Posted on 10 Comments

Corset seasoning sessions 11, 12 and 13 – final observations

Over the weekend, I finished up seasoning this corset with seasoning sessions 11, 12 and 13, totaling 30 hours of wearing this corset at a 2-inch reduction for about 2-3 hours at a time. The entire seasoning period was about 2 weeks. This article aims to recap the changes that I feel while wearing the corset, and changes to the corset itself as time has passed.

How the corset feels on me after two weeks of seasoning:

  • I’m able to lace the corset about 0.5 – 1 inch smaller than I had on the first day, while still keeping within the 2″ guidelines (from 26″ corseted from a 27.5″ natural waist on the first day, to 25″ corseted with a 27″ natural waist on the last day of seasoning)
  • The ribs don’t feel as restrictive; they cup smoothly around my ribcage
  • The waist hooks under my ribcage and doesn’t ride up on me, and the corset no longer feels “wobbly”
  • Some wrinkles around the hips have smoothed over
  • There are no hot spots or area of uncomfortable pressure. There is no irritation or poking from any corners or bone tips. The corset has conformed to the curve of my spine.
  • I’m relaxed and have a comfortable posture in the corset; my muscles aren’t fighting the corset and I feel that I would be able to accommodate a larger reduction.

At this point, now that the corset is properly seasoned, I will begin to gradually increase the hours each day as comfortable, and then start to close the corset more in the back, until I’m able to wear it closed for the official corset review.

I’m going to go over what is normal and what is not normal in a hypothetical corset after a proper 2-week seasoning period. The points in bold are what I experienced during this seasoning session:

  What’s normal What’s not normal
Bones by the grommets A bit of distortion of the fabric due to tension

Bones may become slightly more flexible along its proper axis, to hug the lumbar area more, and not dig into the tailbone

Back bones permanently bent, kinked, warped or twisted in their boning channels.

Bones popping out or wearing away the fabric of the channels.

Fabric around the grommets Some wrinkling of the fabric around the grommet panel may be normal Grommets pulling away, or the fabric around the grommets are starting to fray, or grommets feel wiggly or loose
Fabric around the waistline of the corset Tension in the thread around the waistline

Some fabric pulling or distorting around the waistline, and seams looking a bit wobbly when off the body

A bit of horizontal wrinkling, especially in the side-back, or over the front hip, particularly in an OTR/ standard-sized corset
*Note that a well-made corset may actually have some wrinkles smooth out over time

Broken threads or gaps where there are no stitching

Ripped stitches or fabric, no matter how small

Lining layer Some usual wrinkling of the lining and minor tension on the threads of the lining (although the lining shouldn’t take any tension if it is not the strength fabric) Broken stitching or gaps in the lining

 

If you have any other points to add regarding what is normal or not normal when you season your corsets, I would love to know! Leave me a comment either under this post, or on Youtube.

Posted on 2 Comments

10th Corset Seasoning session – possible causes of headache/tension while corseted

I’ve been wearing the corset a total of 24 hours (of a minimum seasoning time of about 30 hours). I’m now quite comfortable in this corset, and the corset is wrapping around my body very nicely – I’m noticing negligible change from today’s seasoning session compared to the previous couple of sessions. Another person had written me about their corset giving them a migraine, which I’d like to address:

Why might one get a headache, neck ache or tense back while wearing a corset?

While I’d like to remind everyone that I’m not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one on the internet, there are several possible reasons I can personally think of that might cause tension, soreness or headaches while corseted.

