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Tight-Laced Corset With Steel Boning

“Do I really want a tight-laced corset with steel boning?” you ask yourself. Okay, so you’ve finally set down that romance novel with the beautiful heroine wearing the tightly laced corset with steel boning that trims her figure to a waspy 18” waist. She is tiny, gorgeous, and she has “the man”! Now you’ve become that damsel, swept away by the handsome rogue. “I need that damn corset,” you say to yourself! “But do I really want a tightly laced corset with steel boning? Does it need to have steel boning?” So you begin your pursuit on the internet to find something that will make your dreams come true.

You pour over all the websites offering corsets of many kinds with a very wide range in price! Some will insist that “a corset with steel boning is the only kind of corset to buy”! What’s all the hype about the steel in a corset anyway?  Your curiosity leads you to follow the trail.

You do some research. You discover that corsets have been around for a very long time! There must be something to that “waspy figure” that the heroines have.

There have been many types of boning and support used in corsets over the years. Tightly laced corsets have not always had steel boning. Other forms of corset support were used at first. Reeds, wood, whalebone, and even carved ivory were some of the options.  “Why is steel boning better for a tight-laced corset” you ask yourself?

Types of Boning Used:

Let’s delve into this subject and compare the various types of boning and their uses, starting with the most popular or well know types of boning used today. The topic of tightly laced corsets with steel boning is a popular subject today.

1) Flat steel Boning:

Flat steel strips are strips of steel that are painted and cut to a variety of lengths.  There is also steel sold in a continuous roll format, sometimes known as “sprung steel”. These can be found in basically two widths, ¼” and ½”; galvanized and fusion coated to prevent rusting. After cutting, the ends must be covered with end caps or dipped in a rubberized coating to prevent the sharps edges from cutting through the fabric and possibly impaling the wearer of the corset.

This type of boning is very strong and rigid and has a fairly flexible bend in two directions. It provides strong support for keeping the body properly confined while retaining the shape of the corset. Since it does not have the ability to curve sideways, this type of boning cannot be used on curved seams. It is perfect for the front and back openings, however, where there are straight seams, thus producing the tight-laced corset with steel boning.

2) Spiral Steel Boning:

Spiral steel boning is a type of steel boning has the appearance of wire that has been coiled in a tight loop repeatedly to form a long steel strip. It is sold in ¼” and ½” widths by the roll or precut strips. It can be cut to the desired lengths with a strong pair of wire snips. End caps are then used to prevent the sharp cut wires from cutting the fabric or poking the body. This type of boning is flexible in four directions. It can bend sideways and can also twist.

The ability of this boning to flex sideways makes it perfect for seams and curves in the corset. The emphasis on spiral steel is the flexibility, and not necessarily the ability to retain the shape of the garment. (‘The World of Corsets; Steel Boning, Why, How Many and What Does It Do’, by Another Lone Gunman)

The design and seams of the corset will limit how much the boning can mold out of shape. Because of this, there will be a “compromise between the corset and your body”. Some corsets are inexpensively made with little emphasis on actual support. Lined or unlined makes a big difference. Steel boning, the weight of the fabric and the strength of the lining all have an impact on the strength and shape of the finished corset.

3) Plastic Boning or “Zip Ties”:

Plastic boning is a type of boning that many seasoned corsetieres are getting to know and love. Zip ties that are used in corset making, however, are not to be confused with the thin, flexible, zip ties that are used to bind your stereo wires together. The only plastic zip ties that are useful can be found online through a company that manufactures heavy duty construction cable ties. Cable ties of this form are produced incorporating stabilizers in the nylon resin, giving them strength to hold up to 175 pounds each strip!

This makes them a fairly thick and definitely resilient, strong form of boning. I have found this type of boning to become more comfortable than steel with body heat, yet it retains its strength and shape without the fear of breakage. The ties can be cut with tin snips and the edges filed down with a 100 grit nail file until smooth. This means no edges to cut fabric or poke into the body.

While I continue to use the steel boning at the front and back openings, I sometimes back it up with an extra layer of the cable ties. I can ride all day on a motorcycle and then dance all night, still in comfort, without losing any support. And best of all my corsets stand the test of time. They are still beautiful and hold their shape after many years of wear. I definitely do not agree with people that say the corset is cheaper when made with “plastic boning”. It can last even longer than its counterpart while providing much more comfort in the process.

