In my quest for understanding, and soon thereafter, replicating a commercial weight corset, I finally took an off-the-rack (OTR) corset out of my closet and really looked at it. You might ask yourself why I didn’t start with this prior to ever even thinking about making my own. You might, because I did. I asked myself why the heck it had taken me that long. I didn’t, and still don’t, have a good answer.
I pulled this out of my closet to compare the weights and placements of the boning. I’m comparing this OTR with the construction of what I’ve been making in accordance with pattern directions.
Here’s what I found:
My first note was that the busk is obviously twice as heavy as what I can buy from my vendor and it may be as much as three times heavier. The busk I am able source is so light that I can easily flex it. I may even be able to bend it completely in half, should I care to try. There is zero give in the commercial corset busk. None. At all. I tried, really tried, to bend it.
In addition to the extremely heavy busk, there are three channels with heavy flat steel bones (per half, six in total). The patterns I’ve been working with don’t call for any.
Also, the commercial corset utilizes spiral boning not only at the seams but in the center of the panels as well. I thought, before examination, that perhaps they used 1/2″ spiral bones while I’ve been using 1/4″. This turned out not to be the case. Same width, double the count (pattern depending). This is nutsy coo coo or, as the kids say, cray-cray.
Of minor interest is the alternative spacing for the center grommets. I understand that this particular OTR is a waist training corset and that those grommets support the bulk of the stress when tight lacing. I never considered changing the grommet template to account for this. I like the logic and, because it’s symmetrical, I don’t find it offensive. I may incorporate this method into future designs. It will allow for an extra grommet at the highest point of stress. That can only be a good thing.
In summary, the weight I’ve been trying, and failing, to mimic in my hand constructed pieces is entirely from lack of boning, both in weight and number, not layers of fabric as I had initially thought. This is also why they feel so flippin’ flimsy.
Now that I have this knowledge, I need to problem solve. Installing the additional spiral steel bones is not a big deal. I imagine I have the skills for that right now. I can probably finagle space for flat steel channels. Probably. I’ll have to go over the pattern again to be sure.
Of primary concern is the busk weight. As I’ve mentioned previously, the heavy weight busk I am able to order is one inch wide, rather than the half inch that all patterns call for. That’s not going to work. My current thought is to insert the busk with a half inch flat steel bone behind it for strength. I’ll also take one more look around the web to see if I can find an alternate vendor, though buying several busks from multiple vendors for the sole purpose of assessing weight is not something I plan on doing. Not at nearly 20 bucks a piece, plus shipping. I’m going to kick it around my brain for a bit and see what I come up with.