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Orchard Corset CS-530 Overbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset CS-550 Overbust Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 15″, the longest part from peak of the bust to lap is just under 16″. The center back is 12.5″, so the lengthwise measurements are nearly identical to Orchard’s CS-511 overbust. It has a gentle sweetheart neckline, but it’s cut over the hip (by contrast, their CS-511 is slightly longline). It’s a modern-slim silhouette. I’m wearing a size 24″, the bust is 34″ (10 inches bigger than the waist), and the hips are about 32″ (8 inches bigger than the waist).
Material 3 main layers – the outer fashion fabric is black satin, a sturdy cotton twill interlining, and the lining is also black cotton twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). Constructed with the sandwich technique (fashion fabric flatlined to interlining and treated as one layer) and the bones are sandwiched between the two cotton layers. It’s double boned on the seams.
Binding Made from black satin bias strips, machine stitched on both sides. There are also 6 garter tabs, 3 on each side.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers. Starts between panels 1-2, and ends by the back grommets.
Modesty panel Modesty panel on the back is unstiffened and 6 inches wide, made of a layer of matching black satin and a layer of twill. Panel  and attached to one side with a line of stitching (easily removable if desired). There is also a placket by the busk.
Busk Busk is 1/2″ wide on each side and 14” long, with 6 pins (the bottom two pins are slightly closer together). It is fairly sturdy; less bendy than some other 1/2″ busks I’ve tried.
Boning 22 bones total (11 on each side). On each side, 9 of them are spirals about ¼” wide (double boned on the seams, except for between panels 5-6) and then there are two flat steel bones, both 3/8” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24 grommets (12 on each side), all size #00 grommets, with a small flange, finished in silver and spaced equidistantly. On the underside there are some splits which do catch on the laces a bit when lacing up.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoelace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy. However, Orchard has some higher quality laces (in several colours) available on their website – I very much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces, however the shoelace style laces would catch and shred less on the splits in the grommets compared to the ribbons.
Price Currently $79 USD on Orchard Corset’s website.

 

CS-530 overbust in limited edition green satin, and silver-on-black brocade. Click through for Orchard Corset's buyer guide.
CS-530 overbust in limited edition green satin, and silver-on-black brocade. Click through for Orchard Corset’s buyer guide. Models: Caylin (L) and Cheri (R)

This corset scored fairly well on the Bust Test, as the bustline came up high enough on my chest to hold me in during certain activities like shrugging and putting my arms up. One thing I would prefer is if the pattern around the bust would round and come inward up and over the breast, the way their CS-511 corset did when I reviewed that piece. However, this CS-530 overbust comes up rather straight on the bustline, and pushes everything upward. Aesthetically I like a more rounded, less ‘squished’ bustline, which is more consistent to the way molded bra cups look today, and also makes me feel safer that I’m not going to “booble out” of the corset when leaning over.

The picture above leads to the buyer’s guide on Orchard’s website, where they say the CS-530 is better suited for larger cup sizes. I wear anywhere between DDD to H cup depending on the brand, but I personally prefer the shape of the CS-511 overbust – but take this info with a grain of salt.

It’s a common trend for Orchard Corset to have the “bunny ears” set high on the waistline. My natural waist is always 1-2 sets of grommets lower than the bunny ears, which means when I pull on the loops, it compresses my lower ribcage as opposed to my actual waistline – if this is the case for you, there is no shame at all in unlacing and relacing the corset with the bunny ears a bit lower – you may find it more comfortable, more flattering and easier to use!

Orchard Corset has graciously provided my viewers and readers with a coupon code – enter CORSETLUCY to receive a 10% discount on your purchase. See the CS-530 overbust here.

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Case Study: Sapsford Silver Overbust Corset

This post is a summary of the “‘Case Study: Sapsford Silver Overbust” video, which you can watch on Youtube:

Quick Stats:

Material Two main layers: fashion fabric is a pattern-matched synthetic upholstery fabric with metallic threads interwoven, and it’s already backed onto a twill-like fabric. The lining is white herringbone coutil.
Construction 7 panel pattern (drafted by Scarlett Sapsford). The fashion layer is floating, and the corset is single-boned on the lining side.
Binding Bias strips of matching silver metallic fabric, machine stitched on both outside and inside (stitched in the ditch on the outside).
Waist tape 1 inch wide twill tape sandwiched between the layers.
Modesty panel No back modesty panel, but there is a narrow placket by the busk.
Busk 12 inches long with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. The busk is 1/2 inch on each side, and there are a pair of grommets above that ties at the bustline.
Boning 16 total bones not including busk (8 on each side). 1/4″ wide spirals, single boned on the seams. Two 1/2″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 34 grommets total, size #00 with a small flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, a little more than 1 inch apart.
Laces 1/2″ wide, double-face satin ribbon finished in silver.