4) Rigilene Boning:

Because it is sold in fabric stores and referred to in articles on corset making, I will talk about Rigilene boning. It is made of polyester “threads” which are fused together to form a somewhat stiff, but flexible form of stiffening for a garment. Associated with Rigilene is the Featherlite or polyester boning also sold in fabric stores. Because of the scant thickness, however, it will conform and stay out of shape with applied pressure over time. It can be used for lingerie and costumes. I would not recommend this to be used in a corset of any durability that would otherwise stand the test of time. Even with many layers of fabric,s the rigilene boning will not be sufficient support for a corset.

Other Types Of Shaping Materials:

Fosshape:

Exciting products in the design world are the use of Fosshape® and Wonderlflex®. Industries such as “theatre, costumes, millinery, mask or armor making, puppetry, props, cosplay, craft work, model making, set design, and the entertainment industry” use these materials.  Fosshape® is “limited by your imagination material”.  This inspirational material can be heat shaped and formed with steam. In appearance, Fosshape is a fluffy white filler resembling quilt batting. When steamed it shrinks and becomes dense and conforms to the desired shape. The benefit is that it is durable, lightweight, breathable and you can sew through it!  Costume professionals call it the “buckram replacement”. If you have never tried this product I highly recommend it. But be careful as you may become addicted.

Item from Wonderflex® material

Wonderflex:

The other product sold by this company is known as Wonderflex ®. It is a different form of support or stiffener in that it is sold as a “thermoplastic composite sheet. Made of a unique synthetic polymer that when heated in the range of 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit, Wonderflex® will soften and activate a built-in adhesive for molding and forming”. The Wonderflex® can then be cut with a good pair of sharp scissors or a utility knife and shaped with a heat gun so is easy to use. Wonderflex® cannot be sewn through. But it can be formed to shape, and inserted into those high bust sections that would otherwise be unsupported efficiently. If you have not yet discovered these fascinating products I highly suggest you check out the website: http://www.wonderflexworld.com

In Conclusion:

So once again you ask yourself, “Do I Really Want A Tight Laced Corset With Steel Boning?” From my own personal experience, I have discovered that a combination of various types of boning in a corset provides the best form of support and structure. I use strong and durable fabrics, often having 3-6 layers in the body of the garment. And, do not underestimate an authentic coutil lining. It is perfect for structure, support and comfort for your corset. At the front and back openings, it is best to use strong steel where strength is required for support. This will prevent your corset from breaking and creating an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

If the front steel busk is not thick enough, the thickness can be enhanced with plastic zip tie boning. In the curved seams or where you wish to provide the curve in your corset, the spiral steel boning would be the best choice. For design, or to strengthen weak fabric, I have used multiple rows of cording along with boning on a separate layer of fabric. The options are endless. However personal preference should be left to the discretion of the skilled corsetiere. Not the client that is requesting a tight-laced corset with steel boning due to the internet hype.

A good corsetiere with knowledge and skill can make the corset of your dreams. It is an investment. You want that investment to last for many years to make your dream come true.

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How a Corset is Made

How a Corset is Made

makes all the difference.  You can achieve the perfect fit but still, have inadequate construction.

A true corset is substantially made with several layers of heavy-duty fabric and durable boning of some form.  Since the withdrawal of whalebone, steel has been the preferred reinforcement.

There must also be a frontal steel busk and heavy-duty grommets at the back lacing. These are the minimal requirements for a well-made corset that will stand the test of time. Even a quality lingerie corset needs to have the structural support of dependable grommets and lacing to do the job.

Starting with the outer layer

The outer layer can be made of a variety of fabrics. The more durable the fabric the more permanence it will have over time. There are many layers of different fabrics in a true corset.

A Sultry Lady Corset will almost feel like a well-made flak jacket when finished. We can proudly say that our corset can “stand alone” on its own merit!

The Final Pattern Is Made For A Custom Corset

 

The Central Part of the Corset

In a very well made corset, you will find an inner layer (or two) of interfacing. The interfacing is inside the outer layers or layers, and inside the lining layer that sets against the body.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, How a Corset is Made is key to our business. We use a layer of ’hair canvas’ that is made from goat hair, polyester, cotton and wool of different amounts. This is the same type of interfacing fabric used to give body and shape to men’s tailored suits. It is quite a costly though unseen part of the corset. Without this particular material, the quality of the corset drops dramatically.

