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Introducing the new Corset Measurements Calculator!

I may not have been posting often these last several weeks, but that’s because many things have been happening behind the scenes – including this dynamic calculator that will tell you the approximate dimensions of the most popular corset styles.

This calculator will have a permanent spot on my Corset Dimensions Directory page, over HERE!

Type in the corset size you’re interested in (for instance, if you have a 26 inch natural waist and you want to see if a size 22″ corset would fit you in X brand and Y style, then simply plunk in the number 22 in the first field), choose your corset of interest in the dropdown, and it will automatically tell you the bust, ribcage and hip circumference measurements of that particular size!

It also gives notices when you choose a corset that tends to stop lower on the ribcage (a cincher or waspie style), when you have chosen a longline style, and also any styles that feature adjustable side hip ties.

This calculator is in the very early stages, so at the moment it only lists the current most popular brands and styles I’m asked about. I will flesh it out with more corset styles as time goes on, and will also be adding other important info like the torso length and size restrictions on each brand. But in the meantime, play and enjoy with what’s there, and let me know what you think! <3
~Lucy

 

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In Memoriam: Christine Wickham

 

On Thursday, July 3rd at approximately 2:40pm EDT, I received a call from Christine’s loved one to say that she had passed away. It was a bomb-drop that I will never forget.

I came to know Christine Wickham in late 2012, and from there developed a friendship that can’t be replaced. Of all people in the corset community, I trusted her most and I am indebted to her as a colleague and friend.

Christine Wickham: agirlfromdownunder, graphic artist behind Cardinal Graphic Design, corsetiere behind Ariadne’s Thread, promising medical student, weight lifter and genuinely one of the best people I have had the privilege of knowing. She was an immensely talented young woman, incredibly ambitious and productive, always a go-getter in her own endeavours, yet always had time to be there for those who mattered to her most. And she had the incredible ability to make everyone feel like they mattered to her.

Christine was highly vocal and appreciated in the online corsetry community. She moderated close to half a dozen groups on Facebook, she provided a free underbust corset pattern for beginners, and she was also active on Youtube and Tumblr. Christine seemed to have more hours available in her day compared to other people, and in her just-shy-of-22-year life, she managed to accomplish more than some twice her age.

She and I worked closely on several projects together: Christine did all the graphic work behind my Corset Designer Doll game, as well as recently tweaking my logo. She was also my biggest cheerleader, picking me up when I felt disenchanted with Youtube and handing me honesty when I needed it most. More than once, she pulled me out of a dark space and reminded me why I began this journey – and I know that she has done the same for others. I’m still floored at the unbelievable amount of work she put into the coordinating the Indiegogo campaign for me a few months ago (although I would give up that money in a second if it meant bringing Christine back). Enriching the lives of everyone around her, Christine was a superwoman.

Sharing a passion in corsetry, health sciences, long hair and Sailor Moon, Christine and I joked about being long-lost sisters – and I regret not being able to meet her in person and getting to know her real family, who are no doubt experiencing a much deeper loss than myself.

I extend my most heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones. Christine is and will always be terribly missed, but her impact on this community will remain for many years to come and her incredible spirit will be an inspiration to me forever.

Beautiful, intelligent, funny, hardworking, compassionate Christine – you were taken too soon. Sending you ALL the Jedi hugs from across the world – rest in peace, my friend.
Lucy

(Please feel free to share your memories of Christine, but please note that I will not be answering comments or questions at this time.)

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Corset Embellishments

 

When commissioning a custom corset from an independent corsetiere, you are not required to go with a plain black satin or twill corset! There are many different ways that you can request to have your corset embellished. If you can only afford plain OTR corsets, you still have the option of embellishing them yourself! See the video above for plenty of examples, and refer to the glossary below if you need extra help.

Embroidery – these are decorative densely-stitched motifs, usually of larger size. Most embroidery I see these days are machine stitched, using a specialized machine where you feed in a specific file and it creates the design before your eyes (this is how my Lovely Rats corset was embroidered). Those floral brocade designs can be said to feature floral embroidery in a repeating pattern, on top of a base fabric. Of course, in the past, most embroidery was done by hand. Today you can get embroidered patches/ appliqué, and just stitch or glue the patch to the corset or garment later on.

External Boning Channels – some external boning channels are functional, so they serve a dual purpose: to actually hold the steel boning and prevent it from wearing through the fabric, but to also provide visual interest and contrast to the corset. I personally find that external channels are the most comfortable because I cannot feel the channel against my skin – of course, this also means that the corset is more difficult to stealth under clothing because it will be bumpier. Sometimes though, external channels can be “faux” channels and only used for the sake of visual interest, while the real boning channels are sandwiched inside.