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A bonus from yours truly - last month I made this pattern-matched overbust with a complicated asymmetric motif as a challenge to myself. I made this using the techniques in Scarlet Sapsford's Corset Making course (click the photo to learn more about the course).
A bonus from yours truly – last month I made this pattern-matched overbust with a complicated asymmetric motif as a challenge to myself. I made this using the techniques in Scarlet Sapsford’s Corset Making course (click the photo to learn more about the course).

This was a great project that came together in just a few days! Although I’ve known how to make my own corsets for years, it was fun going through Scarlett Sapsford’s Express Corset Making Course, discovering slightly different techniques from my own, and honing my skills by learning from a different angle.

Matching the motifs on this corset was a bit of a challenge, but a fun one. I followed Scarlett Sapsford’s instructions in her complete Corset Making Course, and it turned out (mostly) fabulous. A few things I would do differently:

  • I would have backed the fashion fabric onto interfacing to stabilize it and prevent warping (because warping is bad news when you try to match panels together!)
  • I might have chosen a fabric that has a less bold motif. Although the clear-cut and high-contrast motif made it easy to see where I should be matching the pieces, it also makes it super obvious where the matching wasn’t quite perfect. Yes, I did have to re-cut a panel because it was a few mm off!
  • I might lock-stitch the seams and press the seams open instead of using a top-stitch, because it makes the outside smoother and would prevent the motif from looking “off” when viewed at different angles.

I have a long torso and a low waist, and most OTR overbust corsets are a bit short on me – this is an issue if I want to keep my bust comfortably covered! So I modified Scarlett’s overbust pattern and added an inch of length in the ribcage. I did not make a mockup for this corset before jumping in and creating the final piece; if I had made a mockup, I would have lengthened the pattern even more in the front, and added another 2 inches in the bust to accommodate for my fuller chest.

Of course, this means opportunity to make more corsets in the future, about which I will not complain! :D

If you’d like to learn how to make your own corset like this one, be sure to check out Scarlett Sapsford’s Express Corset Making Course!

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Advanced Breaking in your Corset (Intuitive Seasoning)

This serves as a synopsis to my corset seasoning mini series from 2013, but also an addendum for experienced corset wearers and how they break in their corsets as well. Feel free to watch the video from 2014 above, or read the post (a transcript, revised in 2016) below.

There are understandably some complaints from people about the 2-2-2 guidelines and how this doesn’t work for people who wear corsets at a 6, 7, or 8+ inch waist reduction. This is a valid point and I want to share with you the same thing that I told to these more extreme tightlacers back in 2014.

Romantasy’s 2-2-2 guideline (wearing the corset at a 2-inch reduction [measured over the corset, so it is actually a slightly more dramatic reduction under the corset], for a duration of 2 hours a day, each day for 2 weeks) is exactly that: a guideline for beginners. You can choose to follow it or not follow it.

Some 7 or 8 years ago, before I ever read about the Romantasy method, some other corset companies posted instructions online for beginners, telling customers to “lace the corset as tight as you possibly can, and keep it on for as long as you can stand it” on the first wear – and more alarmingly, to “expect that it will hurt” until you can force the corset to soften and mold to your body.

Holy crap, that is bad advice.

Luckily I had the sense to not tie my corsets as tightly as possible from the first wear, but I did observe that for the first couple of corsets I owned, when I had not broken them in gently, one of my corsets ripped at the seam when I sneezed, another corset had a busk break through the center front seam, and yet another had a grommet pull out within 2 wears – at this time I believed that I was lacing too tightly/ too fast, or treated my corsets too roughly.

I will add a note here though: if you read through my seasoning mini-series, you’ll see that even when you treat a professionally-made, custom-fit corset quite gently, sometimes SNAFUs can still occur. It was only after a different corsetiere came forward a year later and noted a ripped seam in a green corset her own company had made, that it was hypothesized that this particular batch and color of green Gütermann thread might have been defective and not as strong as their usual thread!

The 2-2-2 guideline was designed to combat the incorrect and potentially dangerous information that was previously distributed by other brands [to wear your corset as tight as possible on the first wear]. The Romantasy method helps the gently ease the beginner’s body into the process of wearing a corset (because most people are so accustomed to elastic, loose fabrics today that such a rigid garment such as a corset may take some getting used to). The process of “seasoning your body” is just as much (if not more) important than the softening process of the corset itself – making sure the fibers are aligning and settling properly (if the corset is on-grain), and observing the corset losing its ‘crispness’ so it may hug around your body better.

It’s already implied that a beginner would not be starting with an 8-10 inch reduction that would fit on them like a wobbly corset with only the waistline touching your body. Although a small amount of flaring at the top and bottom edges is normal if your corset is not closed in the back, to experience flaring so extreme that you can fit stuffed animals into your corset, I believe the corset is probably too curvy for you if you’re a beginner. Refer back to my article about corset fitting, and why having a gap too wide in the back of the corset is a bad thing.

