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Your Corset Doesn’t Fit… Now What? When to Alter Your Corset, or Let It Go.

In this post we’re going to discuss corset alterations to adjust the fit of your corset, and when it’s worth it to try to go DIY, when to leave it to professionals, and when to cut your losses and just toss (or sell) your corset.

Before I get to that, I will say that if you absolutely hate sewing and you have the funds to commission someone else for alteration or repairs, there is no shame in doing so. Back in 2010 I made a video titled “Should you buy a corset or make one?” where I explained (with math and tables, in all my nerdy goodness) to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a corset or making one by myself.

But one thing I didn’t factor in was your willingness to learn and how much you value your time. Let’s say it takes ~20 hours to make one good-quality-yet-relatively-simple corset. (This is about right for me, as I’m a very slow and meticulous worker.) If you have no desire to learn how to sew, and you’re lucky enough to have a job where you’re paid over $30 per hour, that means you can work 10 hours and commission a corsetiere to make you a custom corset for $300 (instead of making a corset in 20 hours and saving yourself $300). If you have zero interest in sewing, it’s better to go with the former situation as you’ve just saved yourself 10 hours of labor.

Just as there’s no shame in buying a custom corset if you can afford it (and you simply don’t like sewing), there’s also no shame in sending your corset to a tailor or corsetiere for alterations – nor is there anything wrong with selling your poorly-fitting corset to someone who would fit it better, and buying a new corset that will fit you correctly! Consider your personal situation and use your discretion.

By the way, altering your corset is something you do when your return / exchange period has expired (or if the company you bought your corset from doesn’t have a decent exchange policy). To see the various exchange / return windows of different OTR corset brands, see my page “Can I Waist Train In That Corset?”

With that said, let’s start with fitting issues with your corset, and what can be done about each.


The hips of the corset are too narrow

The A Shape corset gap

(By the way, this gives the “A” shaped corset gap.) You have a corset that is not curvy enough in the hips, and the solution is to create more space in the hips.

If the corset was constructed using the sandwich method (and only the sandwich method), it’s probably fastest and easiest to add hip ties. The advantage with hip ties is that you can adjust them as you train down your waist – if the waist is loose, you can tighten the hip ties to be snug around your own hips, and as you tighten down the waist, you can loosen up the hip ties to accommodate your own hips as that corseted hip spring gradually becomes larger – so the hips of your corset always fit. With a corset with a fixed hip measurement, there’s a narrow window where it fits best, without being too loose or too tight.

Time needed to add hip ties: 2-4 hours.

If your corset is not made with the sandwich method, or if you don’t like hip ties, you can add hip gores which are easiest to do by slashing the middle of the panel, that way you don’t have to take out the boning and pick out all the seams between the panels.

Time needed to add hip gores: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores.

The ribcage of the corset is too small

The V shape corset gap

(By the way, this gives the “V” shaped corset gap.)

Some people asked if “rib ties” are a thing. Technically yes – you can do the same thing on the top half of the corset compared to the bottom half. But generally there’s a bit more pressure on the ribs than there are on the hips, especially if it was a conical rib corset. If you put in rib ties, even in the most straight-ribbed corsets, they will automatically create a cupped-rib corset. Another concern is that over a longer time, those laces would push against your ribcage and that pressure might get uncomfortable over time.

So I would recommend only gores for introducing more room in the bust or ribcage. With gores, you can also control how round or how conical you want the ribcage to be.

Time needed to add “rib gores”: 4-6+ hours depending on the number of gores

If you want to add hand flossing to the gores to strengthen the seams, give yourself extra time for that!

The steels by the grommets are too straight and hurt your back.

Corset with hand-curved back steels to support lumbar curve. Click through to see my tutorial on how to curve the steels.

This is a pretty easy fix, you don’t even need to get out your seam ripper. You can use your hands to gently curve the steels to fit the curve along your back.

