General

You may have every confidence that ROMANTASY corsets and elegant garments are constructed with only the highest quality fabric to insure durability over time and long wear (of course, laces and braid trims applied to your ensemble are much more delicate and therefore must be treated with greater care). With proper seasoning of a new corset according to instructions we include with your corset, by wearing your corset as outerwear or as foundation wear over our CorPro (protector tube), and by carefully dry cleaning both corsets and garments, you may extend their useful lives, possibly for years and years. 

We offer a wide range of fabric colors and patterns for your choice, among these six general types of fabrics defined below:
   (1) 100% cottons and cotton blends,
   (2)  satins,
   (3)  brocades (polyester or silk), and
   (4) 100% silks and silk-satins (duchesse satin)
   (5)  leathers
   (6)  polyvinyl (PVC)

Corsets require the very strongest possible fabric to withstand the substantial stress of lacing down over many wearings, and the stress of many pounds of pressure you will place at the waistline as you lace down (please read below, some well-taken advice from two of our corsetmakers). It is amazing to realize that that pressure can even amount to 60 to 90 pounds during one wearing! Thus, we strongly advise that you forgo choosing flimsy or delicate fabrics, unless you are prepared for additional charges for us to treat these fabrics as overlays over a more basic, structurally-sound cotton corset we construct first. You may see just that type of construction shown here in the burgundy corset where we applied a delicate Indian silk chiffon beaded lace over a sturdy silk duchesse satin corset. 

You should start your fabric selection by determining what type of fabric you prefer, then select your first and second choices of color and pattern options next, remembering that colors may or will differ from computer to computer. If you have a specific color in mind, it would be best for you to first request an actual swatch of fabric, or alert us to the precise color you envision by finding it on a magazine page and sending a sample for us to match. You will readily understand that requesting a "blue" corset israther meaningless when you consider the following "blues" available in the marketplace:  teal blue, sky blue, royal blue, peacock blue, grey blue, light blue, midnight blue, navy, and other shades of "blue!" Even "black" can differ; one might be dark black, another blue black, and yet a third, grey black! Of course, we are always happy should you decide to leave the ultimate color choice up to us; we promise to exercise only the highest of artistic standards on your behalf.

After you choose your fabric type, here are the color and pattern options available for our Classic Line of corsets and our Non-Custom Corsets (such as our "Simple Pleasures" Cincher, the Four-Panel Underbust Victorian, and other In-inventory corsets). 

The color, and pattern options for our Elegant Line of corsets are shown below with representative samples, since the fabric options available depend on the marketplace and are truly too numerous to show in total.

Please note that once you select your fabric and your order becomes final and is placed with your corsetmaker, any change in fabric (pattern or color) will incur a Change Order fee of $50. Note also that corsets made for the fuller figure, or fabric requiring careful mirror-matching of larger patterns, may require an additional fee which we will let you know, once we have your final selection.

Occasionally, we are able to accommodate our Elegant Line clients who prefer to supply their own fabric. However, this should never be purchased nor submitted without first sending us a swatch to test for suitability and advise you about any evident necessity for mirror-matching of patterns, or overlay treatment if the quality is not sufficiently durable without an underlay corset being first constructed, for which there will of necessity be an upcharge.


Fabrics

  • Cotton-backed Satin: A smooth, rayon satin fabric, woven with a glossy-to-shiny face, and dull cotton back. This is a very popular, shiny and sexy fabric because of its particular strength and beauty for corsetry.  It is rarely found in typical fabric stores and then, usually in ivory and black. We order ours from a special manufacturer, offer 14 different color choices, and hand-dye certain colors. We will entertain your request to dye any particular color for your corset for a modest upcharge; please inquire. We typically keep the following in stock:  black, red, chocolate, burgundy, navy, royal blue, medium sky blue, pale pink, ivory, silver, and white, blue-purple, forest green, and rich peach. Please see this page for color samples. We may soon be adding lavender and baby blue.

    Other polyester satins of lesser quality may also be available upon request, but we encourage our clients to select from our cotton-backed satins if possible. Please note the corset shown at the right; white threads of wear show through this gold store-bought polyester satin (not cotton-backed) after only a few years of foundation-wear. It would likely take many more years for this kind of intense corset wear for such damage or weakness to appear on cotton-backed satin, if ever. Of course, your level of wear and care for your corset, will affect this issue.
     
