cosplay costume corset-Jade-Sultry Lady Corsets-11

Why Corsets Are So Expensive

We are a society that thrives on merchandise. Every day we are confronted with new things to buy. If you have the extravagant taste of a connoisseur you may ask yourself why some corsets are so expensive? In contrast, if there is a comparable item, what makes one cost more?

Some of the items we buy in life are produced to make our life easier, while some of them are just for show. There are things to make you feel good and others to make you look better, younger, and feel happier.

Ferrari

While most of these things may start out as a new idea that someone has come up with, be it a design for a new purse or a tailgate on a new truck, they all have a beginning. From there the item gets refined, improved upon, copied and enhanced. The price may start out as minimal or exorbitant, depending on how much it initially cost to produce it.

But how do we get to the decision making step in the first place?

It Finally Happened

It finally happened, your favorite shoes have taken their last breath. No more coaxing can revive them. The heels are worn and the leather is tired, therefore no amount of sprucing will improve them. You’ve been dreading this time for decision making. Your old shoes are now considered vintage. You had a bond with them like an old pair of slippers. They have carried you through many good times and you will mourn their passing.

The company no longer produces the style or color you have. Now you will have to choose another pair that you are not familiar with. And most importantly, because you may have the new ones for a long time, you are careful about your decision-making process. You do thorough research and weigh your options.

Christian Louboutin shoes

The models you have been looking at are unsimilar. They are a different style with a different look, a higher heel and peculiar material. Decisions galore overwhelm you.

The new shoes can make or break an outfit! It becomes overwhelming you begin to wonder if you should just look for something else entirely. You really just want a good looking pair of shoes. A pair of shoes that are comfortable and don’t leave you wondering if it will match this outfit or that one. You want shoes that you don’t have to think about first thing in the morning with a foggy head.

Daily Decisions

In conclusion, while I am hopefully amusing you with my story of the search for a new pair of shoes, I have made you aware of some of the choices we make on a daily basis.

While not all of these choices are of utmost importance, some are. Some of them are simple choices that won’t alter your lifestyle. Some of them may send a significant jolt to your bank account.

Cost Relevance to Quality

Let’s take the example of the new shoes. While researching information about shoes online we can see that there are literally thousands to choose from. They range from very simple to the exclusive. Furthermore, the price range is adjusted accordingly.

Some people believe that the cost of an item is relevant to the quality. Whereas this may not always be the case, the final decision is based on their opinion.

Why Quality is Expensive

Some people just want to pay more. Some want the unique and rare that is seldom seen. They also may want to have something that others cannot afford. Or perhaps something that no one else has. Because of this, there is always the market for the expensive.

Opus One Wine

The exclusive comes at a high price, however. Be it perfume, shoes, a fine wine, jewelry, or cars, everything has a value attached to it. The value of the exclusive is usually based more on desire than need, because it makes you feel good about yourself.

The Reason for the Decision

How do we come to the final decision? First, you must decide the reason for wanting the item in the first place.

Sometimes you want to spend the extra money to have something entirely exclusive, and other times you want to just fill out your wardrobe.

Some days you dress to impress, and other times you stay in and wear sweatpants.

What About Corsets

Ditta Von Teese

Now let’s relate this to corsets as this is my specialty. Corsets are an exclusive and unique fashion item. Because they are a fashion item that is not worn every day. They can, however, be an awe-inspiring fashion statement. Perhaps you want an addition to your wardrobe that will make others stand up and notice. Corsets can show off curves that you didn’t think you had, with an instant waist reduction.

A striking corset can instantly stop conversations and have everyone reaching for their cell phones. Speechless, stunning, and impressive, are the words on the lips of the onlookers. Cameras are recording and the envy is significant.

Let’s Make a Comparison

In short, I have been asked why corsets are so expensive. “Why should I pay upwards of a thousand dollars for something that I can get for two-hundred dollars somewhere else?” you ask.

Well first you must do your homework. Most importantly, are the two items that are so far apart in price really comparable in quality?

Do you get the same customer service, amenities, and quality when you purchase Honda as you do a Mercedes? I should say not. That is not to say that one is completely inferior to the other. They are simply different purchases for different reasons.

If you are purchasing a pecocky corset to wear to a costume party, then you may not want to fork over a lot of money. However, if you desire a corset that you will wear many times, you will want one that fits correctly and is well made.

Custom Corsets

First, let’s understand the word ‘custom’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, custom, is defined as “something made or performed according to personal order”.

So what does a ‘custom-made corset’ actually mean?

A custom corset is a corset made to your measurements and design specifications. This involves a process that will require you to have some involvement. The design can be as outlandish and inspiring as your imagination.

Many hours are required to produce a custom corset before the final model is finished. But as with any custom item, the cost is equal to the amount of customization you desire.

In this article we are going to outline the basic process of making a custom corset. Hopefully then you will understand why corsets are so expensive.

