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How Vollers Makes Their Corsets: A Factory Tour!

Welcome to the detailed tour of the corset factory in Portsmouth England from back in 2015, where we’ll see how Vollers Corsets makes their corsets.

A surprising number of tools and attachments used in this video were the same ones used 50 or even nearly 100 years ago, and it’s a bit like walking back in time, seeing how their workroom is optimized to make a simple underbust in as little as a couple of hours.

Don’t let that fool you though – each machine (and the machine’s operator) is specialized for a specific task, and many of their employees and members have been working with Vollers for decades. This means that they are highly skilled at what they do, and it also means they’ve seen how the family-owned brand has grown and changed – and how some parts have stayed the same!

While the various parts of this video were filmed out of order (and several different corsets were being assembled at once, so you may see the corset style change), I’ve tried to organize it here chronologically in order of how a corset would normally be assembled.

If you’d like to skip ahead to any specific part of the assembly process, use the time points below. Enjoy!

  • 0:25 Antique corset patterns
  • 1:25 Cutting the corset patterns
  • 1:40 Corset busks of various lengths
  • 1:45 Cording panels (sent to a processing house)
  • 2:30 Organizing WIP (work in progress) corsets for different orders
  • 3:30 Cutting spiral steel bones to length and adding on U-tips
  • 4:50 Sewing on the boning channels (twin-needle machine)
  • 5:45 Inserting the steel bones
  • 6:00 Installing the busk (both sides)
  • 7:30 Sewing on the binding (single pass using a binding attachment)
  • 8:20 Securing the binding with a bar-tack
  • 8:45 Modesty placket & modesty panel (back flap)
  • 9:50 Inserting eyelets
  • 11:00 Lacing up the finished corset

What parts did you like about the corset assembly process? What parts would you do differently? Leave a comment below!

And click here if you’d like to see the Vollers Corsets Interview, or click here to go to the Vollers website.

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Interview with Vollers Corsets (Ian & Corina Voller)

In September of 2015, after attending the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, Ian and Corina Voller (Vollers Corsets) invited me to stay with them for a few days and see their factory in Portsmouth, England. They are the current owners of the longest surviving corset manufacturer in England, and it was incredible to see how their facilities and their company has evolved over time – and what values have stayed the same.

See the interview below, and use the timestamps below the video to jump ahead in the video if certain questions interest you more.

0:55 Tell us how you got started. I understand that Vollers was first launched by Harry and Nelly Voller in 1899 – do you know why they had such an interest in corsets at the turn of the century?

3:50 During wartime or around the 70s and 80s when the corset was less popular, how did your factory stay up and running? Do you manufacture anything else here apart from corsets?

6:50 How have your patterns and styles changed over the years? Do you have any corsets to compare then vs now?

8:20 What do you think about the recent corset revival in the past several years? Have you needed to make any changes to cater to the new clientele, for instance those interested in waist training?

10:05 Since your company has survived for so long and has a long-term view of the corset industry, what do you think will happen next?

11:00 Tell us a bit about your employees and how the construction process is run smoothly. How are tasks assigned?

13:20 How many hours does it take to create a single underbust corset in your factory, and how many hands does it pass through?

15:20 What is your favorite part about working in corsetry? What is your least favorite aspect (the most boring task, or a certain pet peeve about the industry)?

16:25 Who is your target market? Who do you love to sell to?

19:30 Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Huge thanks to Corina and Ian Voller for hosting me for a few days, giving a tour around the factory, and agreeing to sit down for this interview! Readers can learn more about Vollers Corsets on their website.