 

At the time these guidelines were created, achieving more than 4-6 inches of reduction was extremely rare.

Back in the 1990s to early-2000s, when I was researching corsets as a teenager, many authorities and corset makers were only recommending that people start with a 3-4 inch reduction – maybe 6 inches if you were plus size or particularly compressible. Think of the OTR corset brands that existed 10-15 years ago: Axfords, Vollers, Corsets-UK, Timeless Trends – these corset vendors did not make extremely curvy corsets designed for dramatic reductions at the time, and the average person would be lucky to achieve more than a 3-4 inch waist reduction without their ribs and hips getting compressed too tightly anyway. Over the past 5 years, curvier corsets have become more accessible through OTR brands (as opposed to having to commission a custom piece at 3-5x the price of OTR). Today I’m hearing of people buying their first OTR corset at 8 or even 10 inches smaller than their natural waistline, which is not a practice I would condone for everyone.

I can wear a corset around a 7-inch reduction, but I’ve been wearing corsets occasionally for around 12 years, and waist training off and on in the past 6 years. My waist has become accustomed to the pressure such that my muscles readily stretch, my intestines readily flatten and give way, and my body can accommodate moderate-to-largish reductions relatively quickly. But this may not be the case for a beginner, and there is such a thing as going down too much, too quickly. My concern is that if a beginner is starting with a corset 8-10 inches smaller than their natural waist, their corset will not fit properly because they may not tolerate large reductions in the beginning, but they may be impatient and want to close the corset within a few weeks or months. I don’t want people to end up hurting themselves.

Regardless, nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to season your corset using the 2-2-2 method. I mentioned in one episode of my corset seasoning mini-series that different methods and durations of breaking in your corset exists, and there is no “One” perfect way, no one hard and fast set of rules to break in your corset.

Romantasy has one way of doing it, Orchard Corset has a different method, Contour Corsets has yet a different method, and I’m certain that there are other brands who have their own way. Some methods are faster, some are slower, some methods are more structured, some are very free. The common goal is to have a corset that wraps around your body like a glove, and feels comfortable enough to wear for long durations without injury to yourself. But it’s also imperative that you start with a corset with a reduction suited to your experience level and body type, and with dimensions predicted to fit you well.

 

Different people have different bodies, and can cinch to varying reductions.

Someone who is larger, more squishy or more experienced might be able to cinch down more than 2 inches on the first wear (indeed, one of my clients whose natural waistline approaches 50 inches is able to close a corset 12 inches smaller within a few wears! Same with someone who has had surgeries to remove their colon earlier in life, but this is an extreme situation obviously not applicable to 99% of the population).

However, some other people are very lean, or they are body builders and have a lot of muscle tone, or they may simply have inflexible obliques or inflexible ribs, or they have a low tolerance to compression, and they may not be able to reduce their waist by even 2 inches – and those who are naturally able to lace to dramatic reductions should not shame those that can’t. Also by having a general guideline for beginners, and a modest one at that, it can help eliminate a false sense of competition between inexperienced lacers who have not yet learned to listen to their bodies.

 

Viewer question:

“I’m wearing the corset as tight as I possibly can, and it measures the same on the outside of the corset as my natural waist? What am I doing wrong?” The answer: nothing is wrong. Firstly, your corset has some bulk, so even though your external corseted measurement is the same as your natural waist, most likely your internal waist measures 1.5 – 2 inches smaller. And if that’s as small as you can comfortably go at this time, and if your corset is fitting you properly (it’s not a case of the ribs/hips of the corset being too small for your body and blocking your waist from reducing more), that reduction is perfectly fine! Wearing a corset should be enjoyable, not a cause of stress. With patience, most people find they can comfortably reduce more in several weeks or months.

Another question I regularly receive:

“How long does it take to season a corset?” Different corset makers will state that it takes different amounts of time for their corset to be fully broken in, just like I mentioned in a previous episode of the mini-series. Orchard Corset once said that it takes around 10 hours to season, while Contour Corsets says to take closer to 100+ hours to season one of her hardcore summer mesh tightlacing corsets – so there is a spectrum, and it depends on the brand, materials and construction methods.

 

Some people like rules, others don’t.

The whole point of Romantasy’s 2-2-2 guidelines is to encourage beginners to ease into the process of wearing the corset and to be gentle with themselves from the start. What I’ve found over the years is that some people are more intuitive and like to learn from experience – they prefer to navigate their own way through a new skill/ process through trial and error, while some others are more analytical and prefer to have a more rigid system that they can follow. This is true for more than just corsetry – it’s true for learning to play a new instrument (classical vs contemporary lessons, or even having a teacher at all vs being self-taught) or losing weight (some prefer to just eat well and walk more often, while others take on a strict workout regime with a certain number of reps with certain weights, and they count calories and macromolecules, etc.). Most people are somewhere in between. Most importantly, both methods have their perks and drawbacks, and one method is not inherently better than the other.