Flossing – floss is traditionally defined as “soft thread of silk or mercerized cotton for embroidery.” Flossing in the context of corsetry is often smaller, relatively simple versions of embroidery, that is typically only done at the tips of boning channels and are usually done by hand (although they weren’t always by hand!). Flossing, like external channels, has multiple purposes for a corset: to anchor the tip of the steel bone in place so it doesn’t slide around inside the channel (which can help keep the corset smooth and also prevent the bones from wearing through the fabric by friction over time), and floss can also help to disguise a repair to a boning channel that has already been worn through. Repeating the same flossing pattern on each boning channel can make that “patch” look deliberate, and can add visual interest to a corset. See my corset by L’Atelier de LaFleur for a detail of the special T4-esque flossing.

Yoke/ “Waist Diamond” – a yoke almost like a ‘belt’ that stretches across the waistline of a corset, and usually is in a different color. It also often widens at the front to create a diamond shape in the center front. When this yoke is reinforced with a very strong fabric, it helps to strengthen the waistline (it can function like a waist tape in the best of situations), and the widening at the center front can add more control to the tummy area. The WKD Laurie overbust had a contrasting yoke that helped to hide the waist tape.

Fun Lining – although this isn’t “embellishment” per se, I enjoy when my corsets have a bright, colorful or cheery inner lining. My own handmade Sebastian corset looks like a typical red satin corset on the outside, but on the inside it features some cute “Little Mermaid” novelty print cotton as a lining, which is a fun secret I get to carry with me when I’m wearing the corset. My corset from Tighter Corsets also features a beautiful linen lining, as well as one of my corsets from the Bad Button features lovely silk-fan lining.

Contrast Stitching/ Contrast Hardware – most visible hardware in a corset (busk, grommets, and sometimes aglets) are silver; however you can also find hardware in alternate colors like gold, pewter, black, antique brass, etc so you can match your hardware with the rest of the corset, or with contrasting embellishment. My Sebastian corset has black hardware which matches the black “shot” red fabric used, and also the black contrast stitching I had used on the external boning channels. As another example, my Ref R corset from Tighter Corsets has antique brass grommets and busk to match the soft gold contrast piping and creates a stunning effect.

Lace Overlay – when a corset is completely covered in a layer of lace, this is called lace overlay. Makers create this effect by taking a sheet of lace and flatlining/roll-pinning the lace overtop of the pattern pieces (usually with silk satin or taffeta underneath), then assembling the panels together as one normally would. This has to be done during construction; it would be very difficult to create a lace overlay on an already finished corset. Examples of lace overlay include my Axfords corsets and also my Boom Boom Baby Boutique sample.

Lace Appliqué – like with embroidery patches, sometimes lace can come in pre-cut pieces and motifs that you can place where you choose and hand-sew to your corset – or if you have a sheet of lace, you can carefully cut out the motifs  yourself. Some lace is black, white, dyed colors, or contain metallic threads. Some laces are lighter, while other lace is heavier or corded. Some lace even comes with beads and sequins already attached – but you can add the sparklies yourself later on.

Crystals, Sequins and Beads – many people love to bedazzle their corsets with flatback rhinestones or genuine Swarovski crystals (like my Waisted Creations corset or my Totally Waisted corset). These are usually glued on (E6000 is a popular choice, although due to some carcinogen worries, some opt for alternate brands). Beads and sequins are usually sewn on since they typically have a hole through which they can be anchored. As mentioned above, some types of patches, appliqué or lace come already beaded so you just have to adhere the appliqué to the corset and you’re set. Sequins can also come in strings that you can drape onto your corset.

Mesh Panels – mesh is quite functional in itself: it helps the skin breathe, it keeps you cool and dry, and it prevents your flesh from poking out of the “windows” from skeleton corsets – but mesh can also be a type of embellishment as well! When I wear brightly colored shirts or dresses underneath, effectively a corset with mesh panels will “always match” whatever I’m wearing because my outfit underneath will show through. Some others may choose to play around with mesh corsets; for instance, if they choose not to wear a corset liner underneath, then they may opt for a crop-top to cover their chest, but the mesh panels may show their skin underneath. Or you can layer your tops so that it looks like there is a different color under the corset compared to the rest of your shirt. I’ve tried mesh corsets from Contessa Gothique, Madame Sher and Contour Corsets.

Fan Lacing – fan lacing actually started as a functional alternative to traditional lacing, as it condenses all the individual cords in the back of the corset into a pair of easy-to-pull straps. For those with limited strength, mobility or coordination, fan-lacing can help you lace up by yourself. However, in recent years, fan lacing has made a comeback as pure embellishment, such as my cincher by Serindë.

What type of embellishment do you like best? Do you own any corsets with special decoration or embellishment? Let me know in a comment below!

