Chatsworth House Style - Part 1 - Corsets, Christian Dior & the Cavendishes July 08 2018, 0 Comments

After visiting the 'Chatsworth - House Style' exhibition, I've put together a blog post in two parts, to in order to share some of the vintage and antique highlights with you.  Part 1 covers: lace, embroidery and detail from other selected fineries, along with the interesting and romantic history of some famous American women who made Chatsworth their home.

The Oxford Conference of Corsetry 2015 September 07 2015, 1 Comment

The Oxford Conference of Corsetry, now in it’s 3rd year, is held annually in the picturesque town of Oxford in England. Run by corset-veteran and owner of Sew Curvy, Julia Bremble – it is the event of the year on the corset making calendar. Catering for the beginner to life-corsetieres alike, this hub of learning, networking, socialising and sharing is a brilliant, if somewhat mind-blowing experience.

This year the special guests included Autumn Adamme from Dark Garden Corsetry, Ian Wallace from the Whitechapel Workhouse, Barbra Pesendorfer from Royal Black, Immodesty Blaze and direct from the couture houses of Paris, Mr Pearl. It was the addition of Mr Pearl to the program that prompted myself (and a few others) to send Julia late night emails, that translated from the gibberish aghrgh!!! Included ‘please let me come!!!’ There were a few, highly prized tickets left.

Up close viewing of the extraordinary detailing on Royal Black corsetry.

Every single one of these speakers were amazing. Autumn introduced pattern matching for corsetry. Ian had our minds ticking with integrated corsetry ideas and opportunities, the group discussions were particularly inspirational. Barbara opened our eyes to the many, many components that can be moulded, shaped, painted, embellished and created to bring gorgeous enhancement to corsetry and costume work. Mr Pearl charmed us all with his Q&A session, discussing the realities of the couture world, the teams behind his catwalk works of art, particulars from certain pieces – all done to a steady stream of disco from his Paris workshop.


Mr Pearl has worked with Gaultier in more recent years but his entry into the Parisian Couture world began with Mugler in the 90s.

Saturday evening gave us a chance to show off our own finery with an outdoor drinks reception, followed by a gorgeous 3 course dinner and a performance by Immodesty Blaze. Her after dinner speech was particularly inspiring and thought provoking - the festivities continued well into the night.


Giselle corset worn by myself (Danielle) of Ava corsetry. Also pictured Karolina Laskowska ( and Alice of Videnoir. 

Sunday was a huge day for most of the delegates with 4 models and photographers working throughout the entire day, negotiating weather, costume changes and incredible scenery to have all the outfits presented and photographed. In among this were more workshops on SEO with Fiona Pullen and incredible viewing of antique corsets, with Sephanie Selmayr from Past Pleasures. Also on the program was the corset viewing table, swap shop, networking tea & coffee and a fluid pattern and sewing class with Barbara.


Stunning bead work detailing on a corset from View of a suspender clip from an antique corset belonging to Stephanie Selmayr (

I feel so honoured to have been able to take part in such an informative and enjoyable weekend.  A huge thank you to all the team and delegates who made the conference the unforgettable event that it was.


Would you go again? Absolutely!! I loved every part of this weekend and learned an incredible amount.

What is Mr Pearl like? Utterly lovely, a complete gentleman and never-ending source of knowledge.

How can I go next year? Find out more info here

Pregnancy, babies and corsets! August 19 2014, 0 Comments

**This post is based around my own personal experiences and opinions. I am not a medical professional and points discussed in this post should not be treated as medical advice. Please discuss your postpartum healing plans with your midwife and doctor.**

Lately there’s been a lot of media hype about women who have recently given birth and corsets.

A number of celebrities have claimed to wear ‘corsets’ to regain their figures post pregnancy. However, if you read these articles (linked below) carefully, the garments described are actually elasticated shape wear and not corsetry.

So the question still stands in many ways. Is it safe to wear a corset during or after pregnancy?

As a corset maker who has recently been pregnant, this is something I have often been asked lately. I’d like to start with looking at the situation during pregnancy. The answer here is a firm no. The Victorians may have fashioned a maternity corset with adjustable panels but this is in no way advisable today – nor would you want to. As D-day approached, my garment of choice was a pair of far too big, loose waisted track pants. I even came home from the hospital in them.


No wonder you have to eat small meals – that baby takes up a lot of room. Quite like wearing a corset in some ways.


How about wearing a corset , after pregnancy then? There are many factors to consider here, such as how was your birth, did you deliver naturally or have a caesarean? If you had the latter, some doctors advise to not drive a car for up to 6 weeks (sometimes longer). A caesarean is major abdominal surgery, so strapping a firm corset over the top of your scar is going to be far from comfortable. The general advice is to defer from all exercise (except gentle walking) until your 6 week check. Your stomach and pelvic floor muscles have taken a real beating – even doing situps too early on can damage this weakened area. To the point – if your stomach muscles do not feel well enough to do a situp, then probably wearing a corset is not a sensible idea.

Be gentle on your body.

So how do you get a fabulous flat tummy post birth?

Thankfully, mother nature has an answer for this. Research shows ‘the best way to reduce abdominal distension is breastfeeding and specific exercises to strengthen the abdominals’.

