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Corset SNAFU? Here’s how to Repair / Mend (Most Types of) Corset Damage.

 

Several of you liked the video/post I made on corset fitting issues and how to alter your corset to improve the fit, so I decided to make a “Part 2” where we talk about mending and repairing your damaged corset – and when the repair is manageable, or whether you should cut your losses and “sacrifice” the corset to reuse its hardware in a new corset.

Let’s explore the various types of corset damage, one by one:

 

A seam rips in your corset

I’m starting with this one because it’s one of the most extensive types of damage, and it’s the one that corseters tend to panic the most over.

If it’s only the threads that have snapped, and not the fabric itself that has torn or disintegrated, it’s mendable. The “quick and dirty” mending job is to whipstitch that seam very tightly back together by hand. Although this mend is visible, it will be quite strong, and if you wish you can cover it in lace appliqué (and put lace on the other side of the corset to make the embellishment symmetric, so it looks deliberate).

Time needed to whipstitch a seam closed: 20 minutes, depending on the size of the rip. If you’ll be embellishing your corset afterwards to cover the mending job, give yourself extra time.

If, however, you want to repair the seam in a way that no one will know that the damage had ever occurred in the first place, the complexity of this depends on the number of layers and the construction of the corset. It can be a straightforward job in a multi-layer corset with laid down boning channels. But in a multiple-layer corset, you’ll have to remove the binding on top and botom, remove the bones in the area, essentially take apart that corset down to its tension-bearing seams and then put it back together. There are risks associated with this method – if the seam allowances were trimmed small and the fabric has a tendency to fray, the corset may not be able to go back together exactly the same way it did before due to extensive damage to the fabric.

Time needed to take apart the corset and put it back together again: Up to 10+ hours, depending on how quickly you work and how complicated the construction is. Some might prefer to just make a new corset half from scratch.


Broken steel bones

This repair is (relatively speaking) easy peasy. Remove the binding on one end of the corset, just up to the affected boning channel. Remove the broken bone, and measure the full length of the bone. Order a new steel bone online, and the most difficult part is waiting for that bone to arrive in the mail. Once it comes in, simply slide the new bone into the boning channel, then sew the binding back on.

Time needed to replace a broken steel bone: 1 hour (plus a few days / weeks of waiting for the mail).


Bones that are too bendy in the back

Left to right: Heavenly Corsets (Elle Corsets), Xandriana, Azrael’s Accomplice, and Tighter Corsets, all corsets with different types and levels of bowing, for different reasons.

While this isn’t “damage” per se, it can absolutely cause one grief when trying to lace up and remain laced. The bones might kink and poke into your back, or the lacing gap may bow or warp. In this scenario, you can absolutely replace the bones with stiffer ones if you like (see above for the process). If you don’t want to mess with the boning, try adding more grommets in between between the pre-existing grommets (especially at the waistline), as well as tightening the boning channels if they’re too loose and allow twisting or twirling of the bones within the channels. I have a whole video / article on how to do these modifications here.

Time needed to replace bendy steel bones: 1 hour (see above)
Time needed to add extra grommets: Perhaps 20 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
Time needed to tighten the boning channels: 10 minutes, plus a good quality zipper foot.


Broken busk

Busks come in a multitude of colors, like these by Narrowed Visions. If you’re going to be replacing the busk, why not spruce up your corset at the same time with a colored busk? (Click through to Etsy).

The knob / pin / peg of the busk is basically a rivet that was hammered into a tiny hole within a steel bone. Therefore, it’s theoretically possible to get a rivet setter and hammer it back in (or find another rivet of the same size and use that instead). If you lost the knob, if the knob isn’t staying put, and you can’t find a rivet, you can try to get a little screw that somewhat matches the size, and screw it into the busk (use a flat nut or bolt in the back, and obviously get the type with a flat tip and not pointy).

Time needed to install a rivet or screw to replace the busk pin: >1 hour.

If you wanted to completely replace the busk, this is possible with corsets that have a reasonably “self-healing” fabric (i.e. not materials that show perforations, like leather or vinyl). To replace the busk, first order your busk and ensure that your new busk is the same length as your old one, with the same number of loops & pins, and they align in the same spots. If the knob side of your new busk can fit into the loop side of your old busk, this cuts your work in half because you only have to replace the damaged side.

Remove the binding and the anchoring seam (do not touch the center front seam), take out the broken busk, and replace it with a new busk. Sew your new anchoring seam, then put the binding back on.

Time needed to replace the busk with a new, identical one: 30 minutes per side.

Another thing you can do is get rid of the busk altogether.

Time needed to make a closed-front corset: ~ 1-2 hours.
Time needed to replace the busk with front lacing instead. ~ 2-3 hours.

Bonus: What if the loop side of the busk isn’t broken, just bent?

This type of damage on the busk is most often due to not fully loosening the laces in the back before attempting to undo the busk, so that one has to twist and struggle to unclasp the loops and knobs. As long as the corset is sufficiently loosened in the back, the busk should easily undo.

For the bent loops, these can be gently hammered or bent straight again, taking care not to make the loop “ziggly” or bending it too far in either direction. For the knobs/ pins, I would not ever recommend hammering them as they may lose their anchor and fall out.


Bones that have worn through their boning channels

Lovely Rats Corset featuring external boning channels and also flossing on each channel – both great ways to protect and prevent bones from wearing through the fabric.

If you’re just starting to notice a bit of wear or thinning along the fabric, you can floss the ends of the bones to prevent them from sliding around and preventing further damage.

Time needed to floss a boning channel: Give yourself like 10-15 minutes per motif, depending on your experience level.

If the bone has already worn a hole through the fabric, depending on how much it’s damaged you might need to patch over it or add external boning channels to cover it up. With external boning channels, this is your opportunity to get creative – use matching channels for a subtle effect, or decorative / contrast channels to spruce up your corset. To make the repair look deliberate, whatever you do to one side of the corset, also do to the other side.

If you’re going to add external channels, you’ll have to remove all the bones from that channel (or the whole corset, if you plan a major overhaul). This is a good opportunity to a look at the bones and be sure that they’re properly tipped and not sharp. If the bones were incorrectly prepared, you might have to take all the bones out and tip them properly and put them back in, which might extend your project by an hour or two.

Time needed to add one external boning channel: ~ 1 to 1.5 hours.
Time needed to add external boning channels to the whole corset: ~ 3-4 hours, depending on number of channels, and removing and putting on the binding again.


Grommets that have fallen out

Once the fabric around a corset has become so frayed and damaged that the grommets are falling out, you have no choice but to reinforce that fabric and / or use different grommets that are larger and have a wider flange.

The hardest part is sourcing your grommets and a matching setter that will set the grommets properly and not smush or crush them. If you already have these on hand and you don’t care about the grommets being all the same size or style (say you just want to replace the one grommet in the back), then it will be a super easy job.

However if you want all your grommets to match, you’ll need to take pliers and remove all the grommets one by one, and (preferably) add a reinforcing interlining in the back panel which will help the grommets stay in more securely

Time to change 1 grommet: 10 minutes
Time to remove all grommets and put in new ones so they all match: at least 2 hours (1 hour to remove the grommets, another hour to put new ones in). For a longer corset with more grommets, give yourself even more time.

 

I think I’ve covered most or all of the possible SNAFUs that can happen regarding corset fitting or damage that can be altered, modified or repaired.

