When fully boning a corset pattern panel the best way to make the boning channels is to use a thin piece of non-stretch cotton or muslin fabric. Lay your corset fabric on top and pin them together before sewing the boning channels. The layer of cotton fabric provides slip in pockets or boning cases for the many side by side bones. Don’t try to use individual strips of bone casing for fully boned bodice panels as they will make the panel very bulky. You can re-sew them through both layers once you attach the lining fabric if you feel the cotton is too thin to hold up against corset
When you make a corset designed to have fully boned panels there are some very important things you should remember, here are a few pointers for you in regards to making a fully boned bodice…
>Working out how much continuous steel (if your cutting your own corset bones) or how many bones of what length to purchase can be tricky. My solution is not to order bones until you’ve sewn your corset bone channels – then take a dressmakers measuring tape and measure the channels. If your buying continuous steel then measure your first channel, hold onto the spot on the tape where the channel ends and move this to the start of the next so your measuring a continuous meter, tally up your meters as you go. If your using spiral steels don’t forget your U caps for the ends – so you’ll still need to count the number of bones and order double that number of these as you’ll need two per bone.
>You should always bone your panels before cutting them. This sounds like an odd way round, and indeed you may be wondering how one goes about boning an uncut panel. Well when I say don’t cut until they’re boned what I mean is don’t cut too close to your final panel size. Draw on your pattern lines in chalk then give an extra half inch to an inch all round when you cut them. When you sew your boning channels and slip in your corsetry boning the panel will change shape and size slightly. If your corset is intended for corset training it will be very important you get the sizing right so place your paper pattern piece back over the boned panel and now draw the lines for cutting.
I’ve been asked about coutil and how to tell it from regular cottons. First let me explain what it is -
Coutil is a heavy cotton fabric designed specifically to make corset training corsets from. It has the least amount of stretch of any fabric available and is incredibly strong while also allowing the skin to breathe. Magic huh?
You can spot cotton coutil by its weave pattern. It has a herringbone weave to it, with it being stronger as the weave gets smaller. So a big 1inch wide herringbone pattern would be less than ideal. It can come mixed with other fabrics, polyester cotton mix is the most common but these feel plastic in comparison and if your going to be corset Training over 10 hours a day your skin will thank you for choosing a 100% cotton coutil.
Coutil also comes in satins, these are almost as strong but don’t have a herringbone weave so are harder to spot. It’s best to buy from corsetry suppliers to guarantee your getting the good stuff but if you come across it in a fabric store you can tell its quality from the price tag usually – it’s very expensive, and by giving it a tug to check the stretch resistance.
When making your corset training corset you should now know from my last post that steel bones are the way to go. You’ll also know that spiral steels are a lot more flexible and bend in many more directions than sprung steels. What you might not know is that when you make a corset, visually the effect of using the two different steels can give your corset different looks.
Again it’s to do with the bendable nature of the two steels. Sprung steel bends less so will actually give you a sleeker look, holding the original cut of the corset pattern. Where as spiral will conform to your body shape more closely. For example a round tummy will be held flatter by a corset training corset with sprung steels.
We talked in the last post about the perils of using plastic bones to make a corset with, but which type of steel will suit you and your corset?
The main difference between sprung (the flat strips) and spiral (the wire wound tightly into strips) is their bendability. Unlike plastic that weakens if it bends too much, steels can bend a great deal further without developing weak points and kinks. This is great as the body needs to bend and stretch during everyday activities. A corset training corset needs to be robust and allow for this movement as it is worn for 8 hours plus a day.
Both steel types are springy enough for everyday corset training but spiral steel bones will give more movement as they bend a lot easier than their solid counterparts which like to spring back into their original position, hence the name ‘sprung steel bones’.
Spirals also bend in directions the solid steels can’t. Spiral will bend sideways and twist which means it’s the only type you can use for boning diagonally over say the curve of the hips. Creative boning you see on high end corsets is normally done with thin 5mm spiral which puts up little resistance but is great for boning whole panels or panel sections. I recently boned a whole bodice with a few hundred of these.
So if you need more support for say plus sized corsets or back support, use sprung steel bones. If your priority is freedom of movement, eg you lead an active lifestyle or your making a corset for an inexperienced corset wearer who won’t be used to the restrictive garment, opt for spiral steel boning.
