How To Adjust Spirella corsets

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The Spirella Company Inc.
Meadville, Pa., U. S. A.

The Spirella Company of Canada, Ltd.
Niagara Falls, Ontario,
The Spirella Company of Great Britain, Ltd.
Letchworth (Garden City),
The Spirella Company of Germany, Ltd.
Düsseldorf, Obercassel,

Copyright, 1913, by The Spirella Company Inc.

This booklet is furnished by The Spirella Company Inc. for the sole use of its corsetieres, and must be considered as confidential information by them.

Body poise and its relation to the corset

One has only to look about him at the mental, nervous and physical states of most adults, to see that the activity which daily living calls forth is not ade­quate to keep one's mind and body at their highest level for any number of years.

Just living, or trying to save one's self by inac­tivity. is dangerous. For, whatever the nature of one's occupation—domestic, manual, clerical, business or professional—the bodily activity necessitated by it is almost invariably limited, so that it tends to under­mine, rather than to upbuild one's energies.

We must lure health to abide with us by making conditions favorable to it. These conditions can be secured in many ways, and not the least important of these ways is the habitual, right, mechanical adjustment and use of the body, or body poise.

Whatever the order of one's life there are certain fundamental uses to which the body is put. We stand, sit, walk, climb stairs, bend, reach, lift and let go, or relax. To recognize how badly we do these daily acts of life we have only to look about us. How many people deem it useless to educate themselves along these lines!

The body is a wonderful organism, and in order that the spirit and will of the woman who occupies it may have the freest play, the true relations between the different parts of the organism must be main­tained at all times. The body's continued prosperity depends largely upon how to do the innumerable and unavoidable little acts of daily life. Your physical breakdown or your ruggedness at sixty may depend upon the way you sit and stand at thirty.

Everyone can learn to stand and sit after Nature's ordering, and to do so is the first obligation that health imposes upon us. The various parts of the body, the head, the torse, the legs, must be trained to the easiest

Figure one

and best co-operative effort for their mutual benefit. This harmonious adjustment constitutes poise, stand­ing or sitting. This makes possible the most econom­ical movement and use of the body at all times and for all purposes, and it is the poise that is absolutely essen­tial in order that the processes of respiration, circula­tion, and digestion have an opportunity to proceed in an unrestricted and natural manner.

Many physical ills can be traced back step by step to bad poise as the original cause. To illustrate: A person is suffering from an impoverished condition of the blood; the immediate cause of this is bad nutrition; the reason for this may be inactivity of the liver, which is in turn due to insufficient massage of the diaphragm. This condition may be the effect of a bad poise which makes deep breathing impossible. Unless a woman habitually sits and stands well, she cannot have as good health or as great endurance as is normally hers. One whose poise is not good can be comparatively well, but being well or not suffering from actual illness is very different from that high degree and exuberance of health possible to the sound body and the sound mind.

Considering poise acquired from bad habits in the use of the body in the sitting position, what do we find? First—the habit of resting the body upon the back of the hips or the small of the back instead of on the base of the pelvic bones as Nature intended. This placing of the basis of support so far back necessitates the pull­ing of the head forward to aid in sustaining the center of gravity.

The points of attachment of the muscles reaching from the head and neck on the one hand, to the lower chest and abdomen on the other, are brought closer together and their intermediate length (or position at rest) in time, becomes shortened. At the same time, the muscles of the spinal region are over-stretched, and after a while yield, so that their intermediate length becomes permanently lengthened. In conse­quence of this loss of harmony of action between these

Figure two

two sets of muscles. the refinement and dignity of ex­pression of the trunk is lost, and economy bf physical activities impossible.

A more serious result is the effect upon the internal organs. The tilting of the pelvic basin forward brings the true pelvis, which shelters the most important organ of the body, directly underneath of the mass of the intestinal tract; this, in turn, is being pressed upon by the prolapsed stomach and liver, which have been forced down by the dropping of the ribs. This extra weight drags the pelvic organs from their moorings, puts a strain upon their controlling ligaments, some­times causes the organs to fold over upon themselves and seriously interferes with their functions.

This "breaking at the waist," as we call it, con­tracts the lung and abdominal space so much that breathing is much interfered . with and the high stomach or prominent abdomen is produced.