If there were any I missed, let me know in the comments below! Also, if there were any (practical) modification or repair videos you would like me to make in the future, feel free to comment and ask.

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Exceptions to Corset Rules

There is a concept (that was popularized by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld books) called lies-to-children which says that we tend to oversimplify concepts and make “black and white” rules in order to familiarize beginners (or kids) with certain concepts before they can move on to understanding the more nuanced reality of these topics. Corsetry is no exception; there are so many “rules” that ring mostly true (like “good OTR corsets contain steel bones and not featherweight”, or “the waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching or ripping at the waistline”) but it’s high time we talk about the people who are successfully breaking corset rules – because not all corsets are made equal!

 

Corset Sizes

Rule:

Corset sizes are mostly 20”, 22”, 24” etc, and we should avoid any corsets sold in “street sizes” (e.g. US size 6 / UK size 10, or small / medium / large) because street sizes are arbitrary and not standardized.

Exceptions:

A few respected corset makers do prefer to sell their corsets by the S/M/L/XL system.
One of these brands is Ms Martha’s Corset Shoppe (I wear a size Medium in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).
Another maker is Ties That Bynde (I wear a size XS in her shop which translates to waist size 22″).

Jessica, the owner of Ties That Bynde, also wrote a testimony for my book Solaced last year. She’s an immensely skilled corsetiere who has made medical / therapeutic corsets for herself and others, and her corsets have been covered by medical insurance in some cases. Jessica suffered a debilitating car accident and she made several corsets for herself to helped her recover from her sustained injuries, and her corsets have also corrected her scoliosis. The reason that she prefers this sizing system over numbers, she says, is because she sells at conventions where the demographic can be a bit different, and many customers don’t like knowing what their waist size is in inches. They tend to be a bit more receptive to her current sizing system.

Number of layers

Contour Corsets blue summer mesh underbust
Contour Corsets blue summer mesh single layer underbust (with front zip and no waist tape!)

Rule:

Many OTR corsets will boast that their corset has three, four, or even more layers of fabric in their waist training corsets, because in the idea that “many hands make light work”, we also think it’s logical to believe that more layers equals more strength.

Exceptions:

I have worn some amazingly strong and comfortable single layer corsets, probably the most well known being my mesh corset from Contour Corsets, but also my spot broche piece from Bizarre Design. Both of these corsets started with premium quality fabrics that were painstakingly cut on grain, and constructed with external boning channels which straddle and reinforce the seams, and each seam is stitched multiple times (zig-zagged in my Contour Corset, and with a twin-needle machine in my Bizarre Design corset) so there is little to no risk of a seam ripping even under high reductions.

If I were perusing Ebay and looking at “corsets” shipped from China for $15, I would be a little hesitant to spend that much if they said it were a single layer corset, because I’ve tried one before and it didn’t do much for me. But a single layer corset made from a specialty coutil or broche, made by a reputable independent corsetiere? I wouldn’t bat an eye at that.

While on the topic of Contour Corsets and Bizarre Design, and how they have engineering backgrounds and like to bend the rules – neither of my corsets from them contain any waist tape.

 

Waist tapes

Rule: 

Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird’s wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.

The waist tape’s purpose is to prevent stretching and ripping of the corset at its point of highest tension (the waistline) and corsets that don’t have a waist tape are unsuitable for waist training.

Exceptions:

My Contour corset was my primary training piece through 2012-2013, and it was still barely stretched or eased a fraction of an inch at the waist despite note having a waist tape. (The only reason I stopped training in that corset was because I found it a very dramatic silhouette, and once I achieved a waist of 20″ I decided I preferred to stay at 22″ instead.)

For cheaper quality corsets, having a waist tape is a sign of insurance: if one of the seams fail and the stitching pops at the waistline, at least the waist tape should hold fast because it doesn’t have any seams. But some corsetieres have appeared to construct their corsets in such a way that renders the waist tape superfluous because the corsets are strong enough on their own.

Some corsetieres, like Sparklewren and her Bird’s Wing corsets, would deliberately make her corsets a touch smaller in the waist than the customer wanted (0.5 – 1 inch smaller) – because she anticipated there would be a little bit of ease at the waistline without having a waist tape – however, once that fabric settled, it would more or less be around the size originally requested – so this is how some corsetieres are able to circumvent any complications around not installing waist tapes. The Bird’s Wing corsets are constructed with lapped seams (which are also extremely strong and secure – and because they can be made with a single layer of strong coutil or broche, adding a waist tape in these corsets would be tricky but also ruin the line of the delicate looking antique-inspired couture corset.

Also, consider that ribbon corsets typically never contain waist tapes. One exception to that is Pop Antique’s ribbon cincher.

 

A happy client snaps a selfie of her custom mesh underbust from Mitchell Dane (MDC Designs) with a front zip closure.
A happy client snaps a selfie of her custom mesh underbust from Mitchell Dane with a front zip closure.

Zippers

Rule:

Any “corset” on Ebay that shows a hook-and-eye closure, or a zipper on the side or back of the body (especially colored zips with nylon coils instead of metal teeth), are not genuine heavy duty corsets designed for waist training or tight lacing.

Exceptions:

Some corsetieres use zippers successfully in their corsets, even their tightlacing and waist training corsets! The strongest zippers have metal teeth – not plastic – and the zip is well-supported with flat steels on either side. The zip will also typically be placed on a seam that doesn’t have much curve (like the center front) and not on a side seam, so that there is no unequal strain on the zip that might cause it to fail.

I believe Amy Crowder of Wasp Creations had once written about how a good quality and well-installed zipper can possibly even be stronger than a conventional busk.

Some makers who utilize zippers in their work include Puimond, KMK designs, Mitchell Dane, Sin and Satin, and of course Contour Corsets. See my gallery of genuine corsets with zippers here!

 

Number of panels

Rule:

Karolina Laskowska shows the pattern and final result of her single panel corset experiment. Click through to see her Facebook post with more info.

A proper corset must have 4-6 panels per side (8-12 panels total).

I’m sure most of you have done this thing in geometry class where you make a square, and then a hexagon, and then a heptagon, and an octagon, and on and on until you have a polygon that has so many sides that it nearly makes a circle. And theoretically, this is what we aim to do with corsets – to take flat 2 dimensional panels, albeit made from malleable fabric, and wrap it around a multitude of curves. This is where we’ve arrived at the idea that “the fewer panels there are in a corset pattern, the less curvy / the more wrinkly / the more uncomfortable it is.” It would be bonkers to make every corset have an infinite number of panels, so we strive for a happy medium of 4-6 panels per side in most cases, and we can further tweak the fit with gores and fluted panels, like What Katie Did does.

Exceptions:

I have seen corsets with two panels per side, like Damsel in this Dress, and I’ve seen corsets with like 20 panels per side, like Sparklewren’s bird’s wing corsets. 99% of the time, OTR corsets will have between 4-6 panels per side.

Each seam is an opportunity to adjust the fit to suit your body, and oftentimes clean seams are more comfortable than sewing darts and pleats, especially when it comes to something as close-fitting as a corset. But I have occasionally worn corsets with four panels that were more comfortable than other corsets with more panels. And more panels does not necessarily mean that the corset will be curvier – the curve depends on how each panel is shaped, not how many there are.

Karolina Laskowska took this idea to new levels by making a corset with only ONE panel! Instead of adding more fabric where she needed ease, she started with her largest circumferential measurements instead and added tucks where she needed to take it in at the waist or over the bustline. It was very clever.

