So the postal service has slowed right down. It's still operational but instead of the last collection being at 4pm, it is now at 1pm. This means that although I will still be packing and posting at the same rate as usual, the packages will be slower to get going because if I drop off my parcels at the post office after 1pm (likely), then those parcels wont go till the next day.
In practice this means that if you have a deadline, you really will have to order about 2 weeks in advance JUST IN CASE.
It's not just collection times that have changed, it's the speed and efficiency of the postal services.
As ever I am self isolated, the post mistress is still dressed as Cleopatra (en bandages), and everything is being wiped and cleaned as if a murder has taken place!
Sew Curvy is a one woman business. As I am mostly self-isolated all the time, orders are being posted as usual. I am washing my hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces, and everything in the studio is safe as it is stored upstairs away from the public. 'The Public' in the world of Sew Curvy are: courier drivers, my post mistress and neighboring artists who are all keeping locked away. All my corsetry clients are now cancelled/postponed and the last time I was 'out and about' was some weeks ago!
I'm still here! Self-isolated most of the time!
At home my husband - a key worker - is also self-isolating as his workplace have sent all management home to work so that they can keep the emergency services operational with as little risk as possible.
This is basically the Fire Service in a nutshell right now! All of the managment are working by tele-call and video conference every day (sooo many meetings!)
My local Post Mistress has taken extreme measures to keep herself and her customers safe by basically dressing up as an Egyptian mummy (wrapped in scarves and gloves!) with a protective visor!
Anna, my lovely Post Mistress is taking things very seriously!
Orders are busy as you can imagine - food is not the only thing being stockpiled! (don't worry, Sew Curvy customers are sensible!). Please continue to order your corsetry and sewing supplies, safe in the knowledge that all is germ free and that everyone this side of the chain is taking as many precautions as possible!
Supplies are still coming through and being sent out so its safe to
LOCK DOWN AND LACE UP!
However please be patient. Demand increased, there's only one of me packing, and the postal service has slowed down a bit. I can't answer all emails immediately so correspondence is a bit slower too!
Packages seem to be taking much longer to get to their destination. For this reason it's best to choose first class (tracked) mail while we are on this reduced service as second class even if tracked, seems to be taking forever.
Customers often ask for 'fan lacing sliders' which are not that common these days and I am unable to find a factory in Europe that makes them now. To source them in China would require me to find a warehouse here to store them in, such are min. qty amounts from factories in China! I even spoke about 'opening a mould' with a fellow British indie lingerie brand but we decided that even between us, the expense was prohibitave.
So I thought we could talk about fan lacing - how it came about, how to do it, different types, and how the same (or better imo) effect can be acheived without those pesky metal slides.
Although the Victorians dabbled in several models of front fastening corsets, it wasn't until 1908 when fan lacing became popular and took off as a viable alternative to the traditional back lacing corset. In that year, Samuel Higby Camp of Jackson, Michigan, invented a new system of fan lacing using a special metal buckle which was mounted with loops and was patented in the US in June 1921.
Metal fan lacing slides - difficult to obtain in the 21st century
Camp's system with the metal buckle uses one single corset lace which is passed through the looped metal tab several times. The angle of pull means that the pulley effect of the lacing is effective over a wide range and this means that tightening the corset from the front is extremely easy. The other side of the fan lacing slide attaches to a belt which fastens at the front or side of the corset using special sliding buckles which are low profile and therefore sit smoothly underneath clothing. These are still used today in waistcoats.
Front fastening corsets The Camp fan lacing system on the left is bulkier but uses only one lace passed through the special metal slider. The Jenyns fan lacing system on the right is flatter but uses several laces all stitched to the controlling belt. source
Camp patented his unique slider but that didn't stop other manufacturers copying the idea, the most successful of which was an Australian firm called Jenyns who in order to circumvent the patent, simply stitched the apex of the 'fan' onto a strap. The main difference in this system is that sevaral individual laces are required to form an effective closure. This makes for a prettier effect but it means the system is not quite so effective. Nevertheless, this was also a popular and successful design and seasoned wearers of both models at the time, report the difference as completely negligible. Jenyns licenced the UK factory Symingtons to make this type of corset for the European market, and here is one such example I handled and photographed myself in the Symingtons resource centre.
Below is a diagram from a blog post by American Duchess which clearly demonstrates how the laces are attached to the 'strap' system of fan lacing. This system was first seen in Victorian times, but made popular much later in the early 20th century. The blog post describes how to convert a traditionaly laced corset into a fan laced corset using a corset made from a Red Threaded pattern. Please go and read it!
I can feel a tutorial coming on myself as I'd like to explore this system more in practice and ofcourse the creative options are limitless - I mean, multicoloured lacing for one!
Here's some modern interpretations of fan lacing.
Hopefully that's got your creative juices flowing! Here are a few more resources for you to have a further read.
Every so often my friend Izabela of Prior Attire comes to visit. We enjoy sewing together as we share similar interests that are completely non-conflicting! ie: we both love corsets, but she is interested in authentic period corsetry and I am interested in very modern corsetry. The shape unites us! So when she comes to visit, she brings stock items to make for her shop and I take the time to experiment.
The Victoria corset made from pale nude broche with black spots
With the arrival of several new fabrics in the shop I decided to formulate a new kit using my Sew Curvy Victoria pattern (#sewcurvyvictoria) and the new spot broche in nude/black which I have been lusting after for literally years!
Izabela also fell in love with said fabric, and decided to make some stock Edwardian corsets for her shop, using my new Sew Curvy Edwardian pattern - this is a pattern that I made for classes a couple of years ago, but have yet to write the instructions. I will be doing so soon so that we can add it to our catalogue of British made corset patterns. Here's her finished Edwardian corset.
The Sew Curvy Edwardian pattern will be in the shop just as soon as I write the instructions!
This new spot broche coutil is a lovely stiff fabric, which is also very smooth and fine. It's therefore perfect for sturdy single layer corsetry, not least because in addition to it being very strong, it also hides a multitude of 'sins' - if you're a beginner, or worry about the odd squint stitch - this fabric is for you!
Izabela wearing the Sew Curvy Edwardian Corset
Izabela wearing the Sew Curvy Victoria Corset
These are some of the lace trims we have in stock, which go beautifully with this lovely corsetry fabric.
For the new corset kit, I decided to include the 'Little Crowns' guipure trim, which I offset with black flossing along the bottom edge. The inside is boned out with tubular boning tape (don't say I don't make things easy for you), with a grosgrain ribbon as a waist stay.
The bow is a little added extra which I think finishes the corset off perfectly!
For more insights on our day of corset making exploits, do pop over to the Sew Curvy Instagram account and look at the story highlight called "sewing day" - there you can see the story of our corset making day with useful hints and tips on corsetry including the best colour of thread to use for this coutil, why you need a taperd awl, which busk is Edwardian, the best use for a zip tie, how to insert a busk, and in progress shots of both corsets being made and worn!