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How to Curve your Corset Busk

 

Today I’m going to demonstrate how to curve the busk of your corset for a more deliberately dished front on the longline corset in the video above.

  1. The first curve will make it resemble more of a spoon busk, so it wraps around and slightly underneath a full lower tummy, and helps pull it up and in.
  2. The second curve will bring in the lowest tip of busk to prevent the look of a distracting “pelvic protrusion”.
  3. The third curve to the busk is creating a concave “dished” profile to make the side-view look more curvy and slender.
  4. The fourth and last curve will push outwards the very top edge of the busk – this will help those who have sensitive sternums, as the top of the busk will put less pressure on your diaphragm / not poke into the solar plexus area.
Do you have to bend your busk?

Not at all! If you already get great abdominal support from your corset, it gives you good posture, and you’re comfortable, and you like the look of the profile, feel free to keep your corset as is!

Can you buy a corset with a pre-curved busk?

Very rarely do OTR corsets actually come already sold with a curved busk – busks are manufactured to be straight, and then some spoon busks are curved or pressed after the fact to give their characteristic shape. WKD used to sell spoon busk Morticia corsets, and I think Corset Story sold quasi-spoon busks that were wider at the bottom but not curved. But usually if you want a corset to come with a busk pre-curved, you will need to go custom and specifically ask the corset maker to curve the front for you.

If you DO want to go the custom route, the corsetieres I know for certain will curve the front busk for you if you ask them, include:

Before you start: Respect the brand / shop policies…

When you can’t afford to go custom and your only option is OTR – in pretty much all OTR corsets, the busk will come straight, and if you curve the busk yourself this means you’re deliberately manipulating the corset – this will, in all likelihood, render any warranty or return policies void and they will not accept the corset, so before you bend the busk, be sure you’re going to keep the corset and not send it back.

Bend each side of the busk separately or together?

You have the option of bending each side separately or bending both sides of the busk together.
If your corset has a boned underbusk that has an extra wide, stainless steel bone under one side of the busk, and the actual busk itself is a very flexible, standard width busk, I would first manipulate the side with the underbusk – then I’d put the busk together and see if curving the other side is even necessary or not, because sometimes a flexible busk will bend to the curve of the stronger underbusk.

If your hands are strong enough, I’d curve both sides of the busk together, clasped closed, so that both sides of the busk have the same amount of curve – this will ensure that the loops and pins will always line up. You’ll want to support the areas where the loops and pins are riveted in, so the busk doesn’t break there or the pins don’t fall out. What you’re aiming for is for most of the curve to occur between each bracket, and not much right at the bracket.

If your hands are not strong enough, you can curve each side of the busk separately – it is the more careful way of doing things, but it also takes longer to make sure that both sides of the busk are curved the same amount, and that all the loops and pins line up exactly.

Does the type of busk matter?

If your corset has carbon fiber bones adjacent to the busk (which will only be included by special order in a custom corset), don’t even bother trying to bend it. It will be too stiff to manipulate significantly with your hands, and carbon fiber is designed to be strong but relatively brittle. Rather than holding a curve, poor quality carbon fiber would rather shatter – so if you want a curve to your front, you will have to remove those carbon fiber bones and replace them with steel.

A wide stainless steel busk and a spoon busk may be more tricky to bend, but it is possible. Flexible standard width busks are relatively easy to bend.

Some extra tips:

Like I said with my other article on curving the back steels – only bend a little bit at a time, try it on, and then if you find you need a little more curve, then take it off and bend a little more, just small amounts at a time. Go with what is most comfortable and compatible with your body, not just the amount of curve that happens to look dramatic and cute, because that might be too much curve for you.

If your hands are too weak to curve the busk on your own, use the curve of your thigh or your knee, or a tailor’s ham. You can try (very gently) to curve it over certain rounded countertops, but don’t bend it too much as to form kinks, and try not to bend it back and forth because bending it too much one way and then the other will weaken the steel. Below you’ll find a guide on which countertop edges are best for curving steel, if you choose to go this route.

The shapes with green circles are the best for curving your busk / steel bones. Yellow is okay (proceed with caution) and avoid the countertops that have red Xs.

For all of the descriptions of the different types of curves below, you can check out the video above for the demonstrations!

 

SUPPORT LOWER TUMMY POOCH (FUPA)

This first example is for those who have a panniculus, which is the medical term for lower tummy pooch, mother’s apron, or (more crudely) a “FUPA”. Curving the busk just a little bit under to cradle the bottom of a protruding abdomen can sometimes help fight that gravity that wants to pull your tummy out from under the corset.

