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The Perfect Lacing Length Calculator

Earlier this year, I worked on a new calculator to determine the ideal length of lacing anyone needs for their corset, and I shared it on Patreon but I completely forgot to share it here on my site once it was beta tested!

It looks extremely simple, and I’m hoping that ends up being a good thing for most. Do keep in mind however that this is an estimation – it’s not going to take into account teensy details like whether the grommets are closer at the waistline. That would be overkill for only negligible differences in the total lacing length. It’s just laces folks!

The calculator takes both centimeters and inches for your natural waist size and the corset size, and it will give you the total length lacing answer in both yards and meters.

I will eventually update this post with a video tutorial, but if you’d like to try the calculator for yourself, I’d love some feedback on it! If you don’t trust the calculator and you’d prefer to calculate your own length, then below the calculator I will post a step-by-step guide on how to determine for yourself how much lacing you need for your own corset and individual situation. :) But the calculator is designed to work whether you own the corset yet or not – in other words, if you’re trying to decide whether you need to purchase extra laces along with your new corset, this is a good way to test it before checking out.

Remember: this formula should theoretically work for any corset brand!

How to calculate the ideal length of lacing without my calculator:

(If you want me to “show my work” so to speak and break down how the calculator works)

Step 1: take your corset and expand the back enough that you’re able to do up the busk easily (if you’re struggling with the busk, the laces are too short). Don’t tighten the laces – just remove your corset and lie it flat, so that the laces are still extended to the ideal amount.

(The first step is important: don’t just take your corset off at the end of the day and measure the laces then. The point of Step 1 is to make sure you have a measurement of the lacing gap when you’re putting the corset on at the beginning of the day, not when you’re taking the corset off. Because the waistline is marginally smaller after several hours of waist training, it might take you 6 inches of slack to comfortably put the corset on, but only 4 inches to take the corset off, so be mindful of this difference.)

Step 2: take a tape measure and measure how wide the lacing gap is at the widest point – you want to measure from grommet to grommet (the holes that the laces are threaded through), instead of back edge to back edge of the corset.

Example: say your corset is 10 inches wide from edge to edge; it’s probably closer to 12 inches wide from the grommets on the left side to the grommets on the right side since you’re going over the bone and the fabric, to the middle of the hole.

Step 3: multiply that by the number of grommets in the corset.

Really we’re using the number of grommets as a substitute for the # of times the lacing criss-crosses the back. For the most common lacing methods without any tricky business, the number of grommets always matches the number of times the laces criss cross along the back but it’s easier to count grommets than it is to count a mess of laces. Don’t take my word for it, you can count it yourself!

Example: For the Gemini, it has 28 grommets, 14 on each side. You’ll see the laces criss-cross 28 times from one side of the corset to the other. Counting the Xs, there are seven on the outside the corset, meaning it crosses 14 times. On the inside of the corset there are another six Xs, so it crosses 12 times. Plus the very top and very bottom where the lacing runs straight across two single times. 

So a 12 inch wide lacing gap x 28 criss-crosses across the back = 336 inches

Step 4: we’re not done yet – it’s good to have a little extra more, just in case. Do you see how each criss-cross, or “X” is on an angle, the laces are not going straight across? Remember back to trigonometry in school where you were made to find the hypotenuse of a triangle, the hypotenuse is always going to be a little longer than the base. When it comes to a triangle as squat as this, the difference is quite small, but when you add them up with 28 different triangles, all those little bits can add up!

But let’s not make it too tedious – let’s fudge the answer for the sake of simplicity and add the length of the back of the corset times 2.

Example: The Gemini is 14 inches high at the back, add (14×2 = 28 inches). Adding this to the above, 336 + 28 = 364 inches.

364 inches is about 10.1 yards, or 9.24 (about 9 and ¼ meters).

