Tighter Corsets “Ref R” Underbust Review

18 Apr

This entry is a summary of the review video “Tighter Corsets ‘Ref R’ Underbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset is custom fit (made to measure), so a corset for you may fit differently. Center front is about 13 inches high, and the side seam is 9 inches high. A true Victorian hourglass silhouette, as this pattern is a modified version of Atelier Sylphe’s “Ref R” antique corset pattern.
Material 3 main layers: outer layer is “Beacon Hill” dupioni silk from Silk Baron; strength fabric is coutil, and floating lining is a cute printed lightweight cotton.
Construction 9 panel pattern, the first 6 panels are narrow and in the front. Panels are assembled using a topstitch. Bones are sandwiched between layers.
Binding Matching “Beacon Hill” dupioni silk bias tape, machine stitched on the outside and hand-finished on the inside.
Waist tape 1 inch wide waist tape, stitched invisibly between the layers.
Modesty panel No back modesty panel or front placket.
Busk 12 inches long, standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 6 knobs and loops, equidistantly spaced. Finished in antique gold/brass.
Boning 28 bones total (14 bones per side). Mostly 1/4″ wide flat steels, single boned on all the seams plus extra bones in the middle of the wider panels. There are two flat steels sandwiching the grommets as well; the outer-most ones are 1/2″ flats.
Grommets 24 two-part grommets, size #0, large flange, held in strongly. Finished in antique gold/brass and set equidistantly. Good wide washers; some splits in the back but none catch on the laces.
Laces Laces are 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon, finished in antique gold.
Price At the time I’m writing this, a custom underbust starts at $300 USD.

 

Ref R from Atelier Sylphe. Click to see the pattern.

The pattern for this corset is a very heavily modified version of the “Ref R” Jackson corset pattern sold in Atelier Sylphe’s Etsy store. The original version is a standard-sized overbust (seen right), while my corset had been cut down to an underbust with a high-cut hip. The pattern was also adjusted in length and in proportion for a custom fit, which I find very impressive – having done this in the past with different patterns, this can almost be more laborious than making a new pattern from scratch sometimes!

The embellishment in this corset is elegant and understated, which reflects a lot about the corsetiere’s skills (she’s confident enough in her work that she doesn’t have to make a corset “loud”). Each panel is accentuated with narrow piping made from foiled gold leather, which matches the antique brass hardware (the busk and grommets) in a beautiful way. The multitude of narrow panels, piping and the smooth Victorian hourglass silhouette elongates the waist while not sacrificing a decent reduction (this corset closes just short of 23″).

In the center front there are four tiny flossed arrows, which adds some further interest to the corset but doesn’t overwhelm it. April knew that I loved flossing (especially styles that venture beyond traditional Xs and Vs), and I trusted her to choose the style of flossing. I had also opted for a remote mockup fitting (seen left); April was very professional and pointed out little areas she wanted to tweak that even I had overlooked.

 

Mockup fitting for this corset

Mockup fitting for this corset, cut down and adjusted for my measurements

All in all, I’m quite happy with the outcome of this commission – the only complication was that the bones in the back by the grommets were on the flexible side (which was good as it curved to my lumbar spine and didn’t dig into my tailbone at all), but I simply had to switch the lacing method of this corset so as to increase the control of cinch around the waist – in all honesty, the flexibility of the back bones was less extreme than in many other corsets I had reviewed in the past, but April and I still discussed the cause of bowing and came up with some solutions to fix it in her future corsets; she’s very responsive to her clients’ concerns and eager to experiment and improve – I have nothing but positive things to say about the way April conducts her business.

If you would like to learn more about Tighter Corsets, be sure to check out her Facebook page here, or email her here.

An Interview with Cora of The Lingerie Addict!!

15 Apr

Back in March 2014 while visiting Orchard Corset headquarters in Wenatchee, Washington, USA, I had the immense honour of sitting down with Cora Harrington, founder of The Lingerie Addict. In this interview, you will learn: 

  • How many years Cora has been blogging and how she got her start
  • From where or from whom Cora drew inspiration when she was just starting out with her first blog
  • At what point Cora felt that she was ready to move from the role of a hobbyist blogger to a full-time writer
  • The work that Cora is proudest of to date
  • What Cora does when she’s not being a Lingerie Addict
  • What to expect from The Lingerie Addict in the near future

If you’d like to learn the answers to these questions and more, see the video below!

Once again, huge thanks to Cora for taking the time to answer my questions and let me pick her brain – it has been a dream come true. :)
You can learn more about Cora and read her blog here at The Lingerie Addict.

