How to Floss a Corset

Securing Stitches

 

Triangle Tip

It’s important that the first stitch emerges at the center of the boning channel, so it will hold the bone in the correct location while you stitch the rest of the flossing.  Starting there gives you a solid anchor point.  The shape of the triangle is determined by the location you choose for stitch 2.  The closer stitch 2 is to the bone tip, the stouter the triangle will be.  The further away it is, the more pointed the triangle will be.  I recommend placing stitch 2 down the channel at least as far as the channel is wide, to avoid crowding on the shorter stitches.

Triangle Tip - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney EileenTriangle Tip - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Some simple variations:

  • Place stitch 2 further away from the bone tip.
  • Place more distance between each of the even numbered stitches (the ones on the side of the boning channel), or stagger them in groups (for example, make the distances short, short, long, short, short, etc.)
  • At the bone tip make stitches only at the center of the channel (rather than an arch from channel edge to channel edge), creating a wedge shape instead of a triangle.

 

Basic Crossed Flossing

This is what I consider to be the most basic kind of flossing, and variations of it are very common among flossed corsets.  The design is simple, effective, and beautiful, with a minimal number of stitches.

All variations of the pattern start with the first stitch just to the side of center at the tip of the bone, with stitch 2 traveling across the bone.  The distance between the bone tip and stitch 2 is entirely personal preference for the aesthetic of the flossing.  The diagram shows two pairs of stitches, alternating right to left, but the stitches can be made in any number of stitches as long as the stitches are balanced.

Basic Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen Basic Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen
Basic Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen Basic Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Some simple variations:

  • Fewer or more stitches.
  • Multiple threads of different colors.
  • Starting stitch 2 closer to or further away from the bone tip.
  • Greater or shorter distances between the stitches on the sides.
  • Fewer or more individual stitches in each woven group of stitches.

 

Multiple Crossed Flossing

This is a variation of the basic crossed flossing.  It starts the same way, with crossed flossing stitches at the tip of the bone.  Then there is a gap at the bone tip to another set of crossed flossing stitches, creating an open pattern.

Multiple Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen Multiple Crossed Flossing - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Some simple variations:

  • More of fewer stitches in each woven group.
  • Multiple threads of different colors.
  • Greater or shorter distances between the bone tip and stitches.
  • Greater or shorter distances between the groups of stitches, either at the tip or on the sides of the boning channel.

7 thoughts on “How to Floss a Corset

  1. Pingback: Late Victorian Corset | Sewfall

  2. Pingback: The Finished Regency Stays | Sewing Empire

  3. Hi there, I love this tutorial – your diagrams are wonderful! thank you!

    A question, how early did flossing start – I’m making stays, and dur to the complicate boning pattern on the front panel I wanted to use flossing to hold the bones in place a little more securely, but I’m not too sure how accurate that is. The stays are Elizabethan. Any help would be fantastic!

    Thanks!
    Emma

    • I can’t say for certain when flossing started because for my research I am limited to what examples I can find posted online, but I believe flossing was created along with steel boning, in the Victorian. I’ve seen embroidery on extant stays (sometimes quite elaborate), but never flossing. The reason for this is that it’s really not needed for stays using historic methods and materials. Flossing was created to hold steel boning in place, because it’s manufactured in set lengths and then used in corsets. Before the advent of steel boning, corsets were stiffened with reed or baleen, both of which are very easy to trim by hand to exactly the length of the corset. That means the edging of the corset was what held the boning in place, without the need for additional special stitching. As for specifically the Renaissance, there are only a couple extant pieces, so research on that era’s stays outside the Effigy corset is problematic altogether.

      Given that, the question then goes back to the perpetual question for pre-1800 reenactment costuming, how historically accurate do you want to be, or can you afford to be? If you are using steel boning (which is far and away the least expensive and most practical option for modern costuming), you are already worlds away from historically accurate, so if you want to use flossing, I personally don’t see any reason not to. At the very least you need to run a line of stitches close on either side of each bone to hold it in place. If you are interested in hiding the steel boning, you can make a cover layer and place it onto the body of the stays after securing the boning. If you want to use flossing, I would research Renaissance embroidery and adapt those designs to hold the boning in place. Flossing just needs to secure the end of the boning. One of my books on corsets shows a Victorian extant piece with normal-looking flossing on the front boning, and then an arch of mini flowers just outside the boning on the back. It doesn’t need to cover the tip as is so common in Victorian flossing, so if you stitch the end of the boning in place it can then be covered with Renaissance style embroidery.

  4. Thank you very much for this delightful tutorial ! I especially like the multiple crossed flossing : the design is fresh and elegant. I’m thinking of making a corset and I think I’ll use this pattern for the flossing^^

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