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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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The Bad Button Teal Underbust Corset Review

This post is a summary of the Bad Button Teal Underbust Corset Review video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length This corset was a sample from Etsy, so it was not made to measure – however any corset you commission from The Bad Button will be custom fit to your measurements, so the measurements of my piece is a bit moot. But for the curious: Center front is about 11.5″ high, but on the sides the corset is 9″. The silhouette is an hourglass, the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are also about 10″ bigger than the waist.
Material Likely 3 main layers (some panels are 4 layers): fashion fabric is medium weight teal/cerulean satin, backed onto a strength layer (The Bad Button always uses coutil for custom commission) and a beautiful decorative fan-themed lining made from lightweight cotton.
Construction 11 panels, with an extra wide center front panel (closed front). Sandwiched bones (double boned on the seams) and floating liner. No garter tabs.
Binding Matching teal satin bias strips, hand-finished with an invisible stitch; incredibly tidy.
Waist tape Waist tape is perhaps 1/2″ or 3/4″ wide extending through all panels of the corset – invisibly secured between the lining and interlining of the corset.
Modesty panel No modesty panel in this sample, but if you requested one in a custom commission it can be accommodated. Closed front, so no placket needed.
Busk No busk (closed front) – instead, there are four 1/4″ wide flat steel bones keeping the center front sturdy. I call these “magic bones” because the stitching for the boning channels are not visible on the outside or inside of this corset – this helps to not distract the eye from the embellishment (Embellishment will be covered in “final thoughts”)
Boning 30 total bones (including the four magic bones in front). Double boned on the seams with 1/4″ wide flat steels on the straight seams, and 1/4″ spirals on curved seams and on the sides for greater curve. Flat steels sandwich the grommets in back.
Grommets 22 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets (in black to match the embellishment) with medium/large flange; set equidistantly – held in very well.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-faced satin in black – extremely long.
Price At the time that I’m writing this, to commission this piece (or something similar) custom made for you would be $475 USD.

Final Thoughts

This is the second time I have reviewed a Bad Button corset, and I’m even more enamoured with this piece than I was with the previous Bridal piece. The Bad Button Bespoke Corsets is run Alisha in Kentucky, USA, whose meticulousness and creativity is nicely demonstrated in the embellishment on this sample underbust – the base corset I could tell started very smooth and plain, featuring the “magical bones” that keep the center front flat, yet do not show any channel stitching on the outside nor inside. This creates a beautiful canvas for the black corded and beaded lace appliqué which is laid across the top edge, featuring a large decorative beaded motif in the center front, with more small bits of appliqué on the bottom sides to accentuate the curves of the hip. Each bit of lace was hand-stitched in painfully tiny stitches. Additionally, there is some simple V flossing at the bottom of the corset, not only securing the flat steels in the corset but also adding balance to the embellishment overall. The closer I inspect this corset, the more I realize that there is quite a bit happening all at once, but it all blends in seamlessly with one another and they play off one another rather than overwhelming the little corset. The finishing must have taken an incredible amount of time and does not go unappreciated!

Alicia’s smooth, wrinkle-free pattern also shows her attention to fusing the fabrics, reinforcing them and possibly roll-pinning so as not to put too much pressure on the satin shell. Her patterning skills are also excellent in that this corset only gives me a couple of inches reduction, the pattern works to beautifully accentuate the waist and make the hips look fuller, making me look much curvier than even many of my smaller-waisted corsets.

If you would like to see some other creations by The Bad Button, visit the main website or Etsy store.

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Velda Lauder Bridal Overbust Corset Study

This post is a summary of the “Velda Lauder Bridal Overbust Corset Study” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

 

Fit, length Center front is 12.5 inches, and the longest part from peak of the bust to the lap is 14.5 inches. It would be more suitable for a short to average length waist. Interesting sweetheart/plunge bustline, which is cut low on the side and back. I consider this on the border of modern slim/Victorian hourglass silhouette.
Material Likely 2 main layers: fashion fabric is pure white satin – the fashion layer is also the strength layer. (seems to be a thick cotton-backed satin or very-well fused piece), inside is a floating liner of a softer off-white satin.
Construction Technically 5 panel pattern (+ one bust gore in the 2nd panel). Panels assembled using a top-stitch, with grosgrain boning channels laid down under the fashion layer. Floating liner hides the work.
Binding + Embellishment Commercial white satin ribbon, with the edges not folded under. There is another ribbon with attached beadwork, stitched down under most of the top and bottom binding.
Waist tape 1.5-inch wide grosgrain tape invisibly secured between the lining and interlining of the corset; extends across all panels.
Modesty panel 7.5 inch wide modesty panel at the back (about 5.5 inches of useable space), unstiffened, attached to one side, made with white satin.
Busk No busk, only one very thick flat steel bone running down the center front of the corset.
Boning 11 total bones. Single boned on the seams, with very wide bones (I believe 1/2″ wide) and only one supporting bone on the very back edge of the grommets. (The grommets aren’t sandwiched.)
Eyelets 20 grommets total, size #0 single-part eyelets with small to moderate flange; set equidistantly. All the eyelets have rolled nicely, but because there it no back/ supporting washer, there is some concern that an eyelet might come out with rigorous lacing of this corset.
Price I’m not completely sure what this corset was worth when it was still being sold, but I estimate that it would be close to £250 in the UK. (I bought mine for close to half that, because it was a shop/ display sample)