Stormy Leather Lombard Overbust Corset Review

11 Apr

This entry is a summary of the review video “Stormy Leather Lombard Overbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This corset is custom fit (made to measure), so a corset for you may fit differently. Center front is about 16 inches high, and there are adjustable shoulder straps so there is no real point where the bustline “peaks”. Measurements of the size Small: Waist 22″, underbust 26″, full bust 28″, high hip (iliac) 32″. Gentle hourglass, slightly 18th-century-inspired hybrid.
Material 1 layer of unlined leather. While this corset does pull me in, the website mentions to expect the regular leather to stretch a couple of inches over time with regular use. The center-front panel is treated (patent leather), so less stretchy than the other leather.
Construction 5 panel pattern, very flat front. For assembly, there is nothing to flatline as it’s a single layer. Panels were stitched together, with internal cotton boning channels straddling each side of the seams for extra strength, while at the same time covering the seam allowances. Single boned on seams.
Binding Matching strips of leather, machine stitched on outside and inside (stitched in the ditch). Inside has a raw edge (normal for leather binding) but edges were not folded over, rather just cut off at the corners.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel Back modesty panel is 4.5 inches wide, continuously boned with six 1/2″ wide steel bones. Finished in leather, stitched to one side. Front placket is a single layer of patent leather.
Busk 14 inches long, standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 7 knobs and loops, equidistantly spaced.
Boning 10 bones total (5 bones per side). All 1/2″ wide flat steel bones, single boned on the seams, and in the back by the grommets there is only a single bone in the center back edge (not sandwiched on each side).
Grommets 26 two-part grommets, size #00, large flange, held in strongly, set equidistantly. Nice washers, grommet rolled on the back with no splits.
Laces The original laces were 1/8″ wide round nylon cord, too slippery and frustrating to use so I switched it out with some longer, gripper flat laces.
Price At the time I’m writing this, the silk/satin version is $380 while the leather version is $409.

 This corset was admittedly not purchased directly from Stormy Leather’s website (so I’m not sure about the quality of their customer service), but I had found this piece at discount from a previous owner and had verified that this was indeed a genuine Stormy Leather style. This corset intrigued me as it seemed to have a slight 18th-century-stays inspired style or silhouette – the very flat front, straighter bustline and conical ribs seemed to be a nod towards an almost “Marie Antoinette” style, and had this corset been made from a light-coloured linen or cotton, and tied at the shoulders with ribbons instead of buckles, this corset certainly would have passed as modernized, hybrid stays (it has more of a hip curve and no tabs at the bottom edge compared to reproduction stays). Nevertheless, the pattern of the corset didn’t work with my body.

For a relatively simple 10-panel corset, there is a lot going on in it: the leather gives it a tough ‘biker’ or nightclub look – yet if you choose, you can thread a pretty pastel-coloured satin ribbon through the decorative grommets in the front panel to soften it and create a juxtaposition. The shoulder straps are adjustable based on your body type and comfort level, and the incorporated roller buckles makes sure that the leather doesn’t get damaged from stress/ abrasion.

The continuously-boned modesty panel is one of my favourite parts of this corset, as it laid nice and flat as I was lacing up – it didn’t wrinkle or warp, and although I had quite a large lacing gap, I felt fully supported partially thanks to the structure of this panel.

If you would like to learn more about the Lombard corset, check out Stormy Leather San Francisco’s online store (NSFW).

How much to Size Down, and why too-wide Corset Gaps are BAD

9 Apr

Last week we discussed how you can tell when you’re ready to size down, and what to do with your older, bigger corset – today we’ll discuss what you need to consider when choosing your next, smaller corset. You can watch the video below, or skip over the video and read the article – they contain the same information.

Once again, remember that sizing down is a personal choice – you don’t have to if you don’t want to. And as usual if you’re ever concerned with the idea of training down in the first place, talk to a trusted medical professional.

Stick with the same brand for your smaller corset, or try a new brand?

If you’re elated with the brand you previously owned, then by all means you can order from them again. This is especially beneficial if you’re ordering custom from the same corsetiere; you get to build a rapport with them, they are familiar with your body and they may be able to improve on any possible minor fitting issues that you may have had from previous corsets. Some of them also keep your pattern and notes on hand, and a few corsetieres also offer loyalty discounts for repeat customers – this is the great advantage to practicing brand loyalty!

But if you’re going with a standard sized corset, then just be aware that when you size down, you may have to order a curvier style.  Remember that as corsets go smaller in size, the underbust, waist and hips all get proportionally smaller, not just the waist. So if you’re sizing down in the waist but your natural underbust and hips measurements haven’t changed, then if you try to put yourself into a smaller version of your first corset, you might experience muffin top or flesh spillover; your hips might feel pinched and the bones in the back of the corset may twist warp as you try to close the waist while the top and bottom edges refuse to meet.

