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“Waist Cinchers” VS Corsets: Which Should You Start With?

Elastic latex/rubber waist cincher or faja
Elastic latex/rubber waist cincher or faja

In the past month or so, I’ve received the same question from over a dozen people: “Should I start with a waist cincher before buying a corset?”

This causes a lot of confusion, because two different markets are both referring to two completely different garments as “waist cinchers”. Within the corsetry community, “waist cinchers” are still genuine corsets – but simply shorter than a full underbust corset. Essentially, what I consider a cincher is simply a particularly short underbust corset.

However, within a certain market, it seems that “waist cincher” has become synonymous with latex/rubber elastic fajas that only reduce your waist 1-2 inches, and are designed to not let your skin breathe, overheat your body and make you sweat to reduce water retention. Below the video break, I’ve made a comparison chart between a genuine corset “waist cincher”, the other elastic “waist cincher”, and a full underbust corset:

Elastic “waist cincher” Corset “waist cincher” Full underbust corset
Length/height is irrelevant to its definition. May be 6-8″ long on the side seam. Doesn’t come right up to underbust, and stops short on the hips. May be 9″ or more on the side seam. Comes right up to underbust, and may be short hip or longline.
Very few bones, often plastic. Wrinkles at the waistline. Fair number of steel bones. Should not wrinkle. Fair number of steel bones. Should not wrinkle.
Stretchy, unbreathable panels made from latex/rubber. 100% cotton strength layer, breathable and not stretchy. 100% cotton strength layer, breathable and not stretchy.
Fastens with hook and eye tape (not as strong) Fastens with a steel busk Fastens with a steel busk
No laces in the back. Ties up with laces. Ties up with laces.
Gives perhaps 2″ waist reduction Can give 6-8″+ waist reduction Can give 6-8″+ waist reduction

The Grey Area

Corset waist cincher (genuine corset, but shorter than an underbust)
Corset waist cincher (genuine corset, but shorter than an underbust)

It’s important to note that calling a corset a “cincher” vs “underbust” depends on the person, whether you are the corsetiere or the client. A short corset that is advertised as a “cincher” by a certain brand, may fit like a full underbust corset on a client with a particularly short torso. Corsets that are between 8″ – 10″ on the side seam I often consider to be a grey area, because depending on your height and torso length, it may fit either like a cincher or a full underbust corset.

Who can wear corset cinchers?

I recommend corset cinchers to people who are short of stature or who have a short torso (because full underbust corsets on the market are often too long, which pushes up the breasts unnaturally and/or may dig into the lap when sitting down). Someone of average to longer waist may also enjoy a cincher because it provides more mobility and less rib contouring than a full underbust.

Which companies sell genuine Corset Cinchers?

I’m glad you asked! I have a whole gallery dedicated to Cinchers for $200 or Less.

Are Latex/ Rubber Cinchers good to start with, to get me used to corsets later?

Truthfully, I think a latex cincher and a genuine corset feel totally different. The few weak bones in the latex cincher don’t support it enough, and if they are plastic then they can warp and poke into me. The fabrics ends up wrinkling and bunching into rolls, making my figure look worse. I also find the non-breathable, sweaty, grippy, itchy fabric almost unbearable. Although a genuine corset is more rigid and can be bulkier with more layers, I find it more breathable, more comfortable and much more effective at giving a dramatic waist reduction. If you’re looking for a starter corset to test out tightlacing, go for a corset cincher that doesn’t come up as high on the ribcage. This will allow the ribcage to expand more freely, will give you more mobility, and may be able to hide under your clothing more easily compared with a full underbust or an overbust corset.

Full underbust corset. Longer than a cincher corset.

Which is more cost-effective, a Latex Cincher or a Corset Cincher?

Many people buy a latex cincher because it seems to be a cheaper/smaller investment (around $40 for some brands, as opposed to $75-$100 for an entry-level corset). But even a not-so-great OTR corset may still give you useful experience in corseting, and can help you reach a 4″ reduction in your waist, even if it falls apart within a month or two. By contrast, a latex cincher may cost less but also won’t give you as much waist training progress, won’t give you useful experience to see if you want to continue waist training, and will also not last forever, as latex can stretch out and dry-rot over time.

You really hate rubber cinchers, huh?

They might suit some people. If you want to keep a small waist reduction at night but you’re claustrophobic about sleeping in a genuine corset, then an elastic cincher may be a better option. Likewise, you’re not supposed to exercise in a genuine corset, so perhaps wearing a latex cincher would be better then (only if you insist on wearing one for exercise; I don’t). But if you are genuinely interested in tightlacing or waist training, I would encourage you to save your money and buy a worthwhile authentic corset.

 

 

 

*Now that you know to start with a corset cincher, check out my buying guide for curvy cinchers for under $200.

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“True Corset” Dragon Brocade Cincher Review

This post is a summary of the “True Corset” Dragon Brocade Cincher Review video, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length Front is about 9″ inches long, as well as the sides and back because they are all cut to be the same height. I consider this a modern slim silhouette; the ribcage is about 5″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are about 7″ bigger than the waist. Recommended for people of shorter stature or shorter waists. If you have any issues with lower tummy pooch, choose a longer corset as this one doesn’t extend down to cover the lower abdomen.
Material 2 main layers: fashion fabric is red and gold on black dragon brocade, inside has a “bull-denim” style cotton lining (a bit coarser than twill). The internal boning channels are likely petersham ribbon.
Construction 5 panel pattern. Top-stitched between the channels, single boned on the seams, with internal boning channels.
Binding Commercial black satin ribbon, not folded under. Machine stitched on the outside and inside.
Waist tape 1-inch wide black satin ribbon, exposed on the inside of the corset. It does not extend through all panels though; this waist tape starts between panels 1-2, and ends between panels 4-5.
Modesty panel 5.5 inch wide modesty panel at the back, unstiffened, attached to one side, and covered in matching dragon brocade. Un-boned modesty placket made from black denim under the busk.
Busk 8.5 inches long with 5 pins (equidistantly spaced). Fairly stiff, just short of 1″ wide on each side.
Boning 10 total bones not including busk. On each side there are three 1/4″ spiral steel bones (in internal channels), but no bone on the seam between panels 4-5. Two further 1/4″ wide flats sandwich the grommets on each side.
Grommets 20 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly. The brocade is fraying around the grommets unfortunately. However the bull denim underneath are still holding the grommets so I will watch them and see if they need replacing. A few split grommets, but doesn’t catch the back.
Laces 1/4″ black flat braided nylon shoe-lace style laces. Virtually unbreakable. Has a bit of spring.
Price At the time that I’m writing, it is £40 in the UK or $60 in the US.
Bernie Dexter modeling the dragon brocade cincher from True Corset. Second-quality versions are distributed from Amazon for only $25 USD (aff link)

