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6th Corset Seasoning – a tear in the seam

After the 6th seasoning session, I estimate that I’ve been wearing this corset for approximately 14-15 hours, because I wear the corset 2-3 hours each seasoning session – the seasoning process is half over, and I’m feeling more comfortable in this corset. The waist of the corset is hooking underneath my ribs, and so I’m relaxed in the corset and feel as if my ribs are “resting on a shelf”.

I also notice that I’m not struggling with this corset as much to get it on and off. The busk clasps faster and easier, the laces glide through the grommets more smoothly, and lacing up the corset has become very fast and easy. Although this could be attributed to simply me getting used to lacing this particular corset, I think it’s more than that. Remember on the first day, I was laced in only about 1.5 inches and felt that the corset was deceptively tight because it wasn’t wrapping around my body – the corset was still feeling a bit crunchy. Today it feels smoother and hugs around my own curves so nicely that I’m really fighting the urge to lace it tighter, because a reduction of just 1.5 inches feels almost like nothing now. However, I’m still trying to just lace it with about a 2-inch reduction for the duration of this seasoning period.

“Priming” your waist for less resistance

If you’re seasoning a corset that is not your first corset, then one option is for you to “prime” your waist by wearing your previous corset for some time, and then switching over to your seasoned corset. By doing this, then your oblique muscles are already warmed and stretched, and (depending on how much you reduce) your intestines are already flattened and moved so you would be able to accommodate more restriction by your new corset. In this situation, you might even feel that 3-4 inches in your new corset feels quite easy, while if you were trying to break in your corset while your torso was ‘cold’ (say, if you didn’t wear corsets for a few days, or ever, and then put the corset on) then you may feel that just a couple of inches feels like a stretch for you. That said, even if you prime your waist before putting on your new corset to season, I wouldn’t personally cinch down more than about 2.5 inches at the absolute most for someone my size, as a general guideline.

Different people, different sizes, different waist reductions for seasoning.

A person with a bigger starting waist (say, 40″) may find they season their corsets with a reduction of 3-4 inches. A person with a smaller natural waist (say, 24″) may find that they barely get any reduction at all while they’re breaking in their corset. This is all perfectly fine. The 2″ guideline is just what has worked for me over the years while I’ve seasoned over 70 different corsets, but if you aren’t even up to that 2″ reduction yet, this doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. The whole idea of seasoning your corset is that you wear it with less tension that you normally would put on a fully-laced corset, so the fibers ‘stretch’ and align themselves evenly instead of having uneven tension, so the corset forms to your body, and so  you don’t get hot spots or pressure points that cause you discomfort or pain as you and your corset become acquainted.

I don’t say this to try and confuse any of you into thinking that the 2/2/2 rule (2″ reduction, for two hours a day, for two weeks) doesn’t work for everybody. It actually does work very well for a huge number of people, and it’s a really good starting point/ guideline for most people who are starting out, but I would rather you understand the objective behind this, as opposed to blindly following it as a rule. Some people think that rules are just red tape that is laid down to oppress them. Truly understanding the reasoning behind a certain practice is key to lacing responsibly.

Important changes to the corset:

A side seam popped at the waistline – one of the curviest seams, under the highest tension. There are a number of reasons that this could have happened:

  • I had coughed when the seam broke – it could have been my fault, for putting unfair, acute pressure on the waistline of the corset. Perhaps I have particularly strong oblique muscles, as I had ripped one other corset about 3 years ago from a sneeze. My coughs and sneezes tend to be violent. Granted, I’ve also sneezed in other corsets and those have survived…
  •  The stitch length might have been longer along that seam than usual, or perhaps there was a skipped stitch that I had overlooked. I generally don’t care much about skipped stitches from an aesthetic standpoint, as long as the corset itself is strong. If the stitch length was uneven, then that would have been a flaw in the sewing machine.
  • However, I also remember that when I tried on the mockup, it had also torn in a similar seam (just on the other side), no coughing involved but I had laced it up tight on the first go, without easing into the toile. I try not to believe in “foreshadowing” in real life, but maybe it has something to do with that particularly curvy seam.
  • The thread tension on the machine may not have been balanced, so even though the stitch length may have been okay, one of the threads may have been loose which may have allowed spreading and eventual breaking of that seam.
  • The quality of the thread may not have been strong – or if the thread was of highest quality then it’s possible that the thread had a flaw in that one spot: a case of the thread being the wrong flaw, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whatever the reason, it happened. I moped about it for a weekend, and then I returned and quickly mended the corset by hand (not a pretty job, but it did the trick!). I decided to put that particular video in the “Corset Modifications and Repairs” playlist as it seemed more relevant in that category. If you like, you can watch seasoning video 6 and the quick n’ dirty repair videos below.