If these things sound familiar, it may be because it’s been covered in my “corset gaps” article with respect to the )( shaped gap – the gap that signifies that the corset is

Click the photo to see my seasoning series, where I talk about flaring in more detail.

If you are losing weight and find that the top and bottom edges of your old corset are loose on you when it’s fully closed, you can likely size down with the same cut and style.

not curvy enough for your natural figure and experience level!

However, there’s one situation that you may be able to stick with the exact same OTR corset brand and style, just a size smaller – if you have lost weight and you find that you’ve dropped inches all over (including underbust, waist and hips) proportionally, then the same corset may fit you in the smaller size.

Should I choose a corset one size smaller, or skip one and go two sizes smaller?

The amount that you size down depends on your starting numbers, whether you’re more squishy/compressible or more muscular/uncompressible, how quickly you’re reducing in size, and whether you’re combining waist training with a change in your meal plan or fitness regimen to lose a large amount of weight (or more accurately, volume).

Some reasons that you may want to go down only one size, or the equivalent of two inches:

  • if you are smaller or more muscular to begin with.
  • if you are training very slowly.
  • if you are maintaining your weight or body composition.
  • if your corset, when worn completely closed, feels still kinda snug but not tight; and you’re not able to feel a large space between yourself and the internal wall of the corset.

Some reasons that you may consider going down by two sizes, or the equivalent of 4 inches:

  • if you are larger and softer to begin with, perhaps with a natural waist size exceeding 40 inches.
  • if you may find yourself extra compressible and training much quicker than expected (you’ve closed your first corset within a month or so).
  • if you are ACTIVELY and steadily losing weight. (Note that this doesn’t count those who simply have intentions of losing weight and haven’t started yet.)
  • if the corset is literally falling off you, and you can put yourself plus both your hands into the corset, or pull your abdomen away from the internal wall of the corset and create a space.

It also depends on what you feel comfortable with. If you are not comfortable or don’t feel ready to size down two sizes, one size, or at all, then don’t! Nobody is forcing you.

Special considerations for those experiencing rapid weight change:

In the case of rapid and copious amounts of weight loss (or gain, but generally quick loss is the more common situation I hear about), if you have limited funds I would advise that you wait until your loss has slowed down to around 1 pound a week, or your weight has stabilized completely. One reason for this is that it obviously stinks to buy a corset and have it be too big even a month later, and another reason is that during a process of a drastic body transformation, not a lot of people can predict exactly where they’re going to lose the next inch. When you’re losing 10 or more pounds a month, over the course of one month you may find that you’re losing more from your breasts or abdomen, while the next month you might find your hips and bum are reducing – and in the case of such a close-fitting garment such as a corset, these small changes of just a few inches can drastically affect how a corset fits and feels.

“Mind the gap!”

A too-small corset (the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel).

The last topic is to please once again, mind the gap in the back of your corset when trying on your new, smaller corset! Even when you’re sticking with the same brand you trust (just in a new smaller size) you should still keep in mind the shape and the size of the gap in the back. As we discussed above: just because one particular corset cut worked for you the first time, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for the smaller size!

A new corset, when unseasoned and worn at a comfortable reduction, often has a gap of 2-4 inches if it’s designed to close completely in the back, or possibly a slightly larger gap of 4-6 inches if the corset is designed to always have a small gap in the back (which some corsetieres do draft for).

I know that a lot of people out there want to save money and they don’t want to keep spending money to buy smaller and smaller corsets, so even if they have a 35 inch natural waist, they might be tempted to buy a size 20”. But sizing down gradually is important for the corset to fit and be comfortable.

If the gap in the back is too large (more than 4-6 inches while you’re gently seasoning, depending on the experience level of the waist trainer), the corset might be too small for you in general or too advanced for your level. Even if a custom corset has all the measurements and curves to theoretically fit you perfectly when closed, you might not be ready for that kind of reduction on the get-go.

Why is too large a gap bad, even when kept parallel and true?

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 1.10.15 AM

The hips of the corset are angled too forward compared to my own hips. This creates a “pocket” in the front, and uneven pressure at the back of my hip.

With such a huge gap in the back, you may also feel tempted to lace the corset tighter than your body is ready for in order to minimize that gap faster, and you may end up hurting yourself, or damaging the corset, or becoming discouraged by what you feel is a relative lack of progress (or all three!). And if you end up breaking your corset and having to pay for a replacement or repair, then your waist training regimen may not end up being any less expensive than if you had sized down gradually with several different corsets.

Remember when you size down a little at a time, those old larger training corsets not necessarily a waste! See my last article on what to do with your old corsets when you feel that you’re done with them. 

I  hope this article and the last one helped some readers determine when it’s time to size down and by how much to size down. If you have any other tips and tricks to add, do let me know in a comment below!