Final Thoughts

This cincher is designed for beginners, as it has an attractive price and an un-intimidating silhouette. Unless you have quite narrow hips, I would now recommend ordering a size up from what you’d usually get (or what would usually be recommended to you) from an OTR corset company, because the modern-slim silhouette doesn’t accommodate a huge waist reduction. I initially went with a size 22″ but in retrospect I would have gone with a size 24″ instead, as I like my corsets to be more closed in the back.

I had originally requested this piece in black taffeta but I was sent the dragon brocade instead. I notified the True Corset company by email, even if it only resulted in them fixing the number of corsets in their stock. They were quite gracious and acted quickly to fix the mistake. Although I ended up keeping this piece in the end (shipping things over the US/Canada border is expensive), I appreciate that True Corset had such responsible customer service.

Unfortunately, the brocade was on the delicate side and began to fray around the grommets. The grommets haven’t pulled out completely, because the sturdy bull denim lining is currently keeping them in place – but I will keep an eye on this corset and see if there are any changes in the future. In a later post I will show how the taffeta underbust by True Corset seems to hold the grommets in a little better. I’m not sure if this is due to the taffeta having a denser weave, or if it is due to the slightly different construction of their “waist training” style corsets; nevertheless they seem to be holding fast – but if you’re considering this piece and are truly indifferent about the fashion fabric, I would recommend the taffeta instead of the brocade.

You can find the True Corset cincher on their website and also on Amazon.

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Madame Sher Mesh underbust corset Review

This post is a summary of the Madame Sher black mesh cincher Review, which you can watch on Youtube if you prefer:

Fit, length Front is about 11 inches long, from the shortest part (close to the side seam) is 8.5 inches long. The top and bottom edges in front and back are slightly pointed, as many ribbon cincher styles seem to be. I consider this a “modern” hourglass shape (cupped ribs and cupped hips) although some may consider it a wasp waist silhouette. I submitted my measurements to Madame Sher, so this corset was custom made for my figure.
Material 1 main layer: it’s mostly a black soft mesh, which feels like cotton (it feels similar to cross-stich canvas). It has a small amount of stretch, but still strong. Vertical panels (in front, side and back) is black cotton twill.
Construction 13 literal panels, but technically you can consider it a 5 panel pattern. The horizontal “ribbon” panels are assembled with a flat-felled seam, then are sandwiched between the twill vertical panels (which are also double-stitched).
Binding Black binding made from bias strips of matching black twill. Machine stitched on outside and inside (Madame Sher mentions that it’s stronger this way).
Waist tape Most ribbon cinchers don’t incorporate a waist tape usually, but the center “ribbon” panels closest to the waist are also lined in black twill, which helps reinforce this area. Although it might stretch a little bit, the corset itself still gives me a great silhouette.
Modesty panel Interesting modesty panel – fully boned (the bones going vertically) and covered in black twill. My corset came with 2 panels (one was 6″ wide, one was 8″ wide) and they are removable/ interchangeable using small ribbons and grommets. Also, this has an unstiffened modesty placket under the busk.
Busk Sturdy special busk, about 3/4″ wide about 10.5″ long (5 pins). The busk is cut on an angle, and te binding is sewn only a couple of millimeters away from the end of the busk! Madame Sher commissions a local jeweller to make her busks, which are easily recognisable from the square loops!
Boning 8 total bones not including busk. On each side there are two 1/2″ wide heavy spiral steel bones. On the back by the grommets there are two pairs  On each side they are double boned on the seams (1/4″ wide), 2 sturdier flat-steel bones sandwiching the grommets which are closer to 1/4″ wide.
Grommets 24 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with small flange; set equidistantly, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets, but many splits. However they don’t seem to catch on the laces much.
Laces Very thin (less than 1/8″ wide) nylon rat-tail laces, very strong, glides through the grommets quite well.
Price At the time that I’m writing, it is $220 USD on Madame Sher’s website in the Tight Comfort section.
Madame Sher mesh ribbon-style cincher

Final Thoughts:

I adore this corset. It is one of my least expensive custom fit corsets that I own, yet it is one of the most comfortable. When I’m having a “lazy” or comfortable day, or if it feels too hot to wear a full cotton corset, then I’ll wear this mesh piece. It feels breezy and looks wonderful under dresses as well.

There is only one small thing to note about wearing this corset under clothing – because the cincher has horizontal “ribbon” panels, then the lines or bulges under a dress is not vertical (as would be usual, due to boning channels, mostly) but rather in this case the cincher creates horizontal bulges. Depending on who you are and what your BMI is, you may find that it looks a little bit like a ribcage under your dress. However, I do find that this corset is MUCH less conspicuous under clothing compared to some other corsets! Another perk is that this corset is so soft and lightweight that it’s one of the few that I feel comfortable directly next to my skin, if I want to wear stealth on hot days. Because it came with two modesty panels that can be quickly and easily switched out, it means I can have one in the wash and one to wear.