Many companies will skimp on this important part of the construction because it is not visible. To skip this part, however, is like building a body with bones but no muscle! The added expense means you get what you paid for; the quality that stands the test of time.

The Inside Lining

The inner layer or lining can also be made of a variety of fabrics. This is to protect the body of the corset from wear and tear. It is also used to provide structure and comfort. The corsets ability to breathe is of real significance as well. No one likes the thought of wearing a garment that makes them feel like they ‘can’t breathe in it’.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only the highest quality cotton coutil fabric for the liner. Coutil cotton has been the standard in the corset industry for many centuries. It is a cotton fabric that is tightly woven to prevent penetration of the corset boning and is resistant to stretching. This particular fabric also has an incredible capacity for comfort, absorbing body heat and perspiration. Because of this, it is the only lining material that we will use. Although it is much more expensive than other fabrics that we could use for the lining of a corset, we prefer the quality material.

The Front Closure

The early 19th century brought a very different style of corset (still called “stays” at the time). A return to the natural or classical form was embraced by fashionistas. And for the first time in corset history, the bust was separated. To achieve and enhance the separation of the bust, the front “busk” was used. The busk was essentially a large rigid “Popsicle stick” shaped bone, inserted into a casing down the center front of the corset.

The front closure of a corset today contains a metal busk, usually made of a rigid steel. This busk consists of two long pieces of flat steel, one side with loops and the other with posts. They function in the same way as hook and eye fastenings on a garment. This is to allow a person to easily get in and out of a corset by themselves. It also helps to keep the corset straight and upright.  The opening of the corset by using busks did not come into use until the mid-1800’s.

The busk pieces are sewn into the corset on either side of the center front. Lacing is still used on the back section. In earlier times the busks were “made of wood, ivory or bone slipped into a pocket and tied in place with a lace called the busk point. These busks were often carved and decorated. They were sometimes inscribed with messages, and were popular gifts from men to their sweethearts”.

The Boning Support

Boning on a corset can be done with many different types of materials.  Corsets of the 17th and 18th century were most often heavily boned. They allowed for little or no space between the bone channels. This was necessary to force the body to conform to the desired shape of the era. At the time the most popular materials used for the boning were giant reeds or whalebone. Whalebone consists of a horny material from the upper jaws of baleen whales and used as “stays” in corsets.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only steel and very heavy duty nylon boning. The nylon boning does not warp from body heat or collapse with wear. This allows for maximum comfort while maintaining consistent, uniform shape. During the cleaning process, the heavy nylon boning does not rust. This can easily happen with un-coated steel. Rust can also leave a nasty permanent stain on the inside and outside of your corset, completely ruining the garment.

The Back Closure

Finally, you have the grommets and the lacing at the back closure of the corset.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we use only heavy-duty grommets. We install them with a grommet machine to ensure the durability and placement of the grommet. Since the majority of the strain on the garment is during the lacing and unlacing of the corset, it is imperative that the grommets be installed correctly.

It is also of utmost importance to apply the grommets to a substantial foundation. If this is not a priority for the corset maker in the construction process, the grommets can pull free from the back fabric. One the grommet is free, the lacing can cause damage to the corset that cannot be repaired.

We also install boning on both sides of the row of grommets. This is to stabilize and provide a rigid form for the lacing to pull evenly against. Thus reducing the strain on your corset back.

 

The Back Modesty Panel

The majority of well-made corsets will also have a back modesty panel. This is underneath the back lacing and sometimes a front piece under the busk. Certain corsets will not have modesty panels, however, for the look and design of that corset.

It is customary to apply the front piece under the busk only when necessary for comfort. The front closure should be tight enough to prevent any peeking of the skin. The front piece may also interfere with easily hooking the busk together.

It is important to note when purchasing a corset that even the back panel should be as well constructed as the corset itself.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we do not cut corners on the back modesty panel. Our modesty panel is constructed with the same quality materials as the rest of the corset. We line and interfaced the modesty panel the same as the corset to hold shape and body. There is even boning and loops to hold the lacing and panel in place for a uniform, finished look to the back when needed.  The only time we do not attach a modesty panel is for appearances. Sometimes the desire is to have the skin showing at the back.