  • You want to create a convex curve at the lower tummy, usually below the belly button. If you need to try on the corset and mark the area lightly with tailor’s chalk, go ahead and do so.
  • Again, focus on curving the areas between the brackets, and support the brackets as you place pressure on it.

GET RID OF THE “PELVIC PROTRUSION” (corset dingdong)

Curving the very bottom of the busk inward will help prevent a distracting point from poking out at your pubic region. (But as a general guideline, starting with a corset that’s cut straight across or at least gently rounded will help hide the bottom edge much more effectively than a pointed or dramatically contoured lower edge.)

  • Here you want to start as low down as possible – if you have a longer busk with fewer brackets (pairs of loops/pins), then you could possibly even start below the last brackets. If not, you can start curving from the area between the last and second last brackets. Curve towards your body.

Just a note: if you have a very low body fat percentage or very flat lower tummy, curving the bottom edge of the busk too much can cause it to jab into your pubic mound or pelvic bone uncomfortably, so be careful here and curve less as opposed to more here, until you get a comfortable compromise.

CREATE A DISH IN THE WAIST

If you find that your corset is too “thick” or flat in the profile and you prefer the look of an inwardly dished front at the waistline, you can create a gentle concave curve.

  • Start right at the waist tape, and unlike the two curves above, focus on curving outward instead of inward. Try not to create too dramatic a bend here – curve the busk a little at a time, and keep trying on your corset as you go. The inward curve does not affect your posture or cause you to lean forward. It should also not put any uncomfortable pressure on your diaphragm.
  • The more dished a corset is at the waist, the more it kicks out the top and bottom tips of the busk. You may need to adjust the bottom edge more to prevent that pelvic region from sticking out.

CURVE OUT THE STERNUM

I deliberately left this one for last, because if you had curved inward the waistline, sometimes that is enough to kick out the top of the busk enough to take pressure off of the diaphragm.

Some corsetieres sew a tiny pillow or cushion to make the top of a busk more comfortable at the sternum like Creations L’Escarpolette, but another potential option is to gently curve outwards the top tip of the busk so it points just very slightly away from your sternum.

  • It is essentially the opposite of the “pelvic protrusion” bend. In this situation, you want to start as high up as possible – above the highest set of loops and pins – or if that is not possible, then you can start curving from the area between the first and second sets Curve towards your body.

 

If you apply all of these curves to the same corset, it will end up looking slightly like an S shape. Again, I’d recommend doing only a little at a time, and keep trying it on. Obviously you don’t want to overdo all of these and end up giving yourself a worse posture than before.

Before and after curving the busk.

 

Hopefully this guide is helpful for you! Do let me know if you have any questions, and if you have any other tips leave a comment down below.

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Thin or Thick Corset Profiles: Comparing Silhouettes and Cross Section

How many of you have stood in front of the mirror while wearing a corset, admiring the narrowness of your waist – and then you turn to the side and find that your profile leaves something to be desired?

“With and Without a Corset” by Liz (The Pragmatic Costumer). Click through to read her post!

Everyone knows that wearing a corset nips in the side of the waist (at the obliques), giving you the illusion of a more narrow waist. And the interesting thing is that a corset can also do this without really reducing the waist at all: where a cross section of your torso is usually oval or ellipse shaped (wider from side-to-side than it is front-to-back), a corset makes it more into a circle – simply by placing pressure on the body bilaterally (on either side of the body), and allowing that volume to distribute more front-to-back. Liz from the Pragmatic Costumer wrote about this in more detail a few years ago on her blog.

The downside that some corset wearer’s see, especially if they naturally have a more flat abdomen, is that a corset often makes you look wider in the profile than you did without the corset – this is due to the redistribution of your flesh, combined with the thickness of the corset as well (you’re a couple of inches smaller underneath your corset).

Your Corset Profile can have Two Shapes:

For simplicity’s sake, there are two main ways the front of the corset can look – it can be totally flat, or it can be “dished” or curved to create a more concave front. The Victorians were known for their dished-front corsets and sometimes exaggerated lower tummy pooch (likely more exaggerated in medical illustrations and fashion plates than in real life) but the lower pooch was actually considered attractive and womanly at the time.

But with the popularity of the straight-fronted S-bend corsets at the turn of the century, you can see that it resulted in the illusion of even more dramatically nipped waists, as the majority of the volume was coming off of the sides and little to none in the front. Arguably, if you were to take an Edwardian corset and a Victorian corset with the same waist size, the Edwardian might look more nipped in in the front view but thicker in the profile view.