Basic Steps of a Custom Corset

To begin a custom corset there are four basic steps:

1 .   You provide your measurements to the corset maker using the outline and charts they provide. This is usually a simple and straightforward process but takes a little time, and requires the assistance of a friend.

2.   Together with the designer, you will come to a conclusion about what design you would like. The type of fit you want to have is usually based on the reason for your purchase. Is it for a special occasion, for whittling down your waistline, or just to have a one-of-a-kind outfit? The helps to determine a cost estimate for you. This process can be done by email or by phone.

3.   A mockup is constructed for your fitting once the measurements have been determined. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The mockup can then can be mailed out, with photos sent back to the designer. Or you may be able to have an in-person fitting. Some corsetieres charge for this while some do not. 

4. The actual construction of the corset begins when the correct fit has been achieved.
Most corset makers pay particular attention to the branding of their company name and incorporate labeling into the construction of their corsets. This is their reputation at stake after all.

Initial Mockup

The Corset Construction

Now that you have started the process of the corset with the measurements and fit required, the construction process begins.

First of all, a corset is unlike most garments as the fully lined corset is like putting together a down jacket but with a precise fit. Each garment has two layers identical to each other that are sewn together back to back. That is where the similarities between the corset and the down jacket ends however. With the down jacket, each section is then stuffed with the soft down material and the finishing touches are completed. With a corset however, there are many steps to be completed before the final project is done.

Before the Start

Because a corset is a garment that requires a considerable amount of time to construct a good corset maker takes his or her time. To rush the process could mean skipping a necessary step completely. To do so could mean wasting the entire project to start over again.

The fabric needs to be prepared by finishing the edges or pressing the material in advance. All materials are usually gathered in advance to make sure the proper items are on hand.

The items used in the construction of a corset are not common items that can be found in a local sewing store. The correct size of busk needs to be purchased, as well as specific grommets and often special lacing. These specialty items can only be purchased through a place that supplies corset items. Stiffener and interfacing are specific items that make a well made corset stand out from the others.

The Busk Insertion

There is a variety of terminology used when referring to a corset today. Many people mistakenly refer to a corset-top as a corset when the two are worlds apart. For a garment to be correctly known as a corset it must encompass a busk in the front and also have lacing at the back.

The busk consists of the metal pieces in the front that close the finished corset. It has hooks shaped like loops on one side and small buttons or pins on the other.

It takes time and precise measuring to get the busk installed correctly as it is sewn inside the center front sections. Once it is installed it cannot be moved or changed without damaging the garment.

The Inner Layers

The interfacing and inner layers are added to the corset next. Sometimes multiple layers of stiffening and structure are added to make a fully bespoke item.

Depending on the corset being constructed, the interfacing may be attached or sewn onto the lining or outside layers of fabric at this point as well.

As with everything else in a corset, so many different types of interfacing can be used. Heavy interfacing made with goat hair, which is used in men’s suits, can be found inside the quality made corsets.

Fusible interfacing may be used on outside fabrics that may need extra structure. Another time extensive item is the hand stitching that may be needed to hold the various layers in place correctly.

Inside of southwestern corset-Sedona
Sultry Lady Corsets

Finishing the Waist

Before the boning is added many seamstresses add a cloth tape or ribbon at the waistline. This is sewn onto the inside at the waistline for additional support. This is done to keep the corset from pulling apart when the tight lacing is done for waist restriction. Because of this, your corset will last longer.

Sometimes the waistline tape is added later, depending on the preference of the seamstress or designer.

The Boning

The boning channels are stitched in next or boning tape is added. Every piece of boning requires its own space to sit correctly because e ach seam needs to be precise to have a beautiful finish. It will be quite obvious the more precise and exacting the seamstress is. 

With corsets that have a bra cup design at the bust there may be a special underwire for the bust section. This requires not only a separate boning channel for the underwire but often there is additional padding under the bust section as well.

Setting the Boning

Once the outside and inside sections are sewn together and the boning channels are sewn in, the boning needs to be inserted. Each and every individual piece of boning needs to be cut to the exact size for the corset to be exceptional.

The ends of the boning need to be finished or protected so that they do not cut the corset fabric during wear. This is done with a variety of methods, dependent on the type of boning used. Sometimes this is done with special stitching that is sewn on the outside by hand to hold the boning in place.

Many modern corset makers use a variety of boning types in one individual corset. This requires different techniques in finishing each piece of boning.

The Back

Now that the front busk is in, the interfacing added, sections are sewn together, and the boning is inserted, it is time to complete the back.

The back will typically have many grommets attached to each side for the lacing to go through. As with the front, precise measuring must be done to ensure correct placement of the grommets.

A machine is used to attach the grommets securely in place. If they are not attached correctly, the grommets will come out during wear or the lacing or unlacing of the corset.

After the grommets have been placed, lacing is added to the back for proper closure. Similarly, a variety of lacing types can be used from satin ribbon to nylon cord. Some corsetieres use various ways that they lace the corset together at the back. Moreover, this is done for uniqueness and design.