Orchard Corset CS-301 Waspie (Mini Corset) Review

4 Apr

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset CS-301 Waspie Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is about 8 inches high, and the side seam is 6.5 inches high. Hourglass silhouette. Waist is 22″, top edge is 26″ (whether that is the underbust or lower ribcage on you depends on the length of your torso), bottom edge (iliac crest) is 28″.
Material 2 main layers: Outer layer is black suiting fabric with a pile/nap and herringbone design, and lining is cotton twill.
Construction 4 panel pattern, panels assembled using a topstitch and is single boned with internal boning channels on the seams.
Binding Bias tape is a commercial black satin; machine stitched on the inside and outside.
Waist tape 1 inch wide partial waist tape, exposed on the inside of the corset on the side panels (panels 2-3). Unfortunately I don’t see that it extends through the entire corset.
Modesty panel 5.5 inch wide unstiffened modesty panel attached to one side finished in the same fabric as the rest of the corset. There is also an unstiffened modesty placket in the front, made of black twill.
Busk 6.5 inches long, standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 3 knobs and loops, equidistantly spaced.
Boning 10 bones total (5 bones per side). On each side, there are three 1/4″ wide spiral steel bones, single boned on the seams. There are two flat steels sandwiching the grommets as well.
Grommets 16 two-part grommets, size #00, small to medium flange, quite sturdy. Finished in silver and set equidistantly. The washers are nice and large. The corset is laced higher than I would prefer, which is typical of Orchard Corset.
Laces Laces are 1/4″ wide nylon flat laces, a bit springy but difficult to break.
Price At the time I’m writing this, the price starts at $65 for sizes 16-30″. Starting at size 32″, the price increases by $1 per size, up to a maximum size and price of $73 for size 46″.

Not the same fabric style, but another pretty version of the CS-301 shown on the Orchard Corset website

The CS-301 is the newest cut offered by Orchard Corset, and it’s called the “waspie/ mini-corset” for a reason – it packs a surprising amount of curve for such a little corset! Because this piece is only 6.5 inches high at the side seam, nearly everybody (whether their torso is long or short) should be able to sit down comfortably in this corset – however, be aware that if you have any protrusion of your lower tummy, this corset is not likely to cover and pull it in, and indeed may make a lower tummy look more pronounced (if you would like to prevent lower-tummy protrusion, a longer corset will help, as well as a ‘tucking’ technique shown here). Additionally, if you have a fleshy torso like I do and you have a tendency of getting ‘muffin top’, you may want to consider a different corset with a higher back if you are interested in preventing this. However, if you have a ribcage that is the same size or smaller than your natural waist or you don’t carry much weight on your upper torso or back, then muffin top shouldn’t be an issue for you.

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to try this (so far exclusive) design with the lovely plush fashion fabric, but in retrospect perhaps this was not wise in the context of a review, because I don’t have the ability to test their currently-available black satin version and see how well it stands up to the test of time. So while I will keep an eye on how this corset fares with use, please be aware that it may not directly apply to how the satin version behaves.

This corset is stocked from size 16″ to 46″. It starts at $65 in price up to a maximum of $73, but you will be able to save 15% by using the discount code CORSETLUCY15 – so this will bring the price down to $55 for the smaller sizes, and $62 for the largest size. Be aware that I don’t earn a dime from this coupon code; it is simply a token of thanks by them to be used for any of my Youtube subscribers. Purchasing and additional information can be found on the Orchard Corset website here.

Sizing Down in your Corset, plus What to Do with your Old, Bigger Corset

31 Mar

When you’re waist training, sizing down is a natural part of the process. Your first corset may be 4-6 inches smaller than your natural waist, but what happens if and when you “outshrink” your first corset, and you still want to train down further? How do you know when it’s time to get a new, smaller corset? Read ahead, or watch the video linked below (which gives the same information):

(Please note that sizing down is in the context of someone who is actually waist training; if you’re just an occasional corset wearer or you have no desire to size down, just disregard this post!)

When do I know it’s time to size down in my corset?

I suppose the question to precede this one is when do you know that a corset is fitting correctly before you even size down? We’ve discussed corset gap shapes and other fitting issues, but what about the size of your corset gap? A new corset that properly fits often initially has a gap of 2-4 inches (if it’s designed to eventually close completely in the back), or possibly a slightly larger gap of 4-6 inches (if the corset is designed to always have a small gap in the back, which some corsetieres do draft for). If you ever put a corset on for the first time, lace it loosely (as in the case of seasoning it), and it closes all the way in the back from top to bottom, your corset is probably too large to begin with and you need to size down immediately. Let’s say you’ve started with a well-fitting corset though, and you’ve been wearing it for several months. Today, for the first time, you were able to close your corset fully from top to bottom! Congratulations – do you go out and buy your next corset that very day? Not yet.