Impress upon yourself the necessity of carrying the head high, of never losing the natural curves of the spine, of sitting well back in your chair, so as to have the center of the base upon which you move as near the hip joints as possible. If this central point be well selected, the body can be easily and economically moved in any direction within quite a large radius around the sitting position.

The hip joint is the chief bending joint, and the delicate joints of the spinal column are designed for the more refined controlling actions of the constantly changing center of gravity, for the preservation of the elasticity of the ribs and the protection of the spinal nerves from shock.

We will now consider standing positions.

Many women, in their efforts to stand well, throw the shoulders back, the abdomen comes forward and the whole spinal region is stiffened. The pelvic organs are thrown into an unnatural position, the center of gravity falls back over the heels and the result is a tense, jerky walk which causes a jar to the spine at

Figure three

every step. How often do we see this walk, especially in girls?

The expression of such women is that of aggres­siveness, self-assertion, or self-satisfaction. The oppo­site extreme to this rigid position is the stooped one where the back is bowed, the chest sunken, the head and hip joints thrust forward. This results in the abdomen becoming prominent and the waist is short­ened in front and lengthened behind. In such a case the stomach is often pushed downward from one to three inches. Such a woman is literally hung upon her ligaments and many of the muscles are useless.

For such poises as these, any change of bodily posi­tion is an effort, attended by a lengthy and compli­cated rearrangement of the muscles; this is because most of them are asleep and have to be given a special stimulus to secure their attention instead of being ready and on the alert for action when the telegram comes from the brain. The expression of such positions is failure, weakness and despondency. [See figure one.]

The third bad adjustment of the body is one in which there is an over-correction of the bad poise pre­viow:1y described. This results in the upper part of the body being thrown forward beyond its correct position, the hips thrown back unnaturally, and a deep back curve produced. This is sometimes caused by incorrect corseting, and over-lifting the abdominal flesh to obtain a "straight-front" effect. [See figure two.]

The normal poise is that in which the body is deli­cately adjusted around its center of gravity so as to move easily in any direction, with the least expenditure of nerve and muscular force and in its perfection is expressive of a balanced, self -controlled mental and physical make-up. It is neither self-assertive, nor cringing, but expressive of general alertness, readiness for whatever may happen, good will to all, and interest in living. [See figure three.]

How shall we attain normal poise?

The erect posture is pre-eminently characteristic of man, and his whole skeleton is modified with refer­ence to it. Nevertheless, the power of maintaining it is only slowly learned in the first years after birth, and for long it is unsafe. And though we finally learn to stand erect without conscious attention, the mainte­nance of the posture always requires the co-operation of many muscles, co-ordinated by the nervous system.

In standing with the arms straight by. the sides and the feet together, the center of gravity of the whole adult body lies in the articulation between the sacrum and the last lumbar vertebræ and the perpen­dicular drawn from it will reach the ground between the feet, within the base of support afforded by them. With the feet close together, however, the posture is not very stable, and in standing, we commonly make it more so, by slightly separating the feet, so as to in­crease the base. The ease with which we stand is largely dependent upon the way in which the head is nearly balanced on the top of the vertebral column, so that but little muscular effort is needed to keep it upright.

In the same way the trunk is almost balanced on the hip joints; but not quite, its center of gravity fall­ing rather behind them, so that just as some muscular effort is needed to keep the head from falling forwards, some is needed to keep the trunk from toppling back­wards at the hips. In a similar manner, other muscles are called into play at other joints, as between the ver­tebral column and the pelvis, and at the knees and ankles; thus a certain rigidity, due to muscular effort, extends all along the erect body, which, on account of the flexibility of its joints, could not be otherwise bal­anced on its feet, as a statue can.

The modern long corset is the most healthful gar­ment ever known in the whole history of corset wear­ing, if it is worn as the designers intended it should be worn. If the long corset is properly selected and put on with care, it will be a valuable adjunct to the health of the average woman of mature years.

The life of the average woman does not afford sufficient general physical activity to keep the muscles of the waist in perfect condition. This fact, in addi­tion to the change of the tissues due to child-bearing, weakens the abdominal muscles to such an extent that they are not able to counteract the force of gravity which drags them downwards, and the use of an arti­ficial support is necessary. It is important that this support be intelligently applied or there is danger of aggravating the difficulty.

