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California Corset Adventures – NALACE, Puimond, Interviews & More

As you know, throughout 2015 I spent about 2 months traveling for business. You might recall my Thailand adventures video and my Texas adventures video, so here is a brief continuation of what happened in California in July of 2015. (Unfortunately I broke my phone and I had also misplaced some memory cards for my travel camcorder for two years so I lost a lot of my footage – but by some stroke of luck I found one of my SD cards which had a few tidbits of footage).

The clip with myself, Sarah, and Jim Cox (the owner of Timeless Trends) at the beginning of the video above is of one of the first prototypes of the Gemini back in June of 2015 in Bangkok. I had included a very short clip of this in my Thailand video two years ago, but I didn’t want to give away too much about the two different silhouettes and the cut, but now that the Gemini corset is for sale, I’m comfortable extended version now!

After staying in Texas for about 3 weeks, Amber (Lovely Rats Corsetry) and I flew to Los Angeles together to attend the first ever North American Lingerie and Corsetry Symposium, coordinated by Jasmine Starfire. Some of the teachers included Jasmine of Sin & Satin, Amara from Vintage View Atelier, Jessica from Ties That Bynde, Sidney Eileen, and also in attendance was Heidi from Strait-Laced Dame, Alisha from The Bad Button, Lori of Bound Angel Designs (who also helped me on the Corset Database), and Lori’s mom Celia, who was everyone’s mom for that weekend. Celia unfortunately passed away from cancer in early 2017. If you would like to support her family during this difficult time, please consider donating to their GoFundMe here.

Two examples of Sin & Satin ribbon cinchers without a side seam.

There were some great workshops during this weekend, including:

  • Jasmine (Sind & Satin): how to create her signature ribbon cinchers without a side seam.
  • Jessica (Ties That Bynde): how to drape and modify patterns from start to finish, and how to grade sizes of a standard size collection.
  • Sidney Eileen: flossing and other couture hand-finishing techniques.
  • Jasmine Starfire (the coordinator): millinery techniques that can cross over to corsetry, including using bronze molds on silk petals to make custom flower embellishments.
  • Amber (Lovely Rats): how to pattern-match / motif-match.

And there were also opportunities to stay longer and visit the amazing fabric market in the LA area.

I also got to catch up with Sidney Eileen, and interviewed Sidney on how her health has improved since the 2013 fundraiser to help treat her lyme and anaplasma infections.

After the Symposium I decided to stay for an extra two days in California and take in what the LA area had to offer (what I could afford at the time). Unfortunately I did not make it to Disneyland, but Laysa and I went shopping in Burbank, visiting stores like Pinup Girl Clothing, What Katie Did, and Unique Vintage. Laysa also took me to Venice Beach where I touched the Pacific ocean for the first time, and the two of us also spent a day with Puimond and his two adorable and well-behaved dogs, Dobby and Handsome (RIP to them both, they passed away I believe in 2017). If you want to see the full interview with Puimond, click here.

I wish I had more footage to show but it really was a whirlwind trip of about 4.5 days! I definitely would love to visit California again in the future. Californians, if you can think of anything that is an absolute “not to be missed” attraction that you think I should see next time I’m there, leave a comment below and let me know!

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“Friendship Corset” Collaboration (Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry)

