How to Take Care of the Corset
The Victorian Way
Every woman realizes the importance of a well fitting corset, and for this reason she should keep her stays in as perfect condition as possible. Even if she purchases a French corset bonded with genuine whalebone or has her stays made by a reputable corsetiere, they are bound to lose their symmetrical lines after a few months' wearing. The corset quickly becomes soiled and the trimming about the top soon loses its dainty freshness, and no matter how expensive the model may be it does not preserve its newness for any length of time.
Just a word about the proper manner of caring for a corset. In the first place always unlace a corset, when removing it; this preserves the lines much longer then if it is allowed to remain laced from the time it is purchased until the lacer breaks or the corset is worn out. After wearing a corset, always straighten the bones over the hips and smooth out the wrinkles.Renew the elastic supporters the moment they lose their elasticity.
When the corset becomes soiled it can easily be cleaned at home if these instructions are closely followed:
Remove the lacer and dip the halves in water. Fill a vessel with warm water, and with this and a cake of pure white soap proceed to scrub the stays. This requires vigorous scrubbing, and if the corset is stained from perspiration apply peroxide of hydrogen.
Rinse through several clear waters, the last one being slightly blued. If the stains continue to appear apply lemon-juice and salt and place the stays in the strong sunlight to bleach. When they are thoroughly dry prepare to mend the torn places or renew any bones which require strengthening. If the bones have pushed through the top a new binding is necessary. For this purpose purchase strong tape an inch in width and whipstitch it over the edge. On top of this stitch a band of white satin ribbon, an edging of embroidery or lace to make a dainty finish.
To replace broken bones others can be purchased at the notion counter of any department-store. Remove the old bones, after the binding is ripped from the top, and insert the new ones.
When the bones are badly bend over the hips, but not broken, they can be reshaped in this manner:
After the corset has been scrubbed and rinsed, place heavy weights over the hips. During the process of drying these will straighten the bones which have lost their supporting-qualities. Change the lacers of your stays as quickly as they become worn, for if they should break some time when you are away from home they cause much discomfort.
Every woman should have three pairs of corsets and the investment will prove an economy in the end. One pair should be reserved strictly for evening wear, another for street clothes, a slightly boned pair for house wear.
If you indulge in golf, tennis, horseback riding or other sports they demand a corset fitting the requirements of the exercise. When the stays in the heavily boned corset wear through the material, causing much discomfort to the wearer, remedy the fault in this manner: Over each break where the bone appears sew a square of heavy inchwide tape.
If, at any time cuts appear in the material, reinforce in time, by stitching a strip of tape on the under side and neatly running several rows of machine-stitching on each side of the tear. The corsets will last much longer.
It is very necessary when purchasing a corset to select a model perfectly suited to your figure. You cannot be too particular regarding the lines of a corset, which should always run vertically. If a corset draws together at the top and bottom, bulging at the waist, lay this model aside, for it will not give satisfactory results. The space down the back should be the same width at all points.
Many women wear stays a size too small, with the false impression that they make the figure appear more slender. The strain on the material and boning is doubled by this fact, and the corset quickly loses its lines and wears out. Do not try to wear the same size year after year without having your measurements taken, for you will find that the figure varies greatly. Try on several models before making a final choice, if you desire comfort and service; you will be well repaid for the extra time it requires. If the front bones, to which clasps are attached, break or wear through, new ones can be purchased at the notion counter, and these are easily adjusted, and should be sewn in place with heavy linen thread. If these directions are closely followed your corset will last many months longer than it would ordinarily, and surely this is worth the little time required to keep it in perfect condition. So long life to your corset!
Article from Needlecraft 1913