Postcards From The Orchid Corsetry Studio- December 2014

A front view from a pink silk locking collar.

In the postbag from the Orchid Corsetry studio this month- surrendering the keys, buckling up, trials and tests, and silhouettes at sunset.

December has been a month dedicated to pushing ahead with work on our SS15 photo shoot, and we were thrilled to have the four main pieces of corsetry completed and waiting for their accompanying lingerie and accessories as we close for the year. January will now be much more relaxed, with plenty of time for the waist training kits that will be starting our clients on their 2015 goals. We will begin to showcase the key looks already completed throughout January so stay tuned for the first views!

We also have a more extensive view of the collar we shared at the end of last month, which was a cherished project that gained a lot of interest from clients old and new! Projects like this give us a great opportunity to showcase another side of our aesthetics and to be playful with materials, something that will always feed back into our more classic pieces.

Black chantilly lace applique on a dusky rose satin.
A first glimpse of the work going into SS15 piece “Silhouettes at Sunset”-Chantilly lace being pinned into place, ready for hand sewing.
A front view from a pink silk locking collar.
A pink silk collar with lock-on lead and black lace and ribbon detailing.
Back view of locking collar
A double locking buckle finishes this collar, which is a perfect blend of feminine softness and steel hardware.
A close-up from a blue ribbon corset.
Midnight blue satin and grosgrain are layered in this ribbon corset, an “in-progress” shot showing the hand basting stitches that help create neat, sharp lines.
A toile being fitted to a mannequin.
A visit from a fellow couturier, Lisa Nelson, resulted in some impromptu draping on the stand, creating a special something for our wasp-waisted mannequin Genevieve! More to come soon.
Keys in an Orchid Corsetry box.
“The Keys To The Kingdom” A very special parcel, wrapped so that the keys are the first thing to be presented to the new owner.

Postcards From The Orchid Corsetry Studio- November 2014

A pair of lace panties mid construction.

In the postbag from the Orchid Corsetry studio this month- Journeying through the morning mists, sketches and concepts taking wing and the most intimate of garments taking form.

What a month! This has seen preparations for next years shoot becoming a reality as final designs are put to paper for our SS15 theme of “En Plein Air”, as toiles are conceived and fitted to our beautiful model Miss Miranda and accompanying lingerie is created. This process is always more intricate and organic than I am prepared for but as the years have gone by I have grown to relish the flexibility and responsiveness that working on a collection like this demands. It is refreshing to have a brief that we can distort and build upon as the lines of the body dictate to the eye.

There is a little something different in the outgoing mail this month as well, an opportunity to work with a client on the most personal garment, loaded with meaning and symbolism and designed to intoxicate the senses of the wearer. It was an honour to be chosen for such a personal and special piece.

Sketches of corset designs for SS15.
After much deliberation and planning we have narrowed our choices down to 6 looks for our SS15 shoot. This is the largest collection (including lingerie) that we’ve ever worked on, and I feel it will be a strong base for us to showcase our latest ideas and practices. A lot of hard work lies ahead, and every minute will be worth it.
A waist training underbust corset in black coutil.
A smart and sleek waist training underbust in our Edwardian style, made in glossy black tulip coutil to kick-start a client’s new tightlacing program.
A sketch of a cupped overbust corset.
We are currently working on building up a book of sketches and ideas for clients to browse through when visiting us at the studio. Here is an excerpt from the cupped overbust section, where we were playing with ideas for mesh corsets.
A pair of lace panties mid construction.
A great pleasure of working on a shoot is the chance to try your hand at something different, and building up my lingerie skills with some panties has been a lot of fun! This lace was begging for a special project, and I think it has found it’s place.
A view across the Hertfordshire countryside from a train.
Taken as we sped through the clearing morning mists on the Hertfordshire countryside on the way to London, fitting a series of corset toiles and underwear to Miss Miranda.
Close up of a pink silk collar with double locking buckle.
A very special piece indeed. This close-up shows the double locking buckle on a collar and lead set for a client who is planning another ambitious project with us for next year. These buttonholes will neatly slip over the locking loops, ready to fastened with a silver padlock when the time is right.

 

Postcards From The Orchid Corsetry Studio- October 2014

A selection of navy ribbons and lace laid out for perusal.

