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Dark Garden Bespoke Corset Process – Measurements and Mockup Fitting

Today I’d like to walk you through the process of ordering a custom corset – specifically, a custom overbust from Dark Garden.

Some of you may remember I had a number of corsets on loan from Dark Garden in 2014, where we agreed to send me 4 corsets for review (two overbusts and two underbusts from their signature line) and then send them back.

But over the years, it’s become clear that the majority of overbust corsets simply don’t fit me. I consider myself to have a long torso and a low waist. Most OTR overbusts don’t rise up high enough on the bust, and some are too long from waist to lap. And almost all of them are not made to accommodate a full bust, and I’m not even that large! But I’m built strong – I have broad shoulders, well-developed traps and a fleshy back.

I looked through the available options on their website and in their brochure, and Autumn herself recommended the Aziza for me – a sweetheart overbust designed for fuller busts, and can be made with adjustable shoulder straps.

The measuring guide was emailed to me. They directed a ribbon to be tied around my waist. But because I’m 15 lbs heavier than my last measuring tutorial 5 years ago, my apparent smallest waist is 1-2 inches higher than my true skeletal waist and the ribbon had a tendency to slide up. I don’t want this to reflect on my vertical measurements, so I was a rebel and used a belt just slightly snug, to act similarly to the waist tape of a corset, and took all my measurements in reference to the bottom edge of the belt.

 I was wearing a fitted shirt with a well-supportive bra that was not too padded. I was also wearing soft yoga pants so I could easily pull it aside to take the lower hip measurements when it came to that.

This was the list of measurements (see my video for a live demonstration):

Custom corset measurement guide. Model: Autumn Adamme, the owner/ founder of Dark Garden.

Waist to waist over shoulder. Starting at the marker on your waist in front, take the measuring tape vertically over your shoulder, down your back, to the ribbon at your back waist. I’m looking at the measurement in the mirror, but you can also sort of mark it by feel with your fingernail and then look at the measurement.

Bust circumference is around the largest part of your bust with a bra on. Make sure the tape is not slouching or angled too much around the back; it should be parallel with your waist and also the floor.

Ribcage. This is your underbust measurement, so I measured directly along the bottom edge of my bra band. I also took the measurements with a full exhale, and a full inhale. My exhale measurement is about 30″ and my circumference with a full breath is about 32.5″. With a comfortable inhale, I measured 31 inches, but I also mentioned to them that I had a tendency to squish upwards in corsets so don’t be surprised if I need 32 inches instead.

Natural Waist. I moved my belt up very slightly to get my natural waist measurement at the bottom line of the belt. Don’t suck in or push out your belly, because you’re probably not going to be sucking in the whole time you have the corset on either.

Hips 3 inches down from the waist is not in the diagram, but you measure 3″ straight down from the waistline. and then pivot the tape at that spot, and measure the circumference of your hips parallel with the waist. This is just about where my iliac crest naturally sits.

Hips Hips 3 inches down from the waist is also not in the diagram.  Again measure 5” down from the waist, pivot the tape, and take the circumference even all the way around. In my demonstration here, I’m probably even riding a little high with the tape in the back, which is why a mirror or having someone help you can be helpful.

Now for the vertical measurements:

Waist to Ribs. you measure from your underbust or underwire down to the waistline, which is the bottom of the belt for me. This shows how long of a waist I have naturally as it’s typically between 5.5 and 6 inches.

Waist to Bust. (Not illustrated.) Measure from the fullest part of your bust directly down to the waistline. Again, remember that you should be wearing a supportive bra for this if you’re full-busted. Some people say to measure from the nipple down, but different people have nipples in different spots so that’s not totally precise. I asked Autumn if I should follow over the contour of the underside of the breast, and she said no just go straight down so that’s why you see the tape is pulled taut.

Waist to top side front. When they say the “side-front”, this is what I tend to refer to as the princess line or the princess seam in my other videos. This measurement will tell them how high you want the top edge of the corset to be over the swell of the bust, so it’s more your preference as opposed to strictly your body measurement. If you want a demibust, measure a little lower. If you want full coverage, measure higher.

Waist to underarm. This is taken at the side seam. You don’t have to go right up into the depths of your armpit, but rather just choose the height at the side where you’d like your corset to stop. Try not to bend over as this will affect the length. Too long and it will dig into your pits, and too low and you may get some spillover and not enough support. Try to take this measurement with your arm down as much as possible.