Perhaps it’s a certain type of person who is drawn to corsets in the first place, but I notice a larger proportion of my viewers and readers prefer to have some rules or guidelines to start out with. It’s okay to follow a system until you become familiar with your body and you can come to trust your own experience. It’s okay to “learn rules” and then choose to accept or reject them later on.

And of course, some people naturally possess more common sense than others (I cringe when someone tells me that their ill-fitting, poor quality corset bruised them and yet they refuse to stop wearing it!).

 

Let guidelines guide you, not control you.

There are some beginners who are very pedantic and they begin to worry that they seasoned their corset at 2.5 inches instead of only 2 inches – of course, there is a limit to everything and it’s not that big a deal if you don’t follow the guideline to the letter. However, if you wore your corset for 12 hours on the first day and ended up bruising yourself, this is a greater concern (and you should always place more importance on your body than on your corset – a corset may cost $50 – $300 on average, but your body is priceless and irreplaceable). A 2(ish)-hour guideline should be long enough for you to tell whether your corset is causing any fitting issues (or is contraindicated with any pre-existing condition, like if a corset tends to bring on a headache or blood pressure spikes to those already prone), while usually being short enough in duration that it shouldn’t cause bruising or pinched nerves or any other troubles that could arise.

Obviously, corsets should never ever hurt, pinch, or bruise you, nor should it cause muscle tension, or headaches, or exacerbate your health problems – if it does, that type of corset is not right for you, or you may not be healthy enough to wear a corset.

These days, I have a very intuitive way of wearing my corsets after they’re broken in – I don’t necessarily count the hours I wear them, or the reduction. If the corset feels too loose, I might lace it a bit more snug. If the corset feels too tight, I will loosen it. If I’m sick of it, I take it off! (By the way, you can learn more about different waist training methods in this article.)

When you’re more experienced with corsets, you can trust yourself to be more intuitive regarding how long to wear the corset and how tightly.

Analogy: Hard Contact Lenses

I started wearing hard contact lenses at 14 years old. They correct my astigmatism by literally acting like a brace for my eyeball and changing the shape of my cornea. While soft contacts mold to the natural shape of the eye, hard contacts will encourage the eye to take the shape of the contact lens (similar to how a corset molds your waist). But this can cause eye irritation especially in the beginning – my corneas were not adapted to the shape of the contact lens, so I couldn’t wear my contacts 14-16 hours a day. The optometrist gave me a strict schedule to follow, starting with wearing the contacts for 2-3 hours a day, one or two times each day, and slowly building up from there. The schedule lasted about 3 weeks until I was able to wear my contacts all day without eye strain, nausea, headaches, eye dryness, or irritation. Of course, when I get a new pair of contact lenses (with a stronger prescription, booo but such is life), I don’t have to go through the exact same schedule because my eyeballs are already accustomed to wearing contacts – I only have to get used to the strength of the prescription. When receiving a new corset (with a silhouette you’re already accustomed to), you don’t have to “re-season” your body the same way you did as a beginner, but you may need to train your body if your new corset is a few inches smaller than you’re used to.

Analogy: Weight Lifting

Some people will go to a personal trainer for a few weeks or months to learn good form and to get help with finding the weight, number of reps in a set and number of sets in a workout – and then once they know what they’re doing, they can stop going to the trainer and adapt their own workouts the way they like. Over time, you can expect to improve your strength and you may be able to lift more weight or go for more reps – but the program you make for yourself over time may not be suitable for a different person, especially not a beginner. On another note: other experienced athletes prefer to keep going to a personal trainer for years, long after they already know how to perform certain exercises properly and know intuitively what works for their own body, because these folks find value in having someone else create a system for them and continue to hold them accountable (which is also likely why Romantasy’s 3-month waist training coaching service has been successful over the years).

What is Lucy’s excuse for still seasoning all her corsets the same way?

I’ve been wearing corsets for over a decade and have seasoned well over 100 corsets in that time. Why do I still follow a structured seasoning schedule, especially as an intuitive corseter after the seasoning process?

The reason for this is mainly because I prefer to season all of my corsets in the same method. I do regular reviews with different corset brands. By controlling the reduction and the duration I wear every corset and giving them all the same treatment prior to review, I can see how well some corsets stand up to tension over time. In truth, I can tell within 10 minutes of putting a new corset on whether that corset is going to work with my body or not. Quite honestly, there have been certain corsets where (had I not received a request to review the corset) I would have tried on that corset once and immediately gotten rid of it. But if I’m going to give a fair review, I have to give a corset fair treatment.

