Measuring for a Custom Corset

I always prefer to measure corset customers myself were possible. However, since this isn’t always possible, I’ve created this guide to help my corset customers measure themselves as accurately as possible.

There’s lots of individual measurements involved in making a corset, and to ensure the best fit possible, it is essential these are taken accurately. As such, you may find it helpful to get a friend to assist you, especially since you’ll need to take some accurate measurements on the back of your body.


BEFORE YOU BEGIN

There’s a few things you can do to make your measurements the most accurate they can be. These are:

  • Wear form-fitting clothing. The absolute best way to measure for a corset, as with a bra, is with as little clothing between your body and the tape measure as possible. It’s best to wear a close-fitting vest or t-shirt while measuring.
  • Wear a well-fitting, unpadded bra. This will ensure your bust is where it ‘should’ be – or rather, where it will be in your corset. It’s imperative there’s no padding, as this will give a false measurement for the bust circumference (as you don’t wear your bra under your corset).
  • Mark your waist. Since the waist is used as a landmark, many people find it helpful mark their waist. The best way to do this is to use a length of elastic, string, or even a very narrow waist belt. Tie this around your middle, flush to your body but NOT too snug or squeezing the flesh, and flex from side to side to allow it to settle on your natural waist. For reference, your natural waist is roughly level with your elbows when you hold your arms relaxed at the side of your body.
  • Mark other major landmarks. Grab a roll of masking tape and use small pieces to mark these points as you go:
    • Bust line (one the side of your body)
    • Underbust line (on the side of your body)
    • Rib line (on the side of your body)
    • High Hip line (on the side of your body)
    • Low Hip line (on the side of your body)
    • Side Seam
    • Top cup (for all overbusts)
    • Hip Arch (sit down on a hard surface and mark, on your tummy, where your thigh rises to)
    • High Back
    • Centre Front
    • Centre Back
  • Grab a calculator. To help make your corset as accurately as possible, The Little Blue Gem uses a complex pattern drafting system which breaks down simple circumference measurements – like the full size of your waist – into front and back measurements called Arcs. This is because humans aren’t perfectly symmetrical all over, so these arc measurements allow us to distribute the measurements of the corset more accurately to you. The best way to ensure that these measurements are correct is to measure one, usually the front, then mathematically find the other. For example, for your bust arcs, you should first measure from the centre front point on the bust line to the side seam. Next, halve your full bust circumference, then subtract your front bust arc from the result; this is your back bust arc. To put it simply, your front and back arc measurements, added together, should be exactly half of your circumference measurements.
    So someone with a 100cm full bust with a 30cm front bust arc will have a 20cm back arc; 30 + 20 = 50, and 50 x 2 = 100.

TAKING THE MEASUREMENTS

Stand up straight, but relaxed – don’t slouch, but don’t stand rigidly to attention! Ensure that your waist marker is parallel to the floor. Take all measurements with the tape flush to your body, NOT compressing the flesh at all – it should be snug but not tight.

Record all measurements in centimetres and millimetres – even though corsets are generally sized by waist size in inches, we use centimetres for pattern drafting as we find this produces more accurate results.

There’s also a diagram at the bottom of this page that should help you locate the correct area for your measurements!

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Overbusts Only:
The following measurements should be taken for ALL overbusts.

  • Full Bust Circumference (1)
    Run the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust, over your nipples. The tape measure should be parallel to the floor and your waist marker.

    • Full Bust Arcs – Front & Back (1a & 1b)
      Measure from the centre front point on the bust line to the side seam; this is your front bust arc. Next, halve your full bust circumference, then subtract your front bust arc from the result; this is your back bust arc.
  • Compressed Bust Circumference (1c)
    Run the tape around your full bust again, but this time, cross your hands over your chest and lightly compress your breasts. Take this measurement like this; this is your compressed bust measurement. If you’re wearing a good bra, this may not be much different.

    • Compressed Bust Arcs – Front & Back (1c & 1d)
      The same as for regular bust arcs, but in the compressed bust position.
  • Point to Point (2)
    Simply put, this is the distance between your nipples.
  • Point to Top Cup (3)
    Measure from the point of your bust to where you’d like the top of the cup to rest.
  • Underbust to Point (4)
    This measurement is particularly important for cupped corsets, but it necessary for all overbusts. Measure from the root of the breast, over the curve of your flesh to the point. As always, the tape measure should be snug but not tight, and ideally, you should take this measurement in the compressed bust position.

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Cupped Overbusts Only:
Take these two measurements only if your corset is an overbust with bra cups.

  • Cup Width (5)
    Place the tap flush to your body, against your chest bone, between your breasts. Measure across the fullest part of your bust, keeping the tape flush but not compressing the skin, to the side of your body where the your bust meets your ribs. This is easy to find on fuller figures, it will be roughly where the breast tissue forms a crease; however on smaller busts it may be much harder to find. If in any doubt, no matter your side, put on a good fitting bra and measure from the centre of your chest, over the cup, to the underwire on the other side.
  • Underwire Length (6)
    Measure from the centre front of your body with the tape flush to your chest again, but this time run the tape around the underside of your breast and up to where the underwire should finish. Again, you may find this easier in a properly fitting bra as you can simply measure the length of the bra’s underwire!

As an additional note, the point you measure these two figure from will be where the top of your busk should sit on a cupped corset!

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For All Corsets (except Waspies):
Take these measurements no matter what style your corset is.

  • Underbust Circumference (7)
    Take this measurement directly below the root of your breasts, around the rib cage. Keep the tape parallel with your waist tape, and hold it loosely enough to allow the tape to slide on itself – breathe in and let the tape measure expand. The result is your measurement. Note that you should avoid taking in exaggerated or very deep breaths as this will make the result bigger than it should be – just breathe normally.