Waist to top edge at the center front. This will tell them how high you want the neckline to be at the busk, so measure lower if you want plunge, or higher if you want to cover more of your cleavage. I’m using my shirt as a reference again, but of course you can choose whatever height you’re comfortable with. 

Waist to bottom front. This should be long enough to cover any lower pooch if you have any. But if it’s too long, it’ll poke into your pubic bone, and if it’s too short it may not hold your tummy properly. Find a happy medium around your hip flexor that still allows you to sit down comfortably.

Mockup of the custom Aziza overbust from Dark Garden.
Mockup of the custom Aziza overbust from Dark Garden.

Here are a few photos of myself wearing first mockup (there are plenty more photos included in the video) – this first fitting was a long distance fitting, done by email. I was directed to try and take the photos head-on and not too angled, and to fill the screen as much as possible with just the corset; full body shots were not necessary.

I was asked to measure the width of the gap in the back of the corset at the top, waist, hips and bottom edge. As you can see, I already have a broad back, and I definitely squish upwards and needed several inches more space at the top.

After evaluating this, Autumn said that she’d rather do a second mockup fitting. Fortunately we would both be in New York at the end of March, so we met up so she could fit me in person, which was a whole lot easier because she could adjust the shoulder straps appropriately and poke and prod at me. She could also visualize my squishability, and understand those slight asymmetries and idiosyncrasies of my body, like my funky left hip and that my left breast is half a cup larger than my right. This made the mockup twist on me slightly, even though it felt completely centered on my body, it obviously didn’t look as such. Autumn unlaced and relaced it until it looked right, and marked the modifications right on the mockup.

Shortly after, my final Gold Aziza corset was finished and sent to me! I am obviously thrilled with this corset (you can see my initial reactions in the video above, around 11:45 mark), but you will need to see my official review to hear my full thoughts on it! (Blog post for this will be published soon!)

Final Aziza corset by Dark Garden.

Huge thanks to Autumn Adamme and the whole crew at Dark Garden for making this dream come true and allowing me to document the bespoke process from the customer’s perspective.

Do you have a custom corset from Dark Garden? How was your experience? Let us know in a comment below!

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Isabella Corsetry “Petite Josephine” Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Isabella Petite Josephine Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 22″: Center front is about 11.25 inches high, from underbust to lap is 9 inches, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 23″ (it was 2nd hand so it stretched slightly), ribcage is 29″ (7 inch rib spring) and lower hip is 33″ (11 inch hip spring). “Longline” for someone with a short length, conical in the ribs and cupped over the hips.
Material 3 Layers: Fashion fabric is black satin. Interlining in between, and lining is black cotton twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern, and constructed with the sandwich method with double boning on each seam.
Binding Commercial black satin bias binding. No garter tabs.
Waist tape 1 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel You have the choice of ordering any Isabella corset with a sewn-in panel, a separate panel, or no panel. This particular corset didn’t come with a modesty panel.
Busk 9.25 inches long, heavy duty wide busk, with 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced.
Boning 20 bones total, 10 on each side. Double boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels on the seams, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets. (My original Josephine has 2 extra bones.)
Grommets 28 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in black and spaced a bit closer together at the waistline. Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely. There is a lot of friction lacing up but probably because of the modesty panel.
Laces Black double faced satin ribbon – no spring, very strong and flat.
Price $175 USD base price for the immediate line corsets (but on an indefinite sale; around $150+ depending on the color/ fabric).


Isabella Corsetry is run by a woman named Erin in Sacramento California. The Isabella Corsetry brand offers three ranges:

  • the “Immediate” line for standard-sized, in-stock corsets in simple fashion fabrics (OTR corsets), which is only the most popular 5-6 underbust styles.
  • the “Made to Order” line for standard sized corsets, but they can be made in your choice of fabric (choose among 200+ fabric options, or send them your own custom fabric), in 18 styles.
  • the “Custom” line if you prefer the corset made to your measurements and specifications, and you can choose among the 18 styles or request your own style.

Josephine longline corset by Isabella CorsetryFor awhile, the Josephine corset was one of the curviest OTR corset styles on the market, and I believe it was probably the “original” pattern that many other companies had copied over time. The Petite Jo was the answer to those who loved the look and the curviness of the corset, but had too short of a torso to comfortably sit down in the original Josephine. Now Isabella has come out with the Katherine, which is marketed towards waist trainers or tightlacers who have gone as far as they can in the Josephine!

