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Measuring your Internal (true) Corseted Waist

This article is a transcript of the video “How to Determine Your Internal Waist Measurement” on Youtube. You are free to watch that video (which shows a demonstration of the process):

Have you ever had a situation where you purchased an OTR corset of a specific size, say 24″ waist – but when you closed the corset completely in the back, you realized that your waist measures more like 25-26″ on the outside? Why do you suppose this is? Shouldn’t a size 24″ corset give you a final external circumference of 24 inches around the waist?

There are several reasons why the corset may be larger than its stated size: the corset materials may have stretched slightly over time (all fibers have a certain amount of stretch), the corset may have been mislabeled, but more than likely the corset itself is true to size on the inside, and it’s the bulk of the bones and fabric itself which is causing the larger external measurement.

How are Corset Sizes Determined?

The waist of a corset starts with the pattern drafted. A pattern is a 2 dimensional representation of the corset panels on paper, which you cut out and use to trace the fabric. If you were to measure the width of each pattern piece at the waistline of the corset pattern of this Morgana Femme Couture corset, you’ll see it has a total circumference of 22″ (11 inches on each side).
This means that the corset when laid out flat (and not taut around the body) determines the size at the waist.

If you purchase a new corset, lay it out flat and measure it at the level of the waist tape – it should reflect the size of the corset. If you have a well-used corset that measures larger than the tag size even when laid flat; this means the corset has stretched over time.

So why would a corset on the body be bigger than 22 inches on the outside?

The corset itself takes up bulk and volume. All matter will take up space. Even in a corset with both the fashion side and the lining side being 22 inches, the outside of the corset will have to stretch a little to account for the bulk on the inside. Some corsetieres will roll-pin, use turn-of-cloth, to make the outside of the corset a little larger so that it doesn’t stretch or cause wrinkles. I have a separate video explaining the science behind that.

How to find your internal waist measurement while corseted

To determine how to find the internal waist measurement or the true restriction on your waist, first wrap a flexible tape measure around your waist at the smallest point. (It helps to wear a slippery shirt for this as you will be adjusting it as we go along.) Hold the tape in place as you wrap the corset around your body and slip the measuring tape through the slit between the busk, then start tying up your corset.

*Please note that this method only works if you have a busk or front lacing in the front of your corset. If your corset has a closed front, a zipper, a stiffened modesty placket under the busk etc, then you will have to position the ends of the tape toward the back and have a friend read it for you (or take a picture).

As you’re tightening your corset, stop periodically to make sure that the tape measure is still positioned in the proper place at the smallest part of your waist, and that it’s not twisting or bunching up under the corset. Keep tightening little by little and pull the tape measure so it remains smooth. (This is where the slippery shirt or liner comes in handy.)

Once you have your corset closed  (or tightened to comfort), adjust the measuring tape so you can read it – don’t pull too hard otherwise you may change the reading, but move the tape to the side so the difference can be taken. You’ll see in the video that my 22″ corset has an internal reading of 22.25 inches, with a tiny gap at the back. When I measure the outside of my corset, it reads 23.5 inches which means the bulk of the corset itself adds about 1.25 inches to the circumference of my waist.

A way to calculate the bulk of a corset

There is a way to estimate the external vs internal circumferences of one’s waist  (thanks to Lexa, to Albert of Staylace, and to 1sdburns for pointing this out) – if you imagine that a corset is 5mm thick on average, this means that when the corset is wrapped around you, it adds about 5mm to the radius of your waist (from the center out to the edge), or 10mm to the diameter (from the outside of the corset on one side of your waist, to the outside of the corset on the other side). If you use the equation for relating radius to circumference:

5mm* 2(pi) = 31.4mm (which converts to about 1.24 inches)!

This method of calculating the thickness of a corset will be more accurate if you have a corset with sandwiched boning channels and a very regular thickness all around – if you have a corset with lots of external boning channels with areas of “thinner” corset in other places, this method may not be perfect.

What if you need a specific external waist measurement?

