On Corset Types

As a fan of the indie-type podcast Threadbangers, I have encountered many people on the forums looking for a fashion corset tutorial. However, the responses have been greatly varied. There are many different types of corsets, and the first thing you need to figure out is what kind you want.

1. The first thing many people jump for, are the tutorials on Elizabethan corsets. However, the corset ends at the natural waist, and is meant to flatten the breasts. The torso becomes conical. It does not produce the classic Victorian look that many associate with a “corset”.
2. There are many different kinds of Victorian corsets. A later Edwardian corset, known as the “S-bend”, is uncomfortable and contorts the spine unnaturally. I do not recommend this silhouette.
3. Victorian corsets were made to be tight-laced. This means that they were specifically engineered to accommodate body modification. A tight laced corset will compress the ribs, folding them downwards. Newcomers to tight-lacing can seriously harm themselves if they are not properly learned in how to perform this modification. It is quite dangerous, when done incorrectly.

The “Big 4” of Vogue, Simplicity, McCall’s, and Butterick are producing fashion corset patterns, as well as historically geared. The only issue with these patterns is that they run large; you must use the pattern size which corresponds to your own body measurements – not from the sizing guide, but from the “finished garment” measurements. These patterns run large.

A good historical Victorian corset pattern to start out with is Laughing Moon’s Dore or Silverado. It has received many great reviews.

* If a corset is uncomfortable: it is not being worn right, or has not been made correctly.
* If it hurts, don’t do it!
* If you’re looking for fashion in a historical Victorian tight-lacer, incorporate some stretch panels.
* It’s very easy to lace yourself too tight, and not even know it. Lace up, tighten, then loosen the laces and slowly tighten again. What feels okay at first might be way too tight. Take it slow.
* Make sure that it’s laced correctly. It should look like this.
* If it’s a fashion corset, it’s not made to tight lace.


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