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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.

We recommend any tutorial posted by Lucy of Lucy's Corsetry in Canada.

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 practice!

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 himself:

"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 be closer 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 back protector/ 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 middle.

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 without 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. The gap 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 back.
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 results!

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 lacing technique:

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 bit more.
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 pulls.
9. Do the same on the other side to create the second waist pull. 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 page.


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