It was 1987...a rather long time ago...over half of my life ago! I was working as a junior costume maker at Canada's largest costume shop and they offered and "off season" class in corset making. I was looking to expend my skills but really didn't know much about corsets at all, and signed up for the class.
The teacher was an older woman, at least I thought she was, now I realize she was likely only a few years older than I am now! She was originally from Holland I think and had a delightful sense of humor as well as skill both as a corset maker and teacher.
We didn't learn to draft a pattern and we didn't get to make corsets that fit us, nor did we get to keep the corsets we made - they were added to the theatres stock but we all loved the process and had a great week. I still have a picture of us on the last day with our finished corsets. If I can find it I'll scan it and post it (it was taken in the days of film). We did each get to choose the fashion fabric we wanted to use from a selection that was provided and we di get to try the corsets on when we were done - despite them not being our size. I was captivated by the process and when I tried on the finished corset I was hooks; who knew I could look like that!
There were few opportunities to meet corsets in the costuming future, but I did make corset type bodices for various productions such as the North American premiere of the Phantom of the Opera and other lesser plays.
Once children arrived in my life, I left costume production and focused on running my own company "Farthingales" in 1998. The hours were better and more flexible and I was able to focus more on the things that I wanted to do, while still making a living. Farthingales was one of the very first companies online selling costume and corset making supplies. I did my research on developing the company at the local library, because like everyone else I knew, I did not own a computer. I started to make more corsets in order to understand how best to use the corset supplies I want to sell and promote. In reality it was an excuse, I really just wanted to explore corset making techniques and how to refine the process and make it faster, yet still end up the durable and supportive garment.
The teaching and learning led to my writing the book "The Basics of Corset Building" which is published by Macmillan press. In a way I suppose writing the book was self-serving, as it meant I would no longer have to answer the hundreds of emails that came in asking many of the same questions. I assumed when I wrote the book and when I taught basic classes, that people would use that information as a springboard to their own exploration of corset building. In many cases this is in fact what happened but in many more, people wanted more knowledge. I've continued to teach both basic corset making, and more specialized corset making classes at conferences and by invitation, but I've also tried to create a series of downloadable books that address specific corset making questions. This series of books was written by the end of 2011 and sent off to the publisher as one book with 28 chapters. They were concerned about the in excess of 400 pages (alomost 500) and the salability of it. They were not interested in making it into smaller booklets, so it was time to discover how to sell these books on my own. They all chronicle a corset project or two that I have undertaken either on my own or with someone to help with sewing - while I photographed and wrote about the process.It wasn't long until I was sharing my knowledge both online and in classes throughout the US and Canada. The more I taught, the more I learned. When you teach, students ask questions that you haven't thought of, they asked questions that you know the answers to but have long forgotten that you once asked to.
If you're not familiar with these downloadable books you can read more about them at
Not all the chapters are on-line yet, I get one up every couple of months and wish I had more time to work on them.