I would say that it’s time to size down when you can do one or more of the following:
  • you can easily and consistently close the corset every time you put it on, for at least a month.
  • your ability to close the corset is typically not affected by your menstrual cycle, water retention, small weight fluctuations or other natural fluctuations.
  • you can stick an arm down inside of the corset while it’s closed, or perhaps pull your abdomen away from internal wall of the corset while sucking in.

In the next post in this series, I will discuss what to consider when sizing down choosing your next, smaller corset. But for now, let’s discuss what you can do with your old corset that you no longer need as a primary corset:

What can you do with your old corset?

Can you alter your corset to be smaller?

Theoretically yes, but if you don’t sew, good luck finding a corsetiere who is willing to alter another person’s work. Many corset makers would rather make a new corset from scratch, rather than modify an old one – this is because if you want a “perfectly” altered corset that has no evidence of alteration, you’d have to:

  1. make friends with your seam ripper, and then:
  2. remove the binding
  3. remove the bones
  4. take apart the seams (and hope that the fabric survives this trauma as the seamlines are now perforated)
  5. likely cut through the waist tape (which weakens the corset), or put in a new, smaller waist tape
  6. reshape every panel (it’s not a good idea to do just one seam, if you want to ensure that the hips are not angled forward or backward in the end product)
  7. put the corset back together again, including reassembling the panels, adding the smaller waist tape, inserting the bones, and adding the binding!

Personally, I don’t consider this level of alteration worth the time or frustration when I can make a new corset in half that time! If you’re still interested in seeing how other people “took in” their corsets so they’re smaller, check out this video by CorsetRookie who sewed darts and pleats into his Axfords corset, although I should note that by doing this (especially in a thicker corset) the pleat may form a ridge or bump that can be felt when you’re wearing the corset and may result in pressure points. Another alteration walk-through by Snowblack Corsets shows her taking a larger WKD corset and cutting it down smaller and curvier, and adding embellishment like external contrasting channels and lace.

So, if you don’t feel like altering your old corset to be smaller, what can you do with it?

Click here to learn more about sleeping in your corset!

Click here to learn more about sleeping in your corset!

1: Use your old corset as a night/ sleeping corset.

If you have ever tried sleeping in your corset, you may find you’re the type who needs to loosen the laces a little when you sleep. So if you buy or make a new, smaller corset, you can designate the old larger one as a sleeping corset. Sleeping in a corset can be a bit traumatic to the corset (it can cause warping or abrasion) but since your old, bigger corset is no longer your primary training corset, you don’t have to worry as much about getting dander or oil on it, or if the satin fabric sees any thinning or wear if you’re rolling around and putting uneven pressure on it through the night.

2: Trade or sell your old corset 2nd hand.

If your old corset is still relatively good quality, you can sell it second hand or trade for a different corset! There’s a ton of old corsets sold on Ebay or Craigslist, and if your corset is more than 20 years old, it qualifies as an “Vintage” item on Etsy. There are also corset sale groups on Facebook, Tumblr, and my own consignment shop (the Bronze Line) as well. You can use the funds from selling your old corset to put towards your new corset! Before listing your corset, do some research into how much similar-quality corsets are being sold for. Presuming that your old corset is still decent quality/ wearable, then a 2nd hand corset will often sell for 50% – 75% of the original price (depending on who made it and how rare it is).

3: Cannibalize your old corset for materials for future sewing projects.

This corset had been sacrificed for hardware.

This corset had been sacrificed for hardware.

If your corsets are in poor condition and not appropriate for resale (and they don’t hold much sentimental value for you), then you can harvest parts of your old corset to be recycled in new corsets. Hardware like the busk and bones can be used over and over again for mockups or in future completed corsets as long as they’re not rusted or warped, and salvageable embellishments like large pieces of lace appliqué or crystals may be reused as well. You can also cut out the grommet panel of your old corset (making sure you leave a seam allowance) and you can quickly and easily sew that grommet panel onto all your future mockups and toiles, saving you time and grommets. There you have it – how you know when to size down from your current corset, and three suggestions of what to do with your old corsets. What are your requirements as to when to size down, and what do you do with your larger corsets? Let me know in a comment below!

