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Corsetry

Gussets, Gores, and Trademarks -- Definitions

The Wikipedia article on gussets starts with the basic definition that "In sewing, a gusset is a triangular or square piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing." While the Wikipedia article on gores states that a gore is "a segment of a three-dimensional shape fabricated from a two-dimensional material. The term was originally used to describe triangular shapes, but is now extended to any shape that can be used to create the third dimension." It should be noted that the gore entry is not specific to sewing; it's actually listed as a cartography article, although it also mentions parachutes, hot-air balloons, and round corners in duct-work.
These definitions lend themselves to the idea that a gore is used for the purpose of shaping while a gusset is added for the purpose of movement. I'm not sure why this would be different in corsetry, besides the obvious need to distinguish between a gore placed between to panels and a gore placed in a slit in a panel. However, given the close relationship between corsetry and costuming, I would think that corsetry-specific definitions for "gusset" and "gore" would actually get more confusing, since the use of gussets is so widespread in historical clothing.

Related side note:
There is also a brand of jeans called "Diamond Gusset" that uses (you guessed it) a diamond-shaped gusset in the crotch. While this would again lend itself to the theory that gussets are about allowing for freedom of motion, I'm seeing some problems here. For one, gussets aren't exactly a new idea, and these are being called "the original" gusset jean. Beyond that, they're referring to this gusset in the crotch of their jeans as a "our trademark gusset." Stop right there. Trademark gusset? At the top of their what is a gusset? page is the question "Why didn't someone think of this sooner?" Since when are crotch gussets a new idea? Or is the newness simply in applying it to jeans? Are jeans considered a different item of clothing than pants? I'm fairly certain that the term "jeans" refers to denim pants, denim being a specific type of twill. The variety of specialized fabric weave types is certainly fairly new, but can we call something new when it's an old idea, just a new fabric/pattern combination? Could there still be "original" crotch-gusseted khakis? But let's move on to the real problem with this statement about a "trademark gusset." 15 U.S.C. § 1052 states that registration of a trademark shall be refused if: "(e) Consists of a mark which (1) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them, (2) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically descriptive of them, except as indications of regional origin may be registrable under section 1054 of this title, (3) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of them, (4) is primarily merely a surname, or (5) comprises any matter that, as a whole, is functional."
If we were to assume, for the sake of argument, that a gusset could possibly be considered a trademark to begin with (which I highly doubt) part 5 is clearly problematic. Their own site states rather clearly that the gusset is functional; it's not a mark of distinction, it's a method of providing superior characteristics to their jeans, so the likelihood of this diamond-shaped gusset being a trademark strikes me as about zilch. There's good reason for this limitation on trademarks-- functionality is legally governed by patent law. If someone could trademark a way of making something, that trademark would be so ingrained by the time that patent expired that it would be impossible for anybody else to use it, despite the expired patent putting it in the public domain. Not only would covering functionality under trademark law be redundant, it would effectively remove all time limits on patents.
Of course, I'm being pedantic, and given that I see no legal statements or legally representative trademark symbols being used, after having written all this, it's now occurring to me that they're probably using the phrase "our trademark _______" in the colloquial sense of "something about us that differentiates us from the majority of similar products on the market," rather than in a technical, legal sense. Furthermore, those Diamond Gusset jeans are both reasonably priced ($50 jeans, $120 protective motorcycle pants) and made in America-- not only "Made in America" but completely made in America, down to the American-grown cotton! Their customer service information page states that they have a 90-day guarantee on materials and workmanship, and a "fair-play" statement that if something goes on sale within five days of having ordered it, you can give them a call and they'll adjust your order to match the sale price. So now I'm somewhat regretting having objected to their non-technical use of the word "trademark" but hey, I linked to them four times! And I've never claimed not to be a pedantic geek.

Erm, I had more specific ramblings about gores, along with pictures, but I'll save that for another post, and leave this one as a post about definitions. Suffice it to say I'm now satisfied with the distinction that gores are usually-triangular pieces used for shaping and gussets are usually-four-sided pieces used for providing an increased range of motion. That does make it difficult to distinguish between set-in-panel gores and set-between-panel gores. Gore type 1 and gore type 2? Gore A and gore B? Gore B and gore I?

Gores, Gussets.. Gussets, Gores..

