Redthreaded Corsets & Costumes
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Frequently Asked Questions

Ordering Questions

Contact us for current scheduling as the length of our waitlist is always changing. 

Please check out our Policies Page for a detail explanation of all of these topics.

As of 2021 we are primarily focused only on corsetry. We make costumes for theatrical and entertainment clients on occasion. We no longer accept custom gown or costume orders for individual retail clients. No exceptions.  

Corset Questions

Your corset should be at least 2-4” smaller than your measurements, and more if you're very “squishy”. Larger women can frequently lace down more than smaller women. Victorian hourglass type corsets can lace in tighter than 18th Century Stays, Tudor Stays, and Regency. For reference, the models for our current standard white corsets are wearing the same size (M and 20, respectively) in all styles.

Our corsets are designed for a moderate reduction of 2”-4” and can be worn closed or with a lacing gap of 2-4” as well. The gaps are a bit large on some of our models, because the realities of photoshoots mean we do not have the time to slowly and safely lace down to full reduction.

If you have any sizing questions, contact us with your measurements prior to purchase. 

Our corsets are historically accurate in silhouette and patterning. We use modern materials when necessary to approximate historical products which are no longer available, such as whalebone. We use grommets for all of our standard/stock corsets because they are sturdy and economical, but these did not exist until the 19th century. We are happy to do hand bound eyelets instead by request on custom orders. Our construction techniques are a blend of historical methods and modern theatrical methods. We choose one or the other by taking into consideration durability, visual appeal, and construction ease. All corsets are machine stitched. 

Anywhere from a few hours to fifty+ hours depending on the style. 

All of our corsets are handmade in small batches or one at a time in our studio in the USA. That immediately raises our overhead costs significantly when compared to the mass manufactured corsets made in Pakistan or China which are churned out in factories by the thousands. We also use top-quality materials and focus on providing excellent fit and historical accuracy. Our custom sizes are drafted specifically to fit you and made to your exact specifications. Finally, we bring years of corsetmaking experience, formal education, and historical research to our work. You can't get that from Amazon 

Believe us, we wish they didn't have to cost more, because we understand how frustrating the current fashion market is for plus size women. However, our plus sizes are quite different from the standard range. They are different drafts, not simply scaled-up versions of standard sizes. We've taken care to add more boning and in some cases more seams to help with fit and support. All of this comes at an additional material and labor cost.  

Large manufacturers are able to absorb the cost of the extra fabrics and materials used in plus sizing across their entire size range; the XS helps pay for the 2X etc. When you're manufacturing 1,000 or 10,000 pieces, that works. However, this is simply not possible at our small scale. We've done our best to keep the pricing differences as low as possible. 

Take your measurements over a supportive but lightly padded or unpadded bra, and ideally get someone to help you. Keep the measuring tape horizontal to the floor. Measure your natural waist at the space between your ribs and your hips, usually at or just above navel. If you have a hard time finding it, bend to the side. Where your body naturally creases is your natural waist. 

We have created a video to walk you through this process step by step

Your corset will come with wearing instructions. I suggest wearing corsets over a chemise, camisole, or other “liner” as this is more comfortable and it protects the corset from body oils and sweat.

It is important to lace down slowly the first few times you wear your corset. This allows the corset to “season” to your body as the fibers adjust a bit to your specific shape, and for you to get accustomed to the feel of wearing it. Therefore, it is best to wear your corset a few times for a few hours each before wearing it to a full costume event. When tightening a corset, keep the lacing gap as even and parallel as possible to avoid damaging the center back bones.

For back-lacing stays and corsets without a front opening, it is possible to dress yourself without help if you have a decent range of motion. First, lace the stays on yourself backwards (loosely), so you can see what you're doing. Then, turn them around, and tighten gradually, working the slack out through the laces. Adjust drawstrings and straps, etc. This Video shows the process. 

Hourglass corsets (Victorian, S-Bend, Titanic) lace to the waist. There are two loops of lacing called “rabbit ears.” This is where you should tighten from—do not undo the bottom lacing knot or tighten from the bottom. ALWAYS loosen the lacing before fastening or unfastening the busk. Busks are sturdy when they are fully done up, but the individual studs can break under pressure if the lacing is not loosened. This Video show s the process

Your corset will come with wear and care instructions. Generally, the white all-cotton corsets can be hand washed in warm water with mild detergent and then air dried. The steel boning is galvanized and will not rust as long as it isn't left to soak. Remove wooden busks and lacings first. Corsets with reed boning, fancy fashion fabric, or other ornamentation should be dry cleaned only by an experienced cleaner. All corsets can be spritzed on the inside with a mix of water and vodka as a deodorizer.

Store your corset over a hanger, or gently rolled in a drawer. Avoid putting anything heavy on it which might bend or damage the boning. 