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15 Corsetier(e)s I’ll be watching in 2014

As a bit of a more light-hearted post, I’ve decided to expose my personal covet-list. The only rules here are that I can’t have owned a piece from any of these makers in the past, they’re in no particular order, and it’s not necessarily supposed to be interpreted as my list of top 15 favourite corset makers of all time. Some of these I may be saving up for in the future, while others are somewhat pipe dreams to own. Scroll down to see 15 corset makers that I will be following closely in 2014 (no pressure or anything):

Bizarre Design. Photo: Jaap Broeders. Model: unknown

Jeroen Van Der Klis, the brain and skill behind Bizarre Design, engineers some amazing and unique corsets – yet he also has the ability to make even a simple black satin underbust corset look like the most wondrous wardrobe staple you will ever lay eyes upon.

Corsets & More on a client

Scroll through the galleries of Corsets & More for example after example of pure opulence. There is no corset style or design that is too complicated for Doris Müller! She is a master in corsetry, and my favourite discovery of 2013.

Clessidra Couture. Model: Sohui. Photo: Catherine Day Photography

Julia of Clessidra Couture is a bit of a Superwoman. She teaches corset making, she sells corset supplies and kits, she writes books, and somehow she still finds the time to make superb corsetry.

Royal Black Couture & Corsetry. Model: Threnody in Velvet. Photo: Iberian Black Arts

Royal Black can do no wrong. Creation after creation, her designs are increasingly innovative, intricate and awe-inspiring, and there’s no sign of her slowing down!

Anachronism in Action “Lady Loki” corset, on the designer

For years, people scoffed at the proverbial “Basket Weaving 101”. This corset by Anachronism in Action put these naysayers and snobs in their proper place, and completely changed my personal views as to what can be used as embellishment. Not to mention the incredible smooth finish, gorgeous earthy colour and amazing shape.

Ferrer Corsets “Crimson Passion” overbust with cups

Corsets are only made better with cups, and those cupped corsets are only improved by filigree jewelry. Ferrer Corsets offers it all in this fiery piece. My life is complete.

sin_and_satin_ribbon
Sin & Satin ribbon cincher, on the designer

Sin & Satin‘s ribbon cinchers have no side seam, and they’re also embellished with metallic lace. There is nothing to not love, and there are no words for how much I covet a piece like the one on the right.

Pop Antique. Model: Victoria Dagger. Photo: Mask

Temperatures 20° below freezing have me wishing for a cozy, warm knitted sweater corset by Pop Antique – plus, her standard sizes match my custom measurements almost exactly – I feel that it might be fate.

Metallic leather overbust by Atelier Sylphe

Take a historical corset, and a spectacular sculpture that should be in a museum. Put them together, and this doesn’t even do justice compared to the creations of Atelier Sylphe.

Lovesick Corrective Apparel. Model: Jade Vixen. Photo: Christophe Mourthé

Dear Diary, day 1174 without a Lovesick Corset in my possession. They make stunning work, and their studio is an hour away from me – so close, yet so far; my commission inquiries have received no reply so I’m left to pine after their work from afar. Perhaps one day I’ll gather the courage to try again.

Daze of Laur. Model: Laura Rubin. Photo: Jeremy Tavan.

I check Daze of Laur‘s website regularly – if not to see updates of her creations, then to read the little Easter Eggs on Laurie’s constantly changing “title” in the header! (She also studied life sciences in uni and I kinda want to be her friend.)

Clair de Lune overbust by Angela Friedman

Angela Friedman. Make it a household name. Because a well-supporting, properly-fitting overbust corset is not a want, it’s a need.  Just look at that pattern drafting, it’s magical.

Waisted Couture overbust. Model: Miss Mosh.

Even the simplest underbust corsets from Waisted Couture have an incredibly smooth finish with a neat nipped-in waistline. According to a fan and client, her training corsets are also nearly indestructible. I’m more than willing to put this to the test.

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Wilde Hunt Platinum leather bridal overbust corset

Before Wilde Hunt, I had never known that such dreamy, ethereal and romantic pieces could be fashioned from hardy leather. This piece has left me wondering if it’s possible to throw a wedding without actually getting married, just so I can wear something this spectacular.

Dita von Teese for Mr. Pearl

Mr. Pearl. Because no list of coveted corsets is complete without Mr. Pearl. Owning a piece from him is the ultimate pipe dream of this list. He is elusive, rarely spotted in public, and doesn’t leave a trace as to where he has been except for a few polished photos and the appearance of the occasional breathtakingly magnificent piece of art. I can imagine that centuries from now, stories of Mr. Pearl will be spread around the world as he’s promoted to the status of a magical, mythological figure.

Which corset makers will you be watching in 2014? Let me know in a comment!