You can also do this in the front, curving the busk itself, or the steel bones adjacent to the busk. It can create a slightly “spoon busk” effect so if you have a protruding tummy, the busk “scoops” it up and in. However if you are very slender (you have a flat tummy with protruding pubic mound), then I might not recommend curving the busk inward, as the bottom of the busk might jab into your pubic bone.

(If your corset contains carbon fiber bones instead of a malleable steel, you don’t have a chance in heck to bend those bones. Don’t even try.)

Time needed to curve the back steels: 10-20 minutes.

The corset is too long (you can’t comfortably sit down in it)

You can cut down the length of a corset, although it’s a more complicated job. My tutorial on cutting down a corset shows how to turn an overbust corset into an underbust (by only cutting down the top edge) but you can also cut down the bottom edge to your desired length.

Cutting down the top edge will stop the corset from pushing up on your bustline, while cutting the bottom edge of the corset will stop the corset from digging into your lap when you sit down.

For a very long corset that’s problematic on both top and bottom, do not attempt to just cut down one edge and “fudge” the fit by changing where you put the waistline of the corset on your body. If you’re tempted to cut corners, you’re better off selling the corset and using the funds towards a better-fitting, shorter corset for yourself.

Cutting down the corset involves removing the binding, removing the bones, cutting down the corset fabric, cutting down the bones (and busk), retipping the bones and putting them back in, and finally sewing on the binding again. See my video tutorial here!

Time needed to cut down your corset: 5+ hours, depending how many bones you need to cut down.

The corset is too short (it’s not fully covering or supporting your lower tummy, and/or may be causing some “muffin top” at the ribs or back)

There are not a lot of effective ways to lengthen a corset. If you are stuck with that corset, then pair it with some shapewear: control top briefs can help pull in and support your lower tummy if the corset stops too high on your hip, or a longline bra can help smooth your ribs and the skin along your back if the corset stops too low on your ribs. But honestly, if at all possible, I would exchange that corset for a longer one – or if an exchange is not possible with your vendor, just sell the corset and use the funds toward a longer, better fitting corset.

The corset is too big or too curvy – can you take in a corset?

Does your corset flare at the ribs and hips, even while laced completely closed? Then it’s too big or too curvy for your body.

Technically it is possible to sew darts or pleats into a corset, but it’s not a good idea because it can create pressure points on the body. I discussed this in my first “Sizing Down in Your Corset” post here.

To “take in” a corset the professional way, where you would never have known it was altered: you would have to apart the corset completely – seam by seam – and cut each panel smaller. But there are so many seams in a corset that it would probably take longer to alter a corset than it takes to make one from scratch. Also, by ripping apart so many seams, it’s possible to damage the fabric beyond repair (and if you don’t have sufficient seam allowance, you’re done for).

You can make a new corset by gutting the last one for parts and reusing the busk and bones, or you can sell your old corset if it’s in good condition and use the funds towards a new, smaller corset.

Time needed to properly “take in” a corset: 20+ hours depending on the complexity, number of panels, etc.

Bonus: you hate the unstiffened, attached modesty panel

Example of a standard, unstiffened, sewn-in modesty panel hanging from the left side of the corset. These panels can be removed if desired.

Some people hate modesty panels. If you just want to remove your modesty panel, and it’s a standard unstiffened panel of fabric that’s simply sewn into your corset – just take your seam ripper and detach the modesty panel from the rest of the corset. The exception is a WKD corset, where you might have to cut it out instead because it’s sewn right into the lining of the corset and you don’t want to compromise the integrity, the strength of the corset by removing it.

Time needed to remove a modesty panel: 2-5 minutes.

To bone or otherwise stiffen the modesty panel and suspend it on the laces, give yourself an hour. See my tutorial here on how to make a stiffened modesty panel using a sheet of plastic canvas (more affordable and easily accessible than steel bones, and allows the panel to be hand-washed without fear of rusting).