Xandriana Custom Tightlacing Underbust Corset Review

14 Mar

This entry is a summary of the review video “Xandriana Tightlacing Underbust Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

 

Fit, length This corset is custom fit (made to measure), so a corset for you may fit differently. Center front is about 12 inches high, and the side seam is 9 inches high, back is 15 inches high. Modern hourglass silhouette – rounded over the ribcage and rounded over the hips. Slightly longline.
Material Outer layer is pale pink satin (might be satin coutil). Lined in white herringbone coutil.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Panels are assembled using a topstitch. Bones are sandwiched between layers, double boned (one on the seam and one in the center of the panel).
Binding Matching strips of pale pink satin, machine stitched on the outside and hand finished on the inside.
Waist tape 1 inch wide waist tape, stitched invisibly between the layers.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is suspended on the laces and boned in a criss-cross fashion. A 1″ wide unstiffened placket in front.
Busk 11 inches long, standard width busk (half inch on each side) with 6 knobs and loops, the bottom two a little closer together. Reinforced flat bones on either side.
Boning 28 bones total (14 bones per side). Mostly 1/4″ wide spiral steels, single boned on the seams plus extra bones in the middle of the panels. There are two flat steels sandwiching the grommets as well, and two flats by the busk.
Grommets 28 two-part Prym eyelets, size #0, medium/large, held in strongly. Finished in silver and set a bit closer together at the waistline. Good wide washers, few splits but don’t catch on the laces.
Laces Laces are 1/2″ wide double-faced satin ribbon, finished in pale pink.
Price At the time I’m writing this, a custom underbust starts at $300 USD (suitable for tightlacing but not waist training). For a waist training custom corset, the price starts at $400.

This corset was custom made for a different person, not myself – I purchased this corset 2nd hand and the measurements seemed to have matched my own reasonably well. I liked the very high back of this corset as it provided excellent support while sitting at my desk, and it made muffin top virtually impossible.

The darker pink flossing in a clean V shape on the boning channels was also a nice visual touch, and highlighted the fact that this corset had quite even bone distribution (the corset was boned both on the seams and also in the center of the panels, so there was very little wrinkling or risk of pressure points in this corset – this is how I prefer to bone my own corsets as well).

The corset I have seems to be two layers thick, with a cotton-backed-satin fashion layer (although it could be sturdy interfaced satin) and a herringbone coutil layer – however it’s said that this particular corset is appropriate for occasional tightlacing but not everyday waist training. Xandriana does have a listing for a waist-training corset on Etsy, which is said to have at least 2 layers of coutil.

This is a lovely little corset; the only changes I would make is to perhaps have the bones in the very back bow a little less – but as I am the 2nd owner of this corset, I know nothing of its previous treatment nor anything about the customer service from Xandriana.

If you would like to learn more about Xandriana Corsets, be sure to check out her website and her Etsy store.

Where to Buy Corset Dresses

12 Mar

This post is a duplicate of the permanent page Guided Galleries –> Corset Dresses. The guided galleries are part of the corset brand research tools, which are designed to help prospective corset customers shop more wisely. This post may be out of date in the future, please refer to the permanent page linked above to get the most up to date information.

Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress

Beyoncé Knowles in a Thierry Mugler gold corset dress

Corset dresses are highly specialized garments, which can be used for foundation under other dresses (such as those that Puimond provides for other designers to “build upon”), for weddings, or for clubbing / other fun events. They can act like combination shapewear, supporting the bustline and allowing the use of strapless dresses overtop (rather than using a strapless bra), cinching in the waist (instead of using a cincher), and smoothing over the hips (in lieu of a girdle).

Searching “corset dresses” on Google tends to yield poor results because many clothing lines simply offer dresses with boned bodices. True corset dresses (a structured garment where the back of the dress laces up the entire length) are sometimes not that easy to find, but they come in several variations which I’ll try to cover in this gallery.

*Corset makers, if you have made a corset dress and would like your work showcased in this gallery, please email me a photo of your best work and include a 1-sentence description and website or shop URL. Safe-for-work photos are preferred! Thank you!

A bride in Morùa Designs (who works in both the US and UK) shows off the back of her stunning corset wedding dress.

This floor length dress is boned down and laced to the knee, and expertly sculpted in true Bizarre Design fashion (Netherlands). Model: Dena Massque. Photo: Me-Chiel.

This gorgeous plunge corset dress embellished with lace and crystals was designed by Viola Lahger (Sweden). Model: Insanitea Photo: Josephine Jonsson.

Sparklewren (UK) is experienced in making incredibly smooth and ethereal custom corset dresses, here shown with detachable stole. What an enviable hip spring.

This floor-length corset gown by Royal Black (Austria) laces to the knee and is cut for serious curves. Model/styling: Červená Fox, Photo: Julian M Kilsby (ShadowFlux)

Bibian Blue (Spain) always has a selection of corset dresses in her various collections, like this Lys Ensemble with printed angels and handmade flowers, €695. Model: SINderella Rockafella. Photo/styling: Iberian Black Arts

KMKDesigns Located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles, this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.

KMKDesigns, located in MN, can make custom corset dresses to order in many styles; this mermaid style corset dress is made from blue silk with hand stitched lace and rhinestones.