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Determining Fit & Proportion in Standard Sized Corsets (3 methods)

This article contains the same information as my video, “3 ways to Predict Fit & Proportion in OTR Corsets”. You may watch the video here if you prefer not to read – or you can continue reading below the video.

Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations
Measurement diagram for OTR corsets/ consultations

Before reading this article, you may want to catch up with some of my other corset fitting articles like “Shape of the Corset Gap” and “Troubleshooting More Fitting Issues“. Those videos and articles had focused on how a corset will look and feel on your body, and how to determine whether it’s a proper fit. However, there are ways to predict how a corset will fit your body even before you purchase it online! Making the most of size charts and fitting information can mean the difference between “fits almost like a custom” and “not what you expected”. It’s of absolute importance to remember that corsets don’t stretch the way most modern clothes do, and your bodies bones largely don’t compress.

The biggest issue I have with OTR corsets these days is that many companies still recommend that you choose your corset size based only on a 1-point measuring system (i.e. “subtract 4 inches from your natural waist”). But this is oversimplified. Different corsets will fit differently on different bodies, even if they’re the same size!

There is no reason why a corset company would NOT provide at least 3-4 measuring points (underbust circumference, waist circumference, high hip/iliac circumference, and then the vertical length of the torso) so you can determine the proportions and the length that will fit your body best even before you buy a corset. These proportions can be determined immediately by looking at the original draft of the corset pattern, or you can do some quick and simple measuring of the final corset to determine these proportions.

When I sell standard-sized corsets (either new OTR corsets or my own pre-made samples) I almost always ask the customer for their natural underbust/waist/iliac measurements and their torso length. I personally check their measurements against the measurements of the corset, and verify that the size they would like is going to fit them well. Doing this has greatly decreased the number of exchanges/ returns requested.

Some businesses already use the 3-4 point measuring system, and they may provide this information in 3 different ways:

1: Using size charts/ tablesScreen Shot 2014-01-07 at 3.52.24 PM

To the right, you see an example of a size chart for a corset. You want the waist of the corset to be between 3-6 inches smaller than your natural waist (depending on your squish level), but you want the rib and hip measurements to be as close as possible to your own natural measurements. This will ensure that the corset cinches the waist and NOT the upper ribs or hips (which are far less compressible), and thereby result in a more flattering silhouette and comfortable fit. Size charts are my favourite way of logging proportions of a corset, because I can check its measurements against my own natural measurements at a glance. Corset businesses that utilize size charts include (but are not limited to): Meschantes, Electra Designs, and Mystic City corsets.

2: Recommending that the customer’s measurements fall within a certain range

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.02.58 PMSome corset makers prefer not to use a size chart, but will instead recommend that your natural measurements be within a certain set of measurements. If you are on the upper end of this range, then you can expect the corset to have a larger gap in the back compared to if you were at the smaller end. Although this situation is better than a 1-point system, you may still end up with slightly uneven gaps in the back depending on where your own measurements fall and how large the given range of measurements is. Corset businesses that utilize this system include (but aren’t limited to) Isabella Corsetry, Starkers Corsets ready-to-wear samples, and Morgana Femme Couture.

3: Discussing the proportion (rib spring and hip spring) of the corset, rather than absolute numbers

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 4.08.11 PM
Sizing information provided by Orchard Corset on one of their Level 3 listings

Orchard Corset is an example of a company that simplifies the measurements into a simple set of proportions – for instance, for a Level 3 silhouette corset you may find that the underbust (upper ribcage) circumference is 5-6 inches larger than the closed waist measurement, and the low hip circumference is 10-12 inches larger than the closed waist measurement. (Typically OTR corsets are made quickly so the measurements aren’t likely to be as precise as a custom corset, that’s why you have a general range.) Doing some simple math, this means that for a size 30” corset, the underbust will measure (30 + 5 = 35 inches), and the low hips will measure (30 + 10 = 40 inches).

In the next video/ article of the series (part 2), I will show you how to use size charts properly, to predict whether a corset will fit you or not *before* you purchase it. And in part 3, I will show you how to fairly accurately measure your own corsets. This will help you verify that the corset you just received in the mail has the correct measurements (they match the size chart/ ranges mentioned on the website) and that the corset will be likely to fit comfortably once closed.

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Reflections on 2013, and looking to 2014

Dear friends,

Please forgive another somewhat “selfish” personal post. Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a blog entry summarizing my big milestones in 2012. Today, I would like to look back to the highlights that LucyCorsetry has seen in 2013, and give a preview of what’s to come in 2014.