Were there any fitting issues I missed here, or any other fitting alteration tutorials you’d like to see? Let me know in a comment below!

24 thoughts on “Your Corset Doesn’t Fit… Now What? When to Alter Your Corset, or Let It Go.

  1. Greetings Lucy, I was gifted a Corset Deal corset with single boning channels at the seams. The underbust and waist are good but my pear (14″ difference waist to hip) body needs at least 7″ more at the hip before I can begin wear this thoughtful gift. Is there a way to make hip ties on this kind of construction? Would hip ties give me this kind of width?

    1. Hi Wendy, although it’s theoretically possible to insert hip ties into your corset, it’s not going to function as well with boning on only one side of it. It really works better if you have double boning so that the two bones “fork” at the split to help support the lacing system on either side and prevent it from warping. If your single-boned corset has a bone that straddles the side seam, I would remove the boning channel completely and add double boning, one channel on each side of the seam (and this is a good time to check and make sure it’s spiral too, as steel will twist in the channel too much and resist the hip ties from opening much).

  2. Hello, Lucy,
    I bought a corset that’s slightly too curvy for me. Will it eventually lie against my body with enough training?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Llr, was this corset purchased through my shop or somewhere else? I offer free fitting advice for prospective and current clients – but to answer your question, it depends on how wide of a lacing gap you have in the back of your corset. If the corset is laced loosely and the lacing gap is wide, then it’s normal to experience flaring and it should correct itself as you’re able to pull the corset tighter. However if the corset is already fully laced closed as far as it can go, then the flaring will unfortunately not improve. I also have an article and video here explaining more.

  3. Hello 🙂
    I was wondering if it’s possible to cut down the top of a corset just at the back?
    I bought my first ever corset to go under my wedding dress. The front fits perfectly with the dress and holds everything where it needs to be, but the back sticks out above the top of the dress by about 3 inches. Im worried if I cut only the back the front want sit well anymore and loose structural integrity.
    Thank you ❤

    1. Hi Vanessa, if this is an underbust corset where the back is a little higher than the front, you should be able to cut down a few inches and it shouldn’t significantly flop forward. If this is an overbust corset, there’s a chance that your corset will fall forward and lose some bust support when you cut down the back. Some of this can be brought back by putting pre-bent, rigid flat steels in the front of the corset (and if you’re removing the top binding of the corset, you’ll have access to change the bones so it’s a good time to make the switch). If your dress is snug enough it can also help prevent any flopping forward, but it’s hard to make a call without seeing it in person.

  4. hi lucy! just found out youre in the toronto area! would you be willing to help me out with my first real corset, and are you taking any alterations right now?

    im a 24 waist, 26 rib, and 30 hip. pretty compressible and i used to fit into a 19″ no problem.

    just bought an 18″ waspie minnie from true corset, im about a week and a half into seasoning it, and i can just barely get it down to a 5 inch gap in the back. the top seems pretty tight already, im worried that even if i lose a bit of weight (im at an all time high right now) and have it fully seasoned it wont fit around them. having no problems in the hips yet. this is my first time wearing a waspie. what should i do?

    1. Hi AJ, thanks for reaching out, but I’m no longer in the GTA and I haven’t taken alterations in many years (I find it painful to sew for long periods of time due to my chronic injuries after my car accident). I see that the Minnie is now $45. Making a corset curvier through both the ribs and hips requires extra panels, gussets or gores; tailors will put so many hours into altering a corset this amount that even if you were to pay them the minimum hourly wage, you would essentially be paying for the Minnie twice over. This is why I made the tutorials so that corseters can alter the corsets on their own time and save themselves money.
      If you are actively losing weight right now and you know that you will be losing several inches on your body, I would wait until your measurements stabilize before cutting into your corset.

  5. Hi Lucy,

    Do you alter corsets yourself on behalf of other people?

    I need one adjusting and have no idea where to go for this as I want it done properly.