  • it may be due to holding a posture that you’re not accustomed to, and subsequently getting sore/tense and knotted back muscles. It’s also important not to tie your corset too tight or too long such that you experience pain or discomfort, as people in discomfort have a tendency to round their shoulders and tense their muscles – you want to be comfortable, relaxed, and sitting with your shoulders down and your chest open. (If it’s too late and you do have some muscle tension, I offer some stretching ideas in the video, like lying with a pile of pillows or a squishy large ball between your wingbones to open up the chest –  and I also suggest bumming a massage off one of your good friends to loosen the knots)
  • it may be caused by dehydration (drink more water while you’re corseted, even if you feel you don’t need it – I personally notice that symptoms of dehydration come on much quicker while I’m corseted).
  • it could be caused by hypertension – although not all headaches are caused by high blood pressure, and not everyone with high bp may experience headaches, there is a positive correlation between headaches and elevated bp, so do make sure your blood pressure is in a healthy range and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have before starting to wear corsets. I talk more about this in my article about Corsets and Blood Pressure here.
I should also add (AGAIN) that pain while corseted IS NOT NORMAL. Whether it’s in your abdomen, in your hip, in your neck, head or big toe, you should NOT feel pain in a well-fitted, properly worn corset. Please practice some common sense when you’re corseted and don’t force yourself down more than you’re ready for any reason. Got it? Good.

Changes in the visible wear to the corset after the 10th seasoning session is negligible, although I was able to get in touch with the maker about getting some matching silk to cut down and change the binding, to fix the fraying area. Some of the crystals have started to become slightly loose (my fault) which I show in the video.

 

Posted on 2 Comments

9th Corset Seasoning session – the difference between normal corset ‘tenderness’ and inappropriate pain

After this corseting session, I estimate that I’ve worn the corset a total of 22 hours (for a minimum of 30 hours of seasoning). In reality, I squeezed in two break-in sessions on the same day (the  8th session in the morning and the 9th session at night). Because I wore this corset a total of about 5 hours that one particular day (two 2.5-hour sessions), I do feel a few differences in how my body is responding to the corset:

  • This corset is curvier than the corset I was wearing in the mid-afternoon so there’s more of a “stretching feeling” in my obliques compared how I felt in my less curvy corset. I compare the stretch in my obliques to that stretching feeling that one would experience after working out and stretching their hamstrings. It may feel warm, not quite stinging but perhaps tingling on the sides of your torso, but you don’t want it to feel like it’s “burning” or “ripping”.
  • I also feel some pressure and tenderness in the back and wrapping around the sides of my ribcage, which feels as if the corset is gently guiding my 12th rib forward. I compare the feeling of my ribs shifting to wearing a mouth retainer – it’s a little sore or achy if pressure is put on it directly, but I know that this tenderness will subside after a few hours or a day. When I take off my corset, I gently stretch my torso by bending it from side to side to alleviate this feeling of pressure.

Of course every person is different in how they feel in a corset, because every body is a different shape and size, each person’s nervous system is wired slightly differently, etc. But hopefully by my sharing these experiences, it will better help you to understand where your ‘limit’ is – the difference between a sensation and real discomfort or pain, and use this knowledge to loosen or take off your corset when you feel that’s no longer benefiting you.

This is also why I get irritated when people say “no pain, no gain” or that “corseting must always hurt the wearer” because it tells me that this person has corseted down tighter than their body was ready for, or worn the corset longer than was proper for their experience level, or had been wearing a corset that was simply the wrong shape or poor quality. Corseting doesn’t have to be a painful experience, and for many people it’s just the opposite; it can alleviate chronic pain whether physical or emotional.

Like I mentioned in my “Corsets, Nerves and Pain” video, if you are the type of person who is extremely sensitive to pressure, there is nobody forcing you to lace down further than what feels comfortable for you. Anyone who chastises you for not being able to lace down as much or as quickly as they can, they’re a fool who simply does not understand how each human body is built differently and has different limits. If you really want to try corseting but even 1 inch waist reduction feels unbearably tight for you, then you can wear your corset with zero reduction, until you just get used to maintaining an erect posture in the corset – after this point, you might want to lace down just 1/4″ (about 5-6mm) until you get used to that. There is nothing wrong with slow and steady.

Posted on Leave a comment

8th seasoning session – commonalities between breaking in corsets and shoes

Today I’m up to around 19 hours of wear, and the mend is still holding up well. Although I’m a bit more delicate today than I have been in the past (before the tear happened), I’m reasonably more comfortable than I was yesterday. As I begin to trust this corset more again as time goes on, I will probably learn to totally relax in this corset again.

