First, the pattern is
drafted to fit your individual body's hills and valleys;
readymade corsets may hurt since they are made from
standardized patterns. Second, you can open up any corset
at the back lacings to provide a more comfortable fit.
Third, you will go about lacing down in a
common-sense and slow manner, that is, seasoning your
corset slowly and gradually wearing it longer hours at a
looser level before you lace tighter. This will accustom
your body to restriction, and protect the integrity of
your fine corset.
Q. My new custom corset doesn't seem to fit? How could that be?
corsets worn upside down, and two more worn too
high on the body. Turned around, or re-donned at the waistline,
all four clients were perfectly satisfied as we knew they
Another issue is, how should the back gap look when you
first put on a new corset? It will likely look similar
to that pictured here in the ivory corset, closer together at the top and
bottom, further apart at the waistline. However, at first you
should not close up the top and bottom and leave a wide gap at
the waistline. That might cause your flesh to squish up
and over the top or out the bottom. Open up the corset and
bear up with a less-than-perfect initial fit, during the
As you lace down slowly you will note that
you become more comfortable lacing the waistline tighter.
This results in the gap in the back become more parallel
top to bottom, which should be your goal. You need never
close the gap completely; that is your decision to make.
Q.3. There's a big gap in the top edge of my
corset around my torso, so I wonder if it was made too big?
A. You may usually send your corsetiere photos to help you evaluate this
situation which may or may not constitute a fit issue.
Sometimes we have found a client raised their elbows to
demonstrate the gap, but we don't normally walk around
with our arms and elbows raised now, do we? Testing the
proper fit requires you to remain relaxed and keep your arms down and
reasonably close to your body even as you do when
conducting most activities of daily living.
For underbust styles, you should be able to somewhat easily
fingers inside the top edge, and the same under the bottom edge.
If not, then you run the risk of a corset too tight that
will or may squish out flesh and at the top create what
some women call "back boobies", or toothpaste.
bottom edge, this flesh may lump and bump at the leg connection
and appear quite unsightly. The proper squeeze of a corset
occurs solely in the middle area of the corset starting a
few inches down from the top and up from the bottom edges.
For overbust styles, note that if a client attempts
to create cleavage by sending us too tight of a top
edge measurement under the armpits
called the "high bust measurement," the corset will or
may then also create toothpaste. It is far better to
enhance cleavage by adding a half "cookie" or silicon pad under each bosom
to elevate it inside the cup.
One final word about two other clients who were convinced
that her corsetiere had made a mistake and their
overbust styles did not fit in the bodice. One
arrived wearing her 18th Century style, complaining rather
bitterly that the corset made her look "flat" and
disappeared her ample bosom. The other sent a photo
showing a large gap between the bodice top and her bosoms,
which you can see in the ivory corset pictured, both
before and after I corrected the fitting. In both
cases I advised the client to simply lean over as when
fitting a bra, reach inside each cup and lift each bosom
up and forward, then stand up. Lo! The errant lovelies
had properly appeared in their intended position in the corset
both ladies ended by being fully satisfied with the fit!
One final note on fitting the bosom cup or bodice top.
full-figured women sometimes are well advised to add a
inside their bodice cup, not to add bulk, but to add
stability. Depending on the bosom size, the weight of
the fabric and boning used, the bosom may or may not
tend to move to the sides of the cup, or sag a bit. An
overall shell will add
firmness to the cup and enhance the appearance of one's cleavage.
Sometimes this cannot be anticipated or advised even
at a muslin fitting, because it is truly the final garment
that will be worn and will shape the body and the reverse.
Easy modifications are usually possible, and patience
must be shown during the final fitting process.
Q.4. Because a corset is somewhat thick, I know that the
outside measurement is a bit larger than my actual
waistline under the corset. But how much does my corset
A. There are several ways to determine this with some
precision, but the rule of thumb is that a three-quarter
to one-and-a-quarter inch difference
will exist for most corsets.
Initially, please understand that measuring a corset in
the same style for the same person but produced by
different corsetieres, can result in a difference.
That is because corsetieres use various weights and
styles of boning, busks, fabric, and layers of material,
interfacing or bonding, causing variations in thickness
of the completed corset.