Bones

Antique (with real whalebone) vs Laurie Tavan’s reproduction (with synthetic whalebone). Photos by Laurie Tavan

Rule:

Featherweight boning is awful, Rigilene is the devil, and generally just run away from plastic boning and always look for steel.

Exceptions:

There are some people doing amazing things with synthetic whalebone – which is a type of plastic, but it’s from Germany and it doesn’t behave the same way as featherweight or rigilene that you find here in North America. Luca Costigliolo and Laurie Tavan are two corset makers who do beautiful Victorian reproductions and have worked successfully with synthetic bone.

 

Grommets

Rule:

Grommets in a corset should be size #00 (5mm) or #0 (6mm) and have a medium-to-wide flange to prevent popping out over time.

Exceptions:

Some older corsets like those made by Créations L’Escarpolette contained grommets / eyelets in size #x00 (an internal diameter of 4 mm) or even smaller, and with a teeny tiny flange, yet they’ve held up to a lot of wear, as these corsets are over 10 years old now (if I recall correctly). Even though the grommets are quite oxidized, none of them are actually falling out because they’re set so tightly.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen corsets with enormous grommets (size 1 or 2), which are almost comically large, but I can see it working with a certain aesthetic.

 

So you see, although there are standards for most corsets these days, there are always exceptions to the rules. We live in an amazing time where we have access to laser cutting and 3D printing and so many awesome materials, and people around the world can blend their knowledge from previous backgrounds and apply them to the art of corsetry, and that is exciting and amazing.

Standards are usually set for a reason, so it’s good to learn why things are constructed in a certain way and using certain materials – it often comes down to accessibility, cost, tradition, etc.

I’ve experimented a lot with corset making in the past, only to reinvent the wheel and learn for myself why “some things are the way they are”, but that’s all part of the process, and I would assume that almost any experienced corsetiere has done the same. But innovation is the spice of life, so learn the rules as a beginner, so you can learn to break them later. ;)

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How to Correct a “Bowing” Corset

In the past, I’ve discussed various reasons why your corset may be bowing (giving the “()” shape) in the back, including the popular “Shape of your Corset Gap” article –   however, the bowing is not only caused by a corset-body mismatch, but also by the types of bones and grommets in the back of the corset. In this article, I’m going to try and consolidate the information you need to identify why your corset is bowing in the back, and how you may be able to fix it if you think the pattern/ cut of the corset is not the problem.

Firstly, if you don’t know why bowing is an issue, refer back to my Addendum to Corset Gaps article, and how the steels can become permanently distorted with this gap shape.

Why is my Corset Bowing in the Back?

When the bones in the back of your corset are like “()”, there are a couple of issues going on.

As mentioned in my article about different corset gaps, one reason that the steels are bowing is that the corset is too curvy than your body is ready for. Typically, a corset is created to be smaller than your natural size at the waist, but the ribs and hips will match your natural measurements. It does NOT feel like a rubber cincher or faja, which tend to place pressure on the ribs, waist and hips equally. When you put on a corset, it reduces your waist (no kidding!). With every action, there’s an equal an opposite reaction – so your waist pushes back on the corset and provides resistance, while the ribs and hips of the corset have little to no tension, until you’re able to close the corset enough that the top and bottom edges pull in to hug the body.

Now, if you receive a corset and the first time you put it on you get the () gap, don’t panic. It doesn’t automatically mean that your corset wasn’t theoretically made to your measurements, but your waist is not compressing down or the corset is not reinforced in the best way to prevent the bowing. If you have a corset that flares a bit at the top and bottom edges, resist the urge to pull the ribs and hips of the corset in to meet the body right away – because if the waist doesn’t follow and refuses to reduce, then you will get the () gap.

Another reason that you’re seeing the () gap may be due to the grommets being set too far apart. Grommets are like multiple “anchor” points. Each one of them is responsible for holding a certain fraction of the total tension on the corset. The more grommets there are, the better this is distributed. If grommets are set more than about an inch apart (especially at or near the waistline), there won’t be enough grommets to provide the right distribution of tension through the back of the corset and the more likely you are to experience bowing. Later in the article I’ll discuss how to using lacing techniques and addition of more grommets to achieve more regular distribution of the tension, reducing the likelihood of those back steels bowing.

Other reasons may include the quality or the type of bones used in the back – the steels might be too malleable or too loose in their channels (the channels may be wide enough to allow the bones to twist and twirl) – or a combination of all of the above.

The more extreme the waist reduction, the more likely this kind of bowing can occur, and the bones could even potentially permanently kink and dig into your back – yikes!

Why would a corsetiere even consider putting flexible bones in the back of their corsets? Well, it often comes down to comfort and posture – in a previous video I demonstrated how some corsets (especially OTR corsets) tend to have very stiff and rigid steels in the back; so much that they refused to hug the lumbar spine and promote a healthy neutral posture. With some coaxing, you can gently curve these steels so they align better with you lumbar spine – but using flexible bones in a corset in the first place can eliminate this problem from the start, helping you maintain proper neutral posture, and making the corset much more comfortable (especially if you’re wearing it for longer durations or more frequently).

It’s important to note that bendy back bones are not necessarily a sign of inadequate experience on the maker’s part. There are some corsets that I’ve extensively altered to minimize the bowing, but other very experienced makers like Electra Designs and Dark Garden deliberately use more flexible steels for a variety of reasons, and in the case of their corsets I simply modified the lacing (a very simple and non-invasive solution) to reduce the bowing.

bowed-corset-back-steel-bones
Four different corsets, four different reasons that bowing can occur. From left to right: Heavenly corset being too small for me, Xandriana with very flexible steels despite having closer grommets, AZAC Curvy Girl with far set grommets, and Tighter Corsets with slippery laces. Corsets may have a combination or all of these problems, depending on the brand and the wearer’s body.

How to eliminate or reduce the bowing in your corset

There are four techniques I know of – here they are from least invasive to most invasive:

Chevron Lacing

I’ve also heard it called “tennis shoe lacing”. I have a video tutorial for the chevron lacing technique here. Like I mentioned, it creates a kind of an anchor point at each set of grommets – with this particular lacing style, there’s greater friction to hold the laces in place and prevent them from sliding open at the waist. Pair this with inverted bunny ears at the waistline and it will give even more control. I’ve seen this lacing used in my Electra Designs and Dark Garden corsets.

What I have also done in the past is use a set of two shorter laces in my corsets (or if you don’t have more laces and you’re not afraid of committing, you can simply cutting the bunny ears at the waistline to create two separate laces) – one lace is used for the top of the corset ending at the waistline, and one for the bottom of the corset up to the waistline, so I can pull and tighten each one individually. This also works best when the pulls are inverted, although it can be a bit confusing and take some time to get the hang of lacing it up. To lace up using two laces, I tighten the top a bit, and then tie off that ribbon.

Then I tighten the bottom and then tie that off.

Then I untie the top again and pull it tighter, then tie it off again.

Then I untie the bottom one and pull that one tighter, then tie it off, etc. so they work together and the waistline never has an opportunity to slide open. My corsets from The Bad Button laced with two ribbons, and also I tried this with my Tighter Corset and it worked well. However, I’ll admit that this can get annoying after awhile and I would eventually end up altering the corset, which brings us to…

Add More Grommets

Another suggestion is to add more grommets. Sometimes the grommets are spaced too far apart – if there were more grommets closer together at the waistline, they can distribute the tension more evenly and give you more leverage. In my Curvy Girl corset, my Gallery Serpentine corset, and my Heavenly Corset, I added more grommets in between the pre-existing ones (matching the grommets as best as I can).