 

The Finished Edges

The top and bottom edge finishing are one of the most important parts of the corset for personal comfort. How a Corset is Made is a key element to this! You can’t wear a corset for an extended period of time if you have boning that is constantly poking you! And wearing a corset for an extended period of time to “train your waist” would be agonizing at best.

Having the edge correctly and securely sewn down is extremely important for the looks, comfort, and endurance of your corset.

Hopefully, this article has been interestingly informative. We believe it can assist you with the purchase of a new corset.

We at Sultry Lady Corsets look forward to providing you a well made, one of a kind unique and beautiful corset.  And, as always we’d like the opportunity of doing business with you!

 

References

Richard The Thread- http://www.richardthethread.com/

Farthingales Corset Making Supplies-http://www.farthingalescorsetmakingsupplies.com/

Wikipedia-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset

***The Free Dictionary by Farlex

Download Measurement Guide

 

 

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How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body?

How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body”? you ask.

You bought the corset, admired it, tried it on, and actually wore it for a while.

But still you don’t have that curvaceous shape that you desire; the contour that the girl on the internet had. Or wait, was it Instagram? Whatever! You want the figure that they promised without a lot of work.

Well, you can have it! Okay okay, it will take some time, and a little bit of work, with a lot of patience. But it will happen!

First, there are a few things that you need to know to help you get started in the right way. This helps to relieve some of the frustration too.  Below you will find a number of steps to help you easily contour the corset to your body. This will contour your body as well, over time.

Step 1: Inspect Your Corset

Take your new corset and lay open on a flat surface, like the bed. Look at how it is made.

Observe the front connectors with the flat “loops” on one side and the little balls sticking up on the other. The flat loops are called hooks, and the balls are called pins. If you’re going to be an authentic corset wearing lady you need to get the lingo right.

The two long metal pieces together with the hooks and pins are called a busk.

Look at the busk and how the hooks and pins attach to secure the front opening. They may line up perfectly now, but when you try to put it on they don’t seem to line up. “Why is that”, you ask?

Don’t worry. They are evenly spaced and line up perfectly. When you’re wrapping the corset around your body and attempting to connect the hooks, the busk is usually bending. This makes just enough of a difference to prevent the hooks from lining up as they should.

To get the corset to actually line up and hook as it should, simply straighten the busk so it is flat as much as you can. Don’t allow the busk to bend at this time. You may need to have the lacing open really wide in back to do so but that’s okay. Open that baby up!

 

Step 2: Give it Time

 

So you are still asking, “How Can I Get This Corset To Contour My Body”? You will find that over time, as you wear your corset, the busk and the corset will begin to curve to your shape. As it does it will also change the shape that you have. Then, surprisingly enough, you will have curves, and the busk will hook up easily when it is bent.

You do not want the corset so rigid in front that the busk does not bend at all. This would make it extremely uncomfortable to wear and would never conform to the human body.
The more you wear your corset, the easier it will be to put it on and wear it for longer periods. It will contour to your body. It’s that simple.

There’s a learning curve, but it can be done. Stick with it because the rewards are impressive!

 

Step 3: Periodic Inspection

It is always a good idea to inspect your corset each and every time before you put it on.

On any well-made corset, there should be a ribbon or band sewn in at the waistline. This is to prevent the corset from coming apart due to the tight lacing. Make sure it is sewn in well so that it does its job.

Always check your corset before and after wearing for any repairs that need to be made. Your corset is an investment in your image and self-esteem. Protect and care for it as you would any prized possession.

 

Step 4: Inspecting the Back

 

 

Now flip the corset over and look at the back lacing. This is called lacing, not “strings”. Note the way the lacing has large loops at the center. These are meant to be there!

Do not attempt to lace your corset with all the extra lacing ending at the bottom or the top. It is meant to be pulled out at the waist and anything other than that looks just plain, stupid!

The beauty of the corset is that it accentuates your waist, pulling it into a curvaceous feminine shape. Pulling the ties together at the waist in a bow also draws the observer’s eyes to the waist; again. This is what you want! You now have curves to die for. It’s attractive.