The modern corset, which is designed to afford pressure upward from the abdomen and freedom at the waist line, tends to hold the body in the correct posi­tion throughout the various activities of life, and if properly fitted and properly worn, will preserve the muscles in their harmonious relations, and prevent the development of bad habits of movement.

The modern Spirella corset excels all others in its healthful control of the body because the peculiar qualities of its boning permit such freedom of motion; this aids in retaining the life of the muscles themselves. A woman wearing a Spirella corset can cultivate a much larger range of physical movements than her sister who is held up by the stiffer forms of boning, as these must necessarily limit the range of her activities.

There is not much individuality of expression to the ordinary corset figure, but the flexibility of Spirella with its flow of motion throughout every inch of its length, retains the individuality of the wearer, and per­mits her personality to speak through the medium of physical expression. It is well nigh impossible to dis­tort a well-corseted figure. Such a figure cannot ex­press anything but dignity and elegance. The poise may change somewhat from season to season, accord­ing to the prevailing styles of gowns and footwear, but certain fundamental laws of correct and healthful cor­seting will always be the same.

Moulding the stays

Before adjusting the corset it is necessary to take care of the ends of the Spirella stays and the flat bones which the corset contains, including the back-wire and front clasp, so that none of the ends may protrude in an ugly line which will show through the outer cloth­ing. To do this take the front clasp firmly in your hands, holding it between the two lower hooks, and bend the lower end so that it will curve toward the body when the corset is on, being careful that each side is moulded alike, as otherwise the hooks would come unfastened. It should not be necessary to mould the ends of the clasp above the waist line, but if the shoulders droop in the sitting position, this must be done to prevent the corset from pushing in at the breast bone. Grasp the clasp firmly at the waist line, holding the corset wrong side toward you, and bend the clasp outward, being careful that each side is moulded alike.

The back-wires should be moulded in towards the wearer's body at the top and the bottonl but should not be moulded at the waist line. The Spirella stays along the top of the corset should be bent inward about one inch from the top of the stays, towards the wearer's body, giving them a decided little "nip" so that they will remain as moulded. Spirella will not take a permanent bend outward, but can be made to take a permanent shaping towards the body.

The long Spirella stays sometimes need moulding inward toward the body at the bottom to prevent their wearing through at the lower edge. Moulding the stays protects the garment as well as gives a smooth outline to the figure. When the ends of the stays are moulded, they are less likely to wear through the material. This is especially true under the arm.

It would be well to practice moulding the stays on an old corset so that when you do it in the presence of a customer you can handle the corset confidently, thus inspiring confidence in her.

How to lace a corset

One lacer only is necessary in any corset, aside from the rubber lacer in soft extension. Insert ends of lacer from under­neath through top eyelet on each side, making ends equal length. Pass left lacer through second eye let on right side from underneath and third eyelet on left side. Continue to insert lacer in alternate eyelets on each side until lower edge of tape at the waist line is reached. Pass lacer through next eyelet on same side, forming loop for waist line adjustment, skipping two eyelets on opposite sides, pass lacer through from underneath and continue to lace the lower half of corset Repeat with right hand lacer and tie both ends in a firm knot at bottom of corset.


The Spirella loop

At the bottom of the front clasp in front-laced corsets where it is desirable to make the Spirella loop, pass the lacer through from the under side—as usual. Then pass the end of the lacer over the lacer outside the back-wire, and under it from the top, bringing the end through between the lacer out­side the back-wire and the loose part which passes over it. Draw up the knot thus formed tightly to the back-wire, making a knot which the strain on the lacer above will only serve to tighten. This is, in effect, tying the lacer tight at the desired eyelet so that adjustment made above the Spirella loop will remain constant, regardless of the adjustment below.

Adjustment of a bark-laced corset


First step

1. Open corset to full length of lacer, spacing of six to eight inches being necessary.


Second step

2. Gather corset up in both hands—thumb and finger covering waist tape at each side of opening. Place corset around the body with downward motion. Hold in front with one hand while you pass around the customer.


Fourth step

3. Fasten top hook (to hold corset in place).

4. Fasten lower hooks of front clasp. [Illustra­tion shows fourth step.]

5. Unfasten the top hook.

6. Fasten from lowest hook to top.


Eighth step

7. Fasten hooks of soft extension.

8. Attach front supporters to hose at inside of limb. Exception: any special supporter. [Illustration shows seventh and eighth steps finished.]