Recently someone asked whether it’s okay to start wearing your corset all day immediately after the seasoning process (i.e. immediately after the 30 hours of seasoning are done, can I shut the corset immediately and wear it all day)?

Even though I can wear a well-seasoned corset up to about 16 hours a day, I try not to do that with freshly seasoned corsets. After seasoning, I’ll gradually increase the hours of the corset so that I’m wearing it at least 10-12 hours, and then I will start to lace it down tighter from there. There are a couple reasons that I do this:

  • So I don’t put too much pressure on the corset all at once and give it undue strain.
  • So I can test how my body reacts to the corset – I want to make sure that I won’t develop sores on my body, and don’t put more pressure on my body than it is ready for.

It’s a similar situation to breaking in a new pair of nice high heels. How my feet react to these heels when I’m just wearing it around the house on carpet and sitting down most of the time, isn’t necessarily reflective of how my feet will feel if I’m dancing on a hardwood floor for six hours. In that same vein, seasoning your corset at a light reduction, and wearing your corset completely closed during an all-day event may feel very different.

For the same reason that I bring a pair of comfy flats in my purse (if I need to change out of my heels), I will often bring a change of clothing or a spare corset to a special event. It’s always good to be prepared and have alternative fashion options when you need to listen to your body and either loosen your corset or take it off completely.

In the video, I also discuss what’s normal wear and tear when you choose a fashion fabric that is relatively delicate like dupioni silk. Although silk is supposed to be one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, it can still show wear! Especially in an iridescent silk like this one, which is violet-shot-green (when it becomes damaged, it loses its iridescence). If you’d like to see the wear to the corset, it’s available for viewing here:

Posted on Leave a comment

7th Corset Seasoning session – mend is holding up

I’ve been breaking the corset in for about 17 hours (of a minimum of 30 hours). Over the weekend I took a break from the corset and came back with a refreshed point of view so I could repair it when I wasn’t so frustrated.

Today I’m resuming the seasoning process (after a 3 day hiatus). During today’s break-in session, I felt that I was acting a lot more dainty compared to previous days, and just sat still as opposed to being active in my corset (which, ironically, I had mentioned isn’t the best thing to do during the seasoning process just a few days ago). I also feel that because I’m so anxious about the mend holding up and I’m acting so stiff and careful in this corset, my body is not properly relaxing in the corset and I can feel that my muscles are ‘fighting’ the corset, which is not good. This contributes to some discomfort in the corset.

If you take a break from seasoning, do you have to start again from the beginning?

 Someone asked if I would have to start the seasoning process all over again – not necessarily! Once you break in a pair of shoes, you typically don’t have to break them in again – if you have a comfy pair of running shoes that you don’t wear for a few months in the winter, it will still pretty much fit your foot in the springtime. It’s more or less the same for corsets as well (they don’t shrink, although you may expand while not wearing the corset, if you’re anything like me).

If you’re interested in seeing the wear to the corset, you’re welcome to see the video (starts at around 3:55 mark):

Posted on Leave a comment

6th Corset Seasoning – a tear in the seam

After the 6th seasoning session, I estimate that I’ve been wearing this corset for approximately 14-15 hours, because I wear the corset 2-3 hours each seasoning session – the seasoning process is half over, and I’m feeling more comfortable in this corset. The waist of the corset is hooking underneath my ribs, and so I’m relaxed in the corset and feel as if my ribs are “resting on a shelf”.

I also notice that I’m not struggling with this corset as much to get it on and off. The busk clasps faster and easier, the laces glide through the grommets more smoothly, and lacing up the corset has become very fast and easy. Although this could be attributed to simply me getting used to lacing this particular corset, I think it’s more than that. Remember on the first day, I was laced in only about 1.5 inches and felt that the corset was deceptively tight because it wasn’t wrapping around my body – the corset was still feeling a bit crunchy. Today it feels smoother and hugs around my own curves so nicely that I’m really fighting the urge to lace it tighter, because a reduction of just 1.5 inches feels almost like nothing now. However, I’m still trying to just lace it with about a 2-inch reduction for the duration of this seasoning period.