See all the alterations I did in my Gallery Serpentine corset

See the alterations I did in my Curvy Girl corset

NOTE: if your corset has lacing bones (like Electra Designs corsets), adding more grommets is not possible without drilling through the bone. I don’t recommend doing this as it exposes the uncoated metal and may encourage rusting later, and it weakens the bone which increases the risk of snapping.

Tighten the Boning Channels

If the steels are twirling in their channels and you know how to sew, you can make the boning channel smaller or tighter which can help prevent twisting. As to which side of the channel to manipulate, I prefer to push the bone towards the grommets. Doing it by machine might be faster, but be careful not to hit the bone with your needle! For best results use a narrow zipper or cording foot if you can find one for your machine. The standard zipper foot that comes with domestic machines tend to not give quite as tight a result compared to a narrow foot. (Also, wear your safety goggles because if the needle hits the bone, it might break and fly at your face).

If sewing around your steel bone makes you nervous, you can undo the binding and slip out the bone completely, then tighten the channel with a smaller risk of breaking your needle – then just slide the bone back in and sew up the binding again. But if you’re going to this level of effort, then you can use this opportunity to…

Change out the Bones Completely

If you find that the original steels are paper thin and easily mangled, or if you’ve ended up permanently kinking them because of prolonged bowing in the back, you can simply replace them with new steels. You can purchase steels at pre-cut lengths online at sites like Vena Cava, Sew Curvy, Farthingales, or Corset Making. (Do NOT purchase the carbon-fiber bones for the back of the corset. They’re fantastic for the front of a corset if you like an extremely rigid, straight front – but they will not curve to the lumbar spine).

And if you put all of these techniques together, it makes for a corset with a very small chance of bowing outward at the waist.

The ONE Corset that has NEVER Bowed:

What’s an example of a corset that absolutely never bows in the back? My Contour Corset (actually, I now have two Contour Corsets. They’re that good.) The bones themselves are not remarkably stiff, the width of the boning channel looks average, and the grommets are not crazy close together. So how did she achieve this? The boning channels themselves are spaced very close together – the space where the grommets are inserted are only wide enough for the shank – and the wide flange of the grommets literally overlap with the bones themselves. This ensures two things: the washer of the grommet should never rip through because it’s anchored by the bones, and the bones should never twist because they’re anchored by the grommets! The grommets are also a little closer together at the waistline, but that’s not the most crucial detail. What also may contribute to the stability of the back panel is the very stiff mesh – it resists collapsing, stretching, warping or wrinkling so perhaps the fabric itself helps prevent bowing. Fran once demonstrated that her lacing panels are so strong, she can hang one from a door frame and sit on it like a swing!

Go forth and bow no more!

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“True Corset” Dragon Brocade Cincher Review

This post is a summary of the “True Corset” Dragon Brocade Cincher Review video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length Front is about 9″ inches long, as well as the sides and back because they are all cut to be the same height. I consider this a modern slim silhouette; the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are about 7″ bigger than the waist. Recommended for people of shorter stature or shorter waists. If you have any issues with lower tummy pooch, choose a longer corset as this one doesn’t extend down to cover the lower abdomen.
Material 2 main layers: fashion fabric is red and gold on black dragon brocade, inside has a “bull-denim” style cotton lining (a bit coarser than twill). The internal boning channels are likely petersham ribbon.
Construction 5 panel pattern. Top-stitched between the channels, single boned on the seams, with internal boning channels.
Binding Commercial black satin ribbon, not folded under. Machine stitched on the outside and inside.
Waist tape 1-inch wide black satin ribbon, exposed on the inside of the corset. It does not extend through all panels though; this waist tape starts between panels 1-2, and ends between panels 4-5.
Modesty panel 5.5 inch wide modesty panel at the back, unstiffened, attached to one side, and covered in matching dragon brocade. Un-boned modesty placket made from black denim under the busk.
Busk 8.5 inches long with 5 pins (equidistantly spaced). Fairly stiff, just short of 1″ wide on each side.
Boning 10 total bones not including busk. On each side there are three 1/4″ spiral steel bones (in internal channels), but no bone on the seam between panels 4-5. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly. The brocade is fraying around the grommets unfortunately. However the bull denim underneath are still holding the grommets so I will watch them and see if they need replacing. A few split grommets, but doesn’t catch the back.
Laces 1/4″ black flat braided nylon shoe-lace style laces. Virtually unbreakable. Has a bit of spring.
Price At the time that I’m writing, it is £40 in the UK or $60 in the US.

Final Thoughts

This cincher is designed for beginners, as it has an attractive price and an un-intimidating silhouette. Unless you have quite narrow hips, I would now recommend ordering a size up from what you’d usually get (or what would usually be recommended to you) from an OTR corset company, because the modern-slim silhouette doesn’t accommodate a huge waist reduction. I initially went with a size 22″ but in retrospect I would have gone with a size 24″ instead, as I like my corsets to be more closed in the back.

I had originally requested this piece in black taffeta but I was sent the dragon brocade instead. I notified the True Corset company by email, even if it only resulted in them fixing the number of corsets in their stock. They were quite gracious and acted quickly to fix the mistake. Although I ended up keeping this piece in the end (shipping things over the US/Canada border is expensive), I appreciate that True Corset had such responsible customer service.

Unfortunately, the brocade was on the delicate side and began to fray around the grommets. The grommets haven’t pulled out completely, because the sturdy bull denim lining is currently keeping them in place – but I will keep an eye on this corset and see if there are any changes in the future. In a later post I will show how the taffeta underbust by True Corset seems to hold the grommets in a little better. I’m not sure if this is due to the taffeta having a denser weave, or if it is due to the slightly different construction of their “waist training” style corsets; nevertheless they seem to be holding fast – but if you’re considering this piece and are truly indifferent about the fashion fabric, I would recommend the taffeta instead of the brocade.

You can find the True Corset cincher on their website and also on Amazon.

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Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 10″, shortest part is 8.5″. It’s a shorter corset that fits closer to a cincher on my body. Gives a moderate hourglass shape – this is a Level 2 silhouette, so the ribcage is 4″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are about 8-9″ bigger than the waist.
Material 3 main layers – the outer coarse-weave poly-brocade fashion fabric, flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in twill.
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). The shape of the panels is very similar to the cincher by Isabella Corsetry, although the contours are slightly less, the ribcage and hips a little smaller. Constructed with a slightly modified sandwich technique.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from commercial black satin bias strips, machine stitched on both sides. There are no garter tabs in this corset.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers. I did not check to see if there was glue used in this one (see my CS-426 review if you want to know more about that particular corset).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of a layer of black satin and a layer of twill. 5” wide (~3″ usable space) and attached to one side with a line of stitching.
Busk Slightly heavier busk, slightly under an inch wide and 9” long, with 4 pins. It is fairly sturdy; less bendy than a standard 1/2″ busk.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset. On each side, 6 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side), with a small flange, spaced equidistantly. On the underside every grommet is split and quite scratchy, but they don’t catch on the laces so I can’t complain.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy – you just have to tug a little harder to get the corset to stay closed because of the elasticity of the laces. However, Orchard has some higher quality laces (in several colours) available on their website – I very much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces.
Price Currently $69 USD.

