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):
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.