In the postbag from the Orchid Corsetry studio this month- ribbon corsets, weddings, falling leaves and glowing gold silks.

I do love Autumn. I feel whisked up on the blustery winds, and full of delight at the transformations and colours that we’re treated to as the trees change for the season, and this month has been especially beautiful in Shropshire, as the dry weather left us with a glorious canopy.

I’ve also been able to work on some imaginative creations with new clients, in glorious seasonal shades which is a real joy. Many people have been taking advantage of the waist training starter kits to begin a new journey in tightlacing and figure enhancement, and I look forward to building on these relationships as the client progresses towards their goal. Work continues towards the Orchid Corsetry SS15 collection, and you can see the initial developments shaping up as we collate fabrics, textures and ideas around our central theme.

Fallen leaves in gold and yellow.
The beautiful display finally fell to earth, as Shropshire’s crowning glory graced our pavements instead of our skies.
A ribbon corset made in gold silk.
This bridal ribbon corset was designed to be worn with a stunning sari at a traditional Hindu wedding. We selected the accent colours from the sari to base this regal and glowing corset on, and in turn making a versatile piece that can live a useful life after the wedding.
Blue and gold ribbon corset with star embroidery.
This ribbon corset formed part of a waist training kit, and was designed to be a real indulgence to wear. Small pinpoint stars are hand embroidered over the satin ribbons, which were layered over sturdy grosgrain for a long life. The flashes of gold at the centre front and binding give the corset a majesty all it’s own.
A selection of navy ribbons and lace laid out for perusal.
Selecting the materials that will form the core of our SS15 collection is a sensory indulgence unlike any other. Here we are playing with a combination of ribbon types and textures in shades of inky blue.
A wrapped parcel from Orchid Corsetry.
A tissue wrapped parcel makes it’s way to a bridal client with our warm wishes for newly married life.
An ivory and gold silk Edwardian underbust corset.
This beautiful Edwardian underbust corset uses shaped panels to imitate hip gores whilst emphasising the drama of the tightlaced form. The rich golden green tones of the silk taffeta were a joy to handle.

A Guide To Ordering Your Bespoke Bridal Corset

An ivory coutil overbust and underbust corset for a returning client.

It’s such an honour when a bride selects you as the maker of… well, anything intended for her wedding day, because you will be contributing to one of the most memorable days in a persons life, something they may have been dreaming of since childhood, and you have a chance to help them create a truly personal and meaningful occasion. This is one of the great joys of the job, and every year we take on a select number of bridal corset commissions to help weave that web of poise and elegance, and more often than not, it all starts with the underwear.

An ivory coutil overbust and underbust corset for a returning client.

Corsets as bridal underwear

Many of our brides have already lost their heart to an exquisite gown by the time we meet, and their needs are for a garment that will offer some light figure shaping and control with good bust support so that they can avoid the straps of a bra showing. The most popular style for this set of needs is one of our cupped corsets, which offers a more natural, rounded bust shape than the more traditional princess seamed overbust and is a really comfortable style for long periods of wear. The cups are drafted especially for each clients bust, and the lower half of the corset will be made using the panel style that best suits the individuals figure and needs for the day. This allows us to be really responsive to the requirements of the client and to create a bridal corset that is flattering and supportive in all the right ways, and can even be the starting point of a love of corsets for newcomers!

Timescale is the main limiting factor in pieces like this- a cupped overbust is our most involved style where individual engineering is concerned, and we advise clients to expect three toile fittings at our studio in addition to the initial consultation and measurement taking. At present we only offer this style with in-house fittings, so as to provide the very best service possible.  Naturally, the times involved are dependent on how flexible the bride is in attending fittings, but on average we ask brides to plan for beginning the process in earnest at least 3 months prior to the date the corset is required. You would be surprised how quickly that time goes!

This brings us to the main issue we see with bridal underwear commissions- all too often we only hear from our client 6 weeks before her dressmaker needs to see her in all her underwear for the initial fitting or alterations. For many of us, a wedding dress will be the first garment we’ve ever had made from scratch, or had to order 6 months ahead, and it comes as a shock that everything needs to be set in place so early for the process to run smoothly. Shoes and underwear affect the fit of a garment so much more than most of us will realise at the early stages of planning a wedding, and when you bring a corset into the equation the entire fit of the dress is being challenged as proportions are redistributed and your posture is straightened and held snugly in place. There is a lot more for the dressmaker to do than simply make the gown at the reduced waist size, so your underwear should be considered at the same time as the style of dress you intend to commission or buy.