So, if you need your corset to expand at least 10 inches wide (from edge to edge) to get the corset on and off, that’s about how many inches of lacing you’ll likely need!   When it comes to lacing I will almost always round up to the nearest half meter (because places like Fabricland or JoAnn will often ask for rounded measurements when it comes to lacing and trim). The additional length will to make it even easier to get the corset on and off, and if it’s excessive, I can always trim the lacing back if it’s too much. More than likely though, the extra tiny bit will just go into the bunny ears of the corset so that you can get a good grip on these to tighten your corset.

Remember, this formula should work for any corset brand!

Did this calculator work for you? Let me know in the comments what changes or improvements you’d make.

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Corset Lacing Gap: How Wide Should It Be?

We’ve talked about the shape of your lacing gap before (multiple times) and said that a parallel gap is what most people strive for in a well-fitting corset. But even in a corset with a parallel gap, how wide should that gap be? (And is it okay to wear it completely closed?) That’s what we’re going to discuss today!

 

Long story short: whether you wear a corset with a gap in the back or laced closed is 99% preference, unless a gap in the back is enforced by the specific corset maker you’re commissioning from.

With most OTR corsets, the size you see is the size you get.

In other words: if you order a corset that says it’s size 30″, then when it’s laced closed, your internal corseted waist will also be 30 inches (barring any stretch or ease).

Tomto Taifun corset
Taifun men’s corset by TO.mTO: An example of a corset that’s pretty much laced closed in the back. If you were to lace it any tighter, the edges would begin to overlap. (This lacing gap is okay!)

By the way, the definition of a “closed” corset is when the two edges of the lacing panels are touching. A closed corset does not mean one that is “simply laced enough for the modesty panel to reach across the back”. (There is way too much variation between the width of modesty panels of different brands – some panels are 4 inches wide, others are like 7 inches wide, and some don’t have modesty panels at all!)

So closed means that it’s laced shut and you can’t get it any smaller without actually altering the corset (see photo to the right).

Why would someone want or need a lacing gap in their corset?

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to wear a corset with a small lacing gap:

  • it can add some flexibility to the back of the corset. I’ve heard it described as the open laces acting like a hinge – so as you swing your hips when you’re walking or bending or doing activities, the corset can shift and swing with you.
  • If you have a sensitive spine (say you have very low body fat and your vertebrae visibly protrude from your back), you might find it more comfortable to wear the corset with a gap so the steels of the corset don’t rub against your back.
  • Having a gap in the back also accounts for weight fluctuations. If you happen to lose 5-10 pounds, your corset will still fit without feeling too loose.

But then again… if you want to wear your corset closed, that’s okay too.

  • Almost everyone I’ve seen in a corset, regardless of their body fat, experience the “Venus fold” – this is where the skin and erector muscles of your back get pushed together to create a cleavage in the back. (That’s not necessarily fat, people of every size can get that to some degree – and same with “muffin top” in corsets with a too-tight ribcage.) So if you are prone to the Venus fold, which more than likely you are, you might not have to worry about the corset rubbing against your spine, and you might be able to wear the corset completely closed with comfort if that’s your desire.
  • Also, if you are like myself and many others, and your weight fluctuations tend towards increasing as opposed to decreasing (especially as you age), you may find it more economical to order your corsets in such as size that they lace closed when at one’s lower end of your comfortable weight range. I do this as well (I’m happy to lace closed my size 22″, and if /when I eventually gain some inches, the gap in the back of my corset will not be too large).

I don’t wear my corsets closed all the time.

A relatively tubular corset laced in a )( shape, to make the corset seem curvier than it really is. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

Because I prefer the cycle method of wearing my corset (even though I don’t train per se anymore), throughout the day I may fluctuate the tightness based on my personal comfort level. For the purpose of my corset reviews though, I like the tidy look of a closed corset – and a corset that is closed from top to bottom is giving no illusions about the size I am wearing, or the silhouette the corset gives. I can’t “lie” about a tubular corset being curvier than it actually is by wearing the corset with a wonky )( shape in the back. In my reviews, I’m all about transparency – if the gap in the back is closed, you know that what you see is what you get.

