“Little Foxglove” Feminine Locking Corset

front view of Little Foxglove locking corset

It seems fitting somehow that the deprivations and constraint of this year’s lockdowns and upheavals have given rise to some of the most opulent and elaborate requests of my career. The trend predictors suggest that economic struggle usually prompts a demand for minimalism and pared down style, however I see things differently; a hunger for escapism wherever we can get it. Denied our holidays and adventures to places filled with exotic colour, we seek something within ourselves, in the safety and sanctuary of our homes. As our worlds shrink outside, we want to broaden our horizons in other ways.

Little Foxglove was one of those commissions that ensnared my imagination from the first contact. The locking corsetry that I make had garnered a lot of attention but I was itching to take the structures and mechanisms used on previous pieces somewhere different. When Terra got in touch looking for a rich feminine aesthetic with full locking capabilities, I knew we were on the same page.

close up of padlock on Little Foxglove corset

From the first communication it was clear that I was working with an articulate and thoughtful individual who had really considered what elements were important to him for construction and styling. Terra is a male corset enthusiast, whose wife was excited to see him locked securely into his corset, however they wanted the locks and hardware itself to be as minimal as possible to benefit the soft styling we were working towards. Terra were also open to input from me on design and I was only too happy to oblige! Working with clients who have a strong starting point for our project but want a little guidance on the details leaves room for so much creativity.

close up of lace detail on Little Foxglove corset

After some discussion we had a plan for our design for Little Foxglove; an underbust style in a complex and nostalgic shade of silk satin, embellished with champagne Chantilly lace for a refined and sophisticated colour contrast. The corset would have fully locking panels at the back to cover the lacing, fastening at the front with a locking buckle. The strong busk front would be covered by a locking zip (meaning no padlock was required to secure it) and a subtle Edwardian shape was agreed upon.

locking zip front detail on corset

I often use an Edwardian cut on feminine corsets for male bodies to visually rebalance the body proportions, as we would classically see a longer distance between underbust and waist and much shorter distance between waist and hips than on a style for female bodies, where these lengths are often around 50:50. The slight dip at the underbust level serves to shorten the effect above the waist, and the flowing low hip shape helps to lengthen the body at that point and also to infer more fullness. The majority of my clients aren’t interested in padding their bodies for greater curves, aside from bust enhancement, so using my skills with cut and design is how we get the most impact!

I’m constantly asked how long it takes me to make a corset, and it’s a very hard question to answer. A simple piece that’s already cut out could be made in 6-8 hours, but a piece like Little Foxglove works out around 2 weeks full time work, say 80 to 100 hours. And I’m not including pattern making or client communication in that time! One of the main reasons this particular corset took so long was the lace work.

The time seems to come far more from planning the placement and being sure that before you’ve sewn any crucial seams, you have any lace that needs to be pre-sewn taken care of. It’s a very logistical process, in which you don’t have much room to deviate from the ideal path! I often spend a whole day on the locking panels, hand basting layers together, plotting lace placement so that it has a chance to blend with other sections on the corset, even though it’s position will alter depending on how tightly the corset is laced each time. Hours pass so quickly when you’re intent on your task and your scissors quietly snip away, revealing flourishes of lace.

locking panels mid construction

Finishing the corset is more handsewing, finishing the binding and any last additions to the lace design (it can be hard to know when you’re done!) and lacing Little Foxglove with her cream satin ribbons. Stronger laces are sent with the corset but, well, sometimes a girl just needs ribbons! One of my favourite details is the post for the padlock that secures the zip fastening. As we wanted minimum impact for the hardware I used lace to help blend it in a little! There is also a lace embellished pouch to slip the padlock at the waist onto, and a little belt loop to keep everything tidy!

Sending a piece like this out is always an unnerving and vulnerable moment. You have tried your best to interpret a client’s vision, in this case working from measurements I wasn’t able to take myself, and you just hope that everything has come together in a way that your client loves and feels connected to. Receiving this message and images from Terra reassured me that Little Foxglove had met with a wonderful reception!