You may determine this matter
more precisely, by using two methods we know about.
The first one is to locate a non-stretchy tape measure,
place it around your waist, then tie it loosely in
front of your waist. Put on your corset and clip it, and
let the edges of the tape measure come out from between
the front busk split. Untie the tape measure and let the
loose edges dangle downward. Then tighten your corset as
usual, occasionally gently pulling the tape forward.
Try not to stretch the tape. Once you are laced down,
read the tape measure and write the results down. Then
take another tape measure and measure over the corset
at the same location, and find the difference. That
should give you the thickness of Sharon's corset.
The second method is to take a rigid dress form and
measure the waistline. Then lace your corset over it,
and measure the waistline, then take the difference.
Q.5. I ordered a corset to close at a 24" waist when
laced shut. But I measured 1/2 of my new corset at the
waistline and I get 12.5". Twice that is 25" not 24".
Did my corsetiere make a mistake?
A. As with every single question on this page - it
depends! But, most likely not.
Some corsets if made in lighter-weight fabrics or only
in one layer versus two or four layers, may tend to ease or
stretch a bit as you wear it or lace tighter, even
on the first few wearings. Thus a corset
originally and correctly made to close at 24" may in fact grow to
close at 24.25" 24.5," or even slightly more. Also, how
you measure the waistline may cause the measurement to
differ slightly. If you place a corset right-side out
flat on the bed and measure only one side, you may
tend to get one measurement. Then if you turn the corset
over, or put it on and lace it closed in back then
measure, the results can vary.
Over the years we have
encountered a few clients who demand
"absolute perfection" when they measure the corset
waistline, no matter how they do that. However,
perfection in corset making is simply not possible.
Fabrics ease and stretch over time, bodies swell and
shrink, bloat and slim down. Waistlines become more or
less toned or "squishy." If you want perfection,
perhaps you best not order a corset made of fabric and
by human hands. A corset made to close at 24" when
worn closed in back, should measure 25" or more even
up to 26" over the corset, because as noted above, a corset is always
one inch (more or less) tighter under the corset and
because it is difficult to get a corset absolutely
closed at the waistline. Steel and fabric layers add
girth. Thus, it's always wise to expect the waistline
measurement to be close -- but not spot on--
to the measurement you wanted it to close in back when
laced shut. Variation is a necessary part of the
imperfect art and science of corset construction.
Q.6. It seems that my corset does not come down
far enough on my torso? Could I have mis-measured or it
be made wrong?
A. Likely not (especially if you have had a muslin fitting).
Since a new corset is usually stiff, even
it will tend to "ride up" on the torso and end by
above the natural waistline.
You may then find that your
tummy is not well covered. The corrective technique is
to lean to one side, grasp the opposite edge of the corset and
as you stretch gently your ribs, pull downward on the corset.
Reverse the process. Then grasp the very center bottom of
the corset and gently pull downward a bit.
This will tend to seat the corset
at your proper waistline, cover the lower tummy,
and improve the fit considerably.
We call this the "lean-pull" or "lean-forward" process. You will likely need
to repeat this process several times during a full day's wear,
as any corset and especially a new one, will tend to
creep upward on the torso.
Q.7. As I lace my new corset on, the bottom edge in
front kind of "pops" out away from my body. I wanted to
know if this is normal during the breaking in period?
A. Yes and no. There are at least four
that this issue might surface as you wear your corset.
First, each corset maker chooses different strengths of fabric,
interfacing and boning, and utilizes different patterning
and construction preferences that result in more of a
straight-front corset (typical of the Edwardian corset
in the early 1990s), or more of a curved-all-around-the-
body shape (typical of the classic Victorian corset in
the late 1800s). Second, the corset style chosen also
results in different body curvature. Third, the tighter
you lace down, the more you move waistline flesh in, up
and down. Thus, over time if you don't lose weight,
you will increase the flesh below your waistline as
you lace tighter and it might push the lower edge outward.
Fourth, full-figure clients may note
this issue sooner than slim figure clients.