 

Final Thoughts:

Although this particular fashion fabric is not available to purchase through Orchard Corset (as it was a prototype), the cut of the corset, construction methods, and other fabrics/ materials should all be the same – so in this review I’m really commenting on these features as opposed to strictly the shell fabric.

I very much prefer this style of thicker poly-brocade compared to the thin shimmery satin shown in my CS-426 corset review. I found that satin had a tendency to wrinkle easily, when the satin started to pull in places, you could see the crossweaves of coral and brown threads and the wear of the corset was quite apparent. The satin also pulled and frayed easily where it had caught onto things (keep it away from any hooks, scratchy/sharp edges, or especially velcro!). This brocade is sturdier, doesn’t wrinkle as easily, is harder-wearing (doesn’t pull or fray as easily) and is better at hiding general wear and tear. A bird told me that Orchard may begin stocking all-cotton corsets in the future, which would be an even better choice for those looking for regular support.

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Black Mesh Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “Case Study: Homemade Mesh ‘Corset'”. 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 11″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 23″ and hips 34″. The elastic mesh also contributes to the extreme shape and curviness.
Material Heavyweight powernet (quite stretchy) for most of the panels, and black satin coutil for the first and last panels, the boning channels and the diamond waist tape.
Construction Essentially a 6-panel pattern although the last panel is separated into two to make 7 panels. First, the powernet panels were sewn together wrong sides together and flat-felled with the bulk being on the outside of the body. Then I added the center front coutil panels, with the diamond waist basted in front. The diamond extends into a waist tape, which was basted at each seam, then I secured the external channels down on top of it. The back coutil panel went on last, then I added the busk and bones, and lastly serged the top and bottom edges.
Binding There is no binding on this *yet*. I had serged the raw edges to keep them from fraying. This allows the mesh to stretch. Conventional binding would not allow the top and bottom edges of the corset to stretch. However I may later add an elastic or mesh binding.
Waist tape The diamond detail made from satin coutil extends into a waist tape that is slightly more than 1 inch wide, and placed on the external side of the corset, secured down at the boning channels.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back. There is a small modesty placket in the front by the busk.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of satin coutil surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite sturdy.
Boning 20 bones total in this corset (not including the busk). On each side there are eight 1/4″ wide spirals in external channels, then a 1/2″ wide flat steel on the center back edge of the grommet panel, and a 1/4″ steel on the “inner” side of the grommets.
Grommets There are 26 2-part size #00 grommets (13 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets to insert these, placing the grommets closer together than I normally would and making sure the grommets are snug between the two flat bones. So far they have all held up well.
Laces Some old black cotton shoe-lace style. More lightweight than nylon laces but not as strong. I just used whatever I had lying around.
Price This corset was quite time consuming due to the flat-felled seams and external channels and waistband. Also the powernet and satin coutil were both expensive materials. If I were to remake this corset (with a more pristine finish) it would likely start at no less than $280.

Final thoughts:

This is an extremely comfy corset. I also feel that I’m able to very easily cinch down in this corset – I wish I had drafted it to be another inch or two smaller! The powernet is forgiving of curves and makes my asymmetric hips look symmetric, while giving me absolutely zero pinching or discomfort.

The only disappointments I had with this corset was a) the asymmetry in the diamond detail, and b) the rough finish of the serged edges. I may end up adding binding to this corset (either elastic or mesh) although that would somewhat ruin its ability to be worn inconspicuously under clothing, and I’m not sure how even elastic binding would bring back the dreaded muffin top which is currently so nicely avoided.

Overall I think this experiment turned out much nicer than I had anticipated, and I think I will use this as a sleeping corset in the future! However I do need to practice my “finishing” of corsets, even when they’re experiments or prototypes.

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“Disco Armadillo” PVC Ribbon Cincher Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “‘DISCO ARMADILLO’ PVC Ribbon Corset”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

***

This was my first attempt at sewing a corset from vinyl. I have to thank Marta “Snowblack” for her wonderful  Foundations Revealed tutorial on sewing leather and vinyl corsetry. Just a few things that I have learned about handling vinyl:

  • The material stretches (so you must back it with coutil) however it does not drape like most other fabrics.
  • It is also not a self-healing fabric, and will show all pinpricks. Therefore you should pin your panels only in the seam allowances.
  • Using a teflon foot (or a piece of tissue between the vinyl and the presser foot) will help the vinyl to feed smoothly without dragging or sticking to the presser foot.
  • Lastly, feed dogs will leave permanent marks into the bottom of the vinyl, especially if it has a metallic foil finish. Putting tissue or masking tape on the underside of your fabric (where your seam line will be) will protect your fabric from the feed dogs digging in.
***

Here is the overview of my Disco Armadillo, in typical review form:

Fit, length Center front is 10.5″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 24″ and hips 34″.
Material Just two layers; the outer PVC ribbon and the inner coutil.
Construction 5-panel pattern – three vertical panels at front/side/back to hold the bones, and two ribbon panels. I learned how to draft a ribbon corset from Sidney Eileen’s ribbon corset sewing tutorial. The coutil panels aren’t “ribboned” like the outer pieces; rather they are in one piece. Most seams are topstitched as I was afraid that lockstitching would cause the PVC to become too perforated and tear apart. However at the busk, seams were lockstitched nonetheless as it looked better. Some edges of the ribbon were left raw, as folding those edges under would be too bulky.
Binding There is binding at the top and bottom of the vertical panels only; the ribbon panels do not have binding. I also left the inside edge of the binding raw – this is normal with binding made out of leathers or vinyls.
Waist tape Ribbon corsets typically don’t have a waist tape; a horizontal piece of ribbon running around the waist will act like a waist tape anyway.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of PVC ribbon surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite stiff and sturdy.
Boning Only 8 bones total in this corset (not including the busk), only boned on the vertical panels. There are two spring steel bones sandwiching each row of grommets at the back, and an additional two bones on each side panel, all 3/8″ wide.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets and a new press to insert these, and they work very well with the PVC. I placed a layer of heavy canvas in the grommet panel to give the grommets more to “grab onto” and to prevent the PVC from stretching. There are no splits and the grommets are holding up quite well with regular use.
Laces I used some 100% nylon purple paracord – it’s extremely strong (holds tension up to 500 lbs) and has no stretch, is resistant to fraying but has a tendancy to twist. You will definitely need a square knot or bow (not a round one) to keep your corset securely tied at the back.
Price Ribbon corsets in general are not particularly difficult but they are time-consuming and require a bit of pre-planning. I would most likely place a typical satin-and-coutil ribbon corset at around $150. However, because the PVC ribbon is extremely challenging to work with and also quite expensive ($10/meter when not on sale, and this corset used 9 meters), I wouldn’t remake this corset for less than $250.
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CorsetDeal Blue Sweetheart Overbust (“Oiseau” style, chiffon hips) Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Blue Sweetheart ‘Oiseau’ overbust (with chiffon hips) Review”. 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 11″, from peak of the bust to the bottom is 14″ and the sides are about 15.5 inches. I’d recommend this corset for someone with a very short torso, or 5’2” or under. The silhouette is a very gentle hourglass – it does cinch me in a couple of inches, and the chiffon on the hips creates the illusion of wider hips which may be great for those who are looking to fill out any boyish figure.
Material Blue areas are 2 layers – the outer brocade and the inner cotton twill. On the hips, there are three layers – black satin covered in the gathered chiffon, and once again lined in the black cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Panels are top-stitched at the seams, and then internal boning channels laid down, made of black twill.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from commercial black satin bias cut ribbon. It’s machine stitched on both sides, folded under nicely on the front and then topstitched to catch the rest of the binding on the underside. Also has 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape Internal waist tape made from 1” wide single-faced satin ribbon. It’s secured down at the boning channels. Far too high to actually be useful for me.
Modesty panel Unboned modesty panel, 8 inches wide made from polyester pinstripe on the outside and black twill on the underside. No placket beneath the busk.
Busk Slightly heavy duty, almost 1″ on each side. Stiffer than a standard flexible busk. 14″ long with 6 pins.
Boning 14 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. Single boned on the seams. The two bones that curve over the bust are made of spiral steel; all the other bones in this corset are spring steel. The bones on the sides stop well above the hip, so this style may be comfortable for those who don’t like the feeling of bones over the hips in longline corsets.
Grommets There are 24, 2-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side), finished in nickel. The grommets are sturdy with moderate size lip around, there is no fraying around the material, they’re not pulling out.
Laces Black flat nylon braided shoe-lace style. Very strong, grips fairly well. It has a little bit of spring. They are resistant to fraying and catching.
Price Currently $164 USD (£105 in UK).