“Thankyou so much for this experience! I have never felt this feminine and pretty before, with the obvious exception of my wedding day!”

Being able to work towards a moment like that is a very moving part of my job. How we feel in our own skin is so important.

If you have your own inspiration you want to breathe life into, please don’t hesitate to contact us– we are still working through lockdown and eager for more adventures in silk and steel!

*Please note that I sought Terra’s permission before sharing his stories and photos- if you prefer anonymity that is perfectly understood and respected*

Choosing Your Ideal Corset Style

Miss Deadly Red wears the Rosette pink Seirian Luxe

Image credit- Sally Sparrow Photography and Miss Deadly Red

I understand the struggle. You’ve fallen in love with a corset style and are eager to make it your own. But in the back of your mind, a niggling doubt; how is that going to sit on my full hips? What about my petite torso length? We’re always on hand to help with any questions you have but here is a quick quide to our standard size styles* and how to choose the best one for your needs.

*Naturally all our bespoke corsets are made through a consultation process which would deal with your unique build by starting from scratch with your figure as the canvas.

Petite Torso/ Short body

If you find that a lot of “OTR” (off the rack) corsetry digs in under your breasts or into your thighs when you sit down then the chances are that your torso is shorter than the industry standard. This can be the case even if you’re average height or above! It’s all about the spacing between your waist to bust and waist to hips. If you look at our individual corset listings we do put the most important corset lengths at the bottom of the longer description as you scroll down. You can use this to double check a style’s suitability for your exact figure but usually short bodied customers benefit from a waspie style like these

The Seirian and Seirian Luxe are ideal for the most petite frames as they measure just 5.5cm above the waist at the centre front, but the Adara and Eirlys are both still only 11.5cm above and below the waist at centre front and will be suitable for many figures.


Extra Curvy Hips/ Hourglass Figure

If you’ve been blessed with a full hourglass figure you may find that many standard size corsets are not roomy enough for comfort. Do remember that we are happy to tweak measurements on our corsets for a small fee if you really want a certain corset style but we have designed something especially for your needs! Our Vala Edwardian underbust is widely acclaimed as our most comfortable style yet thanks to the distinctive generous hip spring that takes the pressure off your curves and really makes your waistline pop! This style also features a dished rib shape to leave more room for your ribcage if you find that is typically a pressure point for you.

The Vala is waiting to smooth your curves in blissful comfort!

Long Torso

As a taller woman I know that sometimes things sitting at the wrong height can be uncomfortable and also unflattering! Our full underbust styles are cut cleverly to suit figures with an average to long torso. That’s not to say that our waspies aren’t suitable for you, but if you’re looking for greater coverage then these styles will be your friends!

The Perle Luxe, Perle in black mesh and Perle in ivory mesh all use the same base pattern which has a high hip (ideal for more movement) and a slightly higher length above the waist than our Vala. If you also want more hip coverage and room for generous curves then our Vala is the perfect choice for you!

Athletic/ Less Curvy Figures

It can be so annoying to find a corset that is comfortable and flattering at the waist but isn’t in contact with the hips or underbust! We can check over your natural measurements against our detailed sizing charts if you get in touch but don’t despair if they aren’t perfect for your sizing as we are happy to tweak the measurements on our patterns for a small fee! This will give you the style you want most with a close fit you will love. However many clients find that waspies will fit better than full underbusts without alterations as they don’t extend to the fuller parts of underbust and hips, so we can look over those sizes with you as well.

Looking For An Everyday Corset

Generally speaking, a less dramatic corset style tends to be a good everyday choice, our Perle or Adara shapes are ideal! However the Perle is made from polyester mesh which is quite delicate compared to traditional corsetry fabrics and can increase perspiration so is not the healthiest thing to wear against your skin consistently. But we are always happy to make a standard size corset in your custom choice of fabric for a small fee which will vary depending on the fabric choice. But our Perle made in a cotton coutil fabric would answer a lot of requirements for a regular use corset! Though not strictly an everyday corset you may also like to look at our Eirlys waspie, made in silk mesh which is an excellent lightweight choice for summer tightlacing!

