There can be some confusion about the difference between a corset and a costume, theatre, or plain old fancy dress outfit with a corset-like appearance. Having made a lot of corsets, I can tell if the quality is lacking, but some people new to corsetry are still buying fancy dress outfits with ‘corsets’ or fancy dress sewing patterns for corsets, that fail to hold the body in shape and are sometimes made from stuff as insubstantial as Lycra! Oh yes, it happens.
If you’re looking to find a corset pattern that’s authentic or will be appropriate for tight lacing, stick to the laughing moon range or the simplicity historic pattern range, which are drafted from real museum examples of Victorian and Edwardian era dress.
The other thing to look at when buying a pattern or outfit is the material, if a corset pattern doesn’t have a lining of stiff material or say to use steel bones then it’s not for a proper corset. The same thing goes for buying ready mades, if there isn’t a steel bone running along next to the eyelets, it won’t stand being tightened properly. If it stretches or isn’t cotton lined then it’s no good as a functional corset. Use a bit of common sense and you can’t go far wrong.