There are a few types of material used to make corset bones from and as a beginner learning to make a corset for the first time, you can be forgiven for opting for the plastic option. Using steel in a garment can seem a scary and uncomfortable prospect.
Steel bones are however, the most comfortable material you can use. Steel supports the body in a way that plastic bones can’t. Plastics will bend and then become weak at those points where they have bent. They can then snap after extended wear. They’re useless for corset training because of these traits and somewhat dangerous too. A broken bone can go through the lining of a corset and pierce the skin. If you want to make a corset suitable for waist training you will have to use steels.
Corset steels come in two types –
Sprung steel – which is a solid springy strip of steel normally covered in a white plastic coating.
Spiral steel – this is made of a steel wire. Two steel wires are wound into a tight strip of spirals. Check out the picture below for the plastic, sprung steel and spiral steel types. For corset training corsets you need to use steel, so plastics are only a viable option for stage costumes, lingerie or fancy dress.
In my next post I’ll talk about the properties of sprung and spiral steels to help you pick the right one for your corset.
So earlier we talked about zip closures, but can you make a corset with any other kinds besides the traditional busk?
Well, yes, there are several methods of front closure in use on corset training corsets.
Lacing – yes I know it seems obvious but it’s often overlooked, you can lace yourself in back and front. It looks ever so stunning to see a corset with several panels of lacing, often front back and sides. This works well for a dramatic evening ensemble but is as time consuming as lacing into a front closed corset.
Swing lock clasps – these have become so popular you can now buy them along side steel bones that have been drilled with holes for them. Exotic looking yet as strong as a normal busk they’re fast to get on and off but do require riveting.
Very steampunk, these can work but normally they’re teamed with another method, eg a zip. Used over a normal busk to disguise it you can enjoy the look of a buckled bodice with all the strength of the hidden busk. Ideal for corset training where you need a strong closure.
We all know the traditional front opening method for a corset is the busk – a series of metal loops and knobs welded to two sprung steel corset bones. Nice and solid, unlikely to brake or bend.
But what if you want to make a corset with a zipper closure? Well, while using a zipper down the front to close your corset isn’t likely to be as problem free or as strong a method as the busk, it can still be used. Be warned though, buying a zip-up corset ‘off the peg’ means it’s very unlikely to be of a corset training standard.
If you do decide to zip-up when you make a corset, make sure you get an industrial strength zip! More the sort you get on sofa cushions than summer dresses
So how about other closures? Well we’ll talk more about other options in the next post…
Continuing from yesterday’s discussion on outer corset fabrics, there are a number of heavyweight materials that add that feeling of quality you just don’t get from cheap ready mades.
Brocades are a very popular choice, the heavy ones of course, not the cheaper ones you can get. You should be able to tell from handling a fabric if it is of a decent thickness.
For corset training the heavy duty twills and cottons are a good choice as they add much needed strength. Corset making coutil comes in satin finishes which is ideal but very expensive. You can often buy it by the half or quarter meter however, so you only need pay for what you plan to use.
If your looking to make a corset on the cheap but still want too quality try recycling old cushions! This is a great little tip as the thick fabrics used to upholster cushions, sofas and curtains are made to take the wear,tear and body weight of an active family using them. Scan the local thrift shops for vintage drapes, heavyweight bed sheets and scatter cushions.
Have you ever noticed those cheap corsets you see for sale online, or on girls in adverts for premium *ahem* men’s lines. They’re normally covered in a lightweight satin fabric that wrinkles and puckers around the seams.
Using cheap or light weight material on a corset is the quickest way to make the corset -look- cheap! A corset training corset is a very small and highly curved garment that has to change shape with the different positions of the body. You need an outer material that will lay flat over the thick cotton lining.
If your more experienced at making a corset and really want to use lighter weight materials I suggest getting an iron on backing fabric for them. If your going to make a corset for the first time however, your best bet is to go for something heavyweight. Upholstery fabrics are the best, they lay flatter on account of their thickness and add strength for corset training purposes.
Your body will change shape instantly the moment you put on a proper corset training corset and tighten the laces. This is because the corset will displace the fat around your middle and hold your body in the shape of the constructed garment, so you can literally design your own body shape. However your body will return to its natural state once you take off the corset. Yes its a shame it can’t just stay put.