SpirellaHOW TO ADJUST - 18.jpg

Ninth step (a)

9. Lower corset on figure to bring waist line of corset on true waist line of figure. To accomplish this, grasp lower edge of corset in front; hold down firmly (see illustration A) and direct customer to take a full uplifting breath, thereby throwing her body into correct poise, and placing abdominal organs in proper position. If there is a surplus of flesh over the

SpirellaHOW TO ADJUST - 19.jpg

Ninth step (b)

abdomen, place hand inside corset and smooth flesh back toward the sides, not up in front, and lower corset well over hips. Take hold of the lower edge of the corset in the back, pulling down on the corset and up on the under-wear until waist line of corset covers waist line of body in the back. [See illustration b.]


Tenth step

10. Grasp lacer at waist line, one loop in each hand, give firm, strong, downward pull, to prevent cor­set from slipping up. [Illustration shows tenth step.]

11. Gradually tighten lacer from bottom of cor­set to waist line, beginning at point of greatest hip de­velopment.

12. Take up slack from the bottom of corset.

14. Begin at top of corset and tighten lacer down to waist line.



14. Tie loops at waist line, fold ends and place under lacer.

15. Attach side supporters to maintain a straight pull on the cloth, as far back under the knee as possible.

Perfect adjustment leaves a spacing of from 1½ to 2 inches wide at waist line, gradually increasing toward top and bottom to 2½ to 3 inches. Spacing must never be more than this.


Incorrect back spacing tends to produce bad poise. Note transverse wrinkles which denote unequal strain; also back stay turned on edge by its wrong position. Both of these conditions make the corset wear out rapidly. [See page 23 for side view.]


Bad poise produced by incorrect adjustment.

[For back view showing incorrect adjustment, see page 22.]

Adjustment of front-laced corset


Third step

1. Open corset to full length of lacer, spacing of six to eight inches being necessary. [See page 14.]

2. Place corset around body.

3. Fasten lower hooks of front clasp. [Illustra­tion shows third step.]

4. Fasten from lowest hook to top.

5. Fasten hooks of soft extension.


Seventh step

6. Attach front supporters to hose at inside of limb. Exception: any special supporter.

7. Lower corset on figure to bring waist line of corset on true waist line of figure. [Illustration shows seventh step.] To accomplish this, grasp lower edge of corset in front; hold down firmly and direct customer to take a full uplifting breath, thereby throwing her body into correct poise and placing abdominal organs in proper position. If there is a surplus of flesh over the abdomen, place hand inside corset and smooth flesh back towards the sides, not up in front, and lower corset well over hips.


Eighth step

8. Grasp lacer at lower end of front clasp where Spirella loop is made in front-laced corsets (see page 13), and give a strong pull to anchor corset under the abdomen. [Illustration shows eighth step.]

9. Take up slack lacing toward the waist line.


Tenth step

10. Beginning at top, take up slack to waist line. [Illustration shows tenth step.]

11. Adjust spacing to leave a "V" shaped open­ing not more than one inch at bottom of front clasp, 1½ to 2 inches at waist, and 2 inches at top.



12. Tie at waist line, drawing ends up under lacer and placing under bust. Adjust lacer in soft ex­tension.

13. Fasten side supporters to maintain a straight pull on the cloth, as far back under the knee as possi­ble. [Illustration shows twelfth and thirteenth steps finished.]


Incorrect spacing and disposal of lacer ends tend to produce bad poise, destroy abdominal control and make the corset wear out rapidly. [See page 30 for side view.]


Bad poise and entire lack of abdominal control due to incorrect adjustment. Note oblique wrinkles due to unequal strain, which also causes the back stays to turn on edge. These conditions will wear out the corset very rapidly. [For front view showing incorrect adjustment, see page 29.]

Adjustment of a front-laced corset in a reclining position


Proceed with adjustment in the standing posi­tion as far as the finish of the sixth step. [See pages 24 and 25.]

7. Lower corset to bring waist line of garment on true waist line of figure.

8. Have customer recline on a hard surface, with hips elevated by pillows, and knees bent. [See illustra­tion.] This position relaxes the tension of the abdomi­nal muscles and allows the force of gravity to bring the internal organs back to their proper positions.

Proceed from here as in the eighth step of adjust­ment in the standing position. [See page 26.]


This work was published before January 1, 1923 and it is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 100 years or less since publication.