Corsets, like people, are more than just the sum of their parts. With people, some parts like fingers and toes can be seen, while others, like our hidden thoughts and emotions, are mercifully hidden from plain view. Some of us wish we could hide our toes, too, especially when we’re way overdue for a pedicure.
With corsets, the visible and the hidden can be more difficult to pinpoint. When you look at a corset, you might see cotton, satin brocade, or leather. What you’re missing is that the garment is broken up into panels and channels for boning, that the fabric is high-quality to ensure strength and durability, and that there is a lining for comfort and a modesty panel for peace of mind, just for example.
There’s certainly a lot more than meets the eye to the corsets you wear day in and day out during a waist training regimen. What are the typical parts of a corset? What do these parts contribute to the whole? About as much as your personality contributes to you, so the nuts and bolts (or busks and bones) are well worth understanding.
If you’re familiar with fashion corsets, you’ve probably never encountered busks before, but these strong front closures are essential for waist training corsets that can put up to 90 pounds of tension on the torso. Steel busks account for the front opening of a corset, and consist of two flat pieces, one of which has loops and the other featuring pins that the loops hook over to secure the front of the garment and provide for quick release in the event of an emergency.
This is the skeletal system of your corset, and like your own skeleton, it’s important that it be strong enough to support the entire structure. If boning bends, buckles, or breaks, your garment will lose function, and you might end up with a nasty poke.
This is why waist training corsets feature sturdy steel boning. Corsets may feature both flat and spiral bones, since they perform different functions. Flat boning is stiffer and less flexible, moving in only two directions, which is why it’s typically reserved for the front or back of the corset, near openings where rigidity is needed.
Spiral steel bones are equally strong, but more flexible. They’re often placed throughout the body of the garment, spanning the sides, where spring and give are necessary for the wearer to be able to twist and move. Corsets aren’t designed to allow the body to bend, but you should be able to turn a bit at the torso so you don’t have to rotate your entire body to reach for something beside you.
Channels and Panels
Channels are reinforced fabric tubes that hold steel bones in place so they don’t migrate around the garment or poke through fabric panels. Panels are the fabric expanses between boning channels.
The round, metal holes the run up either side of the back panels (through which laces are threaded) on your corset are called grommets, and they add reinforcement at the location of highest tension, where the laces pull tight.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s the lacing material (ribbon or cord) threaded through grommets to tighten the garment for the perfect fit.
Quality corsets will always have more than one layer of fabric for comfort, strength, and durability. The layer that touches your skin, often cotton coutil, is known as the lining, or the strength layer.
You might not mind laces touching your skin, but you probably don’t want to expose the puckered flesh at the back of your garment where you pull laces tight. An inset modesty panel that sits behind laces takes care of this issue.
This is the outward-facing fabric layer of your corset, often composed of textiles that are both attractive and resilient. Think of it like a face covered in all-day-wear makeup. It’s gorgeous and built to last.
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