Experienced corsetieres will have an idea of how thick their corsets typically are, and so if you have a situation where you need a specific external corseted measurement (say you need to fit into a vintage dress that is no larger than 24″ in the waist) then the corsetiere may be able to create a corset that gives you that external measurement, drafting the internal measurement slightly smaller.

If you plan on buying an OTR corset to fit into that dress, then I would advise buying one size smaller than you think you need – so purchase a corset with a 22″ waist to go under that 24″ dress – but be sure that the ribcage and hips of the corset will be large enough to accommodate your natural measurements in those areas so you don’t experience pinching or discomfort.

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What Katie Did Raw Silk “Morticia” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “WKD Raw Silk Morticia Corset Review (UPDATED)” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 13 inches long, shortest part (from underbust to lap) is about 10.5 inches. Wasp-waist silhouette. Good for medium to long-waisted people, may be too long for those with a short torso. Has enough room in the ribcage and hip areas; very comfortable. Will cover lower-tummy pooch. This Morticia seems straighter/ flatter in the profile than the last Morticia.
Material 3 layers; fashion layer is 100% raw silk and the lining and interlining are both 100% cotton twill.
Construction 5 panel pattern (may be considered 6 if you take into account the back panel) with an additional 2 hip gores per side. Top-stitching between panels, external boning channels (double boning), and a floating liner. Also has 6 garter tabs.
Binding Matching raw silk bias tape neatly machine stitched on both inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Attached 7.5″ wide fabric lacing protector on the back, finished in same raw silk and twill lining (cannot be removed); stiffened placket under busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 12″ long (6 pins), backed with a stiffener on each side, and a reinforcing bone on either side of the busk.
Boning 22 steel bones not including busk. 8 spirals (1/4″ wide) in external channels on each side, plus another 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets and the extra reinforcing bone beside the busk.
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #0 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thick, they grip well. They were long enough for my purposes. Has some spring to the lace but very difficult to break.
Price Currently $310 USD on the What Katie Did website.

Final Thoughts:

There have been a few changes to the Morticia corset (if you compare this review with my previous Morticia review in the plain black satin) – whether these changes have occurred over time or if it’s what sets apart the smaller sizes from the larger ones, I can’t be totally sure. But I will still say two years later that the Morticia is still my favorite cut of all the WKD underbust corsets, and still seems to be the popular amongst other reviewers – the first Morticia video review I’ve done is still my highest-watched review to date! For those who have a bit of lower-tummy pooch, WKD also makes a spoon-busk version for extra support.

Of all their underbust corsets, the size 22″ Morticia is closest to my “custom” measurements with an underbust measurement of approximately 30″, iliac crest of about 33″ and bottom edge (close to low-hip) around 35″. Therefore from the smallest part of the waist to the bottom edge, I believe that this corset (in any size) is capable of giving no less than 12″ hipspring which makes it suitable for hourglass and pear-shaped corseters. Some clients find that they even need to order a size down from what they usually order (usually 5-6″ waist reduction instead of 3-4″). However be realistic about this – if you are relatively inexperienced with corseting, you may find this corset to be quite challenging for you to close – be patient and go slowly; you may be able to close this corset and have an enviable 50’s silhouette in good time.

To see the Morticia underbust and other cuts/ styles of WKD corsets, visit What Katie Did’s site.

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What is my relationship with Orchard Corset?

I don’t know if there’s something in the water, but many people in the corset community have been under scrutiny this past week. Quite frankly, I’m a bit bored of all the drama.
Since my trip to Washington, a small handful of people have come forward – one asking me about whether I’m paid by Orchard Corset, one telling me not to undervalue myself by associating with OTR companies, and one who has felt that my channel has a bit too much of a marketing feel as of late.
I thought I would answer this openly, to set the record straight. I have always tried to be as transparent as possible while still maintaining some semblance of privacy, and I thought I had made my sentiments towards OTRs clear before, but this situation is worth addressing publicly because for every one person who mentions something, there are usually 100 more thinking it but not wanting to speak up.
My trip to Washington was hosted by Orchard Corset. The owners had gone to lengths so that I wasn’t in debt for the trip, but that is just what a good host and a friend does. However, they didn’t pay me for my time there. I am not an employee and don’t consider myself affiliate – we are friends, but I don’t receive a cut of any sales and they have never paid me to do videos.
 