 

Detail from a Wedgwood blue satin corset with cream lace over and under-lapping boning accents

Bridal corsets as part of your wedding ensemble

It’s become increasingly popular to wear separates instead of a traditional bridal gown, and a corset and skirt combination can be a really great approach to this contemporary bridal styling. A bridal corset is a perfect base for delicate, detailed embellishment of many different types, including trailing organically styled lace appliques, several gently toning shades of silk to highlight the silhouette and create a more architectural aesthetic, or even twinkling clusters of crystal emerging from the hip-line or descending from the bust. Our clients almost always request overbust corsets for this style of outfit (though underbusts or waspies can be used to great effect with Grecian style gowns, or draped sari’s) and the most popular style is our princess seamed overbust which is considered the more classic overbust design, with cuirass style paneling and romantic sweeping lines that lengthen the torso. Fuller busted clients can still opt for the cupped overbust for support and a more personalised approach to the shaping, and either style can be made to give more coverage around the chest and shoulders with a draped halter-neck, or tailored strap.

These pieces usually require a collaboration between the designer of the skirt and ourselves, often including fine details such as purchasing the silks from the same roll so as to avoid any colour variations where a perfect match is required. Again, dates will be crucial, and may be led by whether the skirt maker requires the corset completed for any stage of their fitting or construction process, toiles will still be required for the princess seamed overbust, and a minimum of 3 months should be allowed from first consultation to the required date of completion. These corsets tend to be more demanding from the design and embellishment side, and clear concepts of your wedding theme or desired aesthetics for the bridal outfit will help us to make the corset an integral part, or even a centre-piece of your celebrations.

Soft champagne hues of a silk ribbon corset

Losing weight before the wedding

Our experience with brides over the years has taught us that most women aim to begin a new diet or exercise program leading up to the wedding day, and whilst we understand the drive for a healthy start to your new married life, it is important to consider your goals as early on as you possibly can.  For a corset being created especially for a single event, we cannot work with measurements that are expected to change dramatically. It’s often assumed that because corsets lace up, there is adjustment in the piece, and that it can accommodate you at a smaller size. Whilst this is true, and allowances can be made for more every-day items, the fitting process for a bespoke item of this nature relies on stable body sizes, most particularly for cupped overbust corsets, as the cup shape is drafted to your individual size, and weight loss will inevitably affect your bust-line or volume. Put simply, a corset primarily made for one special day has to be measured and cut to one size. If we allow for weight loss that is not achieved in time, or if the weight loss affects the figure in a different way than predicted, the corset will simply not fit well, and our main goal is to provide you with a beautiful garment that exceeds your needs in every respect.

With this in mind, an ideal situation would run as follows. Let us say that it is August 2014 when you decide on a 1st September 2015 wedding. You already know that you would like a gown by a certain designer, and they have informed you that it will be a 6 month lead time, and you will need your shoes and underwear ready for fittings and alterations 6 weeks before the wedding. This means that you require your corset from us by mid July at the very latest, and with us requiring a minimum of 3 months from first consultation and measurement taking to delivering your finished corset, we would need to meet you in person around mid April, if not earlier. Let us say that you would like to lose half a stone for the wedding day. Allowing a month for you to monitor your new stable weight, you would need to have reached your goal-weight by mid March so that when we meet you for your first consultation, every measurement we take can be relied upon as a fair representation of your size.

Rear view of teal silk cupped-overbust corset.

We still encourage new brides to contact us well ahead of time to make appointments, discuss ideas, and just so that we know to expect you! In particular, our summer bridal demands can be intense, and as there are limited spaces available the earlier we know about your plans, the more options we can make available to you.  An example might be ordering in designer lace from overseas, or sourcing a difficult colour match in your desired fabrics. Even if you fear you are too late for the corset you had originally envisaged, don’t be afraid to give us a call to discuss your needs- we may have an alternative suggestion for you to help you create your desired ensemble, or we may be able to work around your deadlines. Either way, you will find a friendly reception and a creative mind to share ideas with as you dream of your special day. We’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Postcards From The Orchid Corsetry Studio- September 2014

Rear view of teal silk cupped-overbust corset.