Specifically toning the transverse muscle (across the
lower belly under the belly button) will effectively
address this issue. You might consider purchasing and
reading Chapter 8
our Corset Magic book, or our recommended 2016 updated book, our exercise chapter that
addresses effective exercises to tone the transverse
Seasoning your corset may also help reduce its initial
stiffness as fabric eases and boning molds to your body.
Also. you will be able to draw the bottom back edge
closer together over time, pulling the front busk inward
and moving the tummy flesh inward as well.
There are a few other tips in our books on how
to address this issue during the seasoning process,
including wearing a body briefer over the corset to push
the lower busk edge in closer to the body underneath
Q.8. In general how long will one corset last if you
wear it 5-6 days a week for long periods of time?
A. The rule of thumb is: Wear a well-made custom corset
in suitable fabric for waist-training, 24/7 at a 4"
reduction and it will wear out in 1-1.5 yrs. Other than
that general rule, it is impossible to say
The answer depends on the following factors, among
others: (1) how well you take care of your corset;
(2) how little or much you wash or dry clean it
(wear it over a tube top to protect it from
body oils); (3) whether you season it properly when you
first receive it; (4) whether you rotate it with other
corsets in your wardrobe, thus reducing stress on any
given corset; (5) how much you lace down from your
normal waistline and how long you wear it at that
level; (6) whether you tie the ribbons in front
(that rubs the fabric) or in back; (7) the nature and
quality of the fabric both outer and lining;
(8) whether the corset has waist tape or not;
(9) whether the corset fabric is bonded, or the corset
is interfaced; (10) the nature of the thread and the
seaming used; (11) the number and thickness of bone
casings (single?, double?,
triple?, and quadruple? Bones laid side-by-side, or
even one bone on top of another, will strengthen the
corset); (12) standard 5/8"-wide busk made of
spring steel? or 1"-wide busk, spoon busk, or wedge busk
made of stiff stainless steel, which adds to quality and
Q.9. I've been wearing my corset full-time for some
months, and note that a bone has poked through the
bottom edge in front. Can you repair it for me? I also
notice that the edges of the shoelace lacing cord has
slightly frayed. What does this mean regarding quality?
A. I'm not too sure what you mean by "full time wear" or
precisely how many months you have been wearing your corset.
The more days you wear your corset and the
longer hours each day, the more stress will be placed on
the garment, fabric, and stitching. Some evidence
of wear will appear once you begin to lace down four or
more inches and wear it six or more hours at a time, for
days or months on end.
Moreover, over time the bones
will begin to push down and up in their casing as they bend
inward at the waist to conform to your body.
Additionally, the fabric will tend
to want to move or "bunch" a little bit toward the
waistline. Eventually, the bone although plastic tipped,
may cut through some stitches securing the binding, or the
binding fabric itself, and
work its way out. You are correct as soon as you notice
this matter, to have it repaired, which is quite simple
and very inexpensive to do. We observe from the image
you sent, substantial bending of the bones at your
waistline, and can see that you have well seasoned the
corset by now, thus, the bone matter is not that unusual
Please note as to bone length, that there is a judgment
call to be made. If bones are cut
too long, they may soon cut binding stitches. If too short,
the bottom binding of the corset will tend to turn up
and wrinkle. Neither is a good result, however some
compromise must be made. Your corset maker has many
years of experience and undoubtedly used her best
professional judgment in selecting your corset's bone
Sometime clients report that bones cut through the actual
fabric of the binding, and not the stitching. Binding is
easily replaced, and Sheri and Ann will only recommend and use
suitable fabrics for durable corsets.
As for the lacing cord, each maker chooses the kind of
lacing she desires to use. Sheri uses the sturdy poly shoelace=like
cording. We find that most all types of lacing are
strong and except in rare cases, provide no
Sheri uses double-sided
grommets that are smooth both front and back, and we use
the best quality of shoelace-like lacing cord, please check
grommets to ensure that one side has not come off or loose
and may be cutting the cord. Also, over time, wearing
a corset underneath clothing can rub fabric around the
grommets and the cord to fray both, but this should not
happen until after substantial wear. Changing to a new
lacing cord is a minor expense and inconvenience; you
may order lacing cords or ribbons