 

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4th and 5th Corset Seasoning Sessions

Firstly: why didn’t I record the 4th seasoning session on its own?

I actually did record it, but my memory card malfunctioned and had to be reformatted, so I lost that material. Rather than put on different clothing and “pretend” to have day 4 all over again, I decided to just go ahead and post a “double update” because this seasoning mini-series is intended to be as natural as possible. Hopefully that hasn’t confused everyone!

Is it possible to break in your corset faster, so that it’s fully seasoned in less than two weeks?

Theoretically, yes. If, for instance, you only receive your corset one week before a big event, you may be able to double up on your seasoning sessions. Although different corsets may require different break-in durations (depending on their construction and how “tough” they are), it’s possible to squeeze two different seasoning sessions in one day – you can wear your corset for a couple of hours in the morning before work, and a couple hours again in the evening after work. I tend to do this with my own corsets whenever possible, and I feel okay doing this in my corsets because my body is accustomed to wearing corsets. However, remember that for a first-timer, the seasoning period is just as important for you body as it is for the corset – if you’re not accustomed to wearing corsets more than 1-2 hours a day, then two break-in sessions several days in a row may leave you feeling a bit sore. Just remember to pay attention to your body and ease off the corseting if you feel achy.

This is, of course, if you’re seasoning your corset by the Romantasy method (to which I tend to prescribe).  But if you poke around the web, you may be able to find different methods of breaking in your corset. Some of these methods may be as good as the Romantasy method, while others I disagree with. For instance, a number of years ago I saw one person say that one should pull their corset as tight as possible, for as long as bearable, the very first time they put the corset on. I would never personally do this, nor would I condone that others do this. It can result in injury to yourself or damage to the corset.

How do I feel about brides who don’t break in their corsets before their wedding day?

IMO, that would be a very good way to not enjoy your wedding. You’re going to be wearing a new, stiff garment for an essentially all-day event, and you’ll likely be expected to eat, drink bubbly, dance, and entertain people. If you’re not used to wearing a corset and you try to pull something like this, it’s not impossible to get skin issues and bruising, not to mention rib or hip soreness and/or numbness, or an upset stomach. Every once in awhile I get a comment or message from a woman who says, “I only wore a corset once in my life (for my wedding) and it was the most uncomfortable experience ever!” and I inwardly groan because it only contributes to the myth that all corsets must be painful. In reality, these issues are USER ERROR, and if they had just taken the time to get used to the corset (and have the corset get used to you) before the event, all this could have been avoided.

How do I know when my corset is seasoned enough?

Break-in durations vary from corset to corset, and different people also consider their corsets seasoned after different times.  Orchard Corset had mentioned that after wearing one of their satin underbust corsets 5-7 times (which would be perhaps 10-15 hours) it should feel seasoned. On the other end of the spectrum, Contour Corsets says that their corsets are seasoned after 100 or so hours. I try to wear my corset a minimum of 30 hours before I call it seasoned, even if it feels well-seasoned before this time. Tougher corsets may take longer than this to feel seasoned, though.

Although it’s sometimes hard to put this into words, this is a general list of things I look for and feel for:

  • The corset feels as if it’s smoothing around my body and the top/bottom edges are not dramatically flaring away from my body.
  • The corset is more comfortable, warming to my body and becoming softer and less “crispy”.
  • My muscles are not fighting the corset anymore; my body is relaxing and settling into its neutral posture in the corset.
  • My skin doesn’t feel sore or tender, I don’t have any particular areas where the corset is putting considerably more pressure than others (apart from the obvious higher tension at the waistline compared to, say, the hips. What I mean to say is that I don’t feel that one spot on my ribs feels particularly compressed more than another part, or I don’t really feel that the left side of my body is under more restriction than the right side, etc).
  • The corset becomes familiar and welcoming, as opposed to feeling like a restrictive foreign object that I have to fight off. In other words, both the corset and my own muscles become more complacent.

If you would like to see a close-up of how the corset looks on my body (to demonstrate how the seams look wobbly when the corset is off but look straight when the corset is worn), and other changes to the corset after the first 12-ish hours of wear, please see the video (starts at 3:45):