 

Final Thoughts:
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I bought this. It looked amazing on the website. I thought that the chiffon would simply accentuate the waist-hip ratio, but I wasn’t anticipating that the chiffon pieces would come up so high on the torso – in profile, the fluffy chiffon pieces actually make my abdomen look as if it’s protruding. It also doesn’t help that, in order to keep everything PG, I have to hike the corset up so that its waist tape is 2-3 inches above my natural waist. This is both uncomfortable and it looks terrible with my figure. On a person with a smaller bust and much shorter torso, I think this corset would sit better.

For those interested in trying a corset from CorsetDeal, I’ve found a coupon for 20% off anything on the CorsetDeal site here (aff link).

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Orchard Corset Maroon Underbust (CS-426) Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset Maroon Underbust (CS-426) Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Gives a nice hourglass shape – this is a Level 3 silhouette, gives the most extreme curves. Center front is 13″, shortest part is 10.5″. Longline corset that comes over the hips. Quite comfortable.
Material 3 main layers – the outer satin fashion fabric, flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). The shape of the panels is very, very similar to the Josephine corset by Isabella Corsetry, although the contours are slightly less, the ribcage and hips a little smaller. Constructed with a slightly modified sandwich technique.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching maroon satin, double-thickness. I like how it’s very narrow. It’s machine stitched on both sides, folded under nicely on the front and then stitched in the ditch between the corset and the binding, to catch the rest of the binding on the underside.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers and glued to the lining.
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of a layer of satin and a layer of twill. 5” wide and attached to one side with a line of stitching, reinforced with glue.
Busk Standard busk, half an inch wide and 11” long, and 5 pins. However it’s less bendy than other busks of the same width, which is one perk.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset. On each side, 9 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24 2-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium lip around. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. I see some fraying and coming away of the fashion fabric around some of the grommets around the waist. On the underside every grommet is split and quite scratchy, they catch on the laces, the modesty panel and my shirt.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but that’s alright because they’re still strong – you just have to tug a little harder to get the corset to stay closed because of the elasticity of the laces, is all – not a big deal.
Price Currently $95 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

 

Final Thoughts:
I really do like the shape this corset gives; it’s quite curvy (especially for its price). I wish they hadn’t used so much glue in the manufacturing, and that they could spend just a little more on higher quality grommets.

Lastly, one thing that made me PO’d (perhaps not the company’s fault but the shipper’s fault) was that I bought it on sale (around $59) but when it was shipped to me, the value on the package was stated as the original $95 which resulted in my having to pay higher duty/taxes coming into Canada. I ended up paying nearly as much in shipping/duty than I paid for the corset itself! International customers, be aware of this before you buy.

*** EDIT January 2014 – it’s been a couple of years since this review, and a few things have changed. Orchard Corset’s newer stock has higher quality grommets with fewer splits, and they recently introduced all cotton corsets, which are more sturdy than the satin ones and much less prone to coming away at the seams or having the bones pop out. Additionally, the owner of Orchard Corset mentioned that several years ago, they had placed the value of the parcel as product+shipping, which is why the price was so high and I was hit with duty. These days, OC says that they only place the value of the merchandise (the literal price paid for the corset itself) as the value of the parcel, and they don’t include the shipping price, so duty should be much lower for international customers.

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“Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

***

Note: the following are the differences between the “Wrinkly Pig” and the “Tickled Pink” corset in terms of construction:

  Wrinkly Pig Tickled Pink
Fusing Fused the brocade to a layer of woven fusible interfacing, then flatlined that to coutil. Fused the brocade directly to a layer of coutil using “Heat n’ Bond” (fiddly sheet of glue, I don’t recommend it).
Roll-pinning Everything was flat-pinned, not roll-pinned. Some roll-pinning was done on the side panels.
Seams Lock-stitched seams; allowances were not trimmed or clipped at curves. Seams were trimmed and flat-felled.
Boning channels Double-boned at the seams, sandwiched between two layers of coutil. Single boned at the seams, used external boning channels (cuts down on wrinkles slightly)

***

And here is my review:

Fit, length Decent curves. Used to be a slightly long-line corset but I later shortened the hips so it is more of a cincher now. Center front is about 11″ long.
Material 4 layers including the interfacing: brocade fashion fabric fused to interfacing, then flatlined to interlining of coutil and another lining of coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern. Seams were lock-stitched (stitched twice) at the seams, the allowances were pressed open. The brocade/interfacing/coutil flatlined panels were all assembled, then the coutil lining was assembled. The layers were then stitched together at first/last panels, flipped right-side out and stitched in the ditch between panels and also secured at boning channels.  Bones are sandwiched between the two layers of coutil.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made out of commercial hot pink cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the coutil lining and interlining, stitched invisibly so it’s not noticeable.
Modesty panel Suspended modesty panel made from brocade fused to twill, and stiffened with plastic canvas. 7″ wide.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. The seams between the panels are double-boned (except the seam closest to the grommets with ¼” inch wide spirals, and there are a pair of flats sandwiching each column of grommets.
Grommets There are 30 2-part size #X00 eyelets (15 on each side). They have a medium flange around and are spaced out 3/4 inches apart. No pulling away of fabric yet but they are very small so many types of fat cord is hard to thread through.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-face satin ribbon, baby pink in colour. About 5 meters and not really long enough for my tastes. I think I may change out the laces for some longer ones.
Price If I were to re-make this corset, I would roll-pin the panels and also use wonder-under or stitch-witchery to directly fuse the brocade to a layer of coutil to eliminate wrinkling. Keeping other construction techniques the same, I would likely charge around $260 USD for a corset like this.
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CorsetDeal Silver/Black Gothic Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “CorsetDeal/Corsets-UK Gothic Overbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Gently curved, gives a slim silhouette without a lot of cinch. The center front is 14”. From the apex of the bust to the bottom is not quite 15″, and the longest part (the side, where the hips peak) is 15.5″. Good coverage in the bust.
Material Two layers; the outside has alternating panels of smocked shiny black PVC and flocked black and silver floral polyester brocade. The inside cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Panels are top-stitched at the seams, with seam allowances always pressed toward the brocade side. Internal boning channels laid down made of black twill.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are black shiny PVC. Also has 6 garter tabs.
Waist tape Waist tape running through the corset, seen on the inside, made of 1” wide single-faced satin ribbon.
Modesty panel Unboned modesty panel, 7.5 inches wide made from silver/black brocade on the outside and black twill on the underside. Also has a 3″ wide placket beneath the front closure, made from PVC on the outside and twill on the underside.
Swing Hooks 5 large silver swing hooks riveted to half-inch-wide bones in the center front. The bones in front are 12.5″ long. Very strong, no sign of breaking or falling out. I like that there were 5 swing hooks used – the extra hook a the waist prevents bowing of the bones in this area.
Boning 14 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. Single boned on the seams. The two bones that curve over the bust are made of spiral steel; all the other bones in this corset are spring steel.
Grommets There are 24, 2-part size #0 grommets (12 on each side), finished in nickel. The grommets are sturdy with moderate size lip around, there is absolutely no fraying around the material, they’re not pulling out.
Laces Black flat nylon braided shoe-lace style. Very strong, grips fairly well. It has a little bit of spring. They are resistant to fraying and catching.
Price Currently around $164 USD or £105 GBP.