In the postbag from the Orchid Corsetry studio this month- birthday celebrations, swan-like elegance sculpted in both ivory and ebony, and cupped corsets galore!

September is always a significant month for us, as on the 6th, it is our business birthday. This date marked 8 years since we began this journey, embarking on a dream of couture and finely sculpted curves, and it was a real pleasure to take a few moments celebrating everything we’ve achieved, and the wonderful people that this path has brought my way.

This month has also been full of wonderful commissions and consultations for Orchid Corsetry. Work flow is at full tilt heading through Autumn, as we work on new pieces for returning clients and welcome a number of newcomers to the studio for discussions about their unique creations- I’ve had the pleasure of seeing familiar faces light up as they try on their latest corset, and fresh ones full of excitement at the dreams about to be realised. Our re-engineered cupped overbust corset has not been officially released yet, as it will be one of the styles that we plan to shoot for SS/15, but this bridal season demanded that it be made available ahead of time, so we have been taking commissions for this most advanced style in droves. You can see some of the results and the early stages that go into making these pieces this month, as the first sample piece has been completed. Just a preview for now though- I wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite.

Orchid Corsetry's 8th birthday cake.
To celebrate our 8th year of couture corsetry, we ended the day with a cake inspired by my favourite cocktail, the Aviation. This is a prohibition era combination of gin, violette and a maraschino cherry, which made a fabulous vegan-friendly cake, though the icing is ample proof of why I am a professional corsetiere and an amateur baker.
Waspie corset in black herringbone coutil.
I really love making our waspies. They are a 14 paneled design, and are a great vehicle for bolder fabrics or design flourishes than one might typically choose on an everyday underbust, however, as with this piece, they still look great as a simpler architectural piece. This piece is the second I have made for the client, and a first foray into the busk and 14 panel style for them. The sweeping shape of this corset is kept simple in plain black herringbone coutil with double boning on each seam for a firm and supportive “hug” each time it is worn.
Rear view of teal silk cupped-overbust corset.
It was high time we got a cupped corset sample together for our new mannequins, so here is a preview of the rear. This piece was made in a teal silk taffeta chosen by our Facebook followers a few months back, and uses delicate fronds of layered silver and gold lace to create a regal and striking effect. The boning is laid in double surface channels, centre stitched with a flash of metallic gold that catches the light.
An ivory coutil overbust and underbust corset for a returning client.
I just found time to capture these two corsets while waiting for them to be collected by a regular client who has been with us for several years. With a delicate, feminine and retro styling, they matched in perfectly with the other lingerie collections they will accompany from day to day. The overbust is styled as a corselette with chunky straps and a high, pointed bust-line, and had the most graceful and swan-like beauty when worn.
Two sample bras ready for a bespoke fitting.
Due to the technical challenges of achieving a really critical fit with a cupped overbust corset, we begin our fitting process on the first consultation with the trial of our own draft of cup sizes (made in the same materials as our corsets) in order to assess the sizing and needs of the client as early as possible. Slowly we are building up a “bra library” of different sizes to make this possible, as with this client’s visit, where we tried both a 32E and 34D for size. A little extra work at the start, but it all contributes to a vastly improved understanding of each client’s unique requirements.
Training corset in nude coutil with zip fastening.
Awaiting dispatch, this is a classic nude coutil training corset, made in our 12 panel underbust style with the intention of ultimate discretion beneath clothing. It uses a single sturdy layer of herringbone coutil with a zip fastening and fine satin cord to cut down on bulk and visible outlines under fitted outfits, and will provide a comfortable and supportive underwear staple for any wardrobe or lifestyle.
A close-up of cup detailing on a cupped overbust.
Another cupped overbust that has gone to it’s new owner this month. This piece uses a three part power-bar and balconette cup to offer great lift and cleavage, with a chiffon halterneck piece to frame the finished effect beautifully. This commission began with the glorious green and black swirl brocade, and developed with subtle touches such as the softening picot lace trim at the bust-line, and the ruffle of brocade that fastens the halterneck. The beauty of these pieces is the ability to balance fine-tuned technical design choices with a finish that flatters the wearer, and offers excellent support and shaping.