Feature Friday: Laura McFarlane

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Photography: Nathanael Patriquin Model: Alyssa Yvette Corset: Laura McFarlane Surface Design: Dee Wilkie


How long does it typically take to make a corset?
A traditional corset can take about 40 or more hours depending on how much embellishment is desired, and hand sewing there is to be done. A traditional corset can also have ‘laminating’ which means that two inside layers of the corset are sewn together with several vertical lines of stitching for added structure. A fashion corset on the other hand can take closer to 10 to 20 hours of work because they often have more machine sewing and lamination is not neccessarily needed. The corset is not intended to be as structured, and is more for show than utility.

How much fabric is needed?
There are usually three to four layers of fabric in a corset, the outer ‘fashion fabric layer’, two layers of fabric into which the bones will be inserted, and sometimes another inner layer to add thickness and strength to the fashion fabric if it is a light fabric like silk or cotton. All together 2 to 3 meters of fabric can go into a typical corset.

Where did you learn to make them?
I graduated from the Fashion Design program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design in 2014. In the fashion program there is a course all about corsetry which teaches how to properly create a pattern, how to fit it properly, and how to sew a traditional style of corset.

What do you love most about making corsets?
I am a costumer, and have always loved the history of clothing, and undergarments and corsetry have evolved so much, but the historic look of corsets has been

What is the most frustrating part about making a corset?
It takes a lot of time to make one complete corset, and I will admit that I can get a little impatient. Usually I do a lot of hand stitching at the beginning and of end my corsets, and it is amazing how fast an evening can disappear when you’re hand stitching pieces together, or stitching down your edges.

What kind of details and embellishments can be added to a corset?
Piping the seams of a corset is a common embellishment, and can help to strengthen your seams. There is also a type of stitching embellishment called ‘flossing’ which is a technique of stitching at the top and/pr bottom of the bone channels. The stitching can be purely for decoration, but it is also used to better anchor the bones in place, and to add strength to the fabric which will make it less likely for the bones to eventually poke through the fabric over time. As modern fashion corsets go however, anything from lace to fringe, buttons, stubs and more can go into a corset.

When did corsets start in history and how are they used/worn today?
The corset was first introduced into fashion in the 16th century in Italy. They were worn to create a smooth tight cone shape to the torso, and to push the breasts up. Over hundreds of years many

different shape and technique changes occurred, including the addition of boning, which were commonly made from whalebone but are now either plastic or metal.

Today some people do still use corsets as a shaping undergarment, but now fashion corsets are much more popular and are worn as/or over clothing. Current costuming trends are also making corseting much more popular, such as Steampunk, which is inspired by the technology and aesthetic of the 19th century.

To check out more of Laura’s designs, check out her facebook page here.