This entry is a summary of the “Friendship Corset” Case Study (Collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats & Lucy’s Corsetry). 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 12.5 inches long, the princess seam is 9.5 inches (4.5 inches above the waist, 4 inches below the waist), the side seam is 10.75 inches and the center back is 11.25 inches long.
Circumferential measurements: underbust is 29″ (rib spring is 6″), waist is 23″, and hip is 35″ (hip spring is 12″). The ribs are gently rounded and the hips are slightly cupped, giving a comfortable and flattering silhouette that was designed for my long torso and low waist.
Material 3 main layers: the fashion fabric pink rainbow crystal organza, fused to white herringbone coutil – and the lining is a “Monet” inspired printed lightweight quilting cotton. Boning channels / binding were custom dyed satin coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Panels 1-2 converge towards the lower tummy in center front, panels 3-4-5 make the curve over the hip. Construction: organza was fused to coutil, and panels assembled with the seam allowances facing inward (added topstitch for reinforcement). Single external boning channels laid down (one on each seam and one in the middle of each panel), and the lining is floating.
Waist tape One-inch-wide twill cotton waist tape, secured “invisibly” between the layers of fabric. Full width (extends from center front panel to center back).
Binding Matching strips of green satin coutil, machine stitched on outside and hand-finished on the inside. No garter tabs (I don’t use them anyway).
Modesty panel None, as we were short on time and I tend to lace my corsets closed in the back anyway.
In the front there is a modesty placket, extending about 1/2″ out from under the knob side of the busk, covered in the lining fabric, and stiffened with coutil.
Busk 12” long, with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. Heavy duty busk, slightly wider than 1″ on each side, and very stiff. The busk extends into the binding.
Boning 24 bones total in this corset, 12 on each side. Single boned on the seams and additional bones in the middle of each panel, with ¼ inch wide spirals. The bones sandwiching the grommets are flat steel (the bone on the center back edge is 1/2″ wide, and the bone on the “internal” side of the grommets is ¼ inch wide).
Grommets There are 22, two-part size #00 grommets (11 on each side). They have a medium flange and are spaced equidistantly, and finished in silver. There is the occasional split on the underside of the grommets (my doing as this was my first time using her grommet press) but they’re all holding in securely.
Laces Granny Smith apple green 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon (glides well through the grommets, holds knots and bows securely, long enough).


The Story Behind the Corset:

Some of you who watched my “Unboxing Week” videos in summer of 2015 may remember this corset and the story behind it.

The pattern was a posthumous gift from one of my closest friends in the corset community, Christine Wickham (A Girl From Down Under / Ariadne’s Thread). Christine did a lot for the corset community during her active years from around 2011 – 2014 (including spearheading a fundraiser for me to attend the Oxford Conference of Corsetry). I also worked with Christine on a number of projects; she was the illustrator for my Corset Designer Doll and she also helped rework my logo. But one of the things that she was most well-known for was that she developed her own underbust corset pattern and released it online for free in the “Learn to Make Corsets Like a Pro!” Facebook group so other fledgling corset makers could use her corset pattern as a place to start.

What I didn’t know is that she was also working on a made-to-measure corset pattern as a gift for me. The only other person she told / showed this pattern to was our mutual friend Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry (to have Amber check over the pattern and suggest improvements). Christine passed away suddenly in July 2014 after a yoga injury led to pulmonary embolism, and it shook the whole corset community. It was less than 72 hours between her being fine and being gone.

Christine and her generous nature is still regularly discussed among my group of friends, and when I stayed with Amber for two weeks in July 2015, she printed out the pattern that Christine had planned to give me. We decided it would be a good tribute to her memory to create a corset from the pattern, using a combination of our materials / tastes and construction techniques – thus the “friendship corset” was born, a collaboration between Ariadne’s Thread, Lovely Rats, and Lucy’s Corsetry.

See the video above for all my commentary on the different parts of construction, why certain elements were chosen over others, and what I learned from this “mini internship” at Amber’s studio. If you’d like to see my interview with Amber (done at the same time as we were collaborating on this corset), click here.

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Interview with Amber Welch, Lovely Rats Corsetry

Following my trip to Thailand in 2015 to design the hourglass silhouette corsets with Timeless Trends, I spent three weeks in Texas. One of those weeks was in Austin, creating some informational videos for Timeless Trends, and the other two weeks were spent in Dallas where I stayed with Amber of Lovely Rats Corsetry. Together we compared corset styles, patterns and construction techniques, we made a corset together using a custom pattern from the late Christine Wickham of Ariadne’s Thread, and she introduced me to Steven Universe (a show that changed my life).

In this interview, you’ll find Amber’s answers to the following. Feel free to skip ahead in the video to hear the answers that interest you most!