A Personal Project- The 20 Panel Corset.

Splitting up the panels

Running a thriving independent brand rarely leaves you with a lot of time to experiment, but I’m forever uncovering things I want to try my hand at! So last Summer I finally knuckled down to something I’ve wanted to work on for a long time- an extensively paneled corset.

For those who aren’t familiar with how a corset creates shaping, it is not, as many people imagine, the boning used but in fact, it starts with the way the pattern is drawn. This comes from how the body dimensions are distributed through a pattern, and the point at which the corsetiere chooses to grade a line in or out. It makes a huge difference, and accounts for why cheaper off-the-rack corsets disappoint their wearers! Time spent with the pattern is never wasted, and the more panels you use (up to a point!) the more subtlety and flow you can create with the shaping.

If you’re unsure what I mean by “panels” (I often find the term confuses customers) I mean the individual segments that make up a corset- the vertical seams mark the edges of each panel. Splitting the fabric of a corset up like this is what allows us to shape the dramatic curves at the waist. More panels means that at the waist, where the tension in a corset is at it’s greatest, the fabric is split into smaller sections, reducing the stress on each individual panel and seam. A larger panel is more likely to show strain or even stretch if not given additional support.

Corset in construcion

If you’re still with me, then you can probably see why the idea of playing with additional panels held practical appeal. There is also something very appealing to me about a corset that displays such architectural elegance. The lines of a corset like this would be very beautiful to my eye. And it would give me a chance to play with altering a patterns design and observing the effect it had, using the same measurements distributed in a different way.

I wanted to work on fitting to my own body so I started by taking some photos of myself without a corset to show the effects the first toile had. I am 5ft 10, and usually around a size 10. I would describe myself as moderately curvy- I have a full bust and as my high school textiles teacher once told me, “child bearing hips”. Thanks Mrs Hopkins.

The first toile (a test version of the corset) was made to our classic 12 panel style. This is an extremely versatile and comfortable design and has been well tested over the years! The initial results seemed pretty good- I had opted for a 4″ reduction on my 27″ waist with a gentle hourglass cut. Immediately I could see that I would want more reduction as it was not curvy enough for my tastes and I was comfortable enough to reduce by another 2″.

One thing we look for on toiles are wrinkles- they either indicate too much slack or too much strain, and tell you where adjustment is needed. You can see from the initial figure pictures that I am slightly sway backed, and those wrinkles indicate where the curve of my back has left a hollow in the corset. You can also see below that there was slack in the lower hip that needed taking in.

The other two pictures show me experimenting with the plunge height and style I was planning. I knew I wanted a dramatic, swooping Edwardian line but I wanted it to flow with the lines of my body for a flattering effect. I always prefer to draw these things directly onto a toile while it’s being worn!

This left me at a stage where I could make my alterations to the original pattern and plan where I wanted to create my new panels. Again, I chose to draw these directly on to the toile. This let me try the corset on and see where the panels would sit on my body and allowed me to simply cut up the toile along these new lines to make my new pattern. I chose to make a 20 panel corset because this seemed a good distribution for my reduced waist size and gave me a nice even 5 panels for each quadrant of the corset.

Splitting up the panels


The second toile shows very well how redistributing your panels (as well as changing your front panel height and waist reduction) can really play havoc with your fit! I suddenly had a lot more wrinkles, including stress lines around the high hip and a different set of back wrinkles. The plunge at the centre front meant that the panels joining onto it needed to be made smaller in that area to avoid it pulling back on itself as you see on the toile. I had made adjustments for this already but until you see the results on the body you can’t know if you’ve judged it correctly.

