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Flossing Design Library

The Symington Collection Flossing Sampler

The Symington collection, housed in Leicestershire, UK, is primarily a collection of corsets made by R W H Symington and Co Ltd from 1860 to 1990. It gives an amazing overview of styles, techniques and decoration used throughout these periods in this factory.

Particularly unusual and interesting is a large sampler made from scraps on which the company tested out flossing designs, the small embroidered motifs that hold the bones firmly in the corsets' boning channels. Here,  for the first time, we're organising the delightful historic hodgepodge of ideas represented in that unique document into an organised library of flossing designs for modern corsetmakers to draw inspiration from and use in your own work.

To find out how to visit the flossing sampler and see the rest of the Symington Collection for yourself, check the Resources section at the bottom of this page. All images are © Leicestershire County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection, and are used with permission. Click any image to enlarge.

 

Set A

(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection
(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection
(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection
(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection
(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection

 

Set B

The flossing designs in the sampler are numbered, but the whole piece actually consists of various different numbered samplers sewn together. This piece begins again at 1 and gives twenty additional designs.

(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection
(c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection (c) Leics County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection

 

All images are © Leicestershire County Council Museum Services, Symington Collection, and are used with permission. Click any image to enlarge.

 

Resources

Symington Collection images online

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Tammy Hawksworth  
  Do your other articles cover instructions on how to do each of these fabulous flossing samples?  
 
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cathyhay  
  Hi Tammy, it's funny that you should ask... the reason I thought to send out this message this week to non-Members was precisely because I just began a series of video tutorials with the Members that DOES involve testing out these designs! This week we made a sampler for testing them, and in the coming weeks and months we'll be trying a selection of these fantastic designs, one by one!  
 
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allyshake  
  Am I right in observing that some of the stitches go through the bone in the channel? Would that be possible with modern whale bone substitutes? I assume that the flossing patterns on vintage corsets with whale bone would restricted to those which did not go through the bone?  
 
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cathyhay  
  Yes, you observe correctly. These machine made corsets were boned in cane or coraline, and the flossing machines stitched right through. In other cases, there are examples of steel bones with small holes near the ends for this purpose; presumably the same was possible with whalebone, but I have not personally seen an example.

Modern whalebone substitutes are easy to punch through with a standard eyelet punch, making many of these patterns doable today, but I concede that to maintain identical patterns, some stitches on some of the patterns would have to be decorative only, and others functional!
 
 
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