 

0:30 How did you first become interested in making corsets?

0:50 What was your first corset like and how far have you come since then?

1:15 How did you come up with the name Lovely Rats, and how does this relate to corsetry?

1:50 What has your favorite project been so far?

2:10 Who would you like to dress in the future, or what would you consider a dream project?

2:25 Tell us more about your personal aesthetic and how you’ve branded yourself.

3:01 What other brands or designers do you look up to?

3:35 What is your favorite step in the corset construction process?

4:15 What is your least favorite part about making corsets?

4:30 What are your dreams and aspirations for Lovely Rats?

4:55 What do you do when you’re not making corsets?

5:25 If you weren’t making corsets, what do you think you’d be doing?

5:45 If you had any advice for people who follow you or want to make a corset, what kind of encouragement would you give them?

Visit Amber’s Etsy Shop, or her website here!

What questions would you ask Amber if given the chance? Leave a comment below and she might answer you!

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Lovely Rats Christine Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Lovely Rats Christine Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized: Center front is about 11.5 inches high, from underbust to lap is 9 inches, and the center back is 11 inches. Conical ribcage and rounded hip. Waist in this corset is 22″, ribcage is 28″ and lower hip is 36″.
NOTE: updated standard size measurements for a size 22″: ribcage of 30″ and lower hip of 34″.
Material 3 main layers. Outer layer is a psychedelic cotton print, which is fused to twill. Black herringbone coutil as lining.
Construction 6 panel pattern, panels assembled using the sandwich method (lock-stitched 3 times so very sturdy), and double-boned on the seams, sandwiched between two layers.
Binding Hand-made bias strips of complementary gold dupioni silk, machine stitched on the outside and hand-finished inside for a couture finish.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape – sandwiched between the layers.
Modesty panel No back lacing protector because I didn’t order one (but I did get a complimentary storage bag). Front modesty placket is made from black herringbone coutil.
Busk Heavy-duty busk (1″ wide on each side), 10 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. Some flat steels adjacent to the busk helps keep the abdomen flat.
Boning 24 bones total, 12 on each side. There are eight 1/4″ wide flats by the front, four flats by the back grommets, and the remaining bones around the side of the body are 1/4″ spirals, double boned on the seams.
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size #00, medium flange, quite sturdy. Gold finish. Set closer together at the waistline. Large washers on the underside, most of them have rolled nicely without splitting or cracking.
Laces Double-faced satin ribbon in bright green. Too short for my uses, but following this review, Amber started including longer laces with all of her corsets.
Price $350 USD as of 2016. To upgrade to custom-fit, this starts at $450 USD.

 

The details of the fashion fabric of this particular corset. Click through to see Amber's Etsy store for more samples.
The details of the fashion fabric of this particular corset. Click through to see Amber’s Etsy store for more samples.

Amber’s corsets have a distinctive silhouette; normally conical in the ribs and rounded over the hips, stopping at mid-to-low hip. The front of her corsets are extremely rigid while the back of her corsets tend to be more flexible – a pattern she developed on her own to accommodate for her own pronounced lumbar lordosis. As such, if you have lordosis or if you have a “shelf-bum” and you need more curve over the back, Amber will know how to draft for your body.

Amber herself is a joy to work with. Her service and communication were excellent throughout this past collaboration, and she is fun yet professional. During the construction process we had an easy rapport and she asked me whether I would like regular updates on the corsets or if I preferred to be surprised. When I preferred having pictures, she shared with me without prompting. She worked quickly and efficiently, and can make a simple, standard sized underbust corset in one workday! However, her schedule fills up quickly, so if you’re keen on ordering from Lovely Rats for a special event, join her waiting list early.

Check out her website here, or if you’re lucky you might fit one of Amber’s samples in her Etsy store.

