Posted on Leave a comment

“Friendship Corset” Collaboration (Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry)

This entry is a summary of the “Friendship Corset” Case Study (Collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry). If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length Center front is 12.5 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10.75 inches and the center back is 11.25 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 29″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 23″, and hip is 35″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribs are gently rounded and the hips are slightly cupped, giving a comfortable and flattering silhouette that was designed for my long torso and low waist.
Material 3 main layers: the fashion fabric pink rainbow crystal organza, fused to white herringbone coutil – and the lining is a “Monet” inspired printed lightweight quilting cotton. Boning channels / binding were custom dyed satin coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge towards the lower tummy in center front, panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip. Construction: organza was fused to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement). Single external boning channels laid down (one on each seam and one in the middle of each panel), and the lining is floating.
Waist tape One-inch-wide twill cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of green satin coutil, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished on the inside. No garter tabs (I don’t use them anyway).
Modesty panel None, as we were short on time and I tend to lace my corsets closed in the back anyway.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from under the knob side of the busk, covered in the lining fabric, and stiffened with coutil.
Busk 12” long, with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk, slightly wider than 1″ on each side, and very stiff. The busk extends into the binding.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (the bone on the center back edge is 1/2″ wide, and the bone on the “internal” side of the grommets is ¼ inch wide).
Grommets There are 22, two-part size #00 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. There is the occasional split on the underside of the grommets (my doing as this was my first time using her grommet press) but they’re all holding in securely.
Laces Granny Smith apple green 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).


The Story Behind the Corset:

Some of you who watched my “Unboxing Week” videos in summer of 2015 may remember this corset and the story behind it.

The pattern was a posthumous gift from one of my closest friends in the corset community, Christine Wickham (A Girl From Down Under / Ariadne’s Thread). Christine did a lot for the corset community during her active years from around 2011 – 2014 (including spearheading a fundraiser for me to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry). I also worked with Christine on a number of projects; she was the illustrator for my Corset Designer Doll and she also helped rework my logo. But one of the things that she was most well-known for was that she developed her own underbust corset pattern and released it online for free in the “Learn to Make Corsets Like a Pro!” Facebook group so other fledgling corset makers could use her corset pattern as a place to start.

What I didn’t know is that she was also working on a made-to-measure corset pattern as a gift for me. The only other person she told / showed this pattern to was our mutual friend Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry (to have Amber check over the pattern and suggest improvements). Christine passed away suddenly in July 2014 after a yoga injury led to pulmonary embolism, and it shook the whole corset community. It was less than 72 hours between her being fine and being gone.

Christine and her generous nature is still regularly discussed among my group of friends, and when I stayed with Amber for two weeks in July 2015, she printed out the pattern that Christine had planned to give me. We decided it would be a good tribute to her memory to create a corset from the pattern, using a combination of our materials / tastes and construction techniques – thus the “friendship corset” was born, a collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats, and Lucy’s Corsetry.

See the video above for all my commentary on the different parts of construction, why certain elements were chosen over others, and what I learned from this “mini internship” at Amber’s studio. If you’d like to see my interview with Amber (done at the same time as we were collaborating on this corset), click here.

Posted on 6 Comments

Remembering our Absent Corsetier(e)s

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:

 

Iris Norris, 1921 – 2000

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.

 

Michael Garrod (1928 – 2003) with Cathie Jung.

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.

 

Constance Trench-Brown (right) with husband and partner Stuart, and friend Karen on the left.

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.

 

Amy Crowder, 1971 – 2010

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.

 

Ruth Johnson (1932 – 2010) with Ann Grogan.

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.

 

Velda Lauder, 1964 – 2003

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.

 

Christine Wickham (1992 – 2014), in a corset by Lovely Rats Quality Custom Clothing.

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:

Blue overbust with black lace by Creations l’Escarpolette

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.

 

Lucy (me!) in the Abigail II underbust by SugarKitty Corsets

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.

 

Cathie Jung modelling an underbust by J.C. Creations.

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?