I was intrigues with Madame Sher’s corsets because of her unique construction and materials: I have never had a soft summer mesh corset like this before (I had owned the Contour Corsets summer mesh corset, but that one is very heavy duty!), and also have relatively little experience with ribbon cinchers. The modesty panel’s full horizontal boning and attachment are also unique, as is the special square busk, and even the rat-tail lacing! This is a beautiful example of ingenuity, and it goes to show that not all corsets have to be created the same way.

If I were to go back and order another mesh corset from Madame Sher, I would likely spend the $50 more to try out the full mesh underbust (both to try something different, and also because I think it would be more sturdy due to more boning and satin waist tape). I have no complaints about the cincher, but I think I might prefer the full underbust in the future. Although this corset is so unique that I cannot really compare it to anything else, I would say it’s excellent for the value.

You can find the summer mesh cincher and other styles on Madame Sher’s website here.

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Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset CS-411 Underbust Review”. If you want visual close-ups, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Center front is 10″, shortest part is 8.5″. It’s a shorter corset that fits closer to a cincher on my body. Gives a moderate hourglass shape – this is a Level 2 silhouette, so the ribcage is 4″ bigger than the waist, and the hips are about 8-9″ bigger than the waist.
Material 3 main layers – the outer coarse-weave poly-brocade fashion fabric, flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in twill.
Construction 4-panel pattern (8 panels total). The shape of the panels is very similar to the cincher by Isabella Corsetry, although the contours are slightly less, the ribcage and hips a little smaller. Constructed with a slightly modified sandwich technique.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from commercial black satin bias strips, machine stitched on both sides. There are no garter tabs in this corset.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers. I did not check to see if there was glue used in this one (see my CS-426 review if you want to know more about that particular corset).
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of a layer of black satin and a layer of twill. 5” wide (~3″ usable space) and attached to one side with a line of stitching.
Busk Slightly heavier busk, slightly under an inch wide and 9” long, with 4 pins. It is fairly sturdy; less bendy than a standard 1/2″ busk.
Boning 16 bones total in this corset. On each side, 6 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side), with a small flange, spaced equidistantly. On the underside every grommet is split and quite scratchy, but they don’t catch on the laces so I can’t complain.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough and quite strong, but also rather springy – you just have to tug a little harder to get the corset to stay closed because of the elasticity of the laces. However, Orchard has some higher quality laces (in several colours) available on their website – I very much prefer their ribbon laces to the standard shoelace style laces.
Price Currently $69 USD.
Orchard-Corset-CS-411-underbust-Betty_Bleu
CS-411 corset modeled by Betty Bleu for Orchard Corset – this one in black and white pinstripe

Final Thoughts:

Although this particular fashion fabric is not available to purchase through Orchard Corset (as it was a prototype), the cut of the corset, construction methods, and other fabrics/ materials should all be the same – so in this review I’m really commenting on these features as opposed to strictly the shell fabric.

I very much prefer this style of thicker poly-brocade compared to the thin shimmery satin shown in my CS-426 corset review. I found that satin had a tendency to wrinkle easily, when the satin started to pull in places, you could see the crossweaves of coral and brown threads and the wear of the corset was quite apparent. The satin also pulled and frayed easily where it had caught onto things (keep it away from any hooks, scratchy/sharp edges, or especially velcro!). This brocade is sturdier, doesn’t wrinkle as easily, is harder-wearing (doesn’t pull or fray as easily) and is better at hiding general wear and tear. A bird told me that Orchard may begin stocking all-cotton corsets in the future, which would be an even better choice for those looking for regular support.

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Sparklewren Flossed Swiss Cincher Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Sparklewren Cincher Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is about 9.5″ inches long, dramatic hourglass or wasp-waist silhouette. Side is 8.5″, good for average or even short-waisted ladies. I would not recommend this cincher for someone who has a problem with lower-belly pooch, though. Very comfortable due to high cut on the hips and external, continuous boning.
Material 2 or 3 layers; fashion layer is satin coutil and the lining is a plush satin (not coutil). May have strong interlining as well (guessing from thickness) but not sure.
Construction 6 panel pattern. Panels are assembled and external boning channels laid down and flossed before a floating liner was added. All the finishing is done by hand.
Binding Black satin coutil bias tape neatly machine stitched outside and hand-finished on inside. Very thin binding (I like it!).
Waist tape ~0.75″ wide invisible waist tape under the lining.
Modesty panel No lacing protector on the back; unstiffened placket attached to the knob side of the busk.
Busk Standard flexible busk (1/2″ wide on each side) about 9″ long (5 pins) and has an additional 1/4″ wide flat steel bone on either side of the busk (this bone is extremely stiff).
Boning 34 steel bones not including busk. 28 spirals (1/4″ wide) all in external channels, 4 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets, an additional 2 flats (1/4″ by the busk).
Grommets 28 grommets total, size #X00 two-part grommets with small flange; set closer together at the waist, no splits, no wear/fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong cotton braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re thin, they grip better than nylon laces, and they are long enough with absolutely zero springiness.
Price Currently £350 for a made-to-order cincher (in your size, with your suggested flossing color/ motif). Contact Sparklewren on her website.
Sparklewren cincher. Model: Lucy (me!). MUAH: Stella Amore. Photo: Trillance.

Final Thoughts:

Oh my God.  Despite the fact that this corset wasn’t originally made for me, it fits like a dream. If fate exists, then this cincher was fated to be mine. This corset is super comfortable – as I mentioned in the video, the high cut at the hips bypasses the issue I usually have at the iliac crest, and the continuous boning prevents any pressure points. The external channels mean the inside is completely smooth. Due to the army of bones, this corset is rather heavy and thick – the external measurement is around 24″ but the inside measurement gives a waist measurement of closer to 22.5″, and with barely any rib compression as well!

This was the first corset I purchased that contained flossing, and first with continuous boning. It’s amazing how the smallest details “make” the whole corset – what seems like just a sweet, simple cincher actually has a startling amount of work and detail. This pretty piece of armour has ruined all other cinchers for me!

In addition to her skill, Jenni (the lady behind Sparklewren) is one of the kindest, most communicative and helpful corsetieres I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I will speak more of this when I review my custom overbust from her, but I will say now that her customer service is as good as her corsets.