Puimond (USA) makes awe-inspiring corset dresses, ranging from simple and sleek to highly customized like this ensemble estimated at $10,000.

This stunning corset dress with sheer fluted skirt by Persephone Corsetry (UK) won the Young Designer Award in 2014. Photo: Stuart McClay. MUA: SC Makeup. Model: Michaela Crompton

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The Swallowtail Corset Dress by The Bad Button (USA) features a fully corseted form from shoulders to hips, while freefloating layers of silk gauze create the illusion of a wings when walking. Model: Samantha Jean Moore. Photo: Aesthetic Aperture

This sweet and lovely Lolita underbust corset dress features a full skirt to accommodate a blouse and petticoat underneath. By Skeletons in the Closet Corsetry (Netherlands).

“The Love Warrior”, designed by Maison Moginot (France) with help from Mr. Pearl, is dripping with jewels. Model: Amanda Lepore

This audio-sensitive fiber optic dress lights up when the music gets loud! Designed by Rachael Reichert in NY, USA.

Contessa Gothique Design recently shared this radiant plunge, full-skirted corset dress – those curious to make their own can also read her 2-part tutorial on Foundations Revealed.

Stunning lattice-embellished corset dress made by Lace Embrace (Canada)

Designer Maya Hansen (Spain) always includes at least one corset dress in her collections. This one is modelled by Porcylin.

Red sweetheart corset dress with black lace appliqué, a custom design by Sweet Carousel Corsetry (Canada).

Scoundrelle’s Keep has four different styles of corset dresses, including overbust or underbust, long skirt or short. Currently shown is the Evangeline corset dress for $500.

While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece by Ziad Ghanem (modelled by Immodesty Blaize, Fall 2010)

While not likely available for purchase, I cannot complete a gallery of corset dresses without this piece co-designed by Ziad Ghanem, made by Ian Frazer Wallace and modelled by Immodesty Blaize (Fall 2010)

This Jessica Rabbit inspired mini corset dress was designed by Orchid Corsetry (UK). Model: Miss Anne Thropy. Photo: Damona Art.

Atelier Sylphe (France) made this lovely zippered and ruffled creative corset dress, modelled by her client (Virginie).

Marvelous Mayhem (USA) makes both full-skirt and fitted custom corset dresses

Vollers Corsets in the UK offers this

Vollers Corsets in the UK offers this “Mayfair” corset dress in a fun Red Cat print (£295).

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.

How to measure your corsets with precision

4 Mar

This is the third and final part to my OTR fitting mini series. In part 1 I taught you the various ways that an OTR corset company may share their fitting information (if at all), and the takeaway message from part 1 was to urge more OTR companies to display more than just the waist size – proportions are important too! Measurements of the ribcage, hips, and torso length all play a factor in proper fit, as well as the bust circumference if it’s an overbust corset.

In part 2 I showed you some case studies in determining if an OTR corset would at least approximately fit you. The point of this video is to show how to take your own body measurements and compare it with a sizing chart provided by your OTR company of interest – and really explain in detail why this exercise is so important. If you know for a fact that a corset is not going to fit your ribcage or hips properly for a given waist size, don’t waste your time and money! Move on and find a different brand that will fit you better. You will be more comfortable and your training will be better for it.

Here, in part 3, I will show you how exactly I measure my corsets. When I first receive a corset in the mail, I will take 5-8 measurements:

  • Circumference measurements: bust (if overbust), underbust, closed waist, high hip (iliac), and low hip (if longline).
  • Vertical measurements: center front, princess seam from underbust to lap, and sometimes side seam and/or center back.

I now log these measurements in the Corset Dimensions Directory, for everyone’s use. You can compare these measurements with your own measurements and see which corsets may fit best on you!

If the corset gets a lot of use, I may measure it again in a year’s time and see if it has stretched out at all.

Once you get the hang of measuring your corsets, it becomes intuitive: circumferential measurements should be perpendicular to the busk and back edge of the corset, or parallel to the waist-tape. Vertical measurements are always parallel with the busk or the back edge of the corset.  You may choose to measure your corsets several times and take an average, since the location of an iliac crest circumference or true underbust circumference may not be entirely obvious in some corsets.

For a detailed look at how I measure various corsets, see my in-depth tutorial below:

Where to buy Fan-Laced Corsets

3 Mar

This post is a duplicate of the permanent page Guided Galleries –> Corsets with Fan Lacing. The guided galleries are part of the corset brand research tools, which are designed to help prospective corset customers shop more wisely. This particular article may be out of date in the future, please refer to the main page to get the most up to date information.