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Lovely Rats Princess Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Lovely Rats Princess Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized: Center front is about 11.5 inches high, from underbust to lap is 9 inches, and the center back is 11 inches. Conical ribcage and rounded hip. Waist in this corset is 22″, ribcage is 28″ and lower hip is 36″.
NOTE: updated standard size measurements for a size 22″: ribcage of 30″ and lower hip of 34″.
Material This style of corset has 2 main layers, and external boning channels (instead of 3 layers with sandwiched bones like her Christine Corset). Outer layer is a cotton floral fabric, which is fused to black herringbone coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. The fashion fabric and lining were fused, and the panels were assembled with seam allowances facing outward. External boning channels cover the seam allowances, and more external channels are distributed in the middle of the panels as well.
Binding Bias strips of black twill, machine stitched on the outside and hand-finished inside for a couture finish.
Waist tape 1 inch wide exposed waist tape. Partial: starts at the seam between panels 1-2, and goes to the back edge.
Modesty panel Back modesty panel (4 inches wide) is suspended on the laces and boned for support. Front modesty placket is made from black herringbone coutil.
Busk Heavy-duty busk (1″ wide on each side), 10 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. Some flat steels adjacent to the busk helps keep the abdomen flat.
Boning 24 bones total, 12 on each side. There are eight 1/4″ wide flats by the front, four flats by the back grommets, and the remaining bones around the side of the body are 1/4″ spirals, single boned on the seams and also in the middle of each panel.
Grommets 24 two-part grommets, size #00, medium flange, quite sturdy. Gold finish. Set closer together at the waistline. Large washers on the underside, most of them have rolled nicely without splitting or cracking.
Laces Black double-faced satin ribbon: no spring, very strong, low-profile under clothing and easy to tie.
Price $350 USD as of 2016. To upgrade to custom-fit, this starts at $450 USD.
Decorative external boning channels are another $50-75.
Flossing on each of the boning channels is an additional $100.

 

The details of the fashion fabric of this particular corset. Click through to see Amber's Etsy store for more samples.
The details of the design of the floral princess corset. Click through to see Amber’s Etsy store for more samples.

Amber’s corsets have a distinctive silhouette; normally conical in the ribs and rounded over the hips, stopping at mid-to-low hip. The front of her corsets are extremely rigid while the back of her corsets tend to be more flexible – a pattern she developed on her own to accommodate for her own pronounced lumbar lordosis. As such, if you have lordosis or if you have a “shelf-bum” and you need more curve over the back, Amber will know how to draft for your body.

Amber herself is a joy to work with. Her service and communication were excellent throughout this past collaboration, and she is fun yet professional. During the construction process we had an easy rapport and she asked me whether I would like regular updates on the corsets or if I preferred to be surprised. When I preferred having pictures, she shared with me without prompting. She worked quickly and efficiently, and can make a simple, standard sized underbust corset in one workday! However, her schedule fills up quickly, so if you’re keen on ordering from Lovely Rats for a special event, join her waiting list early.

Check out her website here, or if you’re lucky you might fit one of Amber’s samples in her Etsy store.

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Where to buy Fan-Laced Corsets

This post is a duplicate of the permanent page Guided Galleries –> Corsets with Fan Lacing. The guided galleries are part of the corset brand research tools, which are designed to help prospective corset customers shop more wisely. This particular article may be out of date in the future, please refer to the main page to get the most up to date information.

Two variations of metal sliders for fan-lacing (suppied by Vena Cava Design)
Two variations of metal sliders for fan-lacing (suppied by Vena Cava Design)

Fan lacing may also be referred to as “Camp” lacing, “Cross” lacing, or “Cluster” lacing. Fan-laced corsets are relatively rare today, but they can be useful for those who have limited strength or dexterity. Fan-laced corsets differ from ‘regular’ corsets by their utilization of metal slides (usually, but not always!). These slides have grommet-like small holes on one end through which the laces are secured, and an adjustable serrated slot which grabs securely onto a grosgrain tape or belt. This allows the wearer to tighten their corset the same way that they would adjust a bra strap; simply by pulling on a pair of belts on either side of the lacing panel. For those who are unable to reach behind them and ‘pluck’ the individual X’s of the laces, a fan-laced corset may be just the trick for quickly and easily adjusting one’s own corset; for those with disabilities who use corsets for medical purposes, the use of fan lacing can contribute to one’s independence when dressing oneself. For those who would like a fan-laced corset as a fashion statement, you will find this page useful as well. Scroll down to see a gallery of corset makers who are experienced with making fan-laced corsets!