As you feed the baby, oxytocin is released and this is responsible for helping your uterus to contract back down to its original size (and it’s kinda painful, but in a good way). Nobody leaves hospital with a flat tummy, this happens gradually over time. So for most people: if you keep active, do your pelvic floor exercises, keep a good posture with a tucked tummy and tall spine when you’re out on buggy walks, then by 3 months post birth you’ll be feeling great and probably eyeing up your corsets again.

Still find the idea of a celebrity endorsed, strongly elasticised girdle attractive? Take care – if your tummy is being supported externally when you wear these, then the internal muscles may not work as hard to rebuild themselves. Don’t give yourself a false friend.



Q: I’ve had diasasis recti (separation of the stomach muscles) during pregnancy – how soon after should I consider wearing a corset?

A: Everyone will heal at a different rate. Talk to your gp or physio so they can check how well your tummy muscles have knitted back together before you wear a corset again.

Q: What are some warning signs I’ve gone back to wearing my corset too soon?

A: If you feel any discomfort when wearing your corset (though this should be applied to normal corset wearing as well – but post pregnancy you need to listen very closely to your body) or feel unwell in any way. Trust your instincts and talk to your gp if you are ever in doubt.

Q: Will I need to waist train all over again?

A: Yes. Pregnancy will push out the floating ribs at the base of your rib cage and whilst they will naturally shift back into a normal position over time, if you trained them in before then you will need to do it again.


Like to hear more on this subject? Lucy has made a wonderful video discussing these same points and many more.


Danielle x

Beyond the Boudoir March 11 2014, 0 Comments

7 easy ways to style your corset for a night out.

So you have a beautiful corset. An amazing corset. And you want everyone to see your incredible waist in it, right, not just keep it for your bedroom?

Well here are just a few ways how! (Please see below for full image credits)

1) Pair it with a classic pencil or wiggle skirt

This look never fails to be chic, yet versatile. A good pencil skirt is a wardrobe classic and so is a black underbust corset. Black skirts will work with either black or coloured corsets, while a coloured skirt is easiest with a black corset. Tartan (plaid) can be especially striking for the cooler months and gives a more daytime hint. This is the perfect opportunity for seamed tights, rather than stockings, as your suspender belt could show under a close fitting skirt. A leg split (seen right) will add that bit of extra sauce to the ensemble.


2) Pair it with a skater, circle or full skirt

Teaming a corset with a full skirt will give an instant 50s bombshell image, especially if the skirt is cotton and boldly printed or lighter in colour. A chiffon or soft silk full skirt can take your corset into perfect black tie/ formal/ wedding attire; an underbust or overbust could be worn this way. A fuller skirt is especially good if you are pear shaped, very curvy or have large hips as the skirt line will skim neatly over your curves and do an amazing job of emphasising just how tiny your waist is.



3) Pair it with a sheer top

If you are like me and own a few too many beautiful bras, a sheer top is the perfect way to take lingerie to outwear whilst keeping it neat and sophisticated. A chiffon pussy bow blouse works very well and the cinched shaping of an underbust corset will compliment the fullness of the fabric beautifully.



4) Pair it with trousers

Wide leg trousers? Skinny trousers? Wet look leggings? The possibilities are endless. Keeping your trousers tailored will add to the ‘evening’ dynamic, or if you want a more edgy look then leggings are perfect. Unless you are planning a white contrast shirt/tailored trouser look then I would recommend an overbust corset in this situation. Just make sure there are no gaps between trouser top and corset bottom!



5) Pair it with jeans

This has never been my style, but it's so popular as a way of glamming up jeans or dressing down your corset. Rihanna is very casual in the below picture – so for the evening, have some nicely fitting jeans, pop an overbust corset on, some dashing heels, perhaps a necklace and you are done. I'd keep the colours dark – I'm not convinced I could pull off white jeans like Rihanna!


6) Pair it with a suit jacket or biker style.

The search for the perfect tailored jacket or biker inspired jacket has been a phenomenon in fashion in the last few years, so I'm betting most of you own at least one. A fitted suit jacket will show off your sculptured waist without drawing too much attention and can neatly take you from the office to an evening out. Your leather jacket will create a more rock and roll image – perhaps with those leggings or skinny jeans options.


7) Pair it with shrugs and boleros

Fluffy shrugs, cropped cardigans, boleros – all are great ways to update a corset. Visually, the wider your shoulders look then the smaller your waist will appear. Practically, they help keep you a touch warmer, cover up any aspect you're not keen on in the bosom or arm area, and if you're attending an event where heaving bosom or bare shoulders aren't appropriate, this is how to get away with your favourite corset anyway!


With special thanks to Gina (Guernsey), Karolina Laskowska (UK) and Mya (Canada)

Danielle x


Image credits:

1) Emma Glover modelling Ava Corsetry Ophelia underbust. Photography by Karl Taylor Photography.

Mya from Canada, wearing Kiss Me Deadly black Tempest corset

2) Karolina Laskowska wearing a Sparklewren overbust corset

Mya from Canada, wearing Kiss Me Deadly black Tempest underbust corset

3) Jess modelling Kiss Me Deadly Blue Deville underbust corset

Chiffon pussy bow blouse, source unknown

4) Rubin Singer corset and trousers

Twilight star Ashely wearing Donna Karen corset

5) Rihanna, corset unknown

6) Various jackets, sources unknown

7) Karolina Laskowska wearing Fairy Goth Mother/ Lulu & Lush corset