Two variations of metal sliders for fan-lacing (suppied by Vena Cava Design)

Two variations of metal sliders for fan-lacing (suppied by Vena Cava Design)

Fan lacing may also be referred to as “Camp” lacing, “Cross” lacing, or “Cluster” lacing. Fan-laced corsets are relatively rare today, but they can be useful for those who have limited strength or dexterity. Fan-laced corsets differ from ‘regular’ corsets by their utilization of metal slides (usually, but not always!). These slides have grommet-like small holes on one end through which the laces are secured, and an adjustable serrated slot which grabs securely onto a grosgrain tape or belt. This allows the wearer to tighten their corset the same way that they would adjust a bra strap; simply by pulling on a pair of belts on either side of the lacing panel. For those who are unable to reach behind them and ‘pluck’ the individual X’s of the laces, a fan-laced corset may be just the trick for quickly and easily adjusting one’s own corset; for those with disabilities who use corsets for medical purposes, the use of fan lacing can contribute to one’s independence when dressing oneself. For those who would like a fan-laced corset as a fashion statement, you will find this page useful as well. Scroll down to see a gallery of corset makers who are experienced with making fan-laced corsets!

*Corset makers: if you have made fan-laced corsets and would like to be included in the gallery, please submit your best photo to my email here with a 1-sentence description and your website URL. Safe-for-work photos are preferred! Thank you!*

Functional Fan-Lacing:

The following corsets employ fan lacing to actually tighten and loosen the corset, rather than being used simply for embellishment. Scroll down the page if you’d like to see corsets which simply use fan-lacing for embellishment.

PureOne Corset Works in Japan has an entire line of fan-laced corsets in various styles.

Fan-laced medical-inspired corset by Contessa Gothique Design in Croatia

Fan-laced medical-inspired corset by Contessa Gothique Design in Croatia

Contemporary fan-lacing design by Lovesick Corrective Apparel in Canada.

Dark Garden (San Francisco, USA) custom Victorian underbust with

Dark Garden (San Francisco, USA) custom Victorian underbust with “cross-lacing”.

Alice Corsets in Ukraine made this beautiful pristine fan-laced corset.

Alice Corsets in Ukraine made this beautiful pristine fan-laced corset.

Lovely Rat's Quality Custom Clothing (Texas, USA) made this cute and feminine "meta corset", a fan-laced corset with printed corset fashion fabric.

Lovely Rat’s Quality Custom Clothing (Texas, USA) made this fan-laced corset with printed corset fashion fabric.

Fan-laced underbust corset by Serindë Corsets (France)

Fan-laced underbust corset by Serindë Corsets (France)

A gorgeous fan-laced corset made by Ivy's Custom Corsetry in the USA.

A gorgeous fan-laced corset made by Ivy’s Custom Corsetry in the USA.

AusAsche on Etsy has made this smart-looking men's fan-laced corset. (USA)

Tyler’s Chalk on Etsy has made this smart-looking men’s fan-laced corset. (USA)

This gorgeous fan-aced corset was apparently made by

This gorgeous fan-aced corset was apparently made by “CorsetWonderland” on Etsy, but unfortunately further information could not be found on it.

Cicatrix Design (New Mexico, USA) is another talented corset maker who has unfortunately been inactive recently, but still shares pictures of her lovely designs.

Tailor of Two Cities is a costuming company in Oklahoma USA, which is experienced in making various types of corsets.

Fan-laced underbust made by Jill of the Romantasy team in USA, $390.

Dark Knits Boutique in Edmonton, AB Canada offers custom overbust fan-laced corsets ($344 CAD)

Dark Knits Boutique in Edmonton, AB Canada offers custom overbust fan-laced corsets ($344 CAD)

Fan-laced custom underbust corset made by SparkleyJem in the UK (£180)

Fan-laced custom underbust corset made by SparkleyJem in the UK (£180)

 Decorative Fan Lacing:

The following corsets have a fan-lacing embellishment, but their use is not imperative to the actual function of the corset. Faux fan lacing can have a stunning effect on corsets, especially when contrast laces are used.

V-Couture in Germany has made this decorative fan-laced overbust with 4 non-adjustable slides.

Decorative fan-laced overbust by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique in the UK, modelled by Twig (£140).

Decorative fan-laced overbust by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique in the UK, modelled by Twig (£140).

BattieClothing in the UK has made this oxblood faux-leather underbust with non-functional fan-lacing (£260).

Oxblood faux-leather underbust with non-functional fan-lacing (£260) by BattieClothing in the UK.

Gorgeous silver underbust with decorative fan lacing, by Atelier Sylphe (France)

While fan-lace sliders were not utilized here, Anachronism in Action (USA) gets an honorable mention for her amazing fan-lace-like embellishment in this ensemble.

*Please note that I have not personally tried every corset brand in this list, nor do I necessarily endorse every company on this list. This is for informational purposes only.