CAN I LACE BY MYSELF, AND HOW?
N.B. There are a number of YouTube videos posted about
how to lace a corset and take it off. Bing or google
"how do I lace on a corset?" to find them.
any tutorial posted by Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry in
You may benefit from
a moving visual on the process, rather than descriptive
words contained in this FAQ. Don't be concerned: you
can learn to do it with practice and patience!
As with most things concerning
a corset, often the best answer will be derived from you
experimenting to learn what works best -- for you!
Q.1. I don't know if I can lace a corset up by myself.
Should I order a front- or side-laced, closed-back corset?
A. While lacing down a corset always come easier if you
have a little help from your friends, most folks can
learn how to do it by themselves with only bit of
Since 1990 I have only met one client who had a difficult
time of it. We practiced for about 45 minutes and she
finally "got the hang of it."
If you are thinking it is easier by yourself to manipulate the
lacing cord and close a front-laced
corset, you are technically correct. However, you
should not really order a front-laced corset, or a
corset with side-front lacing seen below, unless you
cannot bend your elbows and
place the back of your hands rather easily for 10 minutes against your
middle to lower back, seen in the image to right.
The reason? With front lacing you are pulling forward
and in on your back. The back is generally not the part of the
torso that has a lot of fat or flesh associated with it,
thus, there is better tummy control and posture
if you lace by pulling inward the tummy when you
lace the corset closed
from the back.
Note what one client said about learning to lace by
"It's like learning to
ride a bicycle. You try and try
and it doesn't work, then one day you take off across
the field. And you say to yourself 'hmmmmm, that was
actually easy.' For one thing, I slowed down in putting
my corset on. I got
started with off-the-rack corsets that were too big
and bulky, with heavy 'shoe' type laces. I'd pull and
tug from the top only to have the things bulge out.
Finally, I'd just pull it from the middle and say the
heck with it. This time I just decided to relax and
work it a bit at a time. I also limited myself to my
custom made one and the excellent off-the-rack one, so
that helped. Finally, and I'm not
sure this part makes sense, but it also helped seeing
all the corsets that you had displayed on manikins
around the studio.
By seeing the hourglass 'swoop' (not sure that's a
corset term) in three dimensions (rather than just a
two-dimension picture), it gave me a better image of
what I was aiming to achieve. Whatever it was, it was
an exciting breakthrough. Hopefully, like riding a bike,
it's something I'll never forget."
Q.2. What if I can't place my hands
behind my back?
A. Then a front, or sidefront-laced corset may be for you.
Some people cannot place their hands behind their backs
because of shoulder tendinitis or palsy, and that
would augur well for a front- or side-laced, front busk
but closed-back corset that permits lacing down by
pulling outward from the front, see below. However, if you suspect you
might need help lacing by yourself, or during the learning
process when you don't have such a
physical limitation or challenge, consider ordering our
self-lacing device, the
Lacisstant. It was designed by a client who wanted
both hands free behind his back in order to manipulate
both waist pulls at the same time, and avoid the real danger
that waist pulls placed over a door knob might slip off
and damage your corset or more importantly, injure you.
You will learn how to lace yourself with some
practice, albeit awkward practice at first. When you are new
to corsets, we recommend
that you add about 20 to 30 minutes to your dressing time so
that you have time to practice, and soon you will get
the hang of it.
The initial lacing should look similar to
the image shown above. Initially during the seasoning
process the top and bottom will usually
together with the waist wider apart. Eventually for
a well-made custom corset, the gap in back
will approach parallel.
One rule of
thumb is to aim at
having the sides of your corset meet the edges of the
modesty panel provided with each custom corset.
At first the gap
might be open from 3 to 5 or even a bit more inches or even more,
until you learn to tolerate
restriction and gradually tighten the corset in the
As for the fit of the top and bottom horizontal perimeters,
you should be able to place eight fingers
inside the top edge and the bottom edge of your corset
pinching your fingers, in order not to create "toothpaste" or flesh
squishing over the edges.
Restriction should occur primarily in
the midriff area as you lace down.
To test this matter, do
not raise up your arms as this will create too much of a gap
and you might think the corset is ill-fitting. Lower your
arms as in normal daily wear and breathe normally, then see
how the corset fits your rib cage. If you note any
"toothpaste" simply open up the lacing at the top edge of your corset a
bit wider than the waist and bottom edge.
exists in back of your corset so you can slightly
adjust the fit and opening, as you
go through the seasoning process.
Over time with practice, the
boning will take on your torso shape and the corset will
fit you better and better. A brand new corset rarely provides
the perfect fit until after 10 to 20 wearings or more, working up
to longer hours of wear before lacing tighter by about 1/2"
at a time. We will provide written instructions on this
process with your new corset.
3.Q. What is the procedure?
A. Here you go, step-by-step:
1. Open up your corset wide in back and unclip it.
2. Clip it in front first at the second-down clip or second-up
clip, or at any clip that you can manage to get clipped.
Then clip all other clips (circular clip over stud). At first
it may seem that the clip and stud are not aligned properly
but they are! Keep trying and you will get it. A new corset
is sometimes thicker and needs clipping several times in
order to flatten out the busk fabric and make it easier
to clip on.
