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Corset Embellishments

 

When commissioning a custom corset from an independent corsetiere, you are not required to go with a plain black satin or twill corset! There are many different ways that you can request to have your corset embellished. If you can only afford plain OTR corsets, you still have the option of embellishing them yourself! See the video above for plenty of examples, and refer to the glossary below if you need extra help.

Embroidery – these are decorative densely-stitched motifs, usually of larger size. Most embroidery I see these days are machine stitched, using a specialized machine where you feed in a specific file and it creates the design before your eyes (this is how my Lovely Rats corset was embroidered). Those floral brocade designs can be said to feature floral embroidery in a repeating pattern, on top of a base fabric. Of course, in the past, most embroidery was done by hand. Today you can get embroidered patches/ appliqué, and just stitch or glue the patch to the corset or garment later on.

External Boning Channels – some external boning channels are functional, so they serve a dual purpose: to actually hold the steel boning and prevent it from wearing through the fabric, but to also provide visual interest and contrast to the corset. I personally find that external channels are the most comfortable because I cannot feel the channel against my skin – of course, this also means that the corset is more difficult to stealth under clothing because it will be bumpier. Sometimes though, external channels can be “faux” channels and only used for the sake of visual interest, while the real boning channels are sandwiched inside.

Flossing – floss is traditionally defined as “soft thread of silk or mercerized cotton for embroidery.” Flossing in the context of corsetry is often smaller, relatively simple versions of embroidery, that is typically only done at the tips of boning channels and are usually done by hand (although they weren’t always by hand!). Flossing, like external channels, has multiple purposes for a corset: to anchor the tip of the steel bone in place so it doesn’t slide around inside the channel (which can help keep the corset smooth and also prevent the bones from wearing through the fabric by friction over time), and floss can also help to disguise a repair to a boning channel that has already been worn through. Repeating the same flossing pattern on each boning channel can make that “patch” look deliberate, and can add visual interest to a corset. See my corset by L’Atelier de LaFleur for a detail of the special T4-esque flossing.

Yoke/ “Waist Diamond” – a yoke almost like a ‘belt’ that stretches across the waistline of a corset, and usually is in a different color. It also often widens at the front to create a diamond shape in the center front. When this yoke is reinforced with a very strong fabric, it helps to strengthen the waistline (it can function like a waist tape in the best of situations), and the widening at the center front can add more control to the tummy area. The WKD Laurie overbust had a contrasting yoke that helped to hide the waist tape.

Fun Lining – although this isn’t “embellishment” per se, I enjoy when my corsets have a bright, colorful or cheery inner lining. My own handmade Sebastian corset looks like a typical red satin corset on the outside, but on the inside it features some cute “Little Mermaid” novelty print cotton as a lining, which is a fun secret I get to carry with me when I’m wearing the corset. My corset from Tighter Corsets also features a beautiful linen lining, as well as one of my corsets from the Bad Button features lovely silk-fan lining.

Contrast Stitching/ Contrast Hardware – most visible hardware in a corset (busk, grommets, and sometimes aglets) are silver; however you can also find hardware in alternate colors like gold, pewter, black, antique brass, etc so you can match your hardware with the rest of the corset, or with contrasting embellishment. My Sebastian corset has black hardware which matches the black “shot” red fabric used, and also the black contrast stitching I had used on the external boning channels. As another example, my Ref R corset from Tighter Corsets has antique brass grommets and busk to match the soft gold contrast piping and creates a stunning effect.

Lace Overlay – when a corset is completely covered in a layer of lace, this is called lace overlay. Makers create this effect by taking a sheet of lace and flatlining/roll-pinning the lace overtop of the pattern pieces (usually with silk satin or taffeta underneath), then assembling the panels together as one normally would. This has to be done during construction; it would be very difficult to create a lace overlay on an already finished corset. Examples of lace overlay include my Axfords corsets and also my Boom Boom Baby Boutique sample.

Lace Appliqué – like with embroidery patches, sometimes lace can come in pre-cut pieces and motifs that you can place where you choose and hand-sew to your corset – or if you have a sheet of lace, you can carefully cut out the motifs  yourself. Some lace is black, white, dyed colors, or contain metallic threads. Some laces are lighter, while other lace is heavier or corded. Some lace even comes with beads and sequins already attached – but you can add the sparklies yourself later on.

Crystals, Sequins and Beads – many people love to bedazzle their corsets with flatback rhinestones or genuine Swarovski crystals (like my Waisted Creations corset or my Totally Waisted corset). These are usually glued on (E6000 is a popular choice, although due to some carcinogen worries, some opt for alternate brands). Beads and sequins are usually sewn on since they typically have a hole through which they can be anchored. As mentioned above, some types of patches, appliqué or lace come already beaded so you just have to adhere the appliqué to the corset and you’re set. Sequins can also come in strings that you can drape onto your corset.