 

Final Thoughts:
This is such a fun corset. If I ever had tea at H.R. Giger’s house, this is probably what I would wear. It’s an interesting combination of elegance and edginess.
Of all the overbusts I’ve reviewed made by CorsetDeal/Corsets-UK/Punk69, this is the one that fit me the best. It’s also the corset that I was most impressed with in regards to workmanship/stitching – I know from personal experience that PVC is not easy to work with! I might have kept it in my collection if I had any place or reason to wear it, but unfortunately it’s not a style I often wear, and I don’t go out that often. This corset would be great for clubbing/performances, and for attracting some attention when going out on the town.

For those interested in trying a corset from CorsetDeal, I’ve found a coupon for 20% off anything on the CorsetDeal site here (aff link).

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Baby Blue Ribbon Cincher Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Homemade Blue Ribbon Corset”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Short cincher about 12″ high in the center front, comes up high on the hips. Pointed in the front and in back.
Material Almost entirely 2.25″ wide double faced satin ribbon, with coutil flatlined to the ribbon on the vertical panels in front, side and back.
Construction Pattern is from page 88 of the book Corsets and Crinolines. The horizontal ribbons were draped into the correct shape and tacked on the sides, then sandwiched between two pieces of coutil-flatlined-to-ribbon vertical panels which were then topstitched. The bones sandwiched in the vertical panels only.
Binding There is only binding at the top and bottom of the vertical panels, also made with blue ribbon.
Waist tape None (ribbon corsets generally don’t have waist tapes).
Modesty panel None.
Busk Standard flexible busk, about 9.5″ long with 5 clasps.
Boning 14 bones in this corset; 8 bones on the side panels (4 on each side), 2 flats on either side of the busk and another 4 in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 26 gold #X00 2-part grommets (13 on each side). Gold was the only colour I had at the time.
Laces Simple white round shoe-lace style cord, about 7 meters.
Price Cost in materials was close to $35. A standard ribbon cincher is often sold for about $150-$200 depending on the maker. Custom fit ribbon cinchers often are more expensive.
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Gallery Serpentine Victorian Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Gallery Serpentine Victorian Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Victorian Hourglass shape, nice moderate curves. Center front is 13”. Stops just at the upper hips, it is not longline. One “pro” is the unique feature of how low the corset stops on the back, it curves nicely over the top of the bum instead of cutting into it. One “con” is how distended my torso looks in profile.
Material 3 main layers – the outer satin, a thick cotton non-woven interfacting as interlining, and black twill lining.
Construction Made from a 4-panel pattern. The satin and the heavy interlining are either flat-felled or fused together (depending on whether the interfacing was fusible or not), then those panels are topstitched at the seams. Bones are placed either in the seam allowances between the panels, or internal channels are made with twill tape.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from black satin bias tape. Folded under nicely on the outside; on the inside the raw edge is serged to prevent fraying and just stitched down flat.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel None. To get a modesty panel costs another $15 from the website.
Busk Standard busk (flexible), half an inch wide and 12” long, and 6 pins.
Boning 12 bones total in this corset, 6 on each side. All of them are plastic. These are heavier-duty polypropeline bones but I would still prefer steel. To get the steel bone upgrade costs another $15 from the website.
Grommets There are 18 2-part size #0 grommets (9 on each side) and have a medium flange. They’re spaced 1.5” apart on the top and bottom and are spaced closer together (1” apart) at the waist for better cinching control. Grommets are very sturdy, no popping out, no fraying. However I would have preferred to have 10 more grommets because lacing down is difficult on the top and bottom. On the underside there are no splits; they’re nicely set.
Laces The laces I received with this corset are reportedly not the original laces. The laces I got are 1/4″ wide single faced satin ribbon, quite slippery and difficult to grip. The laces that I have read now come with the corset are black shoelace-style laces.
Price Currently $190 (AUD) for basic fabric and standard sizes. $210 for made-to-measure, and add $10 more for Asian brocade fabrics. Note that steel bones/modesty panel also cost extra.

Final Thoughts:
This… was not my favourite style. A lot of people noticed that my review was blasé. Perhaps my review would have been more fair if I had spent some extra funds to get a made-to-measure item with steel bones, but for financial reasons and accessibility, this was the right option at the time. I doubt I would buy from them again, but I guess I should never say never. Many of their happier customers have contacted me to say that their corsets are much more flattering, better constructed and include things like a modesty panel, so perhaps there are several makers for that company and there are inconsistencies between their products. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, however this one simply did not go well with my body type and looked unflattering on me. I ended up altering this corset by adding steel bones and a modesty panel.

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Isabella Corsetry “Josephine” Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Isabella Corsetry Josephine Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Dramatic curves, extreme hourglass. This is a longline corset coming over my hips. The center front is 13” high; the shortest part of the corset is 10.5″ hiugh.
Material 3 main layers. The outer fashion fabric is black satin, then there’s a layer of twill as interlining and another layer of black twill as lining.
Construction Made from a 6-panel pattern (so the corset itself is 12 panels total). It looks as though the coutil panels were lock-stitched at the seams, the allowances were pressed open. The layers are joined together by stitching in the ditch between the panels and also by making boning channels. The stitching is perfect on the outside, but the seams are wiggly on the inside. The lining does not float. Bones are sandwiched between the two layers of twill (lining and interlining).
Binding The binding at top and bottom made out of black satin bias tape machine stitched on both sides; it’s small on the outside, then folded under and machine stitched in the ditch, in the seam between the corset and the binding itself, to catch the rest of the binding underneath.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the lining and interlining, invisibly stitched.
Modesty panel There an unboned modesty panel in the back made from two layers of just satin. Slightly over 6” wide.  Easily removable if you want to remove it. No modesty placket on the front.
Busk A heavy duty busk, slightly under 1” wide on each side and 11” long, with 5 pins, it’s EXTREMELY stiff. Keeps the front very straight.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. On each side there are 9 spirals about 3/8” wide, and they’re mostly double boned at the seams except for at the back between panels 5-6. By the grommets they also use about 3/8” wide flat steels; very sturdy.
Grommets There are 30 2-part size #00 grommets (15 on each side). Black finish to match the rest of the corset, they have a medium lip around and are spaced equidistantly. Functionally they’re very sturdy, no popping or pulling away, whatsoever. On the underside there are no splits – much nicer than the grommets used in Isabella’s Bat cincher.
Laces 1/2” wide black double satin ribbon. They’re very nice, strong, pretty, glide through the grommets nicely and also seem to hold the bow well with little slipping out over time.
Price Currently $175 USD for immediate line. For other fabrics (made-to-order) it’s $250, and for custom fit/fabric it’s $360.

