How to Floss a Corset

Decorative Flossing Stitches

These stitches are completely decorative, and in no way secure the boning.  However, if the boning can shift side to side in the channel the decorative stitching can be used to pad out the boning channel and help eliminate wiggle-room.

 

Double-Channel Star

This pattern requires two threads.  One is labeled by letter, and the other is labeled by number.

Take the letter thread and create a loose loop in the center of the boning channels.

Take your number thread, emerge at Stitch 1, loop through the letter thread, and descend at Stitch 2.  Adjust the tension so it will be taught when the A-B loop is tightened, but DO NOT tighten the A-B loop.

Repeat with Stitch 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8.

If you wish to vary the pattern by adding stitches, repeat with those as well, but always work sequentially around the star pattern or it will be even more difficult to adjust the tension.

After half the star has been stitched, tighten Loop A-B and adjust the tension on the number thread.

Repeat, mirroring for the other half of the star.

Double-Channel Star - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Double-Channel Star - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Some simple variations:

  • Greater or shorter distance from the star center to the outer rays.
  • Greater or shorter distances between the  individual stitches or pairs of stitches.
  • More or less stitches.
  • More threads of differing colors.
  • Offset stars that overlap.
  • Quarter or half stars, instead of full stars.

 

Wheat Chaff Design

This design is created decoratively over the boning, and can be made as an extension of any flossing that secures the boning.  The stitches are made with the boning in the channel, with the needle making two stitches at onces exactly as shown in the diagram.  Due to the stiffness of boning, it can be difficult to precisely place the stitches, but with practice it can be done.  If you learn to use them properly, curved millinery needles can make this process easier, but millinery needles are inherently more difficult to use than normal embroidery needles and will require practice on their own.

Start at the tip of the bone, or underneath the securing flossing stitches where the initial emerging stitch will be hidden from view.

Stitch under where you want the wheat pattern to start, and emerge at the height of the pattern segment.

Return to the same location and stitch under again, emerging to the side of the boning channel.

Return to the same location and stitch under again, emerging to the other side of the boning channel.

Return to the same location again, emerging two segments way along the center of the boning channel.

Repeat the entire pattern as many times as desired.

Wheat Chaff Design - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Wheat Chaff Design Variations - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Wheat Chaff Design Variations - How to Floss a Corset, by Sidney Eileen

Some simple variations:

  • Dual or triple stitches at any or all locations, instead of single stitches.
  • Greater or shorter lengths on the segments.
  • Greater or shorter lengths on the arms.
  • Steeper or shorter angles on the arms.
  • Different characteristics for different segments.

 

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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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