    • Underbust Arcs – Front & Back (7a & 7b)
      As for the overbust arcs in the overbust corset section, the best way to ensure accuracy here is to determine one of these measurements, and then use maths to determine the other. For best results, keep your measurements to the same ‘line’ you measured the circumference on, and measure the front arc from the centre front just below your breast bone to the side seam. To determine the back arc, divide the full underbust circumference by 2 then subtract the front arc.
  • Low Rib Circumference (8)
    This is the circumference around the bottom of your ribcage. Keep the tape parallel to your waist tape and measure, as always, snugly but not tightly. Some people will be able to feel the lowest edge of your ribcage; measure around your body at this point. As a guide, though, this point will be roughly halfway between your underbust line (7) and your natural waist (9). As for your underbust, breathe in normally and allow the tape to slide to fit; record this measurement.

    • Low Rib Arcs – Front & Back (8a & 8b)
      Again, measure from the centre front of your body to the side seam, on the low rib line. This is the front arc. Divide the full circumference of your low rib by two, then subtract the front arc to find the back arc.
  • Waist Circumference (9)
    This is your NATURAL WAIST. Follow the tips above for marking your waist and measure around this line, flush with the skin but not tightly.

    • Waist Arcs – Front & Back (9a & 9b)
      Measure the front arc from the centre front of your body to the side seam, on the waist line. Divide the full waist circumference by two then subtract the front arc to find the back arc.
  • Desired Waist (9c) and Reduction (9d)
    This measurement is included because some more advanced corset wearers may want a larger reduction than standard. As a rough guide, the vast majority of people can cinch down 2″-4″ (5cm-10cm) immediately, and this is what we consider a standard reduction. However, many people with fuller figures – who have softer, more pliable waists – find that this standard reduction doesn’t make much difference, and that a 6″-8″ (15cm-20cm) reduction is possible straight away. If you’d like some advice, please just drop us an email at thelittlebluegem@live.com!
  • High Hip Circumference (10)
    This is the measurement around the upper part of your pelvis – this is easy to find on thinner and athletic people, as you simply measure over the protruding points of the bone on your sides (the iliac crests). If you can’t see or feel these landmarks, however, this is usually about 5cm (2″) below the natural waist on most people. Keep the tape parallel to the ground.

    • High Hip Arcs – Front & Back (10a & 10b)
      On the same line as the circumference, measure first the front arc and then calculate the back arc, as you have done for all the other arc measurements – centre front to side seam is the front arc; half the circumference minus the front arc equals the back arc.
  • Low Hip Circumference (11)
    Measure around the fullest part of the buttocks and hips, keeping the tape measure parallel to the ground.

    • Low Hip Arcs – Front & Back (11a & 11b)
      Unlike the other arc measurements, you should determine the low hip arcs by first measuring the back arc – measure centre back to side seam for the back arc, then subtract this measurements from half the circumference to find the front arc.
  • Side Waist to Underbust (12)
    Take the tape from the waist marker up to the underbust line, on the side of your body.
  • Side Length (13)
    This measurement refers to the full side length of your body, rather than the side length of the corset, and can be determined by measuring from the waist marker up to where you’d find the bottom of the armhole on a shirt, on the side of your body.
  • Side Waist to High Hip (14)
    On most people this measurement is around 5cm (2″) on most people, however, it’s important to be accurate to your body, so you should take this measurement anyway. On the side of your body, measure from your waist marker down to your high hip line.
  • Side Waist to Low Hip (15)
    Again on the side of your body, measure from your waist marker down to your low hip line.
  • Waist to Top Thigh (16)
    Sit down on a firm surface and measure, on the front of your body, from the waist to the top of where you thigh rises to. This is your Hip Arch.
  • Busk Length (17)
    Measure the busk length down the centre front of your body. This will differ depending on the type of corset you’re ordering, as follows:

    • Cincher – measure from roughly halfway between your underbust and low rib lines down to halfway between your high and low hip lines
    • Underbust – measure from your underbust line to halfway between your high and low hip lines for an average length underbust; measure down to the level of your hip arch for any longline style.
    • Overbust & Victorian – measure from your full bust line to halfway between your high and low hip lines for average length; measure down to the level of your hip arch for any longline style.
    • Rococo – measure from your full bust line to halfway between your high and low hip lines.
  • Waist to Top Busk (18)
    Measure, on the centre front of the body, from the waist line up to the top of the busk. Use the same top point as in the busk length measurement.
  • Centre Back Length (19)
    Measure down the centre of your back how long you’d like your corset to be. This will be dependent on type of corset, as follows:

    • Cincher – from the low rib line down to halfway between high and low hip lines.
    • Underbust – from the underbust line down to halfway between the high and low hip lines. For longline corsets, measure to low hip line. For corset skirts, measure to where you’d like the skirt to finish. For high backs, measure from just below the shoulder blades.
    • Overbust – from just below the full bust line down to halfway between the high and low hip lines. For longline corsets, measure to low hip line. For corset dresses, measure to where you’d like the skirt to finish. For high backs, measure from between the shoulder blades.
    • Rococo – from the full bust line down to halfway between the high and low hip lines.
  • Waist to Top Back (20)
    Again on the centre back of your body, measure up from the waist to where the top of the back of your corset will sit. Use the top point of the previous measurement again.
  • Lacing Gap (21)
    If you’d like your corset to fully closed, please enter 0 as your figure. Otherwise, enter the width of the gap you’d like to wear your corset with. This will then be factored into the pattern. Most standard sized corsets are made to be worn with a 2″ / 5cm gap.

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For Waspies:
Waspies are short corsets that look more like a corseted belt than an actual corset. We need fewer