*Corset makers: if you have made fan-laced corsets and would like to be included in the gallery, please submit your best photo to my email here with a 1-sentence description and your website URL. Safe-for-work photos are preferred! Thank you!*

Functional Fan-Lacing:

The following corsets employ fan lacing to actually tighten and loosen the corset, rather than being used simply for embellishment. Scroll down the page if you’d like to see corsets which simply use fan-lacing for embellishment.

PureOne Corset Works in Japan has an entire line of fan-laced corsets in various styles.
Fan-laced medical-inspired corset by Contessa Gothique Design in Croatia
Fan-laced medical-inspired corset by Contessa Gothique Design in Croatia
Contemporary fan-lacing design by Lovesick Corrective Apparel in Canada.
Dark Garden (San Francisco, USA) custom Victorian underbust with
Dark Garden (San Francisco, USA) custom Victorian underbust with “cross-lacing”.
Alice Corsets in Ukraine made this beautiful pristine fan-laced corset.
Alice Corsets in Ukraine made this beautiful pristine fan-laced corset.
Lovely Rat's Quality Custom Clothing (Texas, USA) made this cute and feminine "meta corset", a fan-laced corset with printed corset fashion fabric.
Lovely Rat’s Quality Custom Clothing (Texas, USA) made this fan-laced corset with printed corset fashion fabric.
Fan-laced underbust corset by Serindë Corsets (France)
Fan-laced underbust corset by Serindë Corsets (France)
A gorgeous fan-laced corset made by Ivy's Custom Corsetry in the USA.
A gorgeous fan-laced corset made by Ivy’s Custom Corsetry in the USA.
AusAsche on Etsy has made this smart-looking men's fan-laced corset. (USA)
Tyler’s Chalk on Etsy has made this smart-looking men’s fan-laced corset. (USA)
This gorgeous fan-aced corset was apparently made by
This gorgeous fan-aced corset was apparently made by “CorsetWonderland” on Etsy, but unfortunately further information could not be found on it.
Cicatrix Design (New Mexico, USA) is another talented corset maker who has unfortunately been inactive recently, but still shares pictures of her lovely designs.
Tailor of Two Cities is a costuming company in Oklahoma USA, which is experienced in making various types of corsets.
Fan-laced underbust made by Jill of the Romantasy team in USA, $390.
Dark Knits Boutique in Edmonton, AB Canada offers custom overbust fan-laced corsets ($344 CAD)
Dark Knits Boutique in Edmonton, AB Canada offers custom overbust fan-laced corsets ($344 CAD)
Fan-laced custom underbust corset made by SparkleyJem in the UK (£180)
Fan-laced custom underbust corset made by SparkleyJem in the UK (£180)

 Decorative Fan Lacing:

The following corsets have a fan-lacing embellishment, but their use is not imperative to the actual function of the corset. Faux fan lacing can have a stunning effect on corsets, especially when contrast laces are used.

V-Couture in Germany has made this decorative fan-laced overbust with 4 non-adjustable slides.
Decorative fan-laced overbust by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique in the UK, modelled by Twig (£140).
Decorative fan-laced overbust by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique in the UK, modelled by Twig (£140).
BattieClothing in the UK has made this oxblood faux-leather underbust with non-functional fan-lacing (£260).
Oxblood faux-leather underbust with non-functional fan-lacing (£260) by BattieClothing in the UK.
Gorgeous silver underbust with decorative fan lacing, by Atelier Sylphe (France)
While fan-lace sliders were not utilized here, Anachronism in Action (USA) gets an honorable mention for her amazing fan-lace-like embellishment in this ensemble.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.