Ingenue corset, custom fit for tightlacing, worn by Elisa Berlin. Corset by Marianne Faulkner at Pop Antique
I used to look at my corset toiles and think “Eh? That’s not what it’s supposed to look like!” I would spent hours cluelessly trying to “fix” it, usually just making a mess of it. I made two major errors:
Sometimes we are presented with more than one problem during the fitting stage, creating a source of great frustration and confusion. You fix a problem with bustline, but then tackling an issue with the waist makes the bustline looks wrong again. It seems like you can't win.
Changes made in one area of a corset toile can affect another area, so you need to ensure you don't make more work for yourself at the fine tuning stage (in my case, essential for ensuring that the tailor's dummy (complete with cock-eyed corset toile) doesn't get thrown head first into the garden.)
I have come up with an ordering system for making changes to a corset toile, which works for the majority of designs. After each step I take a quick look at previous areas to double-check that they have not been affected by more recent changes.
QUICK NOTE: If you don’t have time to pay full attention right now, make sure to pin this for later!
|1. Fine tune the waist first. Ensuring that the waist of the toile is positioned on the natural waistline is essential. Check fit (ie. step back, take a deep breath and re-evaluate).|
|2. Then look at the bottom front panels. Don't try to correct problems with sagging stomachs ("mum tums") on the lowest 2" (5cm) of the toile yet. Check fit.|
|3. Next, ensure the side panels are correctly distributed around the side hip. Check fit.|
|4. Ensure the lower back follows the arch of the back. Check fit.|
|5. Ensure the upper back and underarm panels are correctly distributed. If your corset toile has a high back, ensure that the movement of the shoulder blade is not impeded. Check fit.|
|6. Fine tune the bust.|
|7. Shape the bottom edge of the corset toile as required and correct gaping issues with a sagging or rounded stomach ("mum tum").|
|8. Shape the top edge of the corset toile.|
Fine-tuning can be a challenging process but if you stay calm, take it one step at a time and persevere, the rewards are visible to all. We all make mistakes, we all get stuck, but that is not always a bad thing. Sometimes we can learn so much more by getting it wrong and fixing it.
So if it takes a little longer than you expected, don’t worry, you’re in good company, as Dita von Teese reveals: "[My fanciest corset] is by Mr. Pearl, without a doubt the world’s most sought-after corset maker. He lives in Paris, and all the couturiers go to him. He has an unmatched talent for creating the perfect wasp waist. Each corset requires between six and twenty fittings.” [Source]
This post is just a short excerpt of the Members-only Foundations Revealed article An Overview of the Fitting Process by Laura Loft.
Get our free newsletter for more weekly tips and techniques... or if you're serious about becoming a GREAT maker, check out all the goodies that Members get.