So what, if any are the permanent effects that can be achieved with a corset and how long do they take to make permanent?
The only permanent change you can make to your body using corset training is to the lower ribs, which will compress over time to follow the shape of your corset. For this you’ll need a conical corset rather than one with an hour glass shape as these types leave room for the ribcage. Click here for more details on corset training shapes. The above and below pictures are a little extreme as they are copies from historic drawings, but it gives you an idea of the corset training before and after effects. The bottom floating ribs are easily reshaped as they’re not attached at the front. But it will still take a good 6 months to make a significant difference.
If you plan on Tight lacing to the extreme, your internal organs will be affected. The corset will restrict your waist, causing your organs to shift. This does place added pressure on your organs but this is similar to the pressure a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy. The female body is designed to take the added pressure and organ movement but if you plan on undertaking extreme tight lacing you should do so under your doctors supervision.
The fact that the corset training before and after effects are not permanent and your body shape is merely held in position until the corset is removed, does not mean that corset training won’t have some effect on your body shape over time. We are talking years though, rather than months. The ribs are a solid bone structure so are unlikely to fully revert back to their original position, soft tissue however, will tend to expand back to its original shape. You would be best advised to corset train as a way of maintaining a slender figure rather than obtaining it, ie someone who starts to tight lace as a young woman will keep her figure thin even as an older woman. Thats why in Victorian times women where corseted as children. The body would form around the corset shape allowing them to maintain the waist size of a young teen. If you do waist train down to a tiny size and maintain it for several years before stopping, you’ll probably remain a great deal thinner than you would have been for several years. However there are reports of it taking under a year for the body to return to its previous size as, just like after pregnancy, the torso seems to remember its natural state. This really does vary from one person to the next though. Corset training really is more a way of life than an alternative to the surgeons knife or a healthy lifestyle. It’s no quick fix and should be undertaken for the joy of tight lacing and with a ‘long term’ mindset.
Permanent Effects and Health
So we’re discusses how tight lacing won’t permanently change your shape in a matter of months -this is because it merely disperses the fat (moves it) and this will move back to its original location. Corset training can however have a permanent effect on your ribs, the lower ones in particular. This really does sound scarier than it is!
As it happens, your lower ribs are a fairly flexible set of bones as they’re attached at the back but the floating ones – as the name suggests – aren’t attached to anything at the front. So maintained pressure from a conical shaped corset will over time reshape them. Theres some debate over whether or not they eventually return to their normal shape if corset training is ceased completely, but as they’re bone this is unlikely unless there is a lot of internal pressure to push them back out. I don’t pretend to be a doctor so I can’t give you a ‘for sure’ answer.
As for the health issues associated with corset training, there is no substancial medical evidence to prove that even the extreme tight lacers of today like Cathie Jung, or those of the Victorian era,suffered negative health effects at the hands of the corsetier. A lot of the historic fatalities attributed to corsets were either laughable or can be put down to other health problems that the Victorians were unaware existed. I’m not saying you couldn’t crush yourself or do yourself a mischief if you tried hard enough, you can. And old or badly made corsets have been known to brake and cause steel bones to pierce the skin. But if your corset training responsibly you shouldn’t come to any harm. The internal organs are designed to be moved around to a degree in the woman’s body to accomodate a growing child, in fact they are put under similar or greater strain during a pregnancy.
How Long Should it be on?
Well, most dedicated tight-lacers will practice a 23/7 rule. This means only taking their training corset off for exercise and wahsing and only loosening it to sleep. However, this is an extreme thats built up to over years, don’t start at this level, you won’t keep it up! It really is up to you to decide how far your going to take it, so if your not enjoying it then ease up. To be effective however, it’s best to work up to at least 8 hours in your corset training corset each day. This should allow you to gradually progress to a smaller size, although it will be a lot slower. Wearing your corset all day and possibly wearing a maintaining waist corset of some kind at night should be your goal if you want to seriously tight lace to a tiny waist size. Otherwise you’ll find yourself fighting to get back into your corset each morning as you deal with the overnight expansion. If you feel like making a waist corset on your sewing machine, check out the bottom of the corset patterns page on this website for a free corset pattern.