The only caveat I found to ordering from Isabella Corsetry is that the wait times are quite long, especially if you’re ordering your corset from outside of the US. While the shipping time was stated to be 2 weeks to Canada, I found it took closer to 6 weeks for me to receive my order, which made me wonder if the in-stock corsets were actually made to order.

The other thing I noticed is that both my original Josephine and my Petite Josephine had stretched an inch in the waist over time with very regular use – however, I’m impressed that they did not have any ripped seams, popped grommets or other structural issues; they’re strong garments certainly capable of withstanding months or years of waist training, as long as you take into account the stretch factor.

See more on the Isabella Corsetry website here.

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Ties that Bynde ‘Helen’ Corset Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Ties that Bynde ‘Helen’ Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length This style is standard sized 24″: Center front is about 10.5 inches high, from underbust to lap is 10 inches, and the center back is 12.5 inches. Waist in this corset is 24″, ribcage is 30″ (6 inch rib spring) and lower hip is 34″ (10 inch hip spring). Mid-hip in length, conical in the ribs and cupped over the hips.
Material Fashion fabric is teal satin and a beautiful black dupioni silk yoke or belt. Boning channels are made with black coutil (covered in dupioni silk) and there is a cotton floating lining in a fun retro rockabilly print (I told her to surprise me).
Construction 6 panel pattern (probably) in a very interesting pattern with the yoke/ belt and flared panels above and below. It seems like it was designed through creative draping! Fashion and strength fabric flatlined, single external boning channels, floating lining.
Binding Commercial black satin bias binding. No garter tabs.
Waist tape 3/4 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. Full waist tape, from center front to center back.
Modesty panel Original corset does not come with a modesty panel, but I purchased one for $25 extra. 6.25″ wide, boned (resists crumpling) and suspended on the laces, finished in black coutil and black dupioni silk. Tiny 1/4″ placket in front.
Busk Tapered busk! (thicker on the bottom than the top), 10 inches long. 5 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced. Slightly more rigid compared to a standard flexible busk.
Boning 20 bones total, 10 on each side. Single boned with 1/4″ wide spiral steels and 1/4″ flexible flats, and there are four flat steels in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 44 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in black and equidistantly spaced (3/4″ inch apart). Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely. There is a lot of friction lacing up but probably because of the modesty panel.
Laces Black flat shoelace style lacing – no spring, very strong, long enough, no complaints. :)
Price $200 base price (standard size and no modesty panel). Modesty panel is another $25.


A quick, backlit snapshot while I was breaking in this corset (hips still worn a bit loose).
A quick, backlit snapshot while I was breaking in this corset (still worn a bit loose, so the hips weren’t fitted yet).

Ties that Bynde is a business based in Detroit, Michigan, run by independent corsetiere and all-around super woman, Jessica. Jessica not only takes custom corset commissions, but she also frequents conventions as a corset vendor, creates entire lines of corsets and couture outfits every year for fashion shows, attends corset conferences and lingerie symposiums, teaches corset making classes, AND she is also a contributor to my book Solaced, where she discusses the insurance-covered, therapeutic corsets she makes for herself and others.

The Helen corset was a star in my corset collection – there are several features that make corset relatively unique, including the black dupioni ‘belt’ and copious external channels, and the sweetheart top edge of this underbust corset.

I adore the look of sweetheart underbust corsets, and if you have a problem with corsets pressing painfully against your sternum, then this may be an option that avoids your sternum altogether. However, I have a freakishly high sternum, and  personally find that I sometimes get mild indigestion if my corset doesn’t come high enough in the front (this is true of both cinchers and all sweetheart corsets, so it’s not a mark against Ties that Bynde at all). Plenty of my friends are able to wear sweetheart corsets quite comfortably, though.

Size 24″ is an in-between size (Jessica normally makes her standard size corsets in every-other size (e.g. waist sizes 22″, 26″, 30″, etc). Upon reading her size charts, I quickly realized that her 26″ would be too big for me but the 22″ would be too small. Jessica offered to make me a size 24″ at no extra charge which was incredibly generous of her. If you needed custom fit (where you change the rib and hip springs or the length of the corset) this would be an upcharge, but I found that my body fit the standard size 24″ fairly well.

See more of Jessica’s work on Facebook.