Pattern Questions

Cynthia hand drafts or drapes all patterns based on either historical examples and/or designer sketches (unless otherwise noted). Our corset patterns are our own and have been developed in our studio over several years. We do sell several styles for those who want to try making their own corsets. 

Costume and corset supplies are widely available online from many retailers. Here are some suggestions:

Sew Curvy (UK) (USA)
Farthingales (CA)
Whaleys Bradford LTD (UK) (USA)
Richard the Thread (USA)
Wawak Sewing (USA)
Renaissance Fabrics (USA)
Burnley and Trowbridge (USA)
Silk Baron (USA)

We also sell corset kits that coordinate with our pattern line. Our wooden busks are a Redthreaded exclusive and are manufactured for us by a local workshop. 

General Questions

The Redthreaded location in Longmont, CO is a working studio, not a retail storefront. However, we are happy to arrange fittings and studio visits by appointment. 

Generally, no. We are unable to give product away for free. This would cut into our profit margins significantly and make it difficult for us to stay in business. However, we do occasionally offer quantity discounts.  

Redthreaded does not currently offer internships and is not hiring. If that ever changes, we'll make an announcement on social media, our mailing list, and job sites.

Books, pinterest, costume films, museums, art exhibits, social media, and the world around us.  

The bulk of our work is done on industrial Juki DDL-8700H machines with servo motors. They are fast, quiet, self oiling, and incredibly reliable. Our studio also has a Juki industrial serger, a Singer 20U zigzag industrial, a Bernina 1008, a blind hemmer, and two Singer 1591 machines. 

We recommend used mechanical Bernina or vintage Singer machines for costumers and corsetmakers just starting out, who need a reliable machine with multiple features. Most new machines are half plastic and break down after a year or two of regular use.

Business and Education Questions

Cynthia has a BFA in Costume Technology from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In addition to her formal training she also regularly seeks out new books, information, and research, and stays active with the historical costume community online.

The rest of the Redthreaded team has studied theatrical costuming as well at universities across the United States. 

In many ways, this is easier now than it used to be. There are many tutorials and classes for sewing, both online and in person. Check with your local fabric and craft stores. We always recommend going back to the established basics (books!!!) for sewing skills and technique reference. As with any art or craft, sewing skills are honed through repetition and practice and study of technique. If there is a specific technique you would like to learn, chances are good that there is a book about it. 

Universities that many of our friends and colleagues have attended include (but are absolutely not limited to):

UNC School of the Arts, FIT, FIDM, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, CU Boulder, Northwestern University, Boston University, University of Evansville, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, Ohio University, Ohio State, UT Austin, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale, New York University, UCLA, UC San Diego, University of North Texas, Dalhousie University (Canada), CALArts, University of Southern Florida, University of Florida, DePaul University, SUNY Purchase, Emerson College, Savannah College of Art and Design

These are all North American schools. We are unfamiliar with the university system in most other countries. However, Cynthia dreams of someday studying with the School of Historical Dress in London. 

Much of Cynthia's corsetmaking knowledge has come through many years of research and trial and error. There is no substitute for doing your own reading and investigation. Current beginners are lucky, because there are many more resources now. Here are some great places to start:

Books – You simply cannot beat books for costume research. Here is an Amazon list of a bunch of helpful titles. We have read many of these cover to cover. Many of these can be gotten through inter-library loan programs.

Facebook/Social Media – There are a number of corsetmaking and costuming groups on facebook that have excellent information. 

The vast majority of us have formal training, meaning a BFA or MFA in costume, theater, fashion, or closely related field. Most professional theatrical costume positions require or strongly prefer formal education. However, there are exceptions to that rule. Whether you intend to study costume formally or not, work on your sewing skills and fashion history knowledge. You can look into volunteering with local theatres, sewing businesses, etc. Take classes at sewing studios, or online if there is nothing available locally.

Firstly, we believe it's prudent to make sure you have a good savings safety net before jumping in. Costuming is not a get rich quick—or ever—scheme, and statistically most small businesses fail. It's also best to start as a side project while working an outside job. Build up your making skills, product, branding, client base, and business knowledge. Much of the job is admin, emails, and paperwork. Read up on small business laws, accounting, taxes, licensing, and contracts. Time your projects so you know how much you need to charge to make a decent profit. 

There are two common mistakes new costume/corset businesses seem make. They either start selling too early, run into quality issues, and tarnish their reputation with an unhappy client, or they have wonderful skills and simply undervalue their work by charging too little, making it difficult for the business to grow and be profitable.

Another word on pricing: just as with most work that has traditionally been done by women and marginalized communities, costuming and sewing work has been systemically underpaid for centuries. Many of us are trying to change this perception by asking fair wages and pricing accordingly. When you under price, you lower the market value for every other maker who is trying to carve out a decent standard of living. Redthreaded is proud to be able to pay employees well above minimum wage--as it should be for a skilled trade requiring higher education. 

If you didn't find the information you were looking for please check out our Policies Page and Blog for more information