To see the Sparklewren’s other work, do check out her website.

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Leatherotics Pink/White 1214 Cincher Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Leatherotics Pink/White 1214 Cincher Review” which you can watch on YouTube here:

Fit, length Front is 10 inches high; the side is 7.5 inches high. This is standard size/ length. Gives a gentle hourglass silhouette. Hip gores make this comfortable around the hips. Quite a short cincher so not recommended for those with a lower tummy pooch issue.
Material 2 main layers; fashion layer is 100% nappa leather (0.8mm thick), white with pink accents. Lining is black cotton twill. Internal boning channels are also made from twill.
Construction 6 panel pattern, and two hip gores. Faux boning channels on outside (real boning channels on the inside). Also has 4 garter tabs but I wouldn’t use them because the corset is so short.
Binding Pink leather binding neatly machine stitched on both outside and inside. Inside is trimmed down, not folded under, to reduce bulk. This is normal.
Waist tape 1″ wide waist tape visible on the inside, made of satin ribbon and secured at the boning channels.
Modesty panel None on front, nor back.
Busk Standard width busk (half inch wide on each side) about 9″ long (4 pins); a little stiffer than the standard flexible busk I’ve tried in other corsets.
Boning 14 steel bones not including busk. 10 spirals (1/4″ wide) in internal channels on the sides, 2 flats (1/4″ wide) sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 16 grommets total, size #00 two-part grommets with moderate flange; set equidistantly, no splits. Not sure if these are the old style or new style grommets so there may be a risk of damage but so far no fraying/pulling out of grommets.
Laces Strong nylon braided shoe-lace style laces; they’re not too thick, they grip well and they are long enough. Not much spring to it. Very difficult to break.
Price Standard size pink/white of this is £43 UK (about $70 USD), while black leather version is £50 and twill is £30, at the time of writing this.
Leatherotics 1214 on Ebay (aff link)

Final Thoughts:
Of the underbust corsets I’ve tried from this company, this cincher has been the most comfortable. The hips flare out in a flattering manner and there is virtually no pinching on my iliac crest like with the other slim silhouette corsets.

I am still a touch concerned about the softness of the leather and how it may affect how well the grommets hold, but will update this review if anything goes awry. So far they seem to be holding up.

Edited later to add: the grommets looked to be loosening a bit because the soft leather was allowing the grommet holes to expand, so I ended up replacing the grommets with larger ones, with a wider flange.

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“Disco Armadillo” PVC Ribbon Cincher Case Study

This entry is a summary of the video “‘DISCO ARMADILLO’ PVC Ribbon Corset”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

***

This was my first attempt at sewing a corset from vinyl. I have to thank Marta “Snowblack” for her wonderful  Foundations Revealed tutorial on sewing leather and vinyl corsetry. Just a few things that I have learned about handling vinyl:

  • The material stretches (so you must back it with coutil) however it does not drape like most other fabrics.
  • It is also not a self-healing fabric, and will show all pinpricks. Therefore you should pin your panels only in the seam allowances.
  • Using a teflon foot (or a piece of tissue between the vinyl and the presser foot) will help the vinyl to feed smoothly without dragging or sticking to the presser foot.
  • Lastly, feed dogs will leave permanent marks into the bottom of the vinyl, especially if it has a metallic foil finish. Putting tissue or masking tape on the underside of your fabric (where your seam line will be) will protect your fabric from the feed dogs digging in.
***

Here is the overview of my Disco Armadillo, in typical review form:

Fit, length Center front is 10.5″ high, and I drafted this corset to be very curvy: underbust about 32″, closed waist 24″ and hips 34″.
Material Just two layers; the outer PVC ribbon and the inner coutil.
Construction 5-panel pattern – three vertical panels at front/side/back to hold the bones, and two ribbon panels. I learned how to draft a ribbon corset from Sidney Eileen’s ribbon corset sewing tutorial. The coutil panels aren’t “ribboned” like the outer pieces; rather they are in one piece. Most seams are topstitched as I was afraid that lockstitching would cause the PVC to become too perforated and tear apart. However at the busk, seams were lockstitched nonetheless as it looked better. Some edges of the ribbon were left raw, as folding those edges under would be too bulky.
Binding There is binding at the top and bottom of the vertical panels only; the ribbon panels do not have binding. I also left the inside edge of the binding raw – this is normal with binding made out of leathers or vinyls.
Waist tape Ribbon corsets typically don’t have a waist tape; a horizontal piece of ribbon running around the waist will act like a waist tape anyway.
Modesty panel I didn’t make a modesty panel for this corset because I designed it to close completely at the back.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long. Although it is quite flexible, having 3 layers of PVC ribbon surrounding the busk makes the front panel quite stiff and sturdy.
Boning Only 8 bones total in this corset (not including the busk), only boned on the vertical panels. There are two spring steel bones sandwiching each row of grommets at the back, and an additional two bones on each side panel, all 3/8″ wide.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 grommets (10 on each side). I used self-piercing grommets and a new press to insert these, and they work very well with the PVC. I placed a layer of heavy canvas in the grommet panel to give the grommets more to “grab onto” and to prevent the PVC from stretching. There are no splits and the grommets are holding up quite well with regular use.
Laces I used some 100% nylon purple paracord – it’s extremely strong (holds tension up to 500 lbs) and has no stretch, is resistant to fraying but has a tendancy to twist. You will definitely need a square knot or bow (not a round one) to keep your corset securely tied at the back.
Price Ribbon corsets in general are not particularly difficult but they are time-consuming and require a bit of pre-planning. I would most likely place a typical satin-and-coutil ribbon corset at around $150. However, because the PVC ribbon is extremely challenging to work with and also quite expensive ($10/meter when not on sale, and this corset used 9 meters), I wouldn’t remake this corset for less than $250.
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Orchard Corset Maroon Underbust (CS-426) Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Orchard Corset Maroon Underbust (CS-426) Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Gives a nice hourglass shape – this is a Level 3 silhouette, gives the most extreme curves. Center front is 13″, shortest part is 10.5″. Longline corset that comes over the hips. Quite comfortable.
Material 3 main layers – the outer satin fashion fabric, flatlined to a sturdy cotton interlining, and lined in twill.
Construction 6-panel pattern (12 panels total). The shape of the panels is very, very similar to the Josephine corset by Isabella Corsetry, although the contours are slightly less, the ribcage and hips a little smaller. Constructed with a slightly modified sandwich technique.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from matching maroon satin, double-thickness. I like how it’s very narrow. It’s machine stitched on both sides, folded under nicely on the front and then stitched in the ditch between the corset and the binding, to catch the rest of the binding on the underside.
Waist tape One-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset, hidden between the layers and glued to the lining.
Modesty panel There is a modesty panel on the back, made of a layer of satin and a layer of twill. 5” wide and attached to one side with a line of stitching, reinforced with glue.
Busk Standard busk, half an inch wide and 11” long, and 5 pins. However it’s less bendy than other busks of the same width, which is one perk.
Boning 22 bones total in this corset. On each side, 9 of them are spirals about 3/8 inch wide and then there are two flat steel bones, both ¼” wide sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets There are 24 2-part size #00 grommets (12 on each side). They have a medium lip around. They’re spaced equidistantly about 1” apart. I see some fraying and coming away of the fashion fabric around some of the grommets around the waist. On the underside every grommet is split and quite scratchy, they catch on the laces, the modesty panel and my shirt.
Laces The laces are ¼” wide flat nylon shoe-lace style. I find them to be long enough, a little springy but that’s alright because they’re still strong – you just have to tug a little harder to get the corset to stay closed because of the elasticity of the laces, is all – not a big deal.
Price Currently $95 USD, but you can save 10% by using the coupon code CORSETLUCY