2013 was without a doubt my busiest year in the corsetry world so far. Come January 5th, this website will be 2 years old, and I’ll have been on Youtube for a little over 3 years. If you had asked me 3 years ago what I’d accomplish and what I’d be doing today, I’d have never believed you. Read on for more:

Continue reading Reflections on 2013, and looking to 2014

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A ‘Personal’ Blog: My quest for the elusive “Perfect Corset”

Today I made a video that was a bit off the cuff, but the idea had been floating in my head for a few months. It was inspired by many people – by SilentSongbyrd‘s floppy corset, by Trollsneedhugs‘ latest video on gratefulness, by HarmanHay‘s post on looking for perfection, and by the number of viewers who have suggested that I have “lost touch” with what it’s like to be a normal lacer due to how many corsets I own.

How did I get to own so many corsets anyway? I never intended to have a large collection of corsets. 

When I started this corset journey…

My front-lacing Bezerk cincher - from my very first Youtube video.
My front-lacing Bezerk cincher – from my very first Youtube video.

I had a couple of handmade corsets, a couple of OTR corsets, and the one front-lacing Bezerk corset that I thought would carry me all the way to my goal to a corseted waist of 20 inches. There were complications (the shape of that corset and the front-lacing caused pressure points on my ribs), and I stopped wearing that corset and began searching for another corset that would help me achieve my goal.

I bought other corsets in late 2010 and I practiced sewing other corsets, and each time I was “hoping” that this would be the last of it. Each time the corset came in the mail, I told myself, “THIS is going to be the one perfect corset for me – the one that will last me the next 2-5 years, maybe 10 or 20 years if it’s good quality and if I treat it well” – and that would be the end of my search. But each time, I found that it’s not right in the length here, or it makes my hip go numb there, or it causes pressure points, and I would start my search over again. I reviewed these corsets on Youtube to show the pros and cons of each style, so that others could learn from my journey/ my mistakes, and hopefully spare themselves the time, money and frustration that I had spent.

When I started reviewing corsets in my unique way, I didn’t really intend for it to become “my thing”. WKD took a chance on me to review their products, and at that time the Morticia corset was my one BIG DREAM corset – that staple, “little black dress” corset that would be with me always. But foolishly I got the wrong size (size 18″ – what was I thinking?? – which had no hope of closing over my underbust and hips) and once again I found myself disappointed. 

But by that point that I was bitten by the corset bug.

 

My Contour Corset was very close to being perfect - it just needed perhaps 1.5 - 2" more length in the underbust, and tweaking around the hips.
My Contour Corset was very close to being perfect – it just needed perhaps 1.5 – 2″ more length in the underbust, and tweaking around the hips.

That’s when the “collection” began – and I not only collect corsets, but also in a way, I began to invest more in making videos on this channel. With each successive brand I reviewed, I hoped that this would be “the one” for me. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to spend anymore on future corsets. Those that didn’t fit me well, I sold to be able to afford a different corset that I hoped would turn out right. There were corsets that I bought solely for the purpose of reviewing (due to so many requests) – but I never lost that goal in the back of my mind to find that one “perfect” corset that was comfortable, strong, and could be used everyday.

The perfect corset came really close with both my Contour Corset and Puimond Corset earlier this year. But the thing about sizing down in corsets is that the little quirks and bugs of your body come out – sometimes you can’t even predict them with a quick mockup fitting, because it requires extended use of the corset. You simply have to take note of these issues and adjust for that in your next corset. But of course, that requires a “next corset”. The corset journey can be very long and quite expensive, especially if you’re as picky as I am.

So, is it worth it to be that picky?

In my personal opinion, I’d think it is worth it to be picky – because in the case of tightlacing, good comfort also translates to health and safety. I want that custom corset that fits me perfectly. But then, I’ve heard some people argue that “the perfect corset” doesn’t exist, and you will just have to put up with a bugaboo here or there.

Given my success rate thus far, I am tempted to agree with them, but I’m not giving up yet. You don’t make compromises with an inanimate object, or negotiate with a garment and tell it to fit you better. If you don’t like something about it (and if you have the resources) then change it!… right? Or maybe after a long enough time, one has to change one’s goals to be more realistic.

So. I’ve accidentally found myself becoming a “corset hoarder”.

In this video, I show 50 of my corsets. I've acquired more since then. Send help.
In this video, I show 50 of my corsets. I’ve acquired more since then. Send help.

And I certainly have my favourites in my collection (such as my custom Sparklewren overbust which I’m unlikely to ever sell), but not the one staple underbust training corset. I don’t have that corset that is used so often that it gets a little threadbare and feels floppy, or starts to smell a little stale. I haven’t found my one perfect match yet, and I’m actually a little sad about it. But in all this, I’ve realized that this actually is a journey. I feel extremely privileged to be a ‘corset reviewer’. I really like reviewing corsets. I like being a guinea pig, I like informing my viewers and teaching them to be picky. I like helping others save money by making wiser purchases, and advising them so they can be well on their way to finding their perfect corset.