Early 1900s illustration showing the difference between the Victorian “dished front” corset on the left, and the Edwardian “straight front” corset on the right (causing a forward-leaning posture).
Late 1800s artist’s guess as to what is happening inside of the body when wearing a Victorian style corset, likely as part of Edwardian propaganda to promote the S-bend “Health” corset.
We now know from modern imaging that this hypothesis was incorrect (the liver is not pushed down by the corset).

I should give a disclaimer here: whichever corset you personally find “prettier”, there is no universal right or wrong way that a corset should be (despite the Edwardian propaganda above). Some people like the concave dished front, while others like an extremely flat and rigid front. It often comes down to the corset maker’s aesthetic, combined with the natural body type you have, the effect you’re striving for in a corset (including how much waist reduction), and what you personally find comfortable.

So the “dished vs straight” debate is not only subjective, but it’s also conditional.

This isn’t my xray, but it looked very similar to this. Normally my neck is slightly lordotic (normal) but in this particular corset, my posture completely changed. Photo: e-Health Hall.

It also depends on the posture you want to achieve. The straight-fronted, S-bend corsets had a habit of thrusting the body into an overcorrected posture – they weren’t slumping, but they were also flexing their lower back in an unnatural way. When I had X-rays done of myself while wearing various corsets, my chiropractor found that rigid-fronted, Edwardian-inspired corsets encouraged a very unnatural, kyphotic neck curve in my body. The corset pushed my chest forward, and my shoulders and hips back, which forced my head to come forward as a counter-balance. In some people, this might eventually lead to neck strain, pain, cervicogenic headaches, etc.

Meanwhile, when I wore a more Victorian style corset, it allowed me to maintain a more neutral posture and my spine was in a more natural alignment. So, just because a corset gives you a flat front does not mean you have necessarily have a healthy posture.


A couple notes on terminology before we start comparing corsets – I’ll be using layman’s terms here as much as possible:
so when I say “cross section” that means the transverse plane,
when I say “profile” that means the sagittal plane,
and when I say “front view” that means the coronal plane.

My Uncorseted Waist

This is a screenshot of me from 2012, around a time where I was not consistently waist training. My natural waist is around 27 inches.

Natural uncorseted waist, 27 inches. I believe I was not consistently waist training around this time, but I was wearing several different corsets for a few hours per week.

It’s well and good to compare different corsets, but keep in mind that I am naturally very wide from the front, but when I turn to the side I practically disappear, so my cross section is very oblong. My oblique muscles might “resist” compression more compared other people, and my lower abdomen is not prone to “pooching” – if I and another woman were to wear the same corset in the same size and stand side-by-side, it might look very slightly different on each of us.

Contour Corset “Summer Mesh” Mid-Hip Underbust

My Contour corset is almost totally flat in the front. This one is 20.5 inches in the waist, laced closed.

Contour Corset, closed waist 20.5 inches (underneath the corset). The cross section of my waist is very close to a circle (and perhaps even a touch wider in the side than the front).
  • In the profile, it makes my body look slightly thicker than it is naturally (while not wearing a corset)
  • In the front view, it looks shockingly nipped in on the sides (this isn’t even my smallest corset!)
  • In the cross section, I might actually be a bit thicker from front to back than I am side to side.

Puimond PY09 “Curvy” Underbust Corset

My Puimond corset is actually half an inch smaller than my Contour corset (it’s 20 inches laced closed), but despite being smaller, it looks less dramatic.

Puimond underbust corset, closed at 20 inches. The cross section of my waist is a bit wider in the front view compared to the profile (very slight ellipse).
  • In the profile, you can see that the front is slightly dished, but in an attractive way, at least for me. It’s nipped in slightly at the front but it doesn’t create a dramatic ski slope at the pelvis. Also notice that I don’t look that thick in the profile.
  • In the front view, the sides are obviously nipped in, but it doesn’t look as dramatic as the first corset.
  • So in this corset, if you looked at the cross section, the distribution of my waist is still slightly ellipse shaped with more of that length being side-to-side rather than front-to-back.
  • This shape is nearly a circle though – probably the closest to a circle compared to any of the other corsets here.

C & S Constructions

Let’s look corset with a more dramatically dished front like the one below from C&S Constructions. This corset is also 20 inches, but I’m wearing it at 21 inches because it wasn’t custom made for my body (the ribs of the corset were a bit too narrow for my own ribcage).