In science, you have to control as many variables as possible in order to perform a fair, objective experiment. So I’ve incorporated a quality control system where I control as many variables as best as possible by seasoning every corset the same way. This ensures that I’m not putting more stress on some corsets than others (the exception to this being a ‘rental’ or ‘loaned’ corset that I need to send back after filming, in which case I won’t season it at all). The 2-2-2 guidelines are, as mentioned before, a very mild amount of stress to put on a corset – and if that corset does not even survive a trial period of 30-50 hours without seams stretching or a grommet pulling out, then I definitely know that the construction is compromised and the quality isn’t close to what I’d consider industry standard.

Bottom line, if you are an experienced corset wearer, or if you are particularly compressible, or if you hate following a rigid schedule, then the 2-2-2 guidelines (or indeed, any other corset seasoning guidelines) may very well not work for you, and that’s alright. But other people find it more comfortable follow a more rigid seasoning schedule. It’s really no skin off your back to let someone break in their corsets in a different way, as long as the other person is not hurting themselves and not destroying property. Live and let live.

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‘Love of Corsets’ Long Brocade Underbust Review

This post is a summary of the “‘Love of Corsets’ long brocade underbust review” video, which you can watch on Youtube:

Fit, length Center front is 13 inches long, the side seam is 9.5 inches long. (Your torso should be about 10.5 inches long from underbust to lap). Center back is 12 inches long. Circumferential measurements: waist is size 24 (24 inches), the underbust is 30 inches (6 inch rib spring), and the high hip is about 32 inches (8 inch hip spring).
Material Two main layers: fashion fabric is brocade, and lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 4 panel pattern, constructed using the welt-seam method. The panels are stitched with a lock-stitch, and the corset is double-boned on the seams (bones sandwiched between the layers).
Binding Bias strips of matching poly brocade. Top-stitched on both outside and inside. Includes 4 garter tabs at the bottom, and 2 hanger loops at the top.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is 6″ wide and finished in matching brocade. Unstiffened and stitched to the corset on one side (easily removable). Also the modesty placket in front is 1 inch wide.
Busk 12 inches long with 6 loops and pins, equidistantly spaced. The busk is slightly stiffer than a standard flexible busk.
Boning 16 total bones not including busk (8 on each side). 1/4″ wide spirals, double boned on the seams. Two 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 18 grommets total, size #00 with a small flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, a little more than 1 inch apart.
Laces Black flat nylon shoelace style lacing, 1/4″ wide. Slightly springy but very difficult to snap. Long enough and comfortable to hold when lacing up.
Price This corset was $65 at the time of recording two years ago, but most of Love of Corsets’ stock is now around $30 USD!

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This corset is a modern slim silhouette, with a smooth sweeping curve from rib to waist to hip. It does give a moderate waist reduction on me (having a 6″ rib spring and 8″ hip spring) so Romantasy may call this a “U” shaped corset, or it may be reminiscent of an old Victorian silhouette (as their corsets were not convex at all over the ribs, but rather smoothly concave).

I wouldn’t recommend this piece for “stealthing” under clothing, because the rather long point in the bottom of the center front may poke out from under your pants! However, the same brand has a few other corset styles that would be a bit better for wearing under outfits.

This specific corset is sadly currently unavailable, but feel free to check out some of Love of Corsets’ other styles on Amazon here.

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OOTD: Cinch Clips to Accentuate your Corseted Figure

If you don’t want to permanently tailor your clothing to contour over your corseted waist, but you still want to show off your hourglass figure, what can you do?

Wearing my Contour Corset under my sweater tunic and toddler belt.
Wearing my Contour Corset under my sweater tunic and toddler belt.

In a previous video I discussed belted fashions (that belt was originally made for a toddler, by the way – waist size 20 inches up to 25 inches), but if you are concerned that a belt would cause too much friction and damage a delicate fashion fabric of your corset, you can try cinch clips as an alternative (also called dress clips or jacket clips). Check Etsy, they come in a myriad of colors, and you can get them ruched or flat, with silver clips or gold.

My friend Zessinna crochets adorable roses and bows to conceal cinch clips – check out her Etsy shop here if you have the time!

The cinch clips can be hidden by a cardigan or jacket (or in my case, my long hair!) if you don’t like the look of it. Alternatively, with a little bit of fiddling to make the creases look tidy, you can theoretically cinch your shirt from the underside so the clip doesn’t show! But you can try a more decorative cinch clip like the one below from Amazon if you want to show it off.

Watch the video above to see how the cinch clips transform my look in several different outfits!

H/T to Gabrielle for her great cinch clip solution!

amazon-filigree-cinch-clip
Cardigan Clip: Silver Antiqued Swirls with Crystals. Photo courtesy of Amazon affiliate.