3. Once the front is clipped together, reach around back an d
grasp both ends of the waist pulls (the loop at the back
waistline) and pull them out.
4. Take both loops or waist pulls in the opposite hand from
what you use. For example if you are right handed, grab
both loops in your left hand and rest the back of that hand
on your hip, holding the waist pulls taut.
5. Use your right hand (assuming you are right handed) and place
the back of that hand at the top edge of your corset at the
back gap. tuck your thumb under the to criss cross X of the
lacing cord and pull out about 3 inches and let go. Even
better is if you can manipulate down to the next X criss corss
lacings while holding the top one taut, then pull
the second set out and continue to the waist.
6. When you reach the waist quickly grap the waist pulls
and take up the slack, then criss corss the waist pulls and
pull once more.
7. Take both waist pull sin one hand and repeat the above
process working you way up from the bottom X cording to the
waist and pull the waist pulls once more.
8. Criss cross them once more then tie a bow at your
9. TIP: If your corset is laced in the standard way that
ROMANTASY corsetieres lace their corsets, drop the top
cord of the waist pull and pull
the bottom cord. That should close the top of your corset.
Next, drop the bottom cord and pull the top cord, and that
should close the bottom of your corset. You should do this
several times until you reach the level of restriction
you want for that day, and tie the bow in back.
10. TIP: Some people like to pull each waist pull way
around in front over their elbows like "chicken wings" and
pull the back shut in that fashion. Try it and you will
determine what works best for you.
11. Do not put your waist pull ends over a closet door
handle to free up your hands. They can slip off and like
one of our clients, cause great damage to your corset. He
ripped out the entire grommeted section of his corset when
attempting this. Or the pulls may slip off the handle and
you will go flying forward, possibly to the ground. Use
instead our Lacisstant
lacing device to hold the waist pulls taut and free
up both hands to reach around back. ($12 with corset purchase
or $15 alone)
4.Q. How do I lace a corset down if I have no busk (have
a closed-front corset)?
A. The process is similar to the above steps,
however you will start by stepping into the corset or putting
it over your head after you loosen the laces up a good
bit and also remove the bottom half of the lacing cords
up to but not including the waist pulls.
Start by facing the backside of the corset in front. Lace down
the upper half of your corset so that it remains on your torso
without falling down. Next, re-lace
the bottom half of your corset but loosely, and tie off
the bow at the bottom. Next, turn the corset around on
your body, and follow the above specified lacing
procedure. Be patient with this process as it will take
some time to accomplish; do not expect instantaneous
5.Q. How do I re-lace my corset with a brand new cord?
A. That depends!
You might wish to check
this page out that lists multiple ways to lace
tennis shoes and select one of those. Experimentation is
often the best way to settle on the technique you prefer
. You may choose any style for your corset,
however there are two most common ones.
One uses the
over-under technique as many folks use for their tennis
shoe lacing. The sides of the corset
at the waist will never overlap when closed
in back. The second technique shown in the
blue corset/white lacing cord , and the graphic with black lacing
cord by corsetiere Ruth Johnson, uses the over-over,
under-under technique. This technique makes it easier
for you to get waist closed, but the corset
sides may overlap a bit. Here are the steps of that
1.Use a cord of this length: 1.5 yds. or a bit more, per three grommets down one
side of the back opening. For example if your corset has
13 grommets down one side of the back, you need 7.5 yds. of
cording. If you are full figured and your gommets equal
15 or more, then purchase 2 yds per three grommets or a
2. Shoelace cording, 5/8" double faced satin ribbon, or
even rolled satin cording will do, with some differences
in strength. Do not purchase 100% cotton cording.
3. Place your corset open on the bed or table with the grommets
facing each other.
4. Fold the cord length in half and place the middle
between the gap in the back. Put one end of the cord under
the topside grommet on left and the other end of the cord
under the topside grommet on the right.
5. Proceed by lacing over to the opposite side
second grommet and do the same with the other side of the cord.
6. Next go under and up thru the opposite side thrid grommet
and do the same with the other side of the cord.
7. Continue this "over over, under under" lacing technique.
8. When you reach the waistline two grommets, then skip
one grommet and go under and up then immediately down through
the just-above grommet, in order to create the waist
9. Do the same on the other side to create the second
10. Proceed with the "over over,under under" process until
you reach the bottom grommets. There tie a bow securely.
Q.6. What kind of lacing cord should I use?
A. That depends!
The relevant point is that you can always change out a
lacing cord to one you prefer. Some prefer ribbons, some
prefer shoe-lace cording, some prefer rolled satin cording, some
prefer a woven nylon cord. It's best not to use 100% cotton
cording as this may weaken sooner rather than later. A poly blend
cording is best, or the ribbon.
Each corset maker typically
chooses and uses the lacing that she prefers. The most
typically seen lacing is the polyester shoe lace (not 100% cotton)
which is woven and flat, see in black and white here. It
might be a wee bit stronger than the
other choices but is not nearly so attractive or elegant
as satin cording or ribbon. If you choose ribbon, consider purchasing
a double-faced 5/8"-wide satin ribbon (prettier, as satin appears on
both sides of the ribbon and not just one side). You may
order lacing cord or ribbon on this