Final Thoughts:
This corset continues to be one of my favourite off-the-rack underbust corsets. It’s comfortable and gives a crazy curvy silhouette – to this day, I think I have gotten more compliments when wearing this corset than with any other off-the-rack corset. It’s relatively affordable compared to other major brands out there. The only con I could say is that Isabella is quickly gaining more and more recognition and thus she’s becoming busier, so wait times have been increasing for her corsets! However, I’m happy that she’s overflowing with commissions; I think her work should be credited. I could definitely see myself commissioning another piece from Isabella in the future.

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Princess Tamina Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of my videos for the Princess Tamina costume. If you would like more  information and side notes about the corset and costume, you can watch the videos on YouTube here:

 

 

Fit, length Self-drafted underbust corset with a peaked front top and bottom edge. Stops just at the hips, and features a high back (7″ above waist). Made to close at 21″ at the waist. I took 3 horizontal measurements and 5 vertical measurements to draft this.
Material 4 layers of material; fashion fabric is a very stretchy gold-on-beige lamé, two layers of down-proof cotton ticking (labelled “coutil” in French) as strength layer, and ivory satin lining.
Construction Drafted from a 5-panel pattern. Lining was flatlined to ticking and lockstitched between the seams, then joined to another layer of ticking (wrong sides together) via the sandwich method. Sandwiched boning channels were sewn through those 3 layers, then the fashion fabric was redesigned to look like a ribbon corset and was tacked down at center front and back seams; floating in all other places. Embellishment was hand-sewn.
Binding Made from bias strips of lamé and machine stitched on both front and back. Back of binding was not folded under but left raw; as it’s a knit it doesn’t fray.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the two layers of ticking.
Modesty panel None.
Busk None; closed front.
Boning Only 12 bones including center front; all half-inch wide steels. Two at center front and one on each seam between panels; only a bone on the outer edge of the grommets, not the inner edge.
Grommets There are 22, 2-part size #X00 grommets (11 on each side), finished in gold to match the rest of the corset. This corset being the first time I hammered in grommets, the back of some of them are rough and catch a bit on the laces.
Laces Round nylon utility cord made for outdoor/sports use. It was loosely woven, frayed easily, slippery and didn’t hold bows very well.
Price The cost for materials was close to $70 because the only store that supplied steel bones near me charged me an arm and a leg for them. Otherwise this corset would have been closer to $35-$40 in supplies. If I were to remake this corset today and sell it, it would cost around $315 USD.
($225 underbust corset + $15 half-inch boning upgrade (I’d use spiral at seams) + $20 double (proper) coutil strength layer upgrade + $40 pattern modification + $15 hand-sewn embellishments)
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Heavenly Corsets Wasp-Waist Training Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Heavenly Corsets “Wasp-Waist” Training Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

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Note: the following are the differences between the “standard” wasp-waist corset and the “training” wasp-waist corset:

  Training Corset Standard Corset
Materials Always made in coutil, with an inner layer of twill, and a cotton lining layer Either a layer of outer fabric (unless coutil) with an inner layer of twill and cotton lining layer OR if you chose coutil, a single layer of coutil and a cotton lining layer
Boning double boning throughout 6 fewer bones than the trainer
Busk wide solid steel busk standard steel busk
Modesty Panel included NOT included
Seams triple-stitched seams double-stitched seams

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And here is my review:

Fit, length Dramatic curves, “wasp-waisted”. This is a longline corset coming over my hips. The center front is 12” high. Measurements (both circumference and vertical) were taken to fit my body; quite comfortable with no pinching. One issue with the bones in the back bowing outwards and twisting so creates a gap at the waistline.
Material 3 main layers. The outer fashion fabric is red satin coutil, twill interlining and lightweight cotton lining inside.
Construction 6-panel pattern. It looks as though the coutil panels were lock-stitched (stitched twice) at the seams, the allowances were pressed open and zigzag stitched again. (Some people may not find this aesthetic but if it makes for a strong corset then I don’t mind.) Bones are sandwiched between the satin coutil and the twill, and the cotton lining is primarily floating.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made out of commercial red satin bias tape machine stitched on both sides; it’s folded under and stitched in the front and then topstitched to catch the back.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the lining and the twill interlining. Stitched down horizontally across all the panels of the lining (so is not invisible but still cannot be felt).
Modesty panel Unboned modesty panel, 4.5 inches wide made from satin coul on the outside and lightweight cotton on the underside. No placket beneath the busk. (I would have preferred a slightly wider panel.)
Busk A heavy duty busk, 1” wide on each side, with 5 pins, it’s quite stiff and it’s 11” long.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the center front, ALL flat bones. The seams between the panels are double-boned (except the seam closest to the busk) with 3/8 inch wide flats (slightly wider than ¼”), but on the outer edge of the grommets in the back those bones are ½” wide flats.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 eyelets (10 on each side). They have a medium flange around and are spaced out 1¼ inches apart. I would prefer for them to be spaced closer together and there be more of them, but functionally they’re sound; no pulling away or fraying of the fabric. On the underside there are no splits.
Laces  ¼” wide flat braided cotton laces, NOT nylon. They’re easy to pull and they grip well, not much wear so far. Cotton laces are sometimes prone to snapping so should be replaced more often, however I’ve had this corset for about 9 months and haven’t had to change the laces yet.
Price Currently £160 ($250) for the 23/7 waist training wasp-waist corset, or £120 ($185) for the non-training wasp-waist corset.

Final Thoughts:

I received a mixed reaction from this review. A few previous customers of Elle came forward and told me that they didn’t like certain aspects about this style of corset, such as a wobbly stitch line here or there, or the fact that she uses all spring steel bones. I put all this into perspective. Back in 2012, I hadn’t found a more affordable 23/7 training piece, and the materials used (including English coutil) are quite high quality. From what I can see, the primary stitch lines (the straight ones, holding the panels together) are straight and even, and although the zig-zag stitching (which is technically the 3rd stitch on each panel) does veer a bit and is not aesthetically pleasring, it still serves its purpose – to further reinforce the panels together. At that point in the construction process, it has no effect on the overall shape or measurement of the corset.

This did not come as a surprise to me, because I asked Elle a thousand questions before I ordered (and she was quite patient with me every time). The purpose of this corset (for me) wasn’t meant to be pretty or be shown off on a regular basis, it was meant to be strong.

Edit December 2014:

It’s been about 4 years since I ordered this corset, and nearly 3 years since the review – truthfully, I had forgotten about this corset review until recent events brought it back to my attention.
How did my corset hold up? The seams remained strong and none of the bones wore through their channels, but the very flexible bones in the back by the grommets became annoying, so I ended up switching them out for stronger (but more narrow) 5.5mm steels from Vena Cava. I also added more grommets between the pre-existing ones in the back of the corset for better control (the size #00 self-piercing grommets that fit the C-Step 2 machine are a decent match), and changed the lacing style. This was the only issue I experienced with my corset. However, other clients of Elle have had different experiences than myself, and I encourage you to read some of the comments below so you can gain a balanced view before deciding.