C and S Constructions longline corset worn at 21 inches (under the corset). This has a very dished front – so it is wider in the front view than it is in the profile.
  • In the profile view, the waist is pulled inward, and actually I have a slight forward leaning posture which is interesting. It is a deliberately curved front to make sure that the profile looks slender. (But it also gives a forward leaning posture.)
  • In the front view, the waist is still nipped on the sides, but it’s still wider in this view than it is in the profile view.
  • So the cross section of my waist is still an ellipse, that is wider from side-to-side, just a smaller one.

Sparklewren Cranberry Butterfly Overbust

Let’s look at my Sparklewren overbust, which is closed at 23 inches (so we can see how less of a reduction / a bigger waist may affect the cross section and silhouette).

Sparklewren overbust with a very flat front (laced closed at 23 inches).
  • In the profile view, her corset gives me a very flat front here, in fact possibly slimmer than some of my smaller corsets that are patterned differently.
    I vaguely remember having a conversation with Jenni (Sparklewren) about this probably 5 years ago. She told me that she likes to preserve the flatness in the profile as much as possible, but once the waist is reduced by a certain amount (i.e. under 18 inches in circumference), some dishing in the front may become necessary to achieve further reduction.
  • In the side view, there’s nipping in at the waist but it appears to be very clearly wider than the profile, but it’s still a lovely silhouette.
  • So the cross section is more clearly an ellipse.

Versatile Corsets “Mimosa” Cupped Overbust

The “Mimosa” overbust by Versatile is another corset that gives me a slender profile and flat abdomen. This is a size 22″, but I’m probably wearing at 23.5 or 24 inches here. (It wasn’t a full custom, just the waist measurement and bra size were taken into account).

“Mimosa” cupped overbust made by Versatile Corsets – flat profile and gentle nip in the waistline on the sides (size 22″, with a 1-2 inch lacing gap).
  • The profile view is relatively flat, similar to how my abdomen looks naturally.
  • The front view is a bit more gentle and sweeping – not a super dramatic silhouette, not nipped in sharply at the sides.
  • Obviously the cross section of my waist is more of an ellipse.

All this being said, it’s worth reiterating that this might be subjective for my own body. I naturally have a pretty wide waist, but if I turn to the side my abdomen is very flat. It is more likely that a corset would make me a bit thicker in the profile compared to a different person who has more of a protruding abdomen.

Profile Silhouette in Someone with a Protruding / Hanging Tummy

My aunt, without her corset and with, front view (she wanted a relatively natural silhouette from the front).
My aunt, with her corset and without, profile view (she wanted back support and a flattened tummy).

(Thanks to my aunt for modeling this early custom corset I made for her back in 2012). You may remember my aunt from this tutorial on pulling a hanging tummy up into your corset. She’s had a few children and she’s a more mature woman and has developed a bit of hanging tummy. She asked for a corset to provide back support and to flatten her tummy under her work uniform, but not give a shockingly dramatic waist from the front, which is why it’s not that much of an hourglass. This corset is a size 34″ if I remember correctly; drafted to give her a 6 inch reduction which is about 15% reduction.

  • I specifically used a spoon busk for her, and you can see that this corset makes her slimmer in the profile. Arguably, most of the reduction came off the front instead of the sides of her body.
  • In the front view, it gives a relatively natural looking hourglass from the sides.

If you want to see whether your corset makes you thinner or thicker in the profile view or front view, you can measure this using calipers.

 

If you want a very rigid front (as rigid as possible), you might be interested in adding carbon fibre bones adjacent to the busk – they’re about 24x more stiff than a flat steel bone, and you’ll find these exclusively at Vena Cava Design.

Conversely, if you want your corset to have more of a dished shape, I will make a video next week on how to curve your corset busk to your preference. The process is very similar to curving the back steels.

I hope you found this helpful! Just a note that there is no right or wrong way, some people like the concave dished front, some people like an extremely flat and rigid front. it all depends on your body type, your subjective preferences, your natural posture, and the aesthetic of the corset maker and how they pattern your corset as well.

Leave a comment below telling me whether you prefer the flat front or the dished front better for your own corsets. If you have any question regarding the “flatness” or “dishiness” of any other corset in my collection, as well as the rigidity of the busk, the posture it gives, etc., feel free to ask.

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Corsets and Sleep

This entry is a summary of the video “Corsets and Sleep”. If you would like more information and demonstrations of the sleeping positions, please watch the video on YouTube here:

Whether you wear a corset to bed is a personal decision. I personally don’t think you have to wear a corset while you sleep in order to effectively waist train, but for those of you who would like to try it, here are some tips and tricks to help you get a comfortable night’s sleep.