Maybe if I had found my “perfect” corset right off the bat, then I wouldn’t have learned as much – because I wouldn’t have any motivation to. Maybe I would have run out of ideas for videos and have gotten bored with Youtube. Maybe I wouldn’t have honed my corset making skills and have learned appreciated the YEARS of work that goes into the art and the architecture of corsetry. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so involved with the corset community and gotten to know so many awesome people.

I still haven’t found my perfect corset.

…but I’ve unexpectedly found something better. And I don’t know what’s down the road for me. I don’t know if I’ll continue making Youtube videos, or will even be interested in corsetry forever. I don’t know if this will ever somehow turn into a success or fizzle out – but coming up to my 3rd anniversary of making videos on Youtube, I do know that you (dear reader and viewer) have changed my life. So, thank you friends, for sticking with me through this corset journey.

(I’m still on the lookout for that corset though!)

 

Do you believe that “the perfect corset” even exists? Do you think that what constitutes as “perfect” changes over time, and that this is a journey to be enjoyed, or are you all about the end goals? Have you found YOUR perfect corset yet? Let me know in the comments below!

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Introducing the new Corset “Paper Doll” Designer!

One of my own corset creations, "cartoonized" in the paper doll corset designer.
One of my own corset creations, “cartoonized” in the paper doll corset designer.

This is the project I’ve been waiting so long to tell you about (well, one of them).
It started around springtime of 2012, when I was talking with another corsetiere about effective communication between maker and client. A bespoke corsetiere is supposed to take the client’s vision and bring it to life – but sometimes, due to language barriers or other circumstances, miscommunication can happen and the end product doesn’t match the client’s vision.

My wish was to create a virtual “paper doll” game (that are so popular today on little princess websites) that applies specifically to corsetry. Length, shape of the edges, colour, fabric, boning channel options and closures would all be adjustable.
More importantly, anyone can use this – whether you’re a client or a corsetiere – to help you communicate more effectively.

It took a long time and quite a bit of money to get the project to this point – it was only August of 2012 before I actually found a program developer (J Artis) who would take on this project, and finally in November I found the perfect graphic artist (Christine) to create the doll itself. It’s been a long road, and I’m certain we will be ironing out some wrinkles (and with any luck, adding a couple more features) over time.

There are opportunities for collaboration regarding this project e.g. corsetieres can submit unique fabric swatches from their stock (which will be credited) and sponsor the project which will help keep this app going and help keep it free. The “red tiger stripe” print option is a placeholder that shows you the concept behind a print/brocade fabric underlay.

One note: although the button that says “Request a Quote” is functional, I’m not currently accepting bespoke commissions. If you intend to send this form to another corsetiere for a different commission, I would be 100% happy to forward the form to you for reference, and/or keep your selections and measurements for reference when I resume consultations.

Without further ado, I present to you the Designer. Go play!

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The “30 days of corsets” challenge!

Over the course of late June to early August, I participated in the “30 days of corsets” challenge as made by Waisted Lives blog on Tumblr.
In this tag, you may post one blog per day on Tumblr and each day you answer a question about yourself and your corseting experience.
I decided to move this tag over to Youtube, as making videos feels more comfortable than writing – however I did post regularly on Tumblr during this period as well.
As usual, some unexpected “fun” popped up (my computer died in the middle of the 30 days tag) and I was forced to continue the challenge using whatever I had on hand (usually my phone). Posting on average 6 days a week during this time, it was a test of stamina/ perseverance – but it was also a lot of fun, as I had the opportunity to speak from a more subjective viewpoint than I usually do in my videos.

Rather than post one blog entry per video, I’ll link you to the start of that playlist if you’re interested:

Here are the links to the questions (and their answers) below, if you’d rather jump around than watch the whole playlist. :)

  1. What initially sparked your interest in corsets?
  2. Post a picture of yourself in a corset.
  3. How many corsets do you own? (Post a picture of your collection!)
  4. How often do you wear corsets?

    Waisted Lives is a corset community blog, dedicated to the wonderful garment of a corset and the people who love them. (Click on the photo to go to their 30 Days of Corsets post)
  5. Preference: busk, zipper, lacing, or no front closure?
  6. Who is your favorite corset maker?
  7. Have you ever made a corset yourself?
  8. Have you ever had a custom corset made for you?
  9. Post a picture of your favorite corset that you own.
  10. Post a picture of your favorite corset of all time.
  11. Post a picture of you favorite historical style of corset.
  12. Preference: waist cincher, underbust, or overbust?
  13. “Corsetgasms”: weird or really cool?
  14. Can you lace yourself into a corset or do you require assistance?
  15. How much did your first corset cost?
  16. How much did your best corset cost?
  17. Have you ever worn plastic boning?
  18. Who is your favorite designer that incorporates corsets into their designs?
  19. How long have you been interested in corsets?
  20. What is your favorite occasion to wear corsets? (e.g. formal wear, an evening in, casual wear. etc.)
  21. Why do you wear corsets? (e.g. body modification, posture correction, fashion, etc.)
  22. What is your favorite way to buy corsets? (e.g. online, in person)
  23. How do you usually buy corsets? (e.g. online, in person)
  24. Do you wear corsets year round or just seasonally?
  25. What is your favorite outer fabric for corsets?
  26. What is your favorite type of embellishment on corsets?
  27. Do you prefer to show off your corset or wear it stealth?
  28. What is your favorite corset silhouette? (wasp waist, pipe stem, etc.)
  29. What is your favorite corset myth?
  30. What is your favorite thing about corsets?
Posted on 7 Comments

