THAT "TUMMY THING":
COPING WITH A LITTLE EXTRA

"I'm still wondering if a sticking-out-at-the-belly thing is typical for the way a tightlaced corset sits when worn, or if it's the sign of a not-quite-exact fit?"

We frequently receive excellent questions from customers, like this one!

The answer as for many questions, is both "yes" and "no."

Many people have to cope with "a little extra" at the waistline whether because of genetics and the typical way one's individual body gains and loses weight, or because of the normal aging process, or because of situational overeating, medical condition or other.

In some cases, extreme tight lacing with a corset, or tight lacing over years, can put added pressure on the waist and tend to protrude the belly region, making both certain ameliorative steps plus peaceful resignation with nature necessary.

"That tummy thing" can also be caused or exacerbated, by a poorly fit and constructed corset, or by selecting the improper style of corset vis-a-vis the tummy and its proper management and control.

First, if that "belly thing" occurs with corset, the corset could be too short in front, providing insufficient coverage for the lower tummy and permitted the flesh to "squish" outward once the waist is pulled in.

Second, the corset could utilize flimsy, plastic steels in front, or worse yet, a hook and eye closure. For good tummy control, a proper wide front busk (when closed in front, equaling a 1" expanse of steel) is required.

Even better, you may inquire if the corsetmaker uses spoon busks, or a triangular busk. The spoon busk is extremely rare and difficult to obtain. Mr. Garrod of True Grace Corsets is well known for his exquisite corsets using the spoon busk. However, recently he has found defective fabrication and a tendency of the busks to snap when the corset is tight laced, or closed more than 4" for some hours at a time.

The spoon busk is shaped exactly like an elongated spoon (see the True Grace page on our website for a graphic) and cups slightly under the lower belly to pull inwards, if the corset is otherwise properly constructed.

The triangular busk serves basically the same purpose as a spoon busk, but it too, is difficult to find as a corset fitting.

Third, you could ask your corsetmaker to provide extra steel boning on either side of the front busk, to create up to a 4" wide expanse of steel. Some corsetmakers use 1/2" wide front busks; ask for them to use the widest possible front busk, or to add the front steels as described.

Fourth, the corset needs to be properly fit to the body, so that the lower half of the corset hugs the body. If the fabric panel pieces are too wide at the bottom edge, there is no tension when the laces are tightened and the hem could protrude outwards. I have watched Sheri Jurnecka fit a muslin on a customer, then mark the bottom 3" of every front boning casing to gradually pull in 1/4" or more of fabric at the bottom. This gently curves the bottom edge inwards, providing better tummy control. Readers familiar with sewing will understand that this technique is similar to making a "dart."

Fifth, the corset needs to cover the lower tummy and end just above the pubic area, being neither too high, nor too low so that it "digs" in when you bend forward.

Sixth, make sure your corset, no matter off-the-peg or custom, goes low enough below the waist in back to be equal to the front edge. If the back is too high, it will not give enough tension as you lace in and attempt to pull the front edge close to the body.

Seventh, in order to lift the torso and flesh upwards and not "squish" it down and out, put your corset on in the following way. Open the laces then clip it in front. Start at the bottom and lace up to the waist then return to teh bottom and repeat the process about three times. Then go to the top edge and lace down to the waistline, return to the top and repeat once. Next, go back to the bottom edge then alternate top and bottom until the corset is laced down to the desired level. Be sure the opening in the back is more or less parallel when you tie off the laces (and don't bring the laces around in front as they may rub and damage the fabric; likewise, don't let the laces drag down below the bottom hem of the corset in back as this looks unsightly).

Eighth, one must make one's peace with the process of aging and body modification that necessarily causes the hips and belly to expand (both bone structure and adipose tissue). I have personally noted a gentle but encroaching expanse of both over my ten years of corseting, although I do not consider myself a "tight-lacer" nor full-time corseter, and prefer to wear my corsets at a 2-3" reduction and perhaps five times a week for about 6-8 hours maximum. Eating right, exercising and consistent corseting will generally address this natural process as best as one can.

With these tips, we sincerely hope you will be able to be a better corset consumer in the future!