 

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Orchard Corset Mesh CS-411 Review

This post is a summary of the “Orchard Corset MESH CS-411 Underbust Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube:

Fit, length Center front is 10.5 inches long, the side seam is 8 inches long. (Your torso should be about 9 inches long from underbust to lap). Circumferential measurements: waist is size 22 (22 inches), the underbust is 29 inches (7 inch rib spring), and the low hip is about 31 inches (9 inch hip spring).
Material One main layer of beige, cotton fish-net style mesh. The boning channels and binding are beige cotton twill.
Construction Although it looks like a 6 panel pattern, the corset is actually made from the same pattern as the original CS-411 so it’s a 4-panel pattern with extra boning channels in the center of some panels. As the corsets get larger in size, the number of boning channels increase. The seams between the panels are reinforced by sewing twill boning channels to both the outside and the inside of the seam, completely covering/ sandwiching it.
Binding Bias strips of beige twill, neatly machine stitched on outside and inside. No garter tabs.
Waist tape 1-inch wide beige satin ribbon is exposed on the inside of the corset, anchored by the seams/ boning channels. (Note that the newer stock have a black ribbon, not beige!)
Modesty panel Modesty panel is 5.5″ wide and finished in beige twill. Unstiffened and stitched to the corset on one side (easily removable). No modesty placket in front.
Busk 9.75 inches long (a bit unusual in length) with 4 loops and pins, the bottom two closer together. The busk is slightly wider and slightly stiffer than a standard flexible busk (this one is about 3/4″ on each side).
Boning 14 total bones not including busk (7 on each side). 1/4″ wide spirals, single boned on the seams. Two 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side. This is ONLY for the size 22″ (larger sizes have more bones, contact Orchard Corset for more info about other sizes).
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #00 with a small flange and finished in silver. Set equidistantly, about 1 inch apart.
Laces Ivory flat nylon shoelace style lacing, 1/4″ wide. Slightly springy but very difficult to snap. Long enough and comfortable to hold when lacing up.
Price The smaller sizes (up to size 32″) is $69 USD, and the full-figure sizes (up to size 40″) is $77 USD.
Use CORSETLUCY to save 10% off your entire order! (This is a coupon, not an affiliate link.)

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I was quite impressed with the curviness of their mesh CS-411 compared to their original cotton/ satin CS-411 styles – I have a broader ribcage compared to some other women, so I find this curvier mesh version to be much more comfortable than their CS-411 corsets finished in other fabrics.

Also because this corset has much give in the mesh, it contours around the ribs in a convex shape and can accommodate round and rigid ribcages without placing pressure on it (the CS-411 in cotton twill, for instance, is slightly more conical through the ribs).

The CS-411 corset is my favorite of Orchard Corset’s mesh pieces. The fact that it’s cut (more or less) straight across at the top and bottom edges make it great for “stealthing” (wearing under clothing, especially in the summer) without weird points poking out from under your clothes. It’s cool and breezy, ideal for use in hot climates or during the summer. But if you have a longer torso or if you have a larger, lower hanging tummy, you may prefer to try Orchard’s mesh CS-426 longline corset instead which provides more control of the lower abdomen.

Because of the tension at the waist tape and much less tension in other areas of the corset, the fabric around the grommets pull unevenly at the waistline and cause the bones to twist a bit, but the grommets had fortunately not ripped out. It was the mesh itself that had ripped after a few months of use.

CS-411 in beige mesh. Photo by Orchard Corset.
CS-411 in beige mesh. Photo by Orchard Corset.

Keep in mind that these mesh-style corsets don’t last forever – if I’m wearing a mesh corset on a regular or daily basis in the summer, I can expect it to wear out by the time autumn arrives – this is somewhat true of all “fishnet” style mesh corsets, regardless of the brand, so it’s not a strike against Orchard Corset – it’s the nature of the fabric. The CS-411 corset is available in solid fabrics as well if you prefer your corsets to be a little more sturdy and last a bit longer.

Use my coupon code CORSETLUCY for 10% off your entire order – this is a discount, not an affiliate code! I get no payment from people using this code.

Learn more about the CS-411 corset here on Orchard Corset’s website.

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Corset Wearer’s Organs Illuminated by MRI

 

I can hardly contain my excitement! For the first time, we have public information as to what happens to a corset wearer’s organs through the use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). I’ve wanted to do a study like this for years, but time, finances and limited access to imaging facilities prevented me from doing so.

Fortunately, German medical doctor and TV sensation Dr. Eckhart von Hirschhausen took it upon himself to study how a corset moves organs in a tightlacer on his October 2nd episode of his gameshow, Hirschhausens Quiz Des Menschen (“Hirschhausen’s Quiz of the Human [body]”).