Gores and Gusset: Or gussets and gore?Gores and Gusset: Or gussets and gore?
After dfr made her very successful denim corset, I realized that the too-tightly-woven-for-jeans non-stretch denim sitting in my stash would work wonderfully for corsetry. I'd gotten it during a fabric.com sale, so of course I had no way of knowing what the denim would actually be like-- they almost always take pictures completely flat, and only show scale if it's a print. They had a whole host of heavyweight non-stretch denim that was on sale, all with nearly identical pictures. I'd selected two, theoretically the same denim but in different colors, not that that was visible on the site. While they are somewhat different colors, the actual difference was that one was a much tighter weave than the other. For jeans, I prefer some stretch to denim; mostly I go after heavyweight denims with lycra, but I've had some success with less tightly woven denims.

So, denim corsetry. I've started a mockup of my new altered version of my self-drafted pattern that doesn't quite fit. But then I decided to get a subscription to Foundations Revealed, and so I've been working on some of those techniques. Like the gussets and gores. Or gores and gussets. The article says that gores are the pieces set into a slit in a piece of fabric, and gussets are the ones that are set in between two panels. Talking about it in the PR chat last night, though, everyone else thought that it was the other way around. When I ask Google, the main results I come up with are late 1800s and early 1900s supreme court cases dealing with shoe patents. And no, those don't answer my question. Then there's the What is a Gusset? Fashion Incubator entry, which makes some mention of the difference between gussets and godets (apparently godets are more decorative rather than functional) but doesn't seem to define gusset in any way that I can solidly distinguish from gores.

But anyways, the Foundations Revealed article is on "wrinkle free" gores and gussets. I used the front two panels and the gore and gusset pieces from the 1878 patent they used in the examples. I'm starting to believe that "wrinkle free" gores (or whichever ones are inserted into a slit rather than in between two panels) are a physical impossibility; you have to sew it to a tip, and then turn it inside.. how does this work? It doesn't seem physically possible. The standard method seems to be to embroider around the bottom of the gore (gusset?) in order to hide the wrinkling that occurs. With some coercive ironing, I managed to get it fairly straight, but you can see that it's still not quite right, and that's using just denim. There's no way I'd attempt it with, say, silk layered onto a strength layer. Maybe I'm being too picky, is it "too" picky to want professional looking results? Well, I suppose that if what the professionals do is embroider the bottom of the gore to hide imperfections, that's what should be done.. but it's making my brain hurt as I ponder whether this is a work-around or an actual technique, and whether those can actually be the same thing.
I may try doing that corset in denim, as well. It's an interesting and very pretty pattern, despite all of the infuriating gores/gussets. If my head explodes, you'll know why.

Closeups of the Stars

Stars Closeup 2Stars Closeup 2Closeup of StarsCloseup of Stars
Closeups of the flossing stars for dfr.

I start with an X, then I make the next line actually two lines, each from the outside and then just over where the two starting lines crossed. For the last line, I start from one side and then loop around where all of the threads intersect in the center, but don't actually make that one two separate stitches. I'm not sure that's what I'll keep doing, though, since it doesn't seem to be too clean on the back, and of course wouldn't work on a boning channel.. unless perhaps it went across two boning channels.. but then I think it would be too big for a simple asterisk star pattern. I'm sure refining my flossing will be a long and time-consuming process!

I'm Declaring the Ivory Corset Done!

I'm Declaring it DoneI'm Declaring it DoneIvory Corset InsideIvory Corset Inside
I know, it doesn't really look different than the last one or the one before that. Or the one before that. After finishing the flowers and the blue top flossing for the boning channels, I felt like it needed something else. So I added little stars in blue and silver, and silver running stitches along the sides of the busk.
The inside doesn't look particularly polished, but it actually is lined, but the lining is Vera Wang canvas rather than something white. And the flossing is of course goes all the way through to the lining. I believe that's how it's supposed to be done, but it does look unpolished that way. Perhaps I just need to work on making the underside of the flossing look decent. Or do less flossing. The pinstripes on that canvas also make straight lines a great deal easier.
I've kept going and going with the flossing because since it's really way too small, especially around the top, I don't know what makes it done. Maybe it's not a completed project at all, but besides the size problem, I rather like it. It's not perfect, but it does look fairly decent, and the general technique is definitely an improvement on my previous corsets. It's a learning experience! Flat fabric, almost no wrinkling.. just way too small!