I’ll be completely honest. I should have done a third toile for this. But I had an event coming up that I needed to wear my corset for, and time was running out. So in a case of “Do as I say, not as I do” I made my tweaks with some resewing on the second toile, and moved straight onto my final corset! Luckily it worked out pretty well. Not perfectly, but I really like the finished garment. I chose a simple construction of mink coutil with contrast black waistband and symmetrical embellishment of black Chantilly lace. I wanted a feel of flourishing growth within the restraints of symmetry (I usually embellish organically) and the simple, classic tones of mink and black play well against each other.

20 panel corset in progress Decorating the corset with lace. The finished corset.

I have had a great reaction to the look of this corset- and I don’t think it’s just the lace! I could really see the possibilities for taking a corset pattern in this direction, and it’s something I intend to play with more in the future. Though preferably on another human being, because the added complication of needing eyes in the back of my head did not make this task any quicker or easier! If you find yourself dreaming of architectural corsetry then do come and talk through your ideas with me!

Focus On A Bespoke Corset Commission

Bespoke corset with matching silk lingerie

A journey into waist training

Ever wondered what it’s like to order a bespoke corset? To work with a craftsman to create something uniquely yours, never to be repeated? Here’s a very special commission I worked on recently. Made for a male client who had never even tried a corset on before he contacted me last Autumn.

My client was looking to begin waist training, and wanted corsets that were lightweight to fit discreetly under clothing. Initially he was interested in an overbust style but after looking at his requirements I recommended an underbust. This would fit better with his lifestyle and would prove easier to camouflage as underwear. He decided on a waist training starter kit, including an Edwardian underbust and ribbon corset with suspenders and a camisole. These pieces would be made in a way that kept bulk at a minimum whilst remaining sturdy and suitable for regular wear. The concession to this being the choice of using silk ribbons for the ribbon corset! Silk ribbons are not as durable as the grosgrain ribbons I would usually use for these pieces. However they are incomparably luxurious and feel wonderful against the skin. There is a very special lustre to the colours in these ribbons!

We discussed how he would like the corsets to look, and he knew he wanted them to have refined feminine styling. He chose a palette of pale pinks, golds and peach but gave me control over the final choices on fabrics. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, as I love creating soft, feminine looks. Being able to create something precious for this first time corset wearer was a real privilege. We agreed my choices would be a surprise, and I began selecting glowing silks that belonged in a wealthy 19th century ladies trousseau!

Silk, lace and lingerie

My client was able to visit the studio for a personal fitting where I took his measurements. We talked a little more about the style for the corsets, but mostly about his travels through Europe! Fittings aren’t essential for most underbust corsets as I can work from measurements sent in using our instructions at home. However it’s a great chance to efficiently make most of the decisions needed for a bespoke corset order. For some people these meetings can be a little nerve wracking. Particularly where they are unfamiliar with corsets and are expecting someone far scarier than me to be behind the door! But tea and biscuits usually prove that we’re all good friends nice and quickly.

Another result of the fitting was my client choosing a set of our lingerie to be made to match his Edwardian corset. He chose our En Regate set- an underwired bra, delicately strapped panties and a lingerie harness. These would work really well with the colour schemes I had devised and made the set even more complete!

Edwardian bespoke corset in progress

I settled on a rich coral peach silk with a smooth finish for the underbust. It was a great weight of silk to use for the matching lingerie and had a lovely gleam to it. During our meeting we had also talked about gentle colour contrasts, so I decided swirls of symmetrial ivory lace applique would be used to highlight the centre front and hips with graceful motifs. The lingerie looked romantic next to it in the peach silk with ivory strapping. The silk ribbons were very hard to choose- so many exquisite shades, each suggesting a different direction. But in the end I opted for a combination of creamy ivory and tarnished gold, set against silk panels in a dusky rose shot gold dupion.