You should never exercise in your corset, hopefully this is obvious, you should also make sure you do exercise! If you need convincing of why this is extra important to the waist trainer then read most post – Exercise – Combating the Negative Effects of Corset Training which should give you more than enough reason to sign up to the nearest gym!
It is all-important that you progress gradually with any waist reduction as a sudden extreme reduction can cause a large amount of discomfort to say the least!
I’d like to do away right now with the myth that corset training involves any kind of suffering, wearing a corset should feel comfortable, unrestrictive and it should be easy to almost forget you’re wearing it. So don’t force your body, work with it. It should feel supported and ‘hugged’ not like your fighting against a death grip!
Now as for time scale, a waist reduction can be affected by a lot of factors, the main one being fat mass which can mean after the initial inch loss (which will be substancial as fat is extremely squashy) you won’t be able to get down to those smaller sizes without difficulty. Also if your loosing weight and tight lacing, your weight loss and the speed at which you loose will mean a dramatically different inch reduction to say someone who remains the same overal weight. Muscle will also play a part as this doesn’t squash so easily. A lean person will progress slower as a result.
Generally the first 4 inches or so are the easiest to loose and can be done so in a matter of months, but it becomes increasingly difficult after that. Sometimes a half inch can take a year for example. If your going that small – 20 inches and below (this also depends on your frame) then it’s a good idea to let your doctor know what your doing so he can monitor your health.
A common misassumption it that corset training for just a few months can permanently reduce your waist size. Unless your using it as a weight loss aid then no, it can’t, sorry. However, if worn for a number of years yes the corset can keep you thinner than you naturally would have been, had you not worn a corset during this time. We all get bigger round the middle naturally as we age, unless somethings there to physically stop us. But even after waist training for years, you’ll find that just an hour uncorseted will result in some waist expansion.
To brake in a new corset you’ll need to find three different occasions on which to wear it around the house for at least 2 hours. Put your corset on and very gradually tighten it, wriggle around in it as you tighten it little by little until it feels snug. As a rule it should feel like a strong hug. It should also be comfortable at all times, discomfort is a sign that your corset is too tight. Wear it for a half hour or so or until it starts to feel loose, then do the same again, tightening it slowly and having a good wriggle. If you can do this a third time after another half hour or so then do so. Don’t go too far, it needs to feel comfortable and tightening too much now may lead to weakened seams or poped eyelets. Let the corset get used to your body shape, the areas under most pressure should start to stretch ever so slightly, allowing the tension in the fabric to ease leaves you with a more even overal pressure which will ultimately feel more comfortable. Don’t stay in it longer than 4-5 hours. Repeat this on two more occasion and your corset should be ready for corset training in.
By ‘settling in’ to your corset in this way you will avoid some of the pains and aches that have been associated with corset training, probably as a result of people going silly and jumping straight into an 8 hour stint in a new corset!
If your learning how to make a corset and your pattern doesn’t have enough boning channels, it can seem a bit daunting to just add in extra ones but it really is that simple. A corset training corset will often benefit from a few more bones as your going to be putting enormous pressure on the garment and the bones are what gives it strength and shape.
There are a couple of ways to sew in extra boning channels and it pretty much depends on the look your going for.
If your bones run down the side of your seams then you can just mirror them with a second set of channels down the other side of the seams. This will give you double boning at each seam and can be more comfortable than a single bone which doesn’t lay as flat against the skin.
If you want to add bones for decoration then you may want to place extra ones on the outside of the corset using boning tape (this is a tube of cotton that the bones slip into, you sew two lines of stitching just over 1mm in from each edge so the bone slips down between them). You can also use ribbon or bias binding if you can’t find the right color or want a satin material for these outer casings. Black satin bias looks striking on a red satin brocade fabric for example. These channels can go next to the seams or down the middle of pattern pieces to suit your own design needs.
When you waist train its important to exercise as your movement will be restricted and your core muscles (normally responsible for holding up your torso) will be relaxed and therefore weakened. You need to do a mixture of cardio and core strengthening exercises to avoid the less desirable effects of corset training.
It doesn’t matter how you get your heart rate up, I go for a jog in the mornings myself, but you should find some way that suits you to get your heart rate up for around 20 minutes at least three times a day. Get your heart beating fast and you breathing heavy in whatever way suits you best. The point is two-fold, it obviously keeps you fit but it also helps expand your lung capacity which will naturally diminish if you wear a corset as it will, at least in part, stop you fully using your lungs. If you don’t think you’ll stick to an exercise regime then going to a class or exercising with a friend to keep you motivated. It’s important you make the commitment as you can otherwise become less fit than before you started corset training and may even develop breathing problems.