They wanted to privately show me how they operated. We also talked about what happened on ABC 20/20 last autumn, and how the corset community on Youtube is evolving as it allows corseters to speak about our experiences without fear of editors twisting our words or taking phrases out of context.
They never asked me or even expected me to film a tour – I just thought it would be something that my audience would find interesting – I had asked Orchard permission to show their place. It was also entirely my idea to interview them, to get a handle on where an OTR company sees itself in the spectrum of the corset market, amongst all the corset makers. The interview wasn’t scripted (I had prepared my questions, but I had no part in how they answered). If the interview sounded contrived, it might be because we had to film it twice – the first time there was a bunch of noise picked up from outside; truck engines and people talking loudly so we had to re-film it – so naturally they had smoother answers the 2nd time around.
 
I broke even on the trip financially, and can say in all honesty that I didn’t gain from making these videos. Not even a real jump in views or subscribers. I feel richer in experience though and considered it an adventure. I had documented it not only for my own memories, but I wanted to take my viewers along.
In terms of the sample corsets – of approximately 100 corsets, I kept two that had broken in on my body during my stay. I chose about 15 more for auction on Ebay – I could have used all of them for another giveaway, but I personally made the decision that Sidney’s health and raising funds for her was more important.
 
I’m not trying to defend Orchard Corset, and I’m not saying that their corsets are as good as custom-fit, coutil-based corsets out there, because they are not – even the owner of Orchard says that they are not at that level (and they have no desire to compete with that – OTR companies and bespoke corsetieres can co-exist peacefully).
If you got the impression that my channel was turning into one big commercial and that I promote too many products or makers, that barrage of unwanted media was not intended – but either way, it’s my fault and nobody else’s. If it is a commercial, then I am sure as hell benefiting the least of everyone on a financial level. The money I’ve spent on my channel is well into 5 digits now. And I say this without bitterness, just with truth.
If any of this were “just for the money”, I would be long gone. I have no secure future in maintaining my channel; I keep it because I love it. And I agreed to the trip because it would be a great experience to meet other people who love corsets as much as I do. For anyone who says that I have undersold myself by meeting with perfectly nice people, let me point out that perhaps it’s not me who is undervaluing myself, but maybe it’s others who put me on a pedestal and overestimate my reach. Opportunities to meet other corset makers/ sellers don’t come every day for me, especially where I live.
 
But I am really appreciative of those who had the courage to step forward and tell me their thoughts, because as they say – where only one person speaks, there are 100 others thinking the same thing.
I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed any of you. And one more reminder that Youtube is not my livelihood – I keep making videos because I enjoy it, because of the great people I’ve met along the way, and I try to support those makers whose livelihood actually does depend on creating beautiful corsets. But if what I’ve been doing has been detrimental to the community, I will have to put some deep thought into what I will do with this channel. This is no way meant as a threat to shut down completely, but perhaps after reviewing the corsets already purchased this year, I will stop doing them.
It’s a sad day when people are suspicious simply for one wishing to share her spotlight with others.
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Corsets I’ve tried – in order of price range

My corset reviews are organized in chronological order because that seems to make the most sense – my reviews aren’t all equal; they’ve evolved over time and they’re easier to understand if you watch the oldest ones first.

But when people are looking for a corset within their budget, I understand that my reviews can be difficult to sift through. So I’m saving you time by organizing all the corset brands I’ve tried in order of the average price range of their underbust corsets, and then alphabetical order within that range. (You should expect overbust corsets to cost more than underbusts.)

Please note that the order of these do not represent my preferences in any way – if you need help deciding, there is always my consultation service.