Unwrapping a treasure

From the fitting to completion of the corsets was around 5 weeks- a little slow thanks to the Christmas rush! but as my client preferred to collect the corsets rather than have them posted it was a while till I was able to present them! I am always excited but nervous to hand over any order- will it meet the vision the client had when they came to me? But especially so when I’ve been given free reign over design on a bespoke corset. I pray that I haven’t misjudged their brief, and that they receive something they wouldn’t have thought to ask for, but have a connection to all the same. Judging by the message I received when he got them home I hit the mark!

“Hi Bethan, WOW, beautifully exquisite creations!

You truly are talented at your profession, thank you for all that you have done for me. I am amazed at how they feel when worn.”

How would you feel if you had opened the box to find these corsets?

Waist training kit with matching custom lingerie
The completed waist training kit with matching lingerie.

A Personal Project- Black Mesh Corset

Black and white image of designer wearing a black mesh waspie

The Filigree Waspie

Corsetmakers are forever being asked how many corsets they own, and recently, my honest answer has had to be “…very few”. This is because, following a few lifestyle changes, my old collection became too large for me! It’s been a busy year with new collections, first time clients and intense projects. So when it came to it, finding time to make something for me didn’t seem like a priority! But I have wanted a mesh corset of my own ever since I first got my hands on this fascinating fabric. It’s far more sculptural than the silk bobbinet that I was previously using for sheer corsetry so it creates a garment that is translucent and delicate looking but also grips the body firmly.

Jordan Ebbitt wearing our black mesh waspie with Dusk bralette and harness. Shot by Salleh Sparrow.
Jordan Ebbitt wearing our black mesh corset with Dusk bralette and harness. Shot by Salleh Sparrow.

I chose a mesh waspie, as I’ve never had one and they make excellent accessories. It can transform a plain outfit into something distinctively chic and full of personality. Anyone who knows me will be familiar with my obsession with black and gold, so the colour scheme really required very little thought! I don’t sketch for my own pieces, as the paper doll in my head is far more versatile. It was very enjoyable spending my riverside walks home pondering new style variations to incorporate into my new waspie.

A Touch Of Lace

I’ve been keen to use a feature waistband on a mesh corset for a while, as I prefer external boning and waist tapes on a sheer piece. I toyed with the idea of a baroque brocade or a contrast colour for this element. However I wanted a delicate, ethereal feel so I chose gold lace applique on a smooth black silk backing. This channeled the design into simple black silk accents on black mesh fabric, with gold lace detailing and gold fittings.

Handsewing gold lace applique onto a black silk waistband
Stages of completing the hand sewn appliques for the waistband.

With hindsight, I would take care to plot where my boning channels would lie on the appliqued waistband. Much of my best detail ended up covered! Internal boning would suit this design element better, letting the full beauty be appreciated. But I knew the placement of the elaborate lace that was to weave across the corset body would be the main feature. I always feel that a mesh corset allows the wearer to feel it is an extension of their skin. It is like smoke, or perfume; present but not substantial. So having the lace trail organically, reaching across the torso and emerging from the binding gave it a sensuous feel. I also wanted the lace to weave in and out of the boning accents, so nothing was uppermost in the design. All layers were entwined and interlocked.

A Sewing Project With A View

Lace applique waiting to be sewn.
Lace pinned in place, ready for a sewing marathon.

For those who care about such things, there was 2 hours hand sewing in the waistband applique and 5 hours for the body applique. This does not include the time spent cutting, placing, replacing and cursing at the lace! Luckily I had a lot of long train journeys at this stage so I was able to do much of it while speeding through the Welsh countryside. I spent a lot of time explaining myself to train conductors.

A Treasure To Cherish

The finished mesh corset is definitely the pride of my collection- it’s comfortable and quite simply, I feel like a goddess in it. It’s rare that I’m satisfied with anything I make for myself so even though there are a few niggling details, putting it on is truly joyful. If you’re visiting us for a fitting you will likely see it in person!

Finished mesh waspie
The completed Filigree Waspie, with tendrils of lace reaching across the waist point.

Lastly, thankyou to Salleh Sparrow for her help with the photos!