Core muscle exercises again are also important to avoid the negative effects of tight lacing. Your core muscles reach all the way round your torso and include both the back muscles and the six pack muscles. Wearing a corset takes the strain off this muscle group which is great for back pain but if your taking up corset training to flatten your stomach you may find that when you take off your corset your rounder than before. You need to keep these muscles strong. There are some great core workout videos on the market but seeking the advice of a doctor, a personal trainer (who aren’t nearly as scary or expensive as you might think) or just the guy who works at the local gym is a great place to start.
So you’ve heard it a thousand times in every magazine, on every doctor’s bulletin board and every health related TV program, diet and exercise are key to weight loss and maintaining a healthy body. But diet means something sligtly different to a tight lacer.
Diet becomes extra important when corset training, you should not automatically start under eating, but eating sensibly! Wearing a tight corset also means eating differently. You can’t eat a big meal in a corset, you will feel ill! But we talked about that yesterday, you know you’re going to be eating much smaller meals and more often.
I also doubt I need to lecture you on eating your greens! But I am now going to warn you that you need to take in enough roughage. Theres no way to avoid the subject, squeezing your insides, especially your intestines makes your body’s ability to process food that much slower.
Healthy exercise is as you know, equally as important as a healthy diet and thats what we’re going to concentrate on tomorrow.
A few words on eating and drinking in your corset. You have to be careful how you ‘fill the tank’ while corset training. Those of you who’ve been tight lacing for a while now will no doubt have your own regimes but the less experienced would-be waist trainers will probably be unaware of just how much wearing this restrictive garment will affect your eating habits. I wanted to point out to you the problems you’ll encounter if you try to eat the same sized meals as before.
Wearing a corset while eating makes it easy to suddenly find yourself feeling bloated and uncomfortable with little warning. (If this happens then loosen yor corset a little but this shouldn’t become a common practice). With your stomach compressed you’ll feel comfortably full after only eating a little over half what you normally would. You should stop at this point, don’t eat until you feel bloated, its not good for your body. This is why corset training is associated with weight loss as, indeed, it is very similar to having a gastric band operation! So the best thing to do while corset training is to separate meals into smaller ones, try having four mini meals, which will also help you avoid snacking between meals. You also need to be weary of cold drinks as a cold beverage will fool your stomach into thinking its emptier than it is. The cold numbs your stomach and tricks it into feeling like you have more room to spare. Please try not to use this to finish meals as you really will regret it later when your innereds warm up! It’s fine to leave food on your plate, especially if your using corset training in conjunction with diet and exercise to loose weight. Would you rather it went in the bin or on your hips? However, don’t under eat either! Tightening your corset isn’t a substitute for lunch. You need to be more sensible rather than less when it comes to food intake and tight lacing.
If your planning on loosing weight by donning a corset and changing nothing else about your lifestyle then you will loose some weight, but its not the smartest move. Corset training will leave you unable to eat as much at mealtimes (unless you take the corset off but that defeats the object lol). Because you can’t eat as much its important that what you do put into your body is going to give you the nutrition you need. A healthy diet and exercise plan are key to any weight loss, but corset training can further improve your results. It becomes impossible to binge eat without feeling seriously sick and bloated so you’ll find wearing your corset a disincentive to eat large amounts. You’ll also feel less hungry on account of your stomach being compressed and you’ll feel full quicker and thus satisfied. Smaller meals will also lead to your stomach shrinking – yes it does this. If you eat large meals your stomach stretches over time to accomodate your eating habits. Thats why when you cut down your food intake you still feel hungry after you’ve eaten a sensible amount of food, you need to wait for your stomach to shrink to match your new meal size. This often triggers people to abandon their diet. Tight lacing will combat this feeling and allow you to cut down on your food without feeling unsatisfied.
Hallelujah! I hear you cry. But you still need to eat the right sorts of food and start exercising more regularly. Being in a corset may make you less inclined to be active if your not used to the restrictive nature of the garment. Remember you shouldn’t exercise in your corset, take it off when your doing anything overly energetic!