Final Thoughts:
I really do like the shape this corset gives; it’s quite curvy (especially for its price). I wish they hadn’t used so much glue in the manufacturing, and that they could spend just a little more on higher quality grommets.

Lastly, one thing that made me PO’d (perhaps not the company’s fault but the shipper’s fault) was that I bought it on sale (around $59) but when it was shipped to me, the value on the package was stated as the original $95 which resulted in my having to pay higher duty/taxes coming into Canada. I ended up paying nearly as much in shipping/duty than I paid for the corset itself! International customers, be aware of this before you buy.

*** EDIT January 2014 – it’s been a couple of years since this review, and a few things have changed. Orchard Corset’s newer stock has higher quality grommets with fewer splits, and they recently introduced all cotton corsets, which are more sturdy than the satin ones and much less prone to coming away at the seams or having the bones pop out. Additionally, the owner of Orchard Corset mentioned that several years ago, they had placed the value of the parcel as product+shipping, which is why the price was so high and I was hit with duty. These days, OC says that they only place the value of the merchandise (the literal price paid for the corset itself) as the value of the parcel, and they don’t include the shipping price, so duty should be much lower for international customers.

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“Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Wrinkly Pig” Corset Case Study”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

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Note: the following are the differences between the “Wrinkly Pig” and the “Tickled Pink” corset in terms of construction:

  Wrinkly Pig Tickled Pink
Fusing Fused the brocade to a layer of woven fusible interfacing, then flatlined that to coutil. Fused the brocade directly to a layer of coutil using “Heat n’ Bond” (fiddly sheet of glue, I don’t recommend it).
Roll-pinning Everything was flat-pinned, not roll-pinned. Some roll-pinning was done on the side panels.
Seams Lock-stitched seams; allowances were not trimmed or clipped at curves. Seams were trimmed and flat-felled.
Boning channels Double-boned at the seams, sandwiched between two layers of coutil. Single boned at the seams, used external boning channels (cuts down on wrinkles slightly)

***

And here is my review:

Fit, length Decent curves. Used to be a slightly long-line corset but I later shortened the hips so it is more of a cincher now. Center front is about 11″ long.
Material 4 layers including the interfacing: brocade fashion fabric fused to interfacing, then flatlined to interlining of coutil and another lining of coutil.
Construction 6-panel pattern. Seams were lock-stitched (stitched twice) at the seams, the allowances were pressed open. The brocade/interfacing/coutil flatlined panels were all assembled, then the coutil lining was assembled. The layers were then stitched together at first/last panels, flipped right-side out and stitched in the ditch between panels and also secured at boning channels.  Bones are sandwiched between the two layers of coutil.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made out of commercial hot pink cotton bias tape, machine stitched on both sides.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the coutil lining and interlining, stitched invisibly so it’s not noticeable.
Modesty panel Suspended modesty panel made from brocade fused to twill, and stiffened with plastic canvas. 7″ wide.
Busk A standard flexible busk, 1/2” wide on each side, with 5 pins, 9.5″ long.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. The seams between the panels are double-boned (except the seam closest to the grommets with ¼” inch wide spirals, and there are a pair of flats sandwiching each column of grommets.
Grommets There are 30 2-part size #X00 eyelets (15 on each side). They have a medium flange around and are spaced out 3/4 inches apart. No pulling away of fabric yet but they are very small so many types of fat cord is hard to thread through.
Laces 1/2″ wide double-face satin ribbon, baby pink in colour. About 5 meters and not really long enough for my tastes. I think I may change out the laces for some longer ones.
Price If I were to re-make this corset, I would roll-pin the panels and also use wonder-under or stitch-witchery to directly fuse the brocade to a layer of coutil to eliminate wrinkling. Keeping other construction techniques the same, I would likely charge around $260 USD for a corset like this.
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Baby Blue Ribbon Cincher Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Homemade Blue Ribbon Corset”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Short cincher about 12″ high in the center front, comes up high on the hips. Pointed in the front and in back.
Material Almost entirely 2.25″ wide double faced satin ribbon, with coutil flatlined to the ribbon on the vertical panels in front, side and back.
Construction Pattern is from page 88 of the book Corsets and Crinolines. The horizontal ribbons were draped into the correct shape and tacked on the sides, then sandwiched between two pieces of coutil-flatlined-to-ribbon vertical panels which were then topstitched. The bones sandwiched in the vertical panels only.
Binding There is only binding at the top and bottom of the vertical panels, also made with blue ribbon.
Waist tape None (ribbon corsets generally don’t have waist tapes).
Modesty panel None.
Busk Standard flexible busk, about 9.5″ long with 5 clasps.
Boning 14 bones in this corset; 8 bones on the side panels (4 on each side), 2 flats on either side of the busk and another 4 in the back sandwiching the grommets.
Grommets 26 gold #X00 2-part grommets (13 on each side). Gold was the only colour I had at the time.
Laces Simple white round shoe-lace style cord, about 7 meters.
Price Cost in materials was close to $35. A standard ribbon cincher is often sold for about $150-$200 depending on the maker. Custom fit ribbon cinchers often are more expensive.
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Gallery Serpentine Victorian Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Gallery Serpentine Victorian Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Victorian Hourglass shape, nice moderate curves. Center front is 13”. Stops just at the upper hips, it is not longline. One “pro” is the unique feature of how low the corset stops on the back, it curves nicely over the top of the bum instead of cutting into it. One “con” is how distended my torso looks in profile.
Material 3 main layers – the outer satin, a thick cotton non-woven interfacting as interlining, and black twill lining.
Construction Made from a 4-panel pattern. The satin and the heavy interlining are either flat-felled or fused together (depending on whether the interfacing was fusible or not), then those panels are topstitched at the seams. Bones are placed either in the seam allowances between the panels, or internal channels are made with twill tape.
Binding Binding at top and bottom are made from black satin bias tape. Folded under nicely on the outside; on the inside the raw edge is serged to prevent fraying and just stitched down flat.
Waist tape None.
Modesty panel None. To get a modesty panel costs another $15 from the website.
Busk Standard busk (flexible), half an inch wide and 12” long, and 6 pins.
Boning 12 bones total in this corset, 6 on each side. All of them are plastic. These are heavier-duty polypropeline bones but I would still prefer steel. To get the steel bone upgrade costs another $15 from the website.
Grommets There are 18 2-part size #0 grommets (9 on each side) and have a medium flange. They’re spaced 1.5” apart on the top and bottom and are spaced closer together (1” apart) at the waist for better cinching control. Grommets are very sturdy, no popping out, no fraying. However I would have preferred to have 10 more grommets because lacing down is difficult on the top and bottom. On the underside there are no splits; they’re nicely set.
Laces The laces I received with this corset are reportedly not the original laces. The laces I got are 1/4″ wide single faced satin ribbon, quite slippery and difficult to grip. The laces that I have read now come with the corset are black shoelace-style laces.
Price Currently $190 (AUD) for basic fabric and standard sizes. $210 for made-to-measure, and add $10 more for Asian brocade fabrics. Note that steel bones/modesty panel also cost extra.
Product photo for underbust victorian corset from Gallery Serpentine

Final Thoughts:

This… was not my favourite style. A lot of people noticed that my review was blasé. Perhaps my review would have been more fair if I had spent some extra funds to get a made-to-measure item with steel bones, but for financial reasons and accessibility, this was the right option at the time. I doubt I would buy from them again, but I guess I should never say never. Many of their happier customers have contacted me to say that their corsets are much more flattering, better constructed and include things like a modesty panel, so perhaps there are several makers for that company and there are inconsistencies between their products. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, however this one simply did not go well with my body type and looked unflattering on me. I ended up altering this corset by adding steel bones and a modesty panel.

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Isabella Corsetry “Josephine” Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Isabella Corsetry Josephine Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Dramatic curves, extreme hourglass. This is a longline corset coming over my hips. The center front is 13” high; the shortest part of the corset is 10.5″ hiugh.
Material 3 main layers. The outer fashion fabric is black satin, then there’s a layer of twill as interlining and another layer of black twill as lining.
Construction Made from a 6-panel pattern (so the corset itself is 12 panels total). It looks as though the coutil panels were lock-stitched at the seams, the allowances were pressed open. The layers are joined together by stitching in the ditch between the panels and also by making boning channels. The stitching is perfect on the outside, but the seams are wiggly on the inside. The lining does not float. Bones are sandwiched between the two layers of twill (lining and interlining).
Binding The binding at top and bottom made out of black satin bias tape machine stitched on both sides; it’s small on the outside, then folded under and machine stitched in the ditch, in the seam between the corset and the binding itself, to catch the rest of the binding underneath.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the lining and interlining, invisibly stitched.
Modesty panel There an unboned modesty panel in the back made from two layers of just satin. Slightly over 6” wide.  Easily removable if you want to remove it. No modesty placket on the front.
Busk A heavy duty busk, slightly under 1” wide on each side and 11” long, with 5 pins, it’s EXTREMELY stiff. Keeps the front very straight.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the busk. On each side there are 9 spirals about 3/8” wide, and they’re mostly double boned at the seams except for at the back between panels 5-6. By the grommets they also use about 3/8” wide flat steels; very sturdy.
Grommets There are 30 2-part size #00 grommets (15 on each side). Black finish to match the rest of the corset, they have a medium lip around and are spaced equidistantly. Functionally they’re very sturdy, no popping or pulling away, whatsoever. On the underside there are no splits – much nicer than the grommets used in Isabella’s Bat cincher.
Laces 1/2” wide black double satin ribbon. They’re very nice, strong, pretty, glide through the grommets nicely and also seem to hold the bow well with little slipping out over time.
Price Currently $175 USD for immediate line. For other fabrics (made-to-order) it’s $250, and for custom fit/fabric it’s $360.
Josephine longline corset by Isabella Corsetry
Josephine longline corset by Isabella Corsetry – product photo in their made-t-measure line (might be a tad curvier than their standard pattern)

Final Thoughts:

This corset continues to be one of my favourite off-the-rack underbust corsets. It’s comfortable and gives a crazy curvy silhouette – to this day, I think I have gotten more compliments when wearing this corset than with any other off-the-rack corset. It’s relatively affordable compared to other major brands out there. The only con I could say is that Isabella is quickly gaining more and more recognition and thus she’s becoming busier, so wait times have been increasing for her corsets! However, I’m happy that she’s overflowing with commissions; I think her work should be credited. I could definitely see myself commissioning another piece from Isabella in the future.