Final Thoughts

Velda Lauder was a well-respected corsetiere, designer, author and educator. You may have remembered when I reviewed her book nearly a year ago, which contained some interesting corset history. Ms Lauder passed away unexpectedly in March 2013; you can read the lovely tribute to her on The Lingerie Addict. After her website was pulled down, I thought I had lost the opportunity to own a piece of her design – until I stumbled across a few overbust corsets in Fairy Goth Mother’s clearance section. I was quite surprised that they were sold for about half price, as I thought the corsets’ relative rarity (now that they’re not longer in production)

The same beautiful white duchess satin curved overbust on a stunning model.

would have caused the corsets to appreciate over time. I didn’t want to pass the chance to own a piece of history.

So this video and study is more meant to be a posthumous tribute and respectful study of a part of Velda Lauder history, rather than a “product review” per se. It is still structured like a review however, if you would ever like to compare side-by-side the construction methods of Lauder’s corsets to others and appreciate the similarities and differences.

Although I must admit that this overbust is not really suited to my body type (and it breaks my heart), I still find many aspects of this corset to be lovely – and quite unique! I think this is the first time I have seen a sweetheart corset that is cut so low along the sides and back – but this allows me to maintain a relaxed posture in the corset and elongate my neck, which is a wonderful feeling (I’m used to looking/feeling like a linebacker in overbust corsets). The thick, 1/2″ wide boning under the seams for the corset were also different, as was the presence of only one bone by the eyelets and not the ‘traditional’ two. I’m sure that many people were equally surprised by the construction of this corset, but it shows that corsets can be made in a multitude of ways, and I’m finding more and more often that notable corset designers don’t play by all the “rules” of corset making! This was one of the most fascinating things about studying corsetry.

Rest in peace, Ms Lauder – thank you for leaving behind such a beautiful legacy that can be studied and appreciated for generations to come.

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Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique Lace Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 14 inches long, from peak of bust to bottom (at longest part) is 15.5 inches. Very gentle hourglass shape. Bottom edge is a rounded shape so the corset stops just at the iliac crest (upper hips). Sweetheart bust, and plenty of room in the high back to prevent muffin top. Quite comfortable on me – very curvaceous shapes may want to invest in the upgrade for made-to-measure.
Material Fashion layer is silver/ pewter satin with black lace overlay; backed onto a sturdy strength layer underneath; lining is cotton coutil.
Construction 5 panel pattern. Top-stitching between the panels, single-boned on the seams, and a floating coutil liner (very comfortable). No garter tabs.
Binding Standard black satin bias tape, machine stitched inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Matching 5″ wide modesty panel, made from the same coutil/satin/lace overlay, and also bound in black bias tape. Attached to one side of the corset; removable if desired.
Busk Heavy-duty wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 13″ long (6 pins).
Boning 12 steel bones not including busk. On each side, there are 4 spiral bones on the seams and another two steel flats sandwiching the grommets at the back.
Grommets 30 grommets total, size #00 two-part eyelets (Prym brand) with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – few splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Zero spring.
Price This particular piece was a one-off (sample) but Kirsteen does take special orders outside of what is available in her store. Most of her corsets on Etsy, made to standard sizes, are advertised as around or under £150, and these corsets can be made to custom measurements for an additional £50. You can see the options on her website here.

Final Thoughts:

This piece is absolutely beautiful. I had seen Kirsteen’s work around the internet for awhile, but I first learned of the name “Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique” when it was featured in the Lingerie Stylist’s “Top 10 Corsetieres” article in late 2012. Finally had the name of the designer of these fun, circus- and military-themed corsets. Checking out her Facebook page, I stumbled upon an auction of her pieces, and I instantly fell in love with this floral and lace number – not because it was rather different from the pieces normally available in her store, but because it was elegant in and of itself; simply put. I hadn’t yet owned a piece embellished in this way. The fact that it was one-of-a-kind made it that much more special!

I was not disappointed in Kirsteen’s workmanship at all – the stitchwork is neat, the lace overlay doesn’t wrinkle in the slightest, the beaded lace trim and roses are secured with care and attention, the coutil lining inside is high quality, smooth and comfortable. For a piece that was not intended for my measurements, it fits surprisingly well (I feel so fortunate to have these body dimensions). Do not be surprised if you see me review her work again in the future. In fact, I might almost guarantee it. ;)

To see the other styles available by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique, visit Kirsteen’s Etsy shop here!