    1. Hi Hannah, unfortunately I don’t do alterations or modifications on corsets unless they are already in my possession, or in special situations if you are local/ in the Toronto area. The vast majority of alteration requests I receive are from people within the US or UK, but by the time the costs for shipping, border fees, labour and materials are paid for, it’s often in the range of $80 and many people simply opt to buy a new corset instead.This is why I create modification tutorials on Youtube, so others will have the ability to alter corsets themselves for free!

      1. Hi Lucy,

        I finally found a corset that works for my outfit (not lace style), but the center bone is too high and doesn’t makes the bra center pop out in a way that I see a big gap in the center. I thought of maybe shortening that center bone but I’m not sure that would help. I think this model is just made wrong. But I tried dozens and this is the only color/style that work.

  6. hellos! i recently purchased a corset but the bust area was a little too big and overall it was a little ling and would dig into my hips when i sat down! is there anyway i can alter the corset by myself or should i take it to a professional tailor? i have no experience in sewing as well

    1. Hi Ragina, I have a tutorial here on how to shorten a corset (I showed how to turn an overbust into an underbust, but you can use it to shorten the bottom edge so it doesn’t hit your lap). Cutting down the steel bones does requires some knowledge and tools though! Regarding making the bust smaller, I would probably sew darts into the top edge of the corset (fold the extra fabric upon itself). That is the quickest way to do it, and requires the least amount of skills!

  7. Hi Lucy,
    I bought a too big corset off when I was bigger, now it doesn’t fit me at all. It ties in the back and I can’t even tie it tight enough for it to stay on my body it falls right off as tight as the ties in the back will go and I’ve been wanting to buy a smaller size but ever since I’ve needed one they have been constantly sold out and I can’t find the same corset anywhere else. Is there anything I can do to make the one I have that’s to big fit me again or should I give up all hope? It’s my favorite corset and I’d be really sad but I would understand if I have to cut my losses.

    1. Hi Rashkarei, I’m not sure how much you paid for your corset from Wish, but it is more trouble than it’s worth to have a corset altered to be a smaller size, particularly if the corset cost less than $200 (because sending a corset to a tailor for alteration will probably cost you over $50 to alter properly to a smaller size). You’re welcome to email me and show me the corset you have, and I might be able to tell you where you can find something the same or similar in a smaller size. You could sell the corset you have and use that money towards a new smaller corset – but if the corset is precious to you and in a size you never wear, I would consider framing it and hanging it on your wall as an art piece!

  8. Hi Lucy,

    I bought a standard 38” hourglass corset from timeless trends and paid alot of shipping and duty to canada, but it doesn’t fit right. It is too flared at the underbust and hips and my lower post csection (two csections) belly apron hangs out the bottom and everything oozes everywhere. I have an approximately 9.5” underbust to hip, 41.5-42.5” underbust, 48.5” waist, 51.5” hip also 5.3 feet tall. Should I return or exchange and for what size/length/silhouette? I am hoping to waist train for 20+ hours a day for drastic results. Thanks

    1. Hi Newtocorsets, thanks so much for your comment! Did your purchase your TT corset through me, or through the Timeless Trends website? I just checked your email address against past orders and nothing matched. If you purchased it through my website / shop, feel free to send me an email and I’ll walk you through the exchange process and make sure you get a style that fits you correctly! But if you purchased directly through Timeless Trends, then send them an email (they have been very clear that I’m not to interfere with their clients, and I only deal directly with my own clients, so they would want you to speak to them about your corset exchange).

      1. Hi Lucy!
        Thanks for the reply. I purchased through Timeless Trends. I will get in touch with them to find a more suitable style.