Mesh Panels – mesh is quite functional in itself: it helps the skin breathe, it keeps you cool and dry, and it prevents your flesh from poking out of the “windows” from skeleton corsets – but mesh can also be a type of embellishment as well! When I wear brightly colored shirts or dresses underneath, effectively a corset with mesh panels will “always match” whatever I’m wearing because my outfit underneath will show through. Some others may choose to play around with mesh corsets; for instance, if they choose not to wear a corset liner underneath, then they may opt for a crop-top to cover their chest, but the mesh panels may show their skin underneath. Or you can layer your tops so that it looks like there is a different color under the corset compared to the rest of your shirt. I’ve tried mesh corsets from Contessa Gothique, Madame Sher and Contour Corsets.

Fan Lacing – fan lacing actually started as a functional alternative to traditional lacing, as it condenses all the individual cords in the back of the corset into a pair of easy-to-pull straps. For those with limited strength, mobility or coordination, fan-lacing can help you lace up by yourself. However, in recent years, fan lacing has made a comeback as pure embellishment, such as my cincher by Serindë.

What type of embellishment do you like best? Do you own any corsets with special decoration or embellishment? Let me know in a comment below!

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Serindë Couture Silk Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Serindë Couture Silk Overbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Serindë is a lovely small-business corsetiere based in Lyon, France – although her international shipping rates are very ideal! She’s known for adding jewelry and charms to her corsets, and her beautiful whimsical designs inspired by fairies and folk-lore, and she makes very sophisticated and sultry pieces as well, as evident in this gorgeous romantic overbust.
She currently doesn’t have a website but you can find her on Etsy, DaWanda, and Facebook.

Fit, length This overbust is a sample so the measurements of this corset may not reflect the measurements of a custom-fit overbust you commission from Serindë. Center front is 14″ inches long, and from peak of the bust to the curve of the lap is also 14″. Lovely hourglass silhouette with a conical ribcage and rounded, feminine hips. Longline corset, and the mild sweetheart is designed to be almost a mid-bust rather than a full overbust. I like the rounded contour of the bust area. Large hip spring; very comfortable in the hips. Recommended for hourglass and pear-shaped ladies, especially those with a bit of a smaller ribcage.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is champagne dupioni silk backed with interfacing; strength layer is coutil, and the lining is soft cotton.
Construction 7 panel pattern with no hip gores – 4 panels in front contribute to smooth a smooth, rounded bust, and 3 panels in the back. Hip area is also very smooth with no wrinkles or puckering of the fashion fabric. Top-stitching between panels, sandwiched boning (two per seam), and a floating liner (very comfortable). 6 total garter tabs.
Binding Black satin bias tape, neatly machine stitched because this was a sample for a photoshoot and time was of the essence. Serindë explains that she hand-finishes the binding on personal commissions.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the strength layer and the lining.
Modesty panel Floating modesty panel suspended by a ribbon on the back, in matching dupioni; lightly boned. but does include a placket on the knob side of the busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 12.5″ long (6 pins), reinforced with a sturdy 1/4″ wide flat steel bone.
Boning 28 steel bones not including busk. On each side there are 11 spirals (1/4″ wide), double boned on the seams, 1 flat (3/8″ wide) beside the busk, and 2 flats (3/8″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 36 total, 5mm two-part eyelets (Prym brand, very good quality) with moderate flange; set well with the grommets getting closer together near the waistline, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon in black. Very strong, has not broken or frayed despite lacing very tightly in this corset.
Price This sample was available on Etsy for €390 which is around $520; subject to change.

Final Thoughts:

This corset makes me feel like a princess. The dupioni silk lays perfectly smooth with absolutely no wrinkles – Serindë is a master in taming fashion fabrics and proper turn-of-cloth! The embellishments on the corset compliment one another so well, and are not overbearing – the hand-sewn lace motifs draw the eye to the waistline and create the illusion of an even smaller waist, while the hand-flossing on the ends of the bones balance out the embellishment on the top and bottom edges, and the beading/ Swarovski crystals add a bit of sparkle. I also like how the crystals are organically laid out and not symmetic on both sides. This creates somewhat of a “natural” type of beauty, as if the crystals stuck wherever the wind made them land. This also means that if I were to go out dancing in this corset and one or two of the crystals were to fall, then the corset would still look perfectly fine and finished. However these crystals hold very well and I don’t think they will be falling off anytime soon! The beaded straps, designed to fall off-the-shoulder, add another level of romanticism to this corset and are attached with a bit of elastic to protect the silk from ripping due to any tension, and also adds a bit of adjustability. This piece is pure grace and glamour.

To see Serindë’s standard size sale items, do check out her Etsy store here, and if you would like to commission a custom piece from her this year, don’t hesitate to contact her via email or Facebook.