I’m also transparent about the size I’m wearing, so you aren’t getting any illusion about the amount of curve you receive in a corset relative to the size. A 10-inch hip spring on a size 20″ corset is a 50% difference from waist to hips, which makes that small corset seem incredibly curvy. But a 10-inch hip spring on a size 40″ corset will only look half as curvy, because the waist is twice as big. Over the years I’ve worn corsets as small as size 20″ and as large as size 26″, and I mention this in my videos because the size does affect the apparent curve of the corset.

(There have been some corset makers who tried to make a range of corsets where the rib- and hip-springs increased proportionally with the size, but the complications involved in producing and fitting customers is with those types of corsets is a story for another time.)

Many OTR brands recommend a 2-3 inch wide lacing gap.

black-steel-boned-long-hourglass-back
OTR corset with a standard 2-inch lacing gap in the back, to account for fluctuations. Hourglass Cashmere Longline corset, available from my shop. (This lacing gap is okay too!)

Like I said before: most OTR corsets are designed and made such that, if you wear the corset closed, then your internal waist will measure what it says on the label. However, it’s worth noting that many OTR brands train their employees to give sizing advice such that the customer will wear it with a 2-3 inch gap in the back. So if Sally-Joe from Blorset Corsets looks at your measurements and says your measurements almost perfectly match a size 30″ corset laced closed, she may recommend you buy the size 28″ instead, so that it’s deliberately worn with a gap. This may be for several reasons:

  • If you as a customer are extra compressible and lace the corset closed on the first wear, it would be considered too big (even if the ribs and hips of your corset fit flush with your body)
  • If your OTR corset is known to stretch or ease over time, the size 28″ might expand to fit you similarly to the (unstretched) size 30″. This is often the reason for going down a size in mesh corsets, for instance.

When prospective clients are coming through my personalized sizing service for the corsets in my shop, I will often recommend two sizes – the size that will lace closed in the back, and the size that will fit them with a small gap in the back.

If the client is in the process of losing weight, I will recommend the smaller size as it may fit them for a longer time (they may not drop in size proportionally, but at least the larger corset will not be too big in a short amount of time). If the client’s weight fluctuates towards increasing, I might recommend the larger corset, for the reasons I mentioned above in this article. If the person aesthetically likes the corset laced closed, they can choose the larger corset – or if they like the corset with a gap, they can choose the smaller corset.

How wide of a gap is too wide?

A too-small corset: the gap is too wide, even if the back edges are parallel. (This lacing gap is not ideal)

I’ve spoken about this in my addendum to corset gaps article. If you’ve got a 10-inch gap in the back of your corset –> the side seams of the corset are offset too much from the side of your body –> you don’t have appropriate torque to tighten the corset –> this runs the risk of putting uneven stress on the corset and warping it, and putting too much pressure on the back of your body and not enough tension at the front of the body. (See picture to the right.)

What is a good guideline for a gap that is just the right size?

A 1-3 inch gap is generally fine for many people and it won’t offset the seams of an OTR corset or the intended fit too much, even if your weight fluctuates by an estimated 5-10 pounds.

One guideline for the maximum gap in the back of the corset is the distance between your Venus Dimples.

For other brands (e.g. Dark Garden), they say that a gap that is about 10% of your size of your corset is fine. So if you wear a 60 inch corset (which do exist, just not in OTR), your gap in the back can be 6 inches wide and it won’t affect the fit by too much. But a 6-inch wide gap on someone wearing a size 20” is definitely not going to look/ feel/ fit the same way, and its best to aim for a 2-inch gap for that size.

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Dimples of Venus: A Helpful Gauge for Corsets!