Internationally acclaimed burlesque artist Eden Berlin volunteered to be studied, wearing a specialized tightlacing corset made by Korsettmanufactur TO.mTO.  The magnetic pull in an MRI machine is so strong that it is capable of ripping steel out of corsets and through flesh – so Tonia Merz, the corsetiere behind TO.m.O, explained how she used non-metal boning and other non-ferrous hardware in the corset so as not to endanger Eden during imaging.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.02.20 AM

In this episode of Hirschhausens Quiz Des Menschen before viewing the results, the contestants had to guess what would happen to Eden’s body when she’s wearing a corset. Here were the options:

A. The lungs are compromised, so she has a lack of oxygen.
B. The kidneys are compressed, so they are less efficient at filtering.
C. The intestine is deformed, so digestion is slowed.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.04.20 AM

Here are two MRI images of Eden, with her uncorseted figure on the left and her corseted figure on the right. This image is behind her peritoneal cavity, showing her kidneys and lungs. Dr. Hirschhausen explains how the lungs and kidneys haven’t moved much between the two images.

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This screencap now shows the peritoneal cavity. Dr. Eckhart gestures the normal location of the ascending, transverse and descending colon in the left image, and the transverse part of the colon is clearly viewed (where his hand is).

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.07.38 AM

Now Dr. Eckhart gestures to the right image and shows how the intestines are flexible. He says that you can see that the transverse colon has shifted so that part of it is above the waistline, and part of it is below. (While it might not have been explicitly mentioned, from the image we also now have confirmation that the liver and stomach move upwards (and the liver remains pretty much in the same shape) and they are not forced down below the waist like some horrendous illustrations once claimed).

Therefore, Dr. Eckhart concluded that answer C (the intestine trapped and digestion slowed) was the correct option.

As a follow-up to this, an MRI was done on a woman in her third term of pregnancy with the baby already in head-down (vertex) position, to show how the intestines have shifted upward considerably (again, the intestines are designed to be flexible). The baby is obviously highlighted in red.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.14.57 AM

One thing I should point out is that Eden is not a daily waist trainer but rather wears her corsets for her performances. It’s also unknown how much time she was given to lace up and have her body adjust to the tightness before she had the second MRI taken – I know that if I give my body time to adjust while lacing down slowly, I can feel an intestinal shift after 20-30 minutes, and find that the feeling of pressure is reduced and I can lace a little tighter than before. Fran of Contour Corsets proposes that over time, a tightlacer can coax the entire transverse colon to sit below the waistline, away from the line of highest pressure from the corset, which can make digestion much easier.

Update: Eden Berlin has commented on her experience:

“The MRI pictures where made pretty much directly after i was putting the corset on and on top of this it is a new corset so still very stiff in shape. I think with a corset that my body was already used to and more time before the MRI picture the result may have been a bit different. But my organs where basicly just moved a bit up or down without changing much in shape.”

And on her waist reduction:

“My natural waist is 63cm… it was a 50cm corset and it was actually completly closed.”

Tonia Merz also confirmed that the corset was made to close at 50cm, and designed to give about a 5 inch reduction. With a 20% change in her waist circumference, this definitely qualifies at tightlacing.

If given the opportunity, I would love to repeat this MRI study with different tightlacers to see how the positions of organs change slightly depending on the individual, the silhouette of corset worn, the reduction of the corset, and how long they’ve been training. Huge thanks to Hirschhausens Quiz Des Menschen, Eden Berlin and Tonia Merz for their incredible collaboration and allowing us to finally see where the organs shift when wearing a corset, and especially to Tonia for her translation of the conclusions!

EDIT, JANUARY 10, 2015: You can now view the full episode here on Youtube (German, no subtitles). The corset topic begins at 35 minutes in, with the MRI portion around 45 minutes in.

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Sparklewren Golden Bird’s Wing Review

This post is a summary of the “Sparklewren Bird’s Wing Underbust Corset Review” video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Sparklewren Bird’s Wing Quick Stats

Fit, length Even though this corset is a sample, I’ve added the measurements below for the sake of completion.) The center front is 11.5 inches long. Princess seam is 11 inches. The center back is 9 inches (it has a beautiful sweetheart shape in the back). Circumferential measurements: waist is 20 inches (see discussion below for notes), the underbust is 28 inches, and the low hip is about 37 inches.
Material Two main layers: fashion fabric is a gold moiré silk, and the lining is a fine-weave black herringbone coutil.
Construction 14 panel pattern (28 panels total). Each panel is very long and very narrow (each one is less than an inch wide at the waistline!)
The panels were assembled using a lap-seam, and the topstitch on each seam doubles as a narrow boning channel.
Binding Bias strips of gold moiré fabric. Neatly machine stitched on front, hand-finished on the underside.
Waist tape None detected. (See discussion below)
Modesty panel None came with this sample (but for bespoke commissions, a modesty panel is available for a possible markup).
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ on each side), 11 inches long with 5 loops and pins (bottom two are closer together). There are so many bones adjacent to the busk that it helps keep the center front flat.
Boning 34 total bones (17 on each side). The bones in the front and back feel like 6mm wide flat steels, while the bones wrapping around the sides are likely 4mm or 5mm spirals. It is single boned on the seams, but because it has so many panels, the corset feels like it is continuously boned!
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #00 with a medium flange and finished in silver (it would have been beautiful if they were finished in gold to match the fabric!). Grommets are set a bit closer together at the waistline, and they’re in excellent condition (not falling out).
Laces Black flat shoelace style lacing.
Price £400 GBP for the Phoenix Bird’s Wing style.