And So It Continues (or, The Never-Ending Tale of the Ivory Corset)

Ivory Corset -- Getting Even Closer!Ivory Corset -- Getting Even Closer!
..The corset goes ever on and on..

I've finished everything for this corset that I expected to do-- the top and bottom of each bone and of both sides of the busk are flossed, and I've made a modesty panel, although it still needs some improvement. I used a floating modesty panel with grommets at the top, but other than that, it's only attached midway down by a loop of fabric, so at the very least, it needs a few more grommets. I also think that the busk flossing needs more. Definitely a flower on top off the "grass," at least.. it looks unfinished as it is. And I'm still thinking I'd like some flossing along the boning channels, probably a blue star-like design.
And then of course there's the problem of the fact that it doesn't quite fit. Well, it does in that I can wear it, so if that means it fits, then it fits. But it is too small, and the strips of lacing warp a bit, probably because the gap in the back is bigger than it really should be. And I can't tighten it without getting a really bad muffin-top effect. Next one *definitely* gets ease added at least to the top-- I seem to displace more upward than downward. Woah, that might even give the illusion that I actually have a chest!

On a related note, I just learned from Gloria's Blog entry that "muffin top" has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

It's Almost Done! (Or, The Continuing Story of the Ivory Corset)

Almost Done!Almost Done!
Well, it's almost done! There's a flower and a half missing in this picture, since I tried it on after I finished the binding, and I'd had to remove the flower-and-a-half in order to straighten out some of the binding on the bottom. (Note to self-- bind, then floss.) And I still have to floss around the bottom of the busk, and possibly some flossing elsewhere on the main body of the corset, I'm not totally decided on that, but it would help keep everything in place. It also needs a modesty panel, and you can kinda see the outline of the waist tape. But look at the lack of wrinkles!!
I can't get much reduction from it, and have muffin top problems if I try to tighten it much. For the next one, I'll add ease at the top to compensate for displacement, as suggested by Sparklewren and discussed by Cathy Hay in her Pint Glass To Hour Glass Shocker post in the Merry Corsetiers LiveJournal group.

Ivory Corset -- Flossing Along the Bottom Edge

Ivory Corset -- Flossing on the Bottom EdgeIvory Corset -- Flossing on the Bottom EdgeI've gotten the flossing mostly finished along the bottom edge. I'm not sure I like the busk flossing; it looks wrong somehow. It also looks a bit like it could be a shadow rather than a design element, so I'm probably going to redo the busk flossing with more of an actual plan. Maybe.
I haven't decided exactly how I'm going to do the flossing on the top, or whether I'm doing to do any flossing along the boning channels in between. I'll experiment with that tonight and tomorrow, probably before deciding what to do about the busk. I do like the blue, I'm just wondering if I should have done something more interesting.
Wow I'm indecisive..

Creating Flossing Flowers

Flossing FlowerFlossing Flower
Flossing Flower 2Flossing Flower 2Flossing Flower 3Flossing Flower 3
Flossing flowers are probably the simplest of *ahem* fancy flossing, but it's a good place to start, right? I did the bottom (green) part the way Sidney Eileen demonstrates in her flossing tutorial.
For the top part of the flower, I bring the thread through from the back, above where I've made the stem, and then thread it around the top of the stem and bring it back up, like in the first picture to the right, and then back through at the same level, on the other side of the bone. I repeat that from the other side, down a couple of millimeters from the previous level of "petals." I don't yet have a set procedure for the rest of the flower petals, I just kinda keep going in a similar manner until it looks like it might be finished.

Flossing

Flossing StartedFlossing Started So, dfr is almost finished her denim corset and it has pretty pink flowers for the flossing. And then of course she asked me if I'm going to do "real" flossing this time or "just" the criss-cross flossing like I did on my last one. Apparently I'm supposed to out-do her. So mine is going to be multi-colored, at least different colors for the leaves/grass and flowers. I haven't decided if I'm going to use any more colors, and I've only done the bottom of two channels so far.. but here's the picture. The top will definitely need something different, too.
Just to clarify: I'm not calling the fabric ripper an ass. Nor am I calling her a bumroll, bustle, farthingale, or any other body part, real or simulated. :p

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