Below is a transcription of the video above – please refer to the video for all visual guides. :)

Today we’re going to talk about the dimples of Venus.
Girls can have them, guys can have them, older people can have them, babies can have them. But what are they, and how do they relate to corsets?

The official name for “Venus dimples” is actually “lateral lumbar indentations“.
Indentations = dimples,
Lumbar = lower spine,
Lateral = to the side.

The indentation is caused by ligaments pulling under the skin in that area, and it marks the sacroiliac joint – the place where your sacrum, or tailbone area, meets up with the ilium, or what I call the “wings” of your pelvis. (Because if you squint your eyes, the pelvis vaguely resembles the shape of a butterfly.)

When I was younger, someone told me that the wider a woman’s dimples, the more fertile she’s said to be. (Which isn’t exactly true – although during pregnancy, the hormone relaxin causes stretching of all ligaments in the body, but especially those of the pelvis – so it’s theoretically possible for one’s Venus dimples to become wider during pregnancy.)

Horizontally, Venus Dimples mark where you should measure your Upper Hip!

The reason I’m talking about it today is because the venus dimple, being a marker of the sacroiliac joint, is an excellent marker of where to measure your high-hip line as it’s roughly in line with your iliac crest. Even if you have a lot of padding on your hip area and can’t find your hip bone pressing down, if your Venus dimples are visible, you can use these as a marker to measure your upper hip. Remember, your upper hip is an important measurement, because the pelvic bones cannot and should not be compressed in a corset.

 

Vertically, Venus Dimples can tell you how long your corset should be!

Venus dimples tend to be visible right above the curve of the bum and the tailbone, which can make it a marker for how long you need the back of your corset to be. In previous videos and articles, I talked about the importance of the length of the front of the corset, and of course it’s still important – but the length of the back can also affect the comfort and fit.

Measuring from your waistline UP to the bottom of your shoulder blade (or just above your bra band) will give you a reasonable corset height that will help you avoid muffin top, while allowing good mobility of the arms and shoulders (although it’s possible to make the back of a corset even higher!).

Measuring from the waist DOWN to the Venus dimples provides the absolute minimum measurement for a comfortable corset in the back (for me, in any case) – a corset shouldn’t end above this spot. A corset can be longer than this too, but it must be able to curve over the tailbone and bum.

Corsets that stop short of the Venus dimples in the back won’t provide sufficient support for a lower tummy in the front, and corsets that extend much, much lower than the Venus dimples are likely to require bones that can curve and flex over the upper bum and tailbone area (otherwise the bones will dig into the top of your bum!). I tend to prefer my corsets to end about 2 inches below the Venus dimples – depending on the height of your bum, this might be where the butt crack starts for you.

 

The distance between your Venus Dimples can help you choose a comfortable ‘lacing gap’ width!

The width of the Venus dimples can also provide a good gauge for you to determine what gap width in the back would be suitable, as it can give clues to the musculature of your back. A corset with a gap far too wide may cause the steels to rest closer to your oblique muscles as opposed to your erector spine muscles, and you’re not going to get the right torque to pull your waist in.

Dimples of Venus (arrows) on a model with prominent spine. Photo by Zaheer12a for Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Dimples of Venus (arrows) on a model with prominent spine. Photo by Zaheer12a for Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

When you’re choosing a first corset, it’s a good idea to at least have the gap in the back within the width of your Venus dimples. In the case of the model in the video, her spine is prominent (you can see the vertebrae through the skin), so it might be more comfortable for her to wear a corset with at least 1 inch gap so the corset steels aren’t grinding on her spine. Her Venus dimples are about 3 inches apart – so based on her anatomy, I’d estimate that a suitable lacing gap for a well-fitting corset would be between 1-3 inches. Incidentally, this is what many professional corsetieres recommend to begin with!

In sum: beyond just looking cute, using Venus dimples as clues can actually help you measure for a corset and predict how it might fit on you.

What do you think of the “Venus Dimple” theory for fitting corsets? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know!