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Dark Garden Aziza Overbust Corset (with Shoulder Straps) Review

This entry is a summary of the video “Dark Garden Aziza Corset Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length The measurements were highly customized to fit my body, including accommodating for several asymmetries (like my left hip protruding very slightly more, one breast being fuller than the other, one shoulder sitting a bit higher than the other, etc). See discussion below for more detail about the fit.
Material Possibly 2 main layers: Fashion fabric is a gorgeous gold floral brocade, likely fused for strength. The lining (strength fabric) is an American milled cotton canvas.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Most of the bust curve is drafted between panels 1-2, and most of the hip curve is drafted between panels 3-4, and much of the room for the upper back was obviously drafted into panels 5-6. The corset was topstitched between panels (seam allowance on the outside), and the seam allowances were covered and straddled by double boning channels.
Binding Bias strips of matching gold brocade, machine stitched on inside and outside. Tidy topstitch on the outside, no topstitch on the inside. No garter tabs (I didn’t request any).
Waist tape 3/4 inch wide invisible waist tape, sandwiched between the layers. It starts between seams 1-2, and extends to the center back.
Modesty panel Modesty panel is around 4.75″ wide, finished in the same gold brocade. Stiffened with 4 steel bones and left separate to slip under the laces when worn (or you can choose to not wear the modesty panel). There is a teensy seam in the center front which is not a modesty placket per se, but it does help prevent a visible gap between the busk.
Busk 14 inches long, standard flexible busk, with 7 loops + pins, equidistantly spaced.
There are half inch wide flat steel bones adjacent to the busk for further reinforcement, but they deliberately stop about 4 inches from the top of the corset so they won’t interfere with the curve of the bust.
Boning 26 bones total, 13 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. The additional bone on each side is adjacent to the busk.
Grommets 42 two-part grommets, size #00, with medium flange. Finished in gold and equidistantly spaced. Big washers, all grommets rolled nicely.
Laces Gold double faced satin ribbon – no spring, very strong and flat. Laced using the “chevron method” with “inverted bunny ears”.
Price $1475 USD without shoulder straps, or $1625 USD with shoulder straps. It is only available as a custom option, not standard.

 

Final Thoughts:

This is the final product for the Dark Garden bespoke process I went through over the course of 2015. If you’re interested in learning more about the bespoke process and the mockup fittings, click here.

Dark Garden always spends the extra time to match brocades, prints and lace motifs as shown in this gorgeous Aziza overbust modelled by Vienna La Rouge. Photo: Joel Aron.
Dark Garden Aziza overbust version without shoulder straps, and made for a very different body type. Model: Vienna La Rouge. Photo: Joel Aron.

Because I’m long-waisted, this corset is much, much longer from the waist up compared to most OTR overbust corsets. Using the mockup fittings I was able to choose not only the height of the neckline, but also the height of the side of the corset into my underarm area (Autumn recommended bringing it up a bit higher to account for a bit of my underarm squidge) and also in the back. I asked the back to be higher and have more room, so it would contain my muffin top (back spillover) and also it would allow my scapulae to snuggle down into the corset as opposed to hitting the edge of the corset and forcing my shoulders up.

The length of the shoulder straps were also adjusted custom to my body, and they secure in the front with matching gold ribbon. There are several grommets so I can wear the straps looser (for mobility or to wear them slightly off the shoulder) or tighter over my shoulders if I need more upper back support.

The bust was drafted beautifully; it cups over and supports my bust without squishing it flat. I also requested for the neckline of this corset to be slightly higher so that I can wear this to public functions and not fear that my bust will pop out or be exposed.

With this corset, it’s extremely apparent that my body is the type to “squish upwards”. While some people get a small lower tummy pooch from wearing corsets. By contrast, my hip measurement essentially stays the same, but my ribcage and bust can increase by up to two inches in a corset (compared to its natural measurement) depending on the reduction of the waist. Displaced flesh has to go somewhere!

Along the bottom edge, although aesthetically I love a longline corset, I requested this corset to be cut at the mid-hip (just about my iliac crest) so that I’ll be able to move and sit comfortably, even in low seats.

The Aziza corset is a custom option, so you may not see it available as a standard sized corset in their Classic Line on their website. Dark Garden has a catalogue of many more corset styles, and their skilled team of corsetieres can create almost any style you can think of. If you’re interested in learning more about Dark Garden and their 30 years of work, head over to their website here.

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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):

dark-garden-corsetry-measuring-guide
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!)

aziza-corset
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!