This is the letter I pull out to re-inspire me regularly. Do you think we're delivering on the potential that Joann foresaw in our early days?
We received this letter in August 2010, less than a year after Foundations Revealed launched. At the time there were less than 50 articles here, as opposed to the hundreds we can share now. We've grown a long way... but it's still Joann Carolus' letter that crystallises, for me, what Foundations is for. She says:
"...I have struggled for the last few years to come to grips with what I am seeing, wearing, making and purchasing. I’ve bought all the books, including historical books on tailoring and Warner’s Corset Company found at garage sales. I’ve even taken (and taught) sewing classes. But I’d learned nothing! Nothing compared to what I’ve finally started to learn here. I don’t wish to sound overly dramatic, but that is exactly how I feel: I love Foundations Revealed.
"I’ll attempt to break my enthusiasm down for you:
"I took a (very long, very expensive) business class through our local Chamber of Commerce last Fall. The class is award-winning in my area and brought in dozens of business people, many of them business women, to discuss marketing strategies, the web, business law, how to write and fund a proper business plan, how to set up documentation, etc. None was able to explain the business end of running a bespoke shop the way you have. In the end, the class is a competition for a One Thousand dollar purse. Winning over me was a Mexican food stand! The banker reviewed my business plan, shook her head and told me I’d never make any money with corsets the way I had my business set up on paper. I was charging $150.00 American. That seemed “fair”, considering the amount of money my friends and other people in upstate New York make. Upon reading your article, I immediately went to my Etsy shop and pulled my corset down to give it a “cooling off” period. I want to become the best corset maker that I can be and I’ll never do it with a $150 corset. I read your article on how much to charge
and realized how correct you are.
When Joann wrote her letter we had one article at FR about being a professional corsetmaker.
Now we have thirty, covering starting out, design, marketing and promotion, and the day-to-day
business of running your mini empire. Click the image to go to the Business section.
"I’ve been lurking around the online corset community for at least 12 years. I want my own business and I’ve studied, taken classes, made corsets and read everything I can find. Yet, my corsets never grow above a certain level. A few people online seemed to be ahead of the curve, but I couldn’t figure out what they were doing that made their garments so much more finely tailored. I’ve spent tons of money on my tools, I even have a couple of orders from friends lined up and still haven’t been able to move forward!
"I’ve made a few ‘ok’ corsets. One, for my sister in law, was self-drafted, and I was quite happy with it. After more study, I realized that I was making what everyone else was making: a nicely sewn tube of fabric with some boning shoved into it, a structurally sound garment with clean lines but no finesse.
"Period corsets are so much more than that.
"I struggled with trying to figure out corset gore insertion. I’ve inserted them into shirts before, but they look tighter and more finely applied in a corset. Little did I know I was seeing two very different methods (gusset vs. gore) until I read Laura’s Loft's article
. Wow! An eye-opener!
Laura Loft thus illustrated the difference between gussets and gores and helped Joann out in 2010,
but since then we've added a three ~ part ~ series by Sandra Stuart on recreating this corset from scratch,
"In comparing my work to the antiques at LaraCorsets.com,
for years, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I finally began studying piecing of historical garments and, short of attending FIT in New York, realized I had no resources to learn to do it. The books might have pictures, but they don’t have proper drafting or piecing methods. I already sew better than most people I know, so there wasn’t any one I could ask... Clearly, without Foundations Revealed, most corset makers have hit a wall.
"You are right: we haven’t yet arrived at the late 19th century level in the present corset revival. I believe that the stitchers and corset makers of Foundations Revealed will be the first to get there. You are showing us how to get from point A to point B by intuitively understanding what it is that we don’t know.
Sandra's completed version of the corset pattern shown above, from her three ~ part ~ series for Foundations Revealed. (August to November 2010)
"Regarding the business end of things: as you know, there are precious few jobs in the US. We are nearly at 10% unemployment here, similar to the rate in Thatcher’s England. The Brits were so unhappy with this at the time, I remember when visiting London in the early ‘80’s there were activists who would unroll a fresh bed sheet with the country’s unemployment rate scrawled on it every few days and drape it across one the bridges over the Thames to display the rate for all passersby. It was appalling. And now, here we are. You are providing a very valuable service in helping us get set up to earn a living with our developing talents. I can’t thank you enough.
"You are re-building the corset industry and the art of corset making by building this community. Such a shame that the techniques are nearly so lost, that we are forced to put it together like a huge jigsaw puzzle, instead of having it handed down from our great-grandmothers as it should have been.
"Easily, this is the best course/thing I’ve ever purchased off the web. I’m sorry this is so long, but I thought you should know.
Albany, New York