 

Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird's wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.
Gorgeous high-contrast shot of the gold bird’s wing sample. Photo by Sparklewren.

Although this was a test sample, this lovely bird’s wing underbust resembles Sparklewren’s limited edition “Phoenix” line. The precision and care required to make such a corset is remarkable – if Jenni’s seams were off by even 0.5 mm in each panel in this corset, the entire corset would end up being 1.4 cm (more than half an inch) bigger or smaller in the waist!

This corset was made to fit someone with a smaller ribcage, larger hips, and higher waistline than myself (I am long waist from the waist up, and short from the waist down) so it was eventually re-homed to another corset collector who happened to fit the corset perfectly.

This is a remarkably comfortable little corset despite not being made for my measurements. It was deliberately made slightly small (19 0r 19.5 inches) to accommodate for a small amount of stretch and end up as a 20-inch waist, as its construction (traditional lapped seams) did not allow for the addition of a concealed waist tape.

Because there are so many panels to the bird’s wing corset, it’s said to mold extremely well to the wearer – even molding to a person’s asymmetries, say if they have scoliosis – and still be very smooth and comfortable.

See more of Sparklewren’s work here on her website.

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How to Prep and Pack Corsets for Shipping

It’s well-known that I sell off my gently-used corsets once I’ve finished reviewing them. I’ve received a few requests to show how I safely mail my 2nd-hand corsets, and in the video below I show the most common method I use.

Please keep in mind that there is a spectrum for the way corsets come in the mail. When I purchase corsets from professional corsetieres, some corsets had been literally bent into an “L” shape and stuffed into a (non-waterproof!) manilla envelope. Conversely, some other corsets had been wrapped lovingly in acid-free tissue paper and tied with a ribbon, spritzed with perfume*, included a hand-written thank-you note and topped it off in a high quality engraved box!

My method is “middle of the road” finding a balance between keeping the corset protected and dry, while minimizing waste and keeping the package as light as possible – and when it comes to mailing a heavy steel boned corset, minimizing the weight of the packaging can mean the difference between shipping costs of $12 (small packet) vs $25 (full parcel)!

I know that some people will be appalled that I don’t ship my 2nd-hand corsets in a cardboard box with a load of styrofoam. Despite this, I fortunately have a 100% success rate of corsets being delivered to their new homes unmarred. (So far.)

Here’s how I prep and pack my corsets for shipping (feel free to follow along with the video above!):

  1. Weigh your corset, bag/ box, tissue paper and any accessories on a kitchen scale that can measure in grams (or ounces if you’re in the US). In the video, you see that a cardboard box adds nearly a pound of weight, which inflates the shipping price by $6-10! This is why I use waterproof bubble mailers which have an almost negligible mass.
  2. Measure the dimensions of the bag/ box as well.
  3. Check over the corset for any flaws or issues. (Although, your customer should know about these before purchasing the corset in the first place!)
  4. Tighten the laces and either tie in a bow or wrap it neatly with a band.
  5. Use a (CLEAN!) lint-roller and get rid of any dust or lint on the corset. You do not want to transfer pet hair onto a corset, nor would you want to lint-roll a white corset right after rolling a black one – so really, just use a clean piece of lint tape for EVERY corset.
  6. Fasten the busk. You can either put one (or two) loops under the knob side of the busk to lock it in place (so it doesn’t unfasten). If you’re worried about the busk bending in transit (or if your corset has a modesty placket under the busk) then fasten the busk normally and put an elastic band over the knobs to prevent the busk from becoming undone.
  7. Fold the corset (some corsets fold more nicely than others. Most, I’ve found, like to fold in thirds).
  8. Wrap the corset in some tissue paper. This is especially important if shipping two corsets of different colors, because you don’t want the ink to transfer! Also, don’t wrap a white corset in colored paper. Just don’t do it.
  9. Add a business card or personal thank-you note, if you wish.
  10. Waterproof your corset: if you are using a paper envelope or box, then wrap it in a plastic bag or plastic wrap beforehand. But as I use a waterproof bubble mailer, I don’t usually need to worry about this extra step.
  11. Then seal up your box or bag with the corset and accessories inside!
  12. If mailing in a soft bag/ mailer, I tend to write on the mailer: “PLEASE DO NOT FOLD OR BEND” (fortunately, my post system is good about respecting this!)
  13. Add the address as per your post system’s requirements (in Canada you can hand-write it, while in some other places they must be typed, especially if shipping internationally).

*I actually prefer no scent, as some people are sensitive or allergic to perfumes.