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Princess Tamina Corset Case Study

This entry is a summary of my videos for the Princess Tamina costume. If you would like more  information and side notes about the corset and costume, you can watch the videos on YouTube here:

 

 

Fit, length Self-drafted underbust corset with a peaked front top and bottom edge. Stops just at the hips, and features a high back (7″ above waist). Made to close at 21″ at the waist. I took 3 horizontal measurements and 5 vertical measurements to draft this.
Material 4 layers of material; fashion fabric is a very stretchy gold-on-beige lamé, two layers of down-proof cotton ticking (labelled “coutil” in French) as strength layer, and ivory satin lining.
Construction Drafted from a 5-panel pattern. Lining was flatlined to ticking and lockstitched between the seams, then joined to another layer of ticking (wrong sides together) via the sandwich method. Sandwiched boning channels were sewn through those 3 layers, then the fashion fabric was redesigned to look like a ribbon corset and was tacked down at center front and back seams; floating in all other places. Embellishment was hand-sewn.
Binding Made from bias strips of lamé and machine stitched on both front and back. Back of binding was not folded under but left raw; as it’s a knit it doesn’t fray.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the two layers of ticking.
Modesty panel None.
Busk None; closed front.
Boning Only 12 bones including center front; all half-inch wide steels. Two at center front and one on each seam between panels; only a bone on the outer edge of the grommets, not the inner edge.
Grommets There are 22, 2-part size #X00 grommets (11 on each side), finished in gold to match the rest of the corset. This corset being the first time I hammered in grommets, the back of some of them are rough and catch a bit on the laces.
Laces Round nylon utility cord made for outdoor/sports use. It was loosely woven, frayed easily, slippery and didn’t hold bows very well.
Price The cost for materials was close to $70 because the only store that supplied steel bones near me charged me an arm and a leg for them. Otherwise this corset would have been closer to $35-$40 in supplies. If I were to remake this corset today and sell it, it would cost around $315 USD.
($225 underbust corset + $15 half-inch boning upgrade (I’d use spiral at seams) + $20 double (proper) coutil strength layer upgrade + $40 pattern modification + $15 hand-sewn embellishments)
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Heavenly Corsets Wasp-Waist Training Underbust Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Heavenly Corsets “Wasp-Waist” Training Underbust Review”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

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Note: the following are the differences between the “standard” wasp-waist corset and the “training” wasp-waist corset:

  Training Corset Standard Corset
Materials Always made in coutil, with an inner layer of twill, and a cotton lining layer Either a layer of outer fabric (unless coutil) with an inner layer of twill and cotton lining layer OR if you chose coutil, a single layer of coutil and a cotton lining layer
Boning double boning throughout 6 fewer bones than the trainer
Busk wide solid steel busk standard steel busk
Modesty Panel included NOT included
Seams triple-stitched seams double-stitched seams

***

And here is my review:

Fit, length Dramatic curves, “wasp-waisted”. This is a longline corset coming over my hips. The center front is 12” high. Measurements (both circumference and vertical) were taken to fit my body; quite comfortable with no pinching. One issue with the bones in the back bowing outwards and twisting so creates a gap at the waistline.
Material 3 main layers. The outer fashion fabric is red satin coutil, twill interlining and lightweight cotton lining inside.
Construction 6-panel pattern. It looks as though the coutil panels were lock-stitched (stitched twice) at the seams, the allowances were pressed open and zigzag stitched again. (Some people may not find this aesthetic but if it makes for a strong corset then I don’t mind.) Bones are sandwiched between the satin coutil and the twill, and the cotton lining is primarily floating.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made out of commercial red satin bias tape machine stitched on both sides; it’s folded under and stitched in the front and then topstitched to catch the back.
Waist tape 1” wide twill tape between the lining and the twill interlining. Stitched down horizontally across all the panels of the lining (so is not invisible but still cannot be felt).
Modesty panel Unboned modesty panel, 4.5 inches wide made from satin coul on the outside and lightweight cotton on the underside. No placket beneath the busk. (I would have preferred a slightly wider panel.)
Busk A heavy duty busk, 1” wide on each side, with 5 pins, it’s quite stiff and it’s 11” long.
Boning 22 steel bones in this corset not including the center front, ALL flat bones. The seams between the panels are double-boned (except the seam closest to the busk) with 3/8 inch wide flats (slightly wider than ¼”), but on the outer edge of the grommets in the back those bones are ½” wide flats.
Grommets There are 20 2-part size #00 eyelets (10 on each side). They have a medium flange around and are spaced out 1¼ inches apart. I would prefer for them to be spaced closer together and there be more of them, but functionally they’re sound; no pulling away or fraying of the fabric. On the underside there are no splits.
Laces  ¼” wide flat braided cotton laces, NOT nylon. They’re easy to pull and they grip well, not much wear so far. Cotton laces are sometimes prone to snapping so should be replaced more often, however I’ve had this corset for about 9 months and haven’t had to change the laces yet.
Price Currently £160 ($250) for the 23/7 waist training wasp-waist corset, or £120 ($185) for the non-training wasp-waist corset.
Heavenly Corsets red satin coutil wasp-waisted training corset, modeled by Elle, the corsetiere.