 

Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice

It may feel awkward when you are lacing the corset on yourself to pull the lacing to the waist, but you will get used to it over time. Just practice a lot. You want those curves that make conversations stop; that perfect contour.

Aside from the looks, there is another good reason that the lacing is secured at the waist, as I will discuss later in this article.

 

 

 

 

Step 6: In The Beginning Take Your Time

First off, take your time getting into your corset. Don’t rush! If you’re wearing it to a special event, allow yourself an hour or more to put it on. This will keep you from stressing and possibly damaging your corset out of frustration. Rushing and stressing will also cause you to perspire and possibly ruin your hair and makeup, not to mention the stains it may leave on your corset. Eek!

There are corset wearers on the internet that show how quickly they can tie up their corset. This is not a competition! They have obviously been doing it for quite a while and have the steps down. You will get there. Just take baby steps at this point.

I am assuming here that you are about the put on a full body corset and not a waist cincher so I am giving you directions for that. I am also assuming that you are getting into the corset by yourself without the assistance of another person.

 

Step 7: The Preparation

Get dressed into EVERYTHING else that you’re going to wear with your outfit. If you choose to wear a thin undergarment to protect your corset put this on now, along with your panties. Fix your hair and apply your makeup.

Once you are in your corset it will take some time to feel comfortable enough to bend over so you don’t want to forget anything beforehand. If you do you will probably need someone to help you put on your forgotten items, like your shoes!

 

Step 8: The Correct Start

1) Lay your corset out on a flat surface, usually the bed. Have the outside of the corset facing you with the top of the corset, the bust part, at the top. You may laugh but this is important. Now open the lacing up as much as you can. Gently pull at the laces until it is much bigger than will fit around you. Try to keep the center loops in place with extra lacing. This will help you later on when you are doing the lacing behind your back.

2) Now that you have it prepared, pick the corset up and wrap it around your body, with the bust part at the top.
Note: Sultry Lady Corsets actually has a waist ribbon with their company name and logo on it. When you have the wording right side up, you’re putting the corset on correctly.
A waist cincher that does not cover the bust can look very similar top and bottom. When the contour and curves of the corset look alike, this can get confusing.

 

Step 9:  Start At The Front

Start by hooking the busk together at the front. Take your time, flatten that busk as much as possible, and don’t get frustrated.

There is no “best” place to start hooking. The top, bottom or middle, whichever works best for you. If the pins keep popping open just take a deep breath and start again.
If you have help from a friend, you can secure one hook, then hold it together by laying a hand flat on top of the secured hook while the other person keeps working on the rest of the hooks.

Just make sure you don’t allow any curves in the front busk as you hold it.

If the corset doesn’t wrap around you easily with room to spare, take it off and open the laces more. You want plenty of room to start.

Once you have it hooked up in front you will start lacing the back.

 

Step 10: The Basics of Lacing

 

 

 

1) If the corset is so loose it’s completely falling off of you, just hold it in place with one hand while you reach around behind you with the other hand. Grasp a loop at the waist and give it a pull. Then reverse the step and reach around to the other side to do the same.

2) You always want to pull the lacing an even amount on both sides to keep the lacing running through the corset balanced. Otherwise, you will have a huge amount of lacing on one side and not much on the other.

3) Now hold the corset in place in front with one hand. Make sure the busk is straight down the center of your body. If you don’t pay attention to this, it is possible to get your corset laced up crooked. Stand in front of a mirror and make sure it is straight in front. Be sure you have the proper waist placement and that it follows the contour of your body when you start to tighten the laces.

4) If the corset is snug enough that it is not sliding down off your body and you have both hands free, reach around behind you with both hands and grasp the loops at the waist. Evenly give them a good pull, taking out all excess lacing until it is snug to your body.

 

Step 11: The Modesty Panel

If you have a modesty panel in back, now is the time to straighten it as much as possible. Some corsetieres actually add boning to the modesty panel edge. This makes it easier to straighten it and keep it straight while lacing. Continue to straighten this panel as you lace the corset tighter. You will want to check and straighten it several times during the lacing of your corset.

 

Step 12: Make Sure You Have Proper Placement

Proper placement is extremely important when you start. Follow the contour of the body. Get that baby set properly at your waist and tied snug right from the beginning!