  • 100% Cotton Twill, Duck, and Denim:  Twill is a diagonally zigzag woven thick cotton fabric usually with a dull finish. Denim often has visible channels in the vertical weave and can have a dull or shiny finish (beware: some denims have a bit of  lycra in the weave and are therefore too lightweight and stretchy for serious corsetry or waist training). Today denim can often be found in an amazing and lovely variety of patterns and colors, even with embroidery, shown right. Duck is a square weave fabric with a matte or non-shiny finish. View primary color choices for duck fabric on this page.  These strong fabrics are typically used for corset lining but are sometimes chosen by clients desiring a "work horse" style corset for serious waist training, since they will always be more durable over time and wear than satins and silks. Each has excellent "breathing" qualities for comfortable wear in hot climates. These top-strength fabrics are very comfortable, lie flat in the final corset when worn (whereas satin will frequently show some wrinkling no matter how well made the corset is), but where a fancy or elegant appearance is not a major factor.

        Denim Samples
     
  • Cotton Polyester: This is a blend of cotton and polyester fabric with a dull finish similar to 100% cotton. It has good "breathing" qualities, is very durable and is available in more muted colors than the 100% cotton.

  • Brocades: This includes any fabric with a raised, all-over interwoven design giving an embossed effect, often emphasized by contrasting surfaces and colors or threads. You may choose a polyester, silk, or silk-poly blend brocade (such as our popular Chinese brocade of which we have approximately 100 different patterns and colors, some of which you may see on this page.)
  •      Chinese Brocade Samples         Additional Brocade Samples

  • Silk:  Silk includes (1) Chinese patterned brocades, (2) dupione (a linen-like nubby textured fabric), and duchess satin (yes, it is 100% silk, although called "satin"). We show samples of colors available however you may request us to send jpg images of colors or patterns you don't see here. Only the latter two fabrics are 100% silk, while the former is a blend of silk and polyester, and our most popular choice for a corset because of the wealth of colors and patterns available (you may see several under the section entitled "Brocades" below). There are two qualities of Chinese brocade on the market however, we choose only the higher of those for maximum durability and strength. (Note that some readymade imported corsets in Chinese silk, which we call "wannabe" corsets, may look lovely and use what you think is the same fabric we use, however they do not. They use the lower quality fabric that will shred or wear sooner rather than later.) While we also offer silk dupione (a linen-like fabric) in your choice of over 200 colors, it is not the best fabric to choose for tight-lacing corsets or for those who have a very large hip spring measurement (difference between derriere and waist). We recommend silk duchesse satin especially for wedding ensembles (100% silk) with its heavy weight, matte finish and limited but lovely colors such as blush, cafe au laite, eggshell, and white.

    Silk Dupione Samples  Silk Dupione Samples  

  • Metallic and Garment Leather: Very supple cowhides are vat dyed into striking colors. Metallics glisten and sparkle, while garment leather colors have a dull shine. Leathers mold well to the body and corsets are lined with cotton-backed satin. They may be trimmed in a contrasting color at the top and bottom edges for an additional fee. Attractive combinations include black with metallic bronze or green, metallic gold with red, and black with white.

  • Heavy Lattigo Leather: This leather is appropriate for more "fetish style", tubular-shaped corsets.  For basic colors, see lambskin colors below. Upon request we are happy to send swatches of embossed or painted leathers giving unusual effects, such as alligator or snakeskin, geometric or nature designs, and other.

  • Patent Leather: Some corset companies will work in patent leather, normally black in color. Because this is very delicate and difficult fabric to work with, requiring extra tedious attention to details of stitching and finishing, an additional fee will be charged.

  • PVC: Some corset companies construct corsets in shiny plastic material, normally red or black in color.  Sometimes we can source eggplant, hot pink, race car yellow, bright orange, and other colors. Please inquire if you have a specific color in mind.

      PVC Samples
     
  • Latex: Some corset companies construct corsets in latex or rubber.

  • Lambskin Leather: This is the softest, silky leather available on the market, and because of the high quality and small size of each hide, typically takes two hides per corset. Therefore, the labor and fabric cost may double over garment cowhide leather. Finish may be matte, shiny, or pearlized. Sometimes you may have a choice in finish for many colors, and sometimes your color choice may be limited to one or two types of finish. Check out the fantastic array of colors and finishes possible in these samples.

        Leather Samples

View Laces, Trims, Bodice treatments, and Lacing Ribbons on the following page.


