraft engineering into his corsets to create incredibly sturdy and smooth pieces. It is said that he passed away peacefully in 2003 at the age of 75 after a long battle with cancer. Both Ann Grogan and Velda Lauder dedicated their books in his memory. See tributes by both Romantasy (another), and Staylace.
2008, October – Constance Trench-Brown (C&S Constructions).
Constance made 50% of the C&S Constructions company, along with her Business and Life partner Stuart. According to Staylace, the couple started making corsets in 1988 and went into business in 1995, specializing in pipestem silhouette corsets. Constance was said to have persevered and continued passionately sewing corsets even as her health was on-and-off in her last few years, but sadly she passed in 2008. Stuart has kept the name of the company and continues creating corsets even today. Read a memoriam on Constance here, and visit C&S Constructions website here.
2010, May – Amy Crowder (Wasp Creations).
Amy had 25 years of corset-making experience and had been a dedicated tightlacer since 1991. In this video you can see her revolutionary corsets as she demonstrates the zip-closure and effortless lacing system – Amy had a very loyal following and many believed that she would transform modern corsetry as we know it. Amy passed away in May of 2010, at the age of 39 – I was relatively new in the online corset community at this time, and was very saddened to hear of her passing. According to one source who is in touch with Amy’s mother, heart conditions ran in Amy’s family. Read Amy’s obituary here.
2010, August – Ruth Johnson (B.R. Creations).
Ruth Johnson worked with several notable educators and pioneers within the corset community as corsets were experiencing their renaissance in the mid 20th century. As early as the 1960s, she worked with Fakir Musafar (the Ol’ Corsetier, Hourglass Company) and she was also a resident corsetiere on Ann Grogan’s Romantasy team from 1990 until her retirement in 2004. She became a source of inspiration for many younger corsetieres and passed away in 2010 at the age of 78. Read about her legacy on Romantasy here and here.
2013, March – Velda Lauder.
Velda Lauder describes herself perfectly and concisely in her Twitter bio: Corsetiere, designer, author, consultant. She was a popular designer in the UK and around the world, dressing celebrities like Dita Von Teese. In 2010 she published her book, “Corsets: A Modern Guide” – and as Marianne Faulkner said – she was in her professional prime. Velda passed away in her sleep in 2013 while on a trip to Dublin, shortly after her 49th birthday. One source proposes that the cause may have been food poisoning or a virus. Read tributes on The Lingerie Addict and Jed Phoenix.
2014, July – Christine Wickham (Ariadne’s Thread).
Christine was a good friend of mine and I was deeply affected when I learned of her passing. She had only been active within the corset community for a few years – but in that short time she became hugely involved, moderating multiple groups and forums, creating and selling corset patterns, operating a graphics company (she did all the design work for my dress-up doll) and creating corsets under the name Ariadne’s Thread. She passed away earlier this year, just short of her 22nd birthday, from a pulmonary embolism thought to be the result of a knee injury during yoga practice. She is still deeply missed by all who knew her. Read memoriams by myself, The Lingerie Addict, Vanyanis, Sidney Eileen and Foundations Revealed.
Respecting those who have Retired:
2008 – Creations l’Escarpolette.
The story of Joyce, the corsetiere behind Creations l’Escarpolette, is an unfortunate one. She had amazing talent and skill when it came to creating corsets, and particularly within the LiveJournal community her popularity exploded in the early 2000s. She was ahead of her years in construction and embellishment, and clients were willing to wait years for the opportunity to own a piece from Joyce. It’s said that between 2006 – 2008 she became overwhelmed with the volume of orders, and disappeared from the online community as more clients came forward with stories of not receiving their orders (1, 2). Perhaps this is a curse of reaching success too quickly. I feel that she still had so much to give, and perhaps tried to make too many people happy at once. The website and journal of Creations l’Escarpolette are still available here.
2013 – SugarKitty Corsets.
At the end of 2013, SugarKitty Corsets announced that after 11 years of making corsets, they were retiring from corsetry indefinitely. The owner Shannon still operates under SugarKitty Couture and offers burlesque-related accessories like pasties and knickers through her Etsy shop. I’m very fortunate to have been able to purchase and review one of her pieces, and still hope against hope that perhaps one day she’ll take commissions again! See SugarKitty’s website here.
2014 – J.C. Creations.
On November 1 2014, J.C. Creations shut their doors. J.C. Creations proved their expertise in corsetry through creating lovely corsets for the likes of Cathie Jung, Guinness World Record holder for the smallest waist on a living person. I was only able to study one of their men’s corsets – and I wish I had more time to learn more about their history and accomplishments, but I’m still grateful for the opportunity to share what I knew about them through the generosity of EgapTesroc. May J.C. Creations enjoy their retirement, knowing that they will be welcomed with open arms if they should ever decide to return.
To all those on this list: your work was well-loved, and you yourselves will be missed. Thank you for your contribution to our community, no matter how large or small.
Would you add anyone else to this list? If so, who?