Final Thoughts:

I received a mixed reaction from this review. A few previous customers of Elle came forward and told me that they didn’t like certain aspects about this style of corset, such as a wobbly stitch line here or there, or the fact that she uses all spring steel bones. I put all this into perspective. Back in 2012, I hadn’t found a more affordable 23/7 training piece, and the materials used (including English coutil) are quite high quality. From what I can see, the primary stitch lines (the straight ones, holding the panels together) are straight and even, and although the zig-zag stitching (which is technically the 3rd stitch on each panel) does veer a bit and is not aesthetically pleasring, it still serves its purpose – to further reinforce the panels together. At that point in the construction process, it has no effect on the overall shape or measurement of the corset.

This did not come as a surprise to me, because I asked Elle a thousand questions before I ordered (and she was quite patient with me every time). The purpose of this corset (for me) wasn’t meant to be pretty or be shown off on a regular basis, it was meant to be strong.

Edit December 2014:

It’s been about 4 years since I ordered this corset, and nearly 3 years since the review – truthfully, I had forgotten about this corset review until recent events brought it back to my attention.
How did my corset hold up? The seams remained strong and none of the bones wore through their channels, but the very flexible bones in the back by the grommets became annoying, so I ended up switching them out for stronger (but more narrow) 5.5mm steels from Vena Cava. I also added more grommets between the pre-existing ones in the back of the corset for better control (the size #00 self-piercing grommets that fit the C-Step 2 machine are a decent match), and changed the lacing style. This was the only issue I experienced with my corset. However, other clients of Elle have had different experiences than myself, and I encourage you to read some of the comments below so you can gain a balanced view before deciding.

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Grey & Green Longline Underbust Case Study

This entry is a summary of the review video “Grey & Green underbust case study”. If you would like more complete information and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Self-drafted, longline (low over the hips) underbust corset with a peaked front top and a straight bottom edge. Made to close at 22″ at the waist. I took 5 horizontal measurements and 9 vertical measurements to draft this.
Material Fashion fabric is a black/white fine herringbone weave with metallic gold thread pinstripes This was fused to herringbone coutil interlining and lined in fern green satin.
Construction Drafted from a 6-panel pattern and both topstitched and lockstitched for extra strength. Boning channels are external (made from green satin fused to coutil) and the lining floats.
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made from 2-inch-wide strips of green satin, machine stitched on both sides.
Waist tape 1-inch wide waist tape, invisibly stitched between the coutil and the lining.
Modesty panel Suspended modesty panel stiffened with plastic canvas and finished the same way as the corset – covered in the pinstripe fabric and bound with green satin on top and bottom.
Busk Heavy duty stainless steel busk (1″ wide on each side) and was cut to 13″ long, with 5 pins.
Boning 20 bones not including the busk; I had used 1/4″ wide spirals double-boned at each seam (except the one adjacent to the busk) in the external channels. By the grommets there’s a 1/2″ wide flat bone on the outer edges and 1/4″ wide flat bone on the inner side.
Grommets There are 32, 2-part size #0 grommets (16 on each side), finished in silver (Chelsea’s choice). The grommets have a large lip around and are spaced 3/4″ inch apart down the length.
Laces Flat nylon braided shoelace-style laces; 8 yards long. They grip well, are densely woven and are resistant to catching, fraying or snapping.
Price The retail price for something similar is around $280 (underbust corset + heavy busk upgrade + double boning upgrade + external boning channels upgrade).
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Isabella Corsetry “Bat Cincher” Review

This entry is a summary of the review video “Isabella Corsetry Bat Cincher Review”. If you would like more complete information, detailed close-ups and side notes about the corset, you can watch the video on YouTube here:

Fit, length Dramatic curves, I would say “wasp-waisted”. This corset starts lower down on the ribcage on me so I have room to move and to breathe, yet this is a longline corset coming over my hips. The center front is 11.5” high.
Material 3 main layers. The fashion fabric is a custom-printed cotton which is interfaced. There’s a twill interlining and another layer of black twill for the lining.
Construction 4 panel pattern. This constructed in what seems to be the sandwich method; each layer was assembled individually and then the layers were stitched, wrong sides together, at the seam of each panel. Bones are inserted between the two layers of twill (being the lining and interlining).
Binding The binding at top and bottom are made of lime green satin bias tape. Each curve between the peaks of the “bat” shape are individually bound. It’s stitched neatly on the outside, and then just folded down and machine stitched again in the “ditch” of the first stitching.
Waist tape 1-inch-wide waist tape running through the corset between the layers (inserted invisibly).
Modesty panel None.
Busk A heavy duty busk with 5 pins, it’s quite stiff and 1” wide on each side. 11″ long.
Boning 16 steel bones not including the busk. The seams between the panels are all double-boned with ¼ inch wide spirals, and then 3/16 inch wide sturdy flats on each side of the grommets.
Grommets There are 26, 2-part size #00 grommets (13 on each side). I’m very impressed at how well the grommets have held up. None of them show any sign of pulling out whatsoever, despite the fact that every one is split along the back.
Laces Came with ½” wide ivory double-faced satin ribbon which has held up remarkably well.
Price Bat cincher available as “made to order” for $225. If you want custom fit, the closest other corset is the “Vamp” at $350.
Product photo for Isabella Batty cincher (with bat fashion fabric). Photo: LeMew Photography

Final Thoughts:

This corset is cute as a button. I adore the crazy fabric print (although that is to be credited to the original person who commissioned this corset) and the cut of this corset is crazy curvy. I’m still impressed by how curvy Isabella managed to make this with just four panels per side. I did have issues with this corset, like a wobbly binding seam here or there, and the split, small grommets, and admittedly the flesh over my ribcage did give a “muffin top” over the top edge (that may have been because it was made to another girl’s measurements and not mine) – however, when comparing this corset to the Josephine, there is a great difference! I know that the Bat cincher is a couple of years older than my Josephine corset, so I have the unique opportunity to see how the workmanship of a corsetiere has changed and improved in a short time. This is why I don’t want to say “never” in terms of ordering twice from a (fairly reputable) company. If I have reason to believe that their work has improved, I will sometimes give them the benefit of the doubt even when my previous experience wasn’t 100% positive or as expected.