Proper placement of the corset is the reason that you want the lacing to start out snug at the waist. The waistline of the body is usually the smallest part. This is the part you are most concerned about reducing. Reduce the size of the waist for the curves you want, and that hourglass shape.

Because it is the natural inclination of your clothing to move to the path of least resistance, the garment will either try to move up or down to the smallest part of your body, following the natural curves of your body as you’re wearing it. When you ‘set the corset’ to follow the contour of the body and work from there, the corset has no other option but to shape you the way you want.

It is especially true with a corset. If you are small busted, your corset will try to move up your body the longer you wear it. If you have a large bust and smaller rear end, your corset will eventually slide lower on your body.

Now that you have the corset set at your waist, and the front seam lined up correctly, you are ready to finish the lacing.

If you’re doing this alone it can get tricky so take your time!

 

Step 13: Start Lacing From The Top

1) I have found that starting at the top and working towards the middle (waist) works best when lacing up your corset.

I have a fairly balanced figure and yet my corset still tries to ride up or down the longer I wear it. This also depends on who has tied it and how tightly it was laced, to begin with.

2) Start by reaching around behind you with one arm and feeling for the first two top laces. When you have them in hand give them a good hard tug. Pull as much lacing out as you can until all the excess is taken up. You don’t have to get it really tight at this point, just make sure it’s good and snug.

3) Check then straighten the modesty panel in back now. You don’t want unsightly wrinkles. If you have someone to help you into your corset you may want them to make sure any ‘back fat’ gets tucked into the corset as well. This eliminates excess fat sticking out over the top of the corset.

**Do not attempt to get the lacing as tight as possible the first time you pull the excess lacing out. This will cause the corset to shift where it sits on your body and you may have to actually remove the corset and start over.

Continue working your way down the laces in this way until you reach the waist. Now grab the two waist loops on each side with both of your hands and pull out all the excess lacing. It’s starting to feel like a corset!

 

Step 14: Finish Lacing At The Bottom

1) The next step is to start at the very bottom of the corset and grab the two bottom laces with one hand.

2) Give this lacing a strong steady tug to pull out as much excess lacing as you can. This will ensure the corset pulls your tummy in as you want it to.

3) Usually, the lacing ends at the bottom with a knot that ties together the two laces. Then decorative aglets or beads finishing off the ends of the laces. Before you start tugging the lacing towards the waistline, make sure the knot for the lacing is centered as much as possible on your back.

4) Now pull out as much lacing as you can, working your way to the waist as you did for the top.

 

 

Step 15: Complete The Lacing

 

 

 

 

1) Once you have the corset snugly fit your body you can go back to the top and tighten things up. This time pull it as tight as you can working your way down towards the waist. Pull out the excess lacing at the waist that you have created.

2) Do the same for the bottom, pulling the lacing as tight as you can, working your way to the waist. Cinching and tightening the corset in this way assures that the corset will stay in the proper placement on your body.

**Remember, once you get the corset on you will probably be wearing it for a while. That means you want it to be sitting where it should and feel comfortable to you. In other words; don’t get your panties in a twist or you’ll regret it!

 

Step 16: Check Out Other Lacing Guides

At this point, I’d like to mention that there may come a time when you need to re-lace your corset with new lacing. This may be a bit of a challenge but is not difficult. If you follow the simple steps outlined on our lacing guide here: Lacing Guide

To feel completely comfortable about lacing it may help to read the suggestions from other corsetiers.  Orchard Corset website has various articles to help with this. And make sure to check out Lucy’s Corsetry website for more tip and ideas.

Whereas this is only one way to lace a corset back, there are several other creative, if not complicated ways to go about it.

 

And At Last: You’re In!

 

 

Now that you have dressed in your beautiful corset, relax and breathe. Strut your stuff. Show your mojo. Enjoy yourself and show off how gorgeous you are.

You will be surprised at how fast you become comfortable in the restraint. And how oddly abandoned you feel when you take it off.

Each time you put it on you will get better at it. The corset will begin to shape to the contour of your body. This gives you more sumptuous curves, leaving them awestruck and speechless.
Just practice a lot.

Before you know it you will be slimmer, more curvaceous, and wearing corsets like an expert.