Places to learn corsetmaking
Since we're full for interns, I thought I'd try to be useful/helpful by finally writing a blog post about good places to learn how to make corsets!
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, it is simply a selection of resources that I can confidently recommend on account of knowing the people involved and knowing the quality of their teaching. There are of course many other good places to learn too, but this is a good starting point.
- Foundations Revealed. Being an online magazine, FR has the scope to reach everyone who has even a passing interest in corsetmaking. And since the writing staff is composed largely of very talented and well-known corsetmakers, you can feel confident that each and every article will reveal something you'd never thought of before. It's very much "the corsetmaker's corsetmaking resource." But don't be intimidated, there is a great selection of articles for the absolute beginner, a few of which are available in the free section of the website. So definitely take a look. In fact, I'm always telling fashion/costume students about Foundations Revealed and cannot believe how many of them don't know about it. It really should be on the recommended reading of every degree or course that has a corsetry module.
- Me! I keep being told that I should teach more often, so I'm letting it be known that I'm open to taking intermediate/advanced students on a one-to-one basis for afternoons of trouble-shooting, conversation, and brainstorming. Essentially, this would be for you if you've made at least one or two corsets before. For example, maybe you've made a corset and as you were doing it thought, "surely there must be a better seam choice than this?" or "why exactly is this steel a better option than that type?" or "how do I get a lovely nipped waist and full hip?" or "how can I develop wilder patterns?"... If you've had any questions of that nature, then a one-to-one session could be for you. I usually charge £50/hr when I teach privately, but we're thinking of scheduling a small number of 2hr slots for £50 this Spring/Summer, so drop me an email if you'd like to discuss. We're based in Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter, which is of course very central within the country and easy to get to. Just bring along a notebook, camera, any corsets you've made, and lots of questions :-)
- CrikeyAphrodite. Alison occasionally finds time to teach quality corsetmaking and being based in Glasgow (Scotland) she's one of the few teachers that I'm aware of up North. She also offers intermediate subjects like sheer corsetry, which is pretty rare. Definitely worth a visit, you'll learn a lot and Glasgow is beautiful.
- Sew Curvy in Oxford (now know as the Oxford School of Corsetry). Julia is a force of nature and one of the strings in her bow is teaching. She offers corsetmaking tuition at a variety of levels in small groups, with the vibe always welcoming and educational. And being in the Oxfordshire countryside, any excuse for a visit is a good one! It's a lovely part of the world after all. Green landscapes, good pubs, high quality learning, what more do you need? Arguably the best place in England to learn corsetry from start-to-finish.
- Actual universities and colleges! BCU's performance pathway includes a corsetry module as taught by clever Jo of Rawhide Corsets. DMU's contour course also incorporates corsetry with a slightly different approach (looking more at antiques and lingerie for inspiration). My understanding is that both courses provide a starting pattern, which lets you focus on learning construction and design. A lot of the students that fall in love with corsetry on these courses then come to us as interns, when we have the space. Naturally I hear mixed reviews of each university, but ultimately the students I meet through these courses are getting a really good start in their corsetmaking education, a springboard for further study. There are other courses which also include corsetry (look for costume rather than fashion courses), but I'm afraid I don't know much about them. And it's worth noting that none of the degrees I'm aware of include a lot of corsetry. It's just one small part, so if you only want to learn corsetmaking I'd suggest other options before a full degree.
- City&Guilds. I'm not aware of anyone currently offering this. But I do know that a few of my corsetmaking friends got their start by studying through a C&G course in Nottingham. Might be worth a google.
- Vanyanis. Near Melbourne, Lowana is one of the most exacting and sweet corsetmakers I know. As a result, you can be sure that the level education is easily matched by the warmth of welcome. If you go, give Lowana (and her princess-cat, Nomi!) a cuddle from me :-)
So there you are, a little starting point when searching for places to learn corsetmaking! I've probably forgotten a few good resources so I'll add stuff in as and when I remember them.
Oh, well here's another one actually! If you're an adventurous sort (or perhaps too shy to contact any of us yet), then a really fun place to look for corset inspiration is haabet.dk. It shows a selection of odd corset patents which are great patterning inspiration. I've just been showing them to today's interns actually. These pattern ideas are wild though, some of them utterly bonkers, so they're great for tracing and tweaking and making up as "paper mock-ups", things like that. Just to begin to get an idea of that 2D/3D relationship between patterns and objects.
Right, I'd best get back to work now. I'm showing the interns how to create new patterns from old toiles.