        Thanks again :)

  9. Hi Lucy, I recently received my first corset (a Timeless Trends novice/lite)—and I wish I had known I could have ordered from you! I will for my next one! My question is whether I got the right size at all: I’m a natural 28″ waist, and I bought a 24″ because although I like the idea of waist training, my main purpose is for back support (scoliosis, kyphosis) and it seems recommended to not size down as much for that. However after about 5 hours of wear (over 3 days) I’m already able to close the gap completely. (I honestly thought I’d be wearing the 24″ with a gap.) It’s fairly snug on the hips, comfortable compression on the waist, but I can fit a couple of fingers’ width between my rib cage and the corset. Since it’s new, will the boning come to fit my rib cage better as I wear it more? Or should I have gotten a 22″ to begin with? The trouble is, it was already $80 in shipping + customs, and if I have to pay shipping there & back + customs again that’s another $120—but I don’t know if I should be trying to sell this one + get a smaller size, or just wear this one for now. Sorry for the ramble—so glad to have found your page!

    1. Hi Faolan — ack, that’s a lot in shipping and customs! I’m so sorry to hear that, and I definitely commiserate as Canadians also have to pay customs on corsets (and when it’s special courier it’s not uncommon to have to pay over $100 with all their extra fees!).

      It’s true that for general support I do tend to recommend less of a waist reduction (but it’s important to also consider the fit of the ribcage and the hips!), but when it comes to scoliosis or any asymmetries, I usually recommend having at least a little lacing gap in the back, because it allows extra adjustment on each side of the corset to fit the unique contours of each side of your body – when it’s fully laced in the back, there’s little room for adjustment, not to mention it might be uncomfortable to have the corset steels sitting directly over your spine (but this is a subjective experience and depends on your preference).

      A bit of room at the ribs is not a bad thing if you’re comfortable and the corset is not flaring or wobbling around on you – that extra space can help prevent muffin top in the back. But if it’s rubbing or chafing on you, or visibly gaping away from your body, then it’s clearly too big. If you have any asymmetries in your ribcage, you can use soft cotton batting to pad out the side of your ribs that sticks out less, so there’s less of gap at the ribs, and it will also probably feel more comfortable for you and help the corset sit a bit straighter (if it’s leaning at all, it depends on how much of a curve you have).

      I have experienced the heartbreak of paying so much and waiting so long to receive a corset only to find that it will never fit me properly, and in those circumstances I have sold the corset at a fairly high price, 80-85% of the new price (as it was still in essentially new condition and not broken in), and purchased a different corset instead – but this is a last resort, if the company is not willing to work with me for a cheaper option for exchange. Some brands will cover or split the cost of an exchange, but it really depends on the company and their policies.

  10. Hi Lucy! I bought a corset from Orchard Corset and even though i was recommended a size 20 when i go to lace it on its a little too small, i just got it so for the first time lacing it its about a one inch gap away from the modesty panel. (Idk how big this gap is but maybe 5 inches all in all?) Sadly i cant send it back since i live very far away and customs and shipping to get it here already killed me. Is this ok, by the time the seasoning is over will it cover the modesty panel? I will be seasoning it very carefully for atleast two weeks and even after that lace it very carefully. I also put on a little bit of temporary weight that will be lost. Best regards!

    1. Hi Rose, I normally recommend everyone go 1 size up from Orchard’s sizing suggestions.
      I’ve noticed as a general guideline that (if you’re the type of person to lose weight evenly all over), the difference of about 10 lbs will usually put someone into the next smaller size, so since you say you plan to lose weight, depending on how much you lose, the gap might end up being maybe 3 inches wide. With regular wear, your corset might expand by an inch or so, giving you an eventual gap of 2 inches. That is a good size gap in the back, but it comes with a lot of “ifs”!

  11. Hi lucy i would like to add straps to my exsisting corsets. Is this possible. Whats yhe nest way to go about doing this

    1. Hi Sarah, probably the easiest option is to sew little fabric loops or tabs to the inside of the top of the corset (similar to what you’d see in garter tabs, but on the top edge, and as skinny as you want them). Then you’ll be able to use those interchangeable bra straps of various colors with your corset.

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