The Finished Edges

At this point the top and bottom edges are finished with an edging fabric. If there is fabric that goes up to or wraps around the neck, this needs to be added before the finishing edges now.

Finishing Touches

Now we are close to the final completion.

If there is a modesty panel in back this will be added at this point or sooner if the designer deems it necessary.

Any additional embellishments are added at this point for the final look.

Any necessary hand stitching may be done for support or design. Hand beadwork is applied as desired. The most noteworthy labels can be sewn on by hand or by sewing machine during the process.

In conclusion, many labor-intensive hours and attention to detail have gone into the corset. It is an exclusive garment that cannot be changed, and the size cannot be altered.

So Why So Expensive?

Below is an outline of the cost of a simple overbust corset with no embellishments as provided on the website of
Electradesigns: https://corsetmakers.livejournal.com/288314.html?replyto=2812730

How Much It Costs To Make Your Corset

(based on over-bust corset with no embellishment)

Price of over-bust corset with no embellishment $275

Corset Materials

1 yd fashion fabric $15

1.5 yd twill $11

.5 yd binding fabric $4

Grommets $5

10 yd Boning $15

Boning tips $2

Busk (regular) $15

8 yd Ribbon laces $10

12 yd Twill tape $5

3 yd fusible webbing $6

1 roll fusible webbing $2

2 spool heavy duty thread $5

Drafting paper $1

___________________

Basic materials $96

Mockup Materials

1 yd cotton duck $7

Thread $1

Boning $1

laces $3______________________

Basic materials $12

Total materials Costs: Approx $108

Labor for each corset:

pattern draft 5 hours

sourcing materials 5 hours

making mockup 5 hours

altering pattern 2 hours

make corset 40 hours+

email correspondence 5 hours+

Post office 1 hour

_______________________________

hours on each corset 63+ hours

$275 Corset price

-$108 Materials Costs

_____

$167 for labor

Divide $167 by 63 hours of labor = $2.65 hour for skilled labor

Now let’s say you didn’t count the time spent responding to client email, sourcing materials, trips to the post office, etc. That’s about 50 hours spent on each corset., which comes to $3.34 an hour. That’s half the minimum wage in America.

Equipment:

sewing machine

sewing machine attachments

pattern drafting tools

sewing tools

steel bone cutting tools

industrial grommet setter

iron/ ironing board

electricity

workspace

storage space

file cabinet

washing machine/ dryer

drafting table

books

Education/ Experience

Two years of FIDM fashion design major ($60,000)

15 years corset making

18 years sewing

pattern drafting

fashion illustration

technical flats

custom tailoring

artist

Additional Expenses:

PayPal fees

Ebay fees

Web site fees

Internet 

Model/ Photographer

Web hosting fees

Computer software

Shipping for materials

Advertising

Sample corsets

Custom Corsets Made by Corsetieres


Whereas some of the items that were used in the making of their corsets are a different quality from other corset makers, the basic cost is comparable. Because each corset is somewhat or sometimes completely different, the cost of time and materials vary considerably.

Most corset makers use certain items in each and every corset they make. As a result, they have reliable quality in their products. Outer materials vary considerably, while interfacing, lining materials, boning, and finishing touches are consistent.

Some corsetieres send their designs off to a manufacturer to be produced on an assembly line. Other custom corset makers do each and every item by hand themselves.

The Cost of a Well Made Corset

Hopefully, this has given you a peek into the process of a well-made corset. The next time you ask “why corsets are so expensive”, perhaps you will have a better understanding.

As with that pair of shoes that you are hoping to buy, you get what you pay for. Quality does not come cheap. Much more goes into the production of a well made item.

Finally, it is up to you to decide if you want the item that is better made, more exclusive, yet more costly. Only you can decide if that Yeti cooler is worth the money or the Rolex watch is within your budget.

actor Billy Porter at the Oscars

The Realized Dream

The news reporter Robin Abcarian writes in her article on actor Billy Porter and ‘His fashion statement’, “Just like the fashion runways of the world, the Oscars red carpet is a fashion fantasy land. For the fantasy to work, everyone must buy in”.

Billy Porter is best known for his performance as Lola in the musical production of “Kinky Boots”. In addition, his attention-grabbing works from television to the theater have taken him to the red carpet many times.

For Billy Porter it was a realized dream of wearing a voluminous ball gown on the red carpet at the Oscars. “I’ve always wanted to wear a ball gown” he says, “I just didn’t know when“.

Share the Elation

In the article written by Robin Abcarian he continues, expressing his elation at having the gown custom made for him by designer Christian Siriano. The first time he tried it on he says “I felt alive. I felt free. And open, and radiant. And Beautiful! Which has not always been the case for me. I haven’t always felt so good about myself. It really is astonishing how much of an effect clothes can have on your spirit.In conclusion, he finished with the emotions he felt on Oscar night by relating, “I felt like I can float on air. I can conquer the world.”

We all have that opportunity. So what’s in your closet?

cosplay costume corset-Jade-Sultry Lady Corsets-11

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.