Milestone & new things to come!

Gentle Reader,

It’s been a little over 1.5 years since I launched this website, and it’s brought me more joy than I could have expected. Last night, I finally reached 500 followers on this blog! When I think of this number (compared to the nearly 30,000 subscribers on Youtube), I have to wonder which group I cherish more.

I believe that you’re part of a small, special crowd who still values reading. You value knowledge rather than gawking. You know the convenience of a blog where I can edit and refine my posts to bring you information that is up-to-date, clear, whole, and translatable in your native language. This is something that’s not possible on Youtube.

You also know that I publish information and posts here that never make it to Youtube, so being subscribed to Youtube doesn’t give you all the information and tools available here! And now I’m going to reveal a bit more information – you read it here first.

For almost an entire year, I’ve been working on a fun project with two other talented people, and I’m eager to show you! I hope it will be a useful and entertaining tool, and very much hope that I’m not over-hyping it. In order to make this project work on my website, I’ll also be moving my site over from WordPress.com over to WordPress.org. Don’t worry, the URL won’t change and your subscription to my blog updates will remain.

I was hoping to also do a major overhaul of the look of my website, but I’ve been running into difficulties in terms of communication with the person who was supposed to help me, so this may just have to happen later on. I don’t want to wait any longer!

Effective immediately, my online corset store is now up with more corset styles. The three sections of the store are now re-labeled Bronze line (samples and gently used corsets), Silver Line (the affordable, new OTR corsets that were so popular before), and the Gold Line which will be launched in the next month or two and will be the most expensive but highest quality option.

Thank you for sticking by me through the whirlwind of the last 1.5 years, and here’s to another 15.

Posted on 5 Comments

Corset Vlogger Interview at Orchard Corset

Some of you may have already known that back in early June 2013, I and several other corset vloggers (including Phoenix [mmsnafaioopoofeeker], Byrdi [silentsongbyrd], Meghann [LadyTigerLily] and Andrea [RandomCorset]) travelled from across the continent to meet up at Orchard Corset headquarters to have a group interview, participate in a photoshoot, and have the opportunity to form friendships and make history.

Below you’ll find the interview, organized in a playlist of 7 parts for your convenience. If you would like to see the interview in one 40-minute long video, click here to go to Orchard Corset’s upload!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYVxPPEHz0g&list=SPd2O_kYv6eJwkA8QRHCb3OddP-mSdAd_C]

Posted on 15 Comments

The 5 most important factors of an OTR corset

I very much admire Marianne Faulkner of Pop Antique/ Dark Garden for her most recent article on The Lingerie Addict, defending ready-to-wear corsets. I’ve already discussed my stance on OTR/RTW corsets last year – they are a good jumping board into the world of corsetry. In light of Marianne’s article, and also piqued by a recent forum discussion on whether or not cheaper OTR companies should even be promoted, I would like to outline what I consider the 5 most important factors when it comes to OTR corsets (and the companies that make/ distribute them). If you’re interested in watching the video instead of reading the article, you’re welcome to do so here:

Although this list is in no real particular order, most clients will agree that the first three factors are most important to them – but all 5 should be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, I think that there is no OTR company that gets a full 5 stars – but then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find any maker or company that will receive all 5 stars, all the time. If you want the best quality, you have to pay for it.

Without further ado:

1. Strength

Is the corset going to hold up to regular use/ the rigors of tight lacing? You should familiarize yourself with the company or brand, and consider their main clientele. Do they usually use the corset for costumes or burlesque shows, in which the corset gives a strong cinch, but only worn for about an hour at a time? If so, they may not necessarily hold up to giving a strong cinch 24/7. There’s a difference between simply tightlacing occasionally, and training on a daily basis!

2. Silhouette/ fit

Will it be comfortable and give you the shape you desire? When it comes to an OTR piece, some compromise will almost always be made. I consider myself very lucky to have fairly “standard” measurements, so many OTRs are comfortable and more-or-less flattering on me. But not everyone will have the same experience. This is why my shape/fit sections of corset reviews are really subjective. I’ve provided my natural measurements on this page so people can compare their proportions with mine before purchasing a corset.

