All about corset making and corsetry components

A blog with plenty of information on Corset Making and corset making supplies.

A new "From the Archives" series will be published every Wednesday and Saturday from 25 February 2023, until 26 March 2023, and these posts will contain 'old' information on corset making which will be updated for the revamped Learn Corset Making information portal whereever that may be.

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  1. how to floss a corset
    Ever wondered what those little colourful flashy bits are on corsets?
    copyright: Julia Bremble

    Corset flossing is a form of embroidery invented by the Victorians to preserve the life of their corsets by strengthening the ends of the boning channels where the bones may poke through with wear.  Being the Victorians, they insisted that everything useful also had to be beautiful.  Therefore, antique flossed corsets look very pretty.  Back in the day, they had special machines which flossed factory made corsets. 

    These days we have to floss our corsets by hand and a variety of materials can be used.  I love flossing, especially self coloured flossing where the flossing thread is the same colour as the corset - this is quite a modern iteration of corset flossing.  I have found that John James Embroidery needles are best for flossing, and you may need some bees wax or dressmakers wax to strengthen your embroidery floss.  

    As for what to floss with - there are lots of things.   Button hole thread or "top stitch" thread (the same thing) is the most easily available and comes in lots of lovely colours.  It is very strong and durable, easy to use and doesn't cost the earth.  The other good type of thread to use is perle cotton which comes in various thicknesses, or pure silk thread.  With silk thread and certain specialists embroidery threads you will get a finer look on your flossing.  You can use regular embroidery thread but in my opinion, it really isn't strong enough for corset flossing.  Linen thread is an 'authentic' thread to use for older styles and also comes in a variety of colours.  Linen thread often needs conditioning with beeswax thread conditioner.

    There are lots of way to floss a corset, the best way to learn is to make a flossing sampler and learn by experimenting.  Some people do not like the flossing to be too obvious on the reverse, some people like the workings to show as a sign of craftmanship.  

    There are many resources for corset flossing teqniques online, just search for 'corset flossing ideas' or 'Symington corset flossing sampler' or similar on Google or any other search engine.

    The Symington Flossing Sampler is a huge quilt sized sampler made from lots of samplers sewn together.  It illustrates all the corsetry flossing designs that were available on Symington Corsets during the late 19th century and early 20th century.  You can see the sampler in person if you travel to the Leciestershire County Council resource centre where it lives.  Check the resources below for further links to the Symington Collection of Antique corsetry.

    These days, flossing a corset is more of a decorative pursuit but of course, can still be used as a protection against your bones poking through the channels prematurely.  Design scope is as endless as your imagination!  Go forth and explore!

    corset flossing 1 corset flossing sample corset flossing symington
    flossing sampler flossing sampler back flossing sampler

     All images in this section are from
    The Symington Collection

     Copyright:  Julia Bremble
    Please do not reproduce

     with permission from
    Leciestershire County Council


    modern corset flossing pink modern corset flossing modern corset flossing sheer corset
    Modern corset flossing with Swarovski crystals
    copyright: Julia Bremble / Clessidra Couture

    Staggered flossing
    inspired by a Symington original

    copyright: Julia Bremble / Clessidra Couture

    Self coloured flossing on a sheer corset
    copyright: Julia Bremble / Clessidra Couture




  2. When did your interest in vintage textiles begin, and why - Have you ever used vintage fabric to create a garment or a corset? If so, was it any different from using modern fabric?

    Generally vintage textiles are not suitable for corsetry unless they are very heavy and still strong.  Many corsetieres and costume makers, make corsets and clothes from old curtains, drapes and textiles which they get from 'loft sales' in Statey homes and similar.  This is a great source of vintage fabric for that sort of thing not only because it's 'period' but for corsetry because the fabrics are heavier and therefore more suitable.  Personally, I have never ventured into vintage textiles for corsetry, but that is only because I haven't yet found something that inspires me to do so.

    Do you think it's important to wear a corset underneath vintage garments to get the 'right' shape?

    Yes, it is ESSENTIAL to wear good foundations underneath vintage clothes for a number of reasons.  (I have taken 'vintage' to mean 40's / 50's syles as opposed to Victorian/Edwardian!).

    The couturiers of yesteryear, (with the exception perhaps of Chanel who made it her goal to design clothes which did not need firm foundations)  all used corsetry, whether in the form of a separate 'waspie' corset used by Dior for his 'new look' fashions, or in the form of the corsolette dress foundation used by others such as Givenchy whose muse was the beautiful Audrey Hepburn -  as thin and waifish as she was, her gowns all contained corset foundations in order to get the desired sillouhete - the foundation was mostly there to support and enhance the lines of the dress.  

    In modern times, you only have to look at the recent royal wedding dress by Sarah Burton to know that corset technology in couture is still very much in use for when it comes to smoothing, shaping and perfecting the look of the vintage 'style' gown.  A corset - however slim, trim and 'perfect' the figure of the person wearing is,  is essential.  

    In other words, a corset foundation supports the garment it is designed to fit under, shapes the wearer, and by default ensures better posture which enables the dress to be worn to it's best advantage.  This is true of most vintage fashions which aspire to that look.  If you want to achieve the firm shape, cinched waist and smooth look which all work in combination to get the 'right shape',  then a properly made and fitted corset, with steel bones, not plastic,  is required.  

    Is there any sort of corset that is 'better' for beginners – underbust vs overbust, for example, or is it purely a matter of choice?

    The best corset for beginners to make is an underbust.  They are simple to construct, are good practice for a wide range of corsetry techniques, easy to fit, and comfortable to wear - a properly fitting underbust cincher will have a smooth transition between it and the flesh, there will be no bulges which are so common with modern elastic/lycra shapewear.  Underbust cinchers also provide the best 'retro' sillouhete as they allow the wearer to use a bra for top support and this in combination with the cinched waist and consequently rounded hips, lends itself to the lovely hourglass shape which is so essential in 40's/50's fashions.  A perfect example of this can be found in Sophia Loren's film "The Millionairess" from where the picture below is taken

    The Millionairess