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28 October 2010 @ 09:51 pm
New Tutorial: How to Floss a Corset  
Many times in the past year I have been asked how to floss corsets, and my answer has always been, "By embroidering." Flossing is, quite simply, applied embroidery. If you know how to embroider, you know how to floss. Until a couple months ago, I thought that was all the explanation that was needed.

During the course of an online discussion regarding online tutorials and guides, I was quoted as saying that I didn't know when I would get around to writing a flossing tutorial. My advice about learning embroidery was omitted, but it did make me realize that maybe this was something that was actually needed. It's certainly not the most involved or detailed tutorial I could write, there is a tremendous amount of interest in the subject (for good reason - flossing can turn a drab corset into a wow corset quickly and easily), and it will make an excellent subject for my first foray into workshop teaching.

So, without further ado....

How to Floss A Corset

This tutorial illustrates some of the basic embroidery patterns I have used for flossing, gives tips relating specifically to corset flossing, and assumes you have a basic working knowledge of embroidery.

As with any new tutorial I post, I welcome any and all feedback, especially regarding any parts that are unclear, typos, and unanswered questions. Not all suggestions will be implemented in the tutorial, but your feedback helps me to write clearer and more helpful tutorials, and may point out areas that need their own tutorials.
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Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)
I have two sizes of millinery needles, and plan to try them both when I make the example sampler for my workshop. I'll be sure to post a bit more info on that later in November after putting it together. :)
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Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :)
Edward Elriceduardoelric on October 29th, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tutorial. I can embroider and I would be able to figure out the basics, but it's always very nice to see something figured out for you and some ideas I'd never think of. And thanks for taking the time to write it.
Sidney Eileensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. :)
grace_batmonkey on October 29th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC)
brilliant! it made the process much more clear to me.

one thing that would maybe help solidify the lesson would be pics of a larger section of the corsets in question, to show the flossing more in context rather than just the isolated insets.

thank you for putting this together!
Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
That's a very good idea. Thank you. I am planning to add some more photos, and possibly a couple more illustrations before the end of November, so I'll just include that in the update. :)
Guardian of Lightivory_ebony on October 29th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
Oh thank you!
I've never done embroidery before so will have to look up those books you recommended and practice that before flossing.

Two questions:
1. So when you say you push the needle to the back/underside of the corset, does this mean through all layers, so you'll see the "negative" flosswork on the lining layer?

2. In that picture of the various types of floss and threads that can be used: how well does that light blue embroidery floss work? If I remember correctly, that stuff is fairly thick (a couple of mm, I only used it as a kid for weaving friendship bracelets) but does it pass easily through corsets with multiple layers of tightly weaved coutil?
squintywitchsquintywitch on October 29th, 2010 09:23 am (UTC)
Embroidery thread usually comes as six fine strands loosely twisted together - I usually split them and use one or two filaments in the needle at any one time for embroidery. I imagine it's similar for flossing?
Sidney Eileensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Those are both very good questions, so I'll have to clarify the tutorial. Thank you for asking. :)

1. It does mean go through all layers of the fabric, but the design on the back doesn't come out as a negative. It ends up more irregularly crossed and messy looking. I usually apply the lining of my corsets last, after flossing, so it ends up covered. http://sidneyeileen.com/tutorials/corset-const-quiltgore/edging-4.jpg shows the inside of one corset after flossing. When I make my sampler, I'll include photos of the front and back.

2. The normal embroidery floss works great. Like squintywitch says, it has six strands which can be split. The greater or smaller number of strands you use affects the boldness of the stitches. One strand is not going to be any bolder than normal thread. I usually use two or three strands. More than three strands tends to be so thick that it is difficult to pull through the tightly woven coutil fabric, and has a tendency to fray from friction while stitching.
squintywitchsquintywitch on October 29th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
This is fantastic - thank you so much for putting in the time and effort to write a fantastic explanation.
Sidney Eileensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :)
ghostlycatghostlycat on October 29th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
sid, i love you for this posting!!

the last example will bring my "knotted brain" to an end.

Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
lol :D
My pleasure.
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Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
I had no idea the decorative flossing could help with that, but it makes sense for those using boning tape. I make my own boning channels, so they are just barely wide enough and the boning is nice and snug. I'll add a note about that. Thanks! :)
iriscostume: hapycatiriscostume on October 29th, 2010 12:22 pm (UTC)
ive seen other tuts but none as clear as this!!
i have a tendency to get my info from just looking at pics and not bothering to read text and i am able to do this with your tutorial :)
I will of course read the text also!
thankyou xxxxxxx
Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 29th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I couldn't even tell you how many times I've done the same thing, especially for sewing and embroidery instructions. Very often I only read the text in detail if the illustrations don't completely clarify my questions, and I expect that many people will just reference the drawings. :)
inertia: ancestresswaster60268 on October 30th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
i always had a rough idea in my head of how to floss, but this really cleared things up! [and your diagrams are so clear!]

one thread i would add to the list at the beginning would be silk embroidery floss: once upon a time, i embroidered exclusively with dmc cotton.. but now that i've tried silk, i'm a devoted convert: it's SO much nicer, frays and knots less, slides through fabric smoothly, and feels stronger, overall. [plus: it sure is pretty!] i get my skeins here - in beautiful colours and at really reasonable prices from an independent dyer. [i'd recommend the premium floss for this particular application on corsets - it has the twisted look of a very fine perle cotton, and is absolutely gorgeous in single strands or multiples.]

thanks again! looks like everyone here really appreciates the shared knowledge/experience.*
Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on October 30th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
Ooooh! I love the look of that silk site! I hadn't come across it before, despite occasional efforts to find good suppliers for silk miscellany. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :D
inertiawaster60268 on October 30th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
no problem! i heard of it through a friend, after having openly despaired of ever finding anyplace that sold silk ribbons for less than an arm and/or a leg..*
Cathy Haypeacockdress on November 1st, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
I've thought about this for a couple of days. There are many disagreements on this comm, and always will be. I can't help but think that amongst all the unpleasantness, our disagreements have a positive outcome. You've taken me up on a challenge and written something that people will find useful, and because I'm a competitive bugger, you've made me want to commission or write an even better class that will take it further and give people who want to pay something more. When we disagree, everybody else wins. I can't help thinking that's kind of awesome, actually.

It takes a community to push an art form forward, all bouncing off each other and doing things their own way, sometimes respecting each other and sometimes bitterly opposing each other. I didn't get how healthy that can be before, how good it is for the art form as a whole. So should I wish for more disagreements?! Don't answer that...!

Well done, great tutorial.
Sidney Eileen: greensidneyeileen on November 1st, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Respect, even in disagreement, is a rare and wonderful thing. Thank you for that. What disagreements we have stem from major philosophical differences that we should not let overshadow a mutual desire to further knowledge and understanding of sewing, costuming, and corset making. You are building a phenomenal voluminous resource, which in the end is nothing short of fantastic for people hoping to learn corset making.

Like anyone else, if you're geographically capable, you're welcome to sign up and pay to attend any of the workshops I'm setting up. The first will be on flossing, December 4th, in Sacramento, California. :D

And if you were wondering, I took the diagonal corset drafting comment as a challenge too. That one will just take a lot longer. ;)
Cathy Haypeacockdress on November 4th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
You're charging a fee for the workshops?
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