Corset Talk: The Wonderful World of Flossing

Flossed corset by Clessidra Couture; modeled by Morgana; photo by Chris Murray.

Flossed corset by Clessidra Couture; modeled by Morgana; photo by Chris Murray.

Flossing is one of my favorite corset embellishments.  Though it’s nothing new, it has incredible potential for variation, as you’ll see from the following images.  Flossing is, in short, a particular type of embroidery on corsets, generally used at the ends of bone channels.

    Closeup of flossing detail on corset by Clessidra Couture; original photo by Chris Murray.

Closeup of flossing detail on corset by Clessidra Couture; original photo by Chris Murray.

Sparklewren red flossed corset closeup

Closeup of red flossed corset by Sparklewren.

Flossing can be used as a selective accent, as in the image of Elisa Berlin below, where the flossing placements trace the hourglass shape of the corset.  It looks particularly striking when used in numerous side-by-side placements, as shown above in the corsets by Clessidra Couture and Sparklewren.  Designs can be simple or complex, like the beaded motif by Angela Stringer.  Alicia Rose’s intense floating flossing is quite a distinctive signature of her line.

Accent flossing echoes the hourglass shaping of a tightlacing corset by Pop Antique; modeled by Elisa Berlin; photo by Jon Bean Hastings.

Accent flossing echoes the hourglass shaping of a tightlacing corset by Pop Antique; modeled by Elisa Berlin; photo by Jon Bean Hastings.

Angela Stringer beaded flossing

Beaded flossing on an in-progress corset by Angela Stringer

Floating flossing on a sheer corset by Alicia Rose.

Floating flossing on a sheer corset by Alicia Rose.

One of the reasons flossing is particularly wonderful, and distinct from purely decorative embroidery, is that it can anchor a corset’s bones within their channels.  The apex of a functional flossing design is at the end of the bone, which is where the fabric of the corset is under more stress.  By minimizing the bones’ movement, chafing against the body of the corset is reduced, and poke-throughs are made less likely.  If there’s enough strain that a bone is going to come through, you’ve got a fighting chance that it will break through the flossing before the fabric itself.  I’ve even done a quick and dirty repair of a corset with a bone coming out by quickly flossing over the broken end of the channel.

Flossed corset on the cover of The Basics of Corset Building by Linda Sparks.

Flossed corset on the cover of The Basics of Corset Building by Linda Sparks.

Flossed corset on the cover of Underwear: Fashion in Detail

Flossed corset on the cover of Underwear: Fashion in Detail

Corset with phoenix motif flossing and feathers by Pop Antique.

Corset with phoenix motif flossing and feathers by Pop Antique.

I repeatedly refer to corsets as engineered garments, a facet which exists happily alongside their prettiness.  Flossing parallels this perfectly; on my website, I have flossing listed as both a reinforcement and a decorative add-on.  It’s definitely a case of form meeting function.  Flossing can also be added or changed after a corset has been fully stitched, further lending to its versatility.

Crikey Aphrodite flossed metallic pink corset

Detail of flossing on metallic pink corset by Crikey Aphrodite.

Daze of Laur butterfly flossing

Butterfly motif flossing on corset by Daze of Laur.

Historic corsets often had purely decorative flossing continuing up the line of the bone channel.  This stitching catches only the top fabric of the casing and does not go through the boning itself to the corset lining, unlike flossing that frames the bones.  The below corset by Daze of Laur shows both styles within the same design.

Daze of Laur flossed corset

Black and tan corset with flossing by Daze of Laur.

Daze of Laur flossing closeup

Closeup of flossing design on corset by Daze of Laur.

Aside from its creative potential, I also particularly enjoy flossing because I find it so soothing.  It’s a repetitive task, but not in a way that’s boring.  Sitting on my couch or in the sun, there’s something very zen about repeating a flossing pattern. (I also get the same satisfaction out of firmly stitching buttons in place.)  I’m not sure if other makers experience it in quite the same way, but it does seem to be fairly universally loved.  Several years ago, I was actually nervous to try flossing, but I’m glad I took the leap; it was nowhere near as daunting as I had expected it to be.

Serindë blue corset front

Blue corset with flossing by Serindë Corsets.

Serindë flossing closeup

Closeup of flossing on blue corset by Serindë Corsets.

Gradated fishnet flossing on a double boned corset by Pop Antique.

Gradated fishnet flossing in shades of pink on a double boned corset by Pop Antique.

Which is your favorite of the flossed designs showcased here?  Is there a corsetiere whose flossing you particularly love? Another classic corset detail that delights?

Morúa Designs flossed corset Tina Imel

Flossed corset by Morúa Designs; model & photo Tina Imel.

Marianne

Marianne

Marianne Faulkner is the designer of Pop Antique, a clothing and corsetry line specializing in sustainable materials and comfortable curves. She is based in San Francisco where she earned her MFA in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, and has been a columnist at The Lingerie Addict since 2011.

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5 Comments

  1. Trish
    06/06/14 at 12:43

    I think all the flossing is pretty amazing but I really like Sparklewren’s Swiss cincher with the flossing.

  2. Honey
    06/06/14 at 18:25

    Wow, Alicia Rose’s corset is AMAZING. Love that stretched look over the sheer corset.

  3. 17/06/14 at 7:19

    This may seem like a strange question but would it be possible to add flossing to a corset to a piece you already own or is it something that can only be done during the construction process? I’m presuming that the work goes on under the lining so as not to look ‘messy’ on the inside. I can’t afford to add another corset to my collection at the moment but would be very interested in ‘decorating’ one of my plain corsets.

    Absolutely brilliant article with work from incredible artists as always. I never fail to learn something from your writing. Thank you!

  4. C. Filson
    26/08/14 at 5:55

    .. actually, I made the corset on the cover of The Basics of Corset Building in a class taught by Linda Sparks at her former Los Angeles location of Farthingales. Credits are listed in small print on the back cover.

  5. Chantal Filson
    26/08/14 at 5:57

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