What does a Corset Maker do?

Mary McMahon

A corset maker is a craftsperson who makes corsets, or a company which produces corsets. Many corset makers produce a ready to wear line which can be sold in stores, and they may also perform custom work by request. Custom work is a service which tends to be offered more by individual craftspeople and small companies which pride themselves on their craftsmanship, and it can be quite costly.

Corset makers create the supportive undergarments sometimes worn by women.
Corset makers create the supportive undergarments sometimes worn by women.

Corsets are supportive undergarments worn primarily by women. They come in a variety of styles and designs, but all share the theme of being made from sturdy materials with boning. When worn and tightened, a corset helps hold a desired shape and smooth the figure. Historically, corsets were used to create the desirable hourglass figure, with women engaging in an activity known as waist training or tightlacing, in which they actually molded their bodies over time with their corsets to achieve very small waist sizes.

Many corset makers specialize in creating corsets for costume dramas.
Many corset makers specialize in creating corsets for costume dramas.

Generic ready to wear corsets are sometimes worn as part of lingerie ensembles, or worn under wedding gowns and similar formal wear. Most women today do not wear corsets on a regular basis, let alone engage in waist training. Instead, control garments made from highly elastic fabrics are worn by women who wish to smooth, control, and shape their figures. In fact, the profile of a true corset does not fit well under modern clothing, which is why these undergarments are most commonly seen in lingerie, or in stylized forms which are worn as tops.

Custom corsets and liners can be ordered from a corset maker by women who want a corset which will fit the body perfectly and work well with a specific garment or set of garments. Some women may order custom corsets for gowns, as part of their wedding lingerie, and for other occasions. Custom pieces are also critical for women who tightlace; tightlacing is still an activity practiced in some subsets of the fetish community. Tightlacers need custom corsets because a proper fit is critical for safe and comfortable waist training, and because the unique sizes worn by tightlacers are usually not available in ready to wear form.

A corset maker can also specialize in the production of corsets for historical dramas performed on stage, film, or television. In this case, the corset maker may be an independent craftsperson periodically contracted by a costuming department, or the corset maker may work within a costuming department to make corsets to order. Proper fit and the availability of custom materials are important when designing corsets for historical dramas, both for reasons of comfort and historical accuracy.

Corsets are commonly worn under wedding gowns.
Corsets are commonly worn under wedding gowns.

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