“Priming” your waist for less resistance

If you’re seasoning a corset that is not your first corset, then one option is for you to “prime” your waist by wearing your previous corset for some time, and then switching over to your seasoned corset. By doing this, then your oblique muscles are already warmed and stretched, and (depending on how much you reduce) your intestines are already flattened and moved so you would be able to accommodate more restriction by your new corset. In this situation, you might even feel that 3-4 inches in your new corset feels quite easy, while if you were trying to break in your corset while your torso was ‘cold’ (say, if you didn’t wear corsets for a few days, or ever, and then put the corset on) then you may feel that just a couple of inches feels like a stretch for you. That said, even if you prime your waist before putting on your new corset to season, I wouldn’t personally cinch down more than about 2.5 inches at the absolute most for someone my size, as a general guideline.

Different people, different sizes, different waist reductions for seasoning.

A person with a bigger starting waist (say, 40″) may find they season their corsets with a reduction of 3-4 inches. A person with a smaller natural waist (say, 24″) may find that they barely get any reduction at all while they’re breaking in their corset. This is all perfectly fine. The 2″ guideline is just what has worked for me over the years while I’ve seasoned over 70 different corsets, but if you aren’t even up to that 2″ reduction yet, this doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. The whole idea of seasoning your corset is that you wear it with less tension that you normally would put on a fully-laced corset, so the fibers ‘stretch’ and align themselves evenly instead of having uneven tension, so the corset forms to your body, and so  you don’t get hot spots or pressure points that cause you discomfort or pain as you and your corset become acquainted.

I don’t say this to try and confuse any of you into thinking that the 2/2/2 rule (2″ reduction, for two hours a day, for two weeks) doesn’t work for everybody. It actually does work very well for a huge number of people, and it’s a really good starting point/ guideline for most people who are starting out, but I would rather you understand the objective behind this, as opposed to blindly following it as a rule. Some people think that rules are just red tape that is laid down to oppress them. Truly understanding the reasoning behind a certain practice is key to lacing responsibly.

Important changes to the corset:

A side seam popped at the waistline – one of the curviest seams, under the highest tension. There are a number of reasons that this could have happened:

  • I had coughed when the seam broke – it could have been my fault, for putting unfair, acute pressure on the waistline of the corset. Perhaps I have particularly strong oblique muscles, as I had ripped one other corset about 3 years ago from a sneeze. My coughs and sneezes tend to be violent. Granted, I’ve also sneezed in other corsets and those have survived…
  •  The stitch length might have been longer along that seam than usual, or perhaps there was a skipped stitch that I had overlooked. I generally don’t care much about skipped stitches from an aesthetic standpoint, as long as the corset itself is strong. If the stitch length was uneven, then that would have been a flaw in the sewing machine.
  • However, I also remember that when I tried on the mockup, it had also torn in a similar seam (just on the other side), no coughing involved but I had laced it up tight on the first go, without easing into the toile. I try not to believe in “foreshadowing” in real life, but maybe it has something to do with that particularly curvy seam.
  • The thread tension on the machine may not have been balanced, so even though the stitch length may have been okay, one of the threads may have been loose which may have allowed spreading and eventual breaking of that seam.
  • The quality of the thread may not have been strong – or if the thread was of highest quality then it’s possible that the thread had a flaw in that one spot: a case of the thread being the wrong flaw, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whatever the reason, it happened. I moped about it for a weekend, and then I returned and quickly mended the corset by hand (not a pretty job, but it did the trick!). I decided to put that particular video in the “Corset Modifications and Repairs” playlist as it seemed more relevant in that category. If you like, you can watch seasoning video 6 and the quick n’ dirty repair videos below.