How to Shop for Your Own Fabric

You will add to, or take years of wear off your gorgeous corset, depending on the skill with which you select the quality of your fabric. Please submit a fabric swatch in advance of your purchase; we cannot be responsible for the cost of fabric that may entail an additional charge for overlay, mirror-matching of patterns, or other special handing or Change Orders. Note, too, that some corsetmakers choose not even work with certain fabrics. For example, after we had carefully advised one bridal client, she went out to purchase ivory brocade, but came back with black velvet -- a fabric her chosen corsetmaker did not accept. At first, we feared the cost of the velvet would be a total loss to the client, but we were able to change her corsetmaker to another member of our team who worked in velvet, and  completed the bridal corset perfectly! Remember that any such administrative change necessitated by our client's independent actions, will incur a $50 Change Order fee.


Regarding patterns, remember that large patterns may not show well on a corset because the individual pattern pieces are relatively narrow! In addition, to show a large pattern, extra labor and time may need to be taken to match both sides of the corset, called 'mirror matching.' Note how corsetiere Sue Nice has mirror matched the circles in the black fabric and the red fabric, to the right. Note the same purple and gold silk pattern matched for one client on the right, not matched for another client on the left; this is your choice to make, but mirror matching will or may add an upcharge for additional time and skill required; please ask in advance of purchasing your fabric.

"Silk can be tricky. I use the dupioni silk basically as an overlay and cut pattern pieces in only one direction of the weave, otherwise the silk can easily split along the grain. As a single fiber it is the strongest of all, but it's hard to find a heavy weave silk, most likely because of the production expense. Of course, cotton being a cheaper natural fiber, is more cost-effective to use to manufacture heavier weaves. That's generally why all "work horse corset" fabric, especially for tight-lacing corsets that are expected to lace down many inches for many continuous hours and days of wear, is generally cotton.  Silk taffetas are usually good bets for a fancier corset fabric. However, in general I don't like using regular acetate taffetas. They are hot to wear, and don't stand up well to wear over time. By the time I treat taffeta as on overlay for construction purposes, the body just can't breath with that synthetic 'stuff' on the outside."   -- Sharon McCoy Morgan

"The uninitiated might well think, with the plethora of fabrics available in the large stores these days, that the corset maker's supplies were healthy. The truth is, they are not. At the turn of the 19th century, when the production of cotton fabrics reached its peak, there were 80,000 looms operated by about 20,000 firms in England alone! A substantial proportion of that output was geared to supplying a very large corset industry, and the demand was for high quality, strong cloth. This was made both for the outside surface as well as the lining of corsets. A gradual decline in consumption of corset cloth took place during the 20th century, making a nose dive in the 70s and 80s. This had catastrophic consequences, resulting in most corset manufacturers, as well as suppliers, going out of business by 1985. Few remain in existence. The most important aspect of a corset, especially if it is subjected to tight lacing (Ed. note: tight lacing is generally defined as lacing a garment so that the natural waist is reduced four or more inches for six more more hours at a time, day-in and day-out for a year or so), is that it will withstand usage over many months--if not years. It is not enough to have a lining material which is strong, combined with a lighter weight outside--it will not last. The lighter fabric has to be backed, preferably bonded, so that there is no possibility of it coming under tension and breaking. The corset maker of a century ago would not have had problems like this to overcome!

"What we can buy in the shops these days is fine for constructing dresses and the like, but as a material for a corset you can write most of them off as useless. I have learned through bitter experience that even an interlined corset, with a lightweight nylon covering outside, is at risk of failure at the seams. Supplies of corset weight materials, specifically brocades and satins, are very limited. In the United Kingdom the choice is down to only a handful of designs, and these mainly exist in black, pink or white.  Other colors are very rare indeed. There are isolated sources within Europe, but here I have so far found only three suppliers of good quality materials--I have paid as much as $45.00 a meter (about $60US per yard) to get what I need! The situation with lining materials is totally different. Even though the demand for corsets by the public in general is now almost non-existent, corsets still require surgical supports. (Ed. note: not by ROMANTASY's recent experience: our orders double almost every few years! Imagine the growing national demand when you consider off-the-peg steel boned corsets of certain--if not perfect--quality). I was told by a manufacturer I visited recently that the demand for this type of corset remained unchanged, so that the coutils (similar heavyweight weaves) are still easily obtainable. So -- if you are lucky enough to have a corset in a quality brocade, do not be surprised at what it costs; You are lucky to get it at all! If your corset is made with anything else, then it may not survive heavy wear."   --
Michael Garrod