WHY WEAR A CORSET TO BED?

  1. You may be a hardcore waist trainer, wanting to train up to 23 hours/day.
  2. You may not be able to waist train during the day for activity or work reasons, and you may want to take advantage of the 6-8 hours in which you’re unconscious, to train your waist.
  3.  You may have completed your waist training (have achieved a new, smaller natural waist without the corset) and you just want to do a bit of maintenance corseting in order to keep your smaller waist. When my aunt was a teenager, she cinched her waist only at night and she had a defined waist into her 60’s, years after she stopped training. I’m not saying this was a typical situation, but it’s a possible situation.

Now, everyone’s going to experience sleeping in a corset differently, because some people are light sleepers, some are heavy sleepers. Some are dead still, some tend to roll around a lot. Some have firm mattresses or soft mattresses, fluffy pillows, flat pillows or no pillows, and some are tummy-sleepers, side sleepers or back sleepers. Therefore, not all of these tips will work for everyone.

GENERAL NOTES ON SLEEPING IN A CORSET

Many corseters find it uncomfortable to sleep in a corset more than a few hours. I’ve heard descriptions along the line of “my abdomen feels bloated in the night” and this is partially true. When your body is at rest, the parasympathetic system is activated and this is responsible for the “Rest and Ruminate” reaction of the body. Much of the blood flow is directed away from the limbs and into the core and gut of the body to provide the necessary nutrients to allow for digestion of food and for maintenance of the organs in the body. This is why many people advise that if a person is wearing a corset to bed, they loosen the corset by a couple of inches, which will help the corseter comfortably “Ruminate” while they sleep.

It is under debate whether sleeping in a corset can actually ruin the corset or cause it to wear out faster. Some claim that the added friction and the oils of the body accumulated on the sheets can wear the fashion fabric, while others claim that the corset is designed to hold the body in a neutral standing position, and this position changes when reclining, causing the organs to shift, so causes uneven stress on different panels of the corset. If you are worried about ruining your good corset, you can have two corsets; a day one and a night one. Many people save their older, larger corsets for sleeping in.

Some people may find it more comfortable to have a lighter and shorter corset at night, such as a cincher or a ribbon corset. Some don’t even sleep in a corset but instead a wide leather belt – something with minimal boning to prevent skin abrasions.

BACK SLEEPERS

You may find that the corset causes your pelvis to tuck under, especially if you don’t have a supportive mattress and it tends to dip in the middle. To maintain the natural curve in your lumbar area,  slip a small pillow or rolled up towel under the small of your back, and another small pillow or towel under your knees. This will take considerable pressure off of your back.

ACID REFLUX – some people may find that they get acid reflux when reclined and wearing a corset, . If you find that this is the case for you during the night, use several pillows or a wedge to elevate your torso slightly, so gravity can help prevent acid from leaking into your esophagus.

SIDE SLEEPERS

I find that sleeping on your side can be very odd when wearing a corset
1) because in my case, sleeping on my side requires a bit of balance to keep myself from rolling over, and part of that balance requires keeping my core muscles engaged. Of course, when you’re flexing your core muscles inside a corset, you’re providing resistance to the restriction, which can get uncomfortable.

2) Most of my restriction comes at the sides of my torso as opposed to my front, so when I lay on my side I have a huge gap between my corset and the bed. If the corset isn’t heavily boned, then my hips can shift and this causes the upper hip to jut out, creating more tension on that side of the waist than I’m used to and thus creating discomfort. To prevent this, use a small pillow or rolled up towel to fill the hollow between your waist and the bed, which will keep your spine straight and your hips aligned. One trick I learned from a pregnant woman is to have an additional pillow behind your back to prevent you from rolling over during the night, so you have that support to lean against instead of balancing on your side. You may also find it more comfortable on your hips to put a small pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.

TUMMY SLEEPERS

In this situation, a flat-fronted corset might be more comfortable than a Victorian corset. Many health professionals would not advise sleeping on your stomach at all (nevermind in a corset) but realistically speaking tummy sleepers exist. You may find there is more stress on your neck if you sleep on your tummy in a corset, because the corset somewhat prevents curvature of your spine. In this situation it may be more comfortable to sleep without a pillow, instead opting for a pillowtop over your mattress if you need the softness.

Lucy’s Little Life Lesson: When scheduling how much sleep to get in a night, try to sleep in increments of 90 minutes, so can complete a full REM cycle and wake up refreshed.

 

*Please note that this article is strictly my opinion and provided for information purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor. Please talk to your doctor if you’d like to start wearing a corset.*