I’ve now turned this into a permanent page on my site, due to the requests of several people, so you can now find the page here (or click the page at the top). ^___^

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Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique Lace Overbust Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 14 inches long, from peak of bust to bottom (at longest part) is 15.5 inches. Very gentle hourglass shape. Bottom edge is a rounded shape so the corset stops just at the iliac crest (upper hips). Sweetheart bust, and plenty of room in the high back to prevent muffin top. Quite comfortable on me – very curvaceous shapes may want to invest in the upgrade for made-to-measure.
Material Fashion layer is silver/ pewter satin with black lace overlay; backed onto a sturdy strength layer underneath; lining is cotton coutil.
Construction 5 panel pattern. Top-stitching between the panels, single-boned on the seams, and a floating coutil liner (very comfortable). No garter tabs.
Binding Standard black satin bias tape, machine stitched inside and outside.
Waist tape 1″ wide invisible waist tape between the interlining and lining.
Modesty panel Matching 5″ wide modesty panel, made from the same coutil/satin/lace overlay, and also bound in black bias tape. Attached to one side of the corset; removable if desired.
Busk Heavy-duty wide busk (1″ wide on each side) about 13″ long (6 pins).
Boning 12 steel bones not including busk. On each side, there are 4 spiral bones on the seams and another two steel flats sandwiching the grommets at the back.
Grommets 30 grommets total, size #00 two-part eyelets (Prym brand) with moderate flange; set equidistantly; high quality – few splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip well and they are long enough. Very easy to lace up. Zero spring.
Price This particular piece was a one-off (sample) but Kirsteen does take special orders outside of what is available in her store. Most of her corsets on Etsy, made to standard sizes, are advertised as around or under £150, and these corsets can be made to custom measurements for an additional £50. You can see the options on her website here.

Final Thoughts:

This piece is absolutely beautiful. I had seen Kirsteen’s work around the internet for awhile, but I first learned of the name “Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique” when it was featured in the Lingerie Stylist’s “Top 10 Corsetieres” article in late 2012. Finally had the name of the designer of these fun, circus- and military-themed corsets. Checking out her Facebook page, I stumbled upon an auction of her pieces, and I instantly fell in love with this floral and lace number – not because it was rather different from the pieces normally available in her store, but because it was elegant in and of itself; simply put. I hadn’t yet owned a piece embellished in this way. The fact that it was one-of-a-kind made it that much more special!

I was not disappointed in Kirsteen’s workmanship at all – the stitchwork is neat, the lace overlay doesn’t wrinkle in the slightest, the beaded lace trim and roses are secured with care and attention, the coutil lining inside is high quality, smooth and comfortable. For a piece that was not intended for my measurements, it fits surprisingly well (I feel so fortunate to have these body dimensions). Do not be surprised if you see me review her work again in the future. In fact, I might almost guarantee it. ;)

To see the other styles available by Boom! Boom! Baby! Boutique, visit Kirsteen’s Etsy shop here!

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Just saying “Thanks”. :)

Hi everyone!

I just want to put it out there that I really appreciate each and every one of you. <3 The friends that I’ve made online these past couple years have been more supportive than many of my “proximal” friends at times, and I often feel like the luckiest girl in the world. It’s kind of funny how there can be a flux in mentality among people who’ve never met or talked to one another – but this week I’ve received several messages essentially saying “You’re famous!”

Am I?

Continue reading Just saying “Thanks”. :)

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Lucy Interviews Orchard Corset

In late February I visited Orchard Corset headquarters in Wenatchee, Washington, USA. Jeff (the Owner) and Cheri (the Marketing Director) were able to sit down with me and answer a few questions I had about their business and where they see themselves in the corset industry.

We discussed several matters within the corset community, such as the definition of “corset” being probably a little too loose, how Orchard sets itself apart from other OTR companies by their customer service, blog and website, their careful process in choosing both models and corsets to reflect what their clientele want, and their goals for the future.

Thanks very much to Jeff, Leanna, Cheri and all those at Orchard Corset for making this trip happen, and for shining a little light on how an OTR company works from their perspective.

Watch the interview below!

*

Questions and timeline:
0:40 How many years has Orchard Corset/ Crepe Suzette been in business?
0:50 In the years you’ve been in business, how has the popularity of corsets changed (if any)?
1:45 How do you see the corset industry, and where do you place yourself within that industry?
4:20 We understand that Orchard Corset is known for its excellent customer service – in what other ways do you serve your clientele?
7:25 What are your goals for the business in the next couple years?