3. Price

Does it fit your budget, or are you willing to save up for a more expensive piece? Remember where you save on price, you may have to sacrifice strength of construction, quality of materials, or comfort/ silhouette. I very much like Marianne’s quote “When you are corset shopping, that is not the time to bargain hunt.”

4. Customer service

Do they help you find your correct size before you order? Are they even familiar with their own corsets in the first place? Do they respond to emails within a week? (The very good ones respond within 1-2 days.) Does your corset come with a refund or exchange policy, or guarantee? I have ordered from a few corsetieres who make absolutely beautiful and strong pieces, but their customer service was lacking. (They would rarely answer emails or they would be short/curt with their responses.) Whether this is important really depends on the person, and also how demanding the client is. When it comes to an OTR company, some exchange/return policies may be available – but when it comes to custom-made corsets, unless there is something structurally wrong with your corset right out of the box, don’t expect independent corsetieres to bend over backwards at your requests. (I will make a video about this at a later date.)

5. Global impact

Is the company resourceful with materials? Do they make use of sweatshops? Some clients consider it very important to have no glue (including fusibles) and no synthetic materials in their corsets. Some companies accommodate this, while others don’t. Other clients would like to have the convenience of an OTR corset while still being able to purchase locally. A couple of corset companies, while they do source their corsets overseas, find it important to visit the manufacturer and make sure working conditions and pay are fair. If this is important to you, then don’t be afraid to ask customer service (see #4) about your concerns.

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What are your most important factors when it comes to choosing a corset? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted on 7 Comments

Storing your contemporary hoopskirts

Not directly corset-related (and don’t worry – I will resume the season-with-me posts soon!) but here is a cool video demonstration (not done by me) on how to fold your crinoline/ hoopskirts for travel or storage. I tried following along with the video and managed to achieve the fold once or twice – if I learn how to do it consistently and can figure out a way to explain it effectively, then I might post a tutorial for it.

Once folded, it needs to be held in place so it doesn’t pop open again. You can use the drawstring to tie it in place, or store it in an appropriately-sized drum bag or a hat-box with a latch. Here’s a budget cymbal bag that might just work.

Please note that this folding trick will likely only work on contemporary skirts that are stiffened with spring steel, and I wouldn’t attempt this with any hoopskirts stiffened with reed, bamboo, wood, etc.

What do you think? Can you fold your crinolines this way? Let me know!

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3egyydUwK8Q]

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By the way, did I ever post about my crinoline video on this blog yet? If not, here you go:

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fK-J-WR230]

Cheers!

Posted on 7 Comments

Don’t gloss over this

sidney

A lot of people only give to campaigns or projects where contributors feel they can “get something in return.” A new TV show, program, game, or book. But this one is a bit different.

How much do you value free education?

There are only 4 days remaining to the end of the Indiegogo Campaign to help Sidney Eileen receive treatment for her Lyme disease.

Why should we care?

Because Sidney Eileen has spent years giving her time and energy to make free tutorials for others, and encouraging and helping others. It’s because of Sidney’s hard work that many artists and designers are active in our community, refining their techniques, further helping others, and are able to profit from their art.

She could have easily charged for her tutorials – but she didn’t, and still doesn’t.
Now her Lyme disease has progressed undiagnosed for so long that she’s unable to do art or work. She can’t even walk across a room without the possibility of getting vertigo, losing her  strength/coordination or passing out.

Without work/income, Sidney can’t afford treatment. Without treatment, the disease continues to destroy her nervous system. The longer the disease progresses without treatment, the less likely her body will be able to be strong enough to even handle the treatment. That’s why time is sort of the essence here.

Lyme disease is very real and very serious at this advanced stage. Sidney didn’t ask for doctors to dismiss her symptoms for years; she didn’t somehow bring this upon herself. Life is unfair, especially when the place where you live denies you the basic right of health.

Sidney Eileen believes that artists are entitled to free education, yet she herself has been denied the basic right of good health. Think about it long enough, and you start to feel angry.

Sidney Eileen is an irreplaceable part of this community. If it weren’t for her encouragement and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My channel and this website as we know it might not exist today. If ever you’ve been appreciative of what I’ve provided to the corset community, and if you’ve ever thought about supporting me in some way, take that support and give it to Sidney because at this point, she needs it more than I do.

I’m not trying to create a sob story or guilt anyone into resentfully giving to the campaign. I’m saying that within a community, members take care of the people who had made a positive impact. I feel a certain responsibility to help those who have helped me.

That’s why I give a damn about this campaign. What about you?

Visit the page, read her story, and decide for yourself how much you value free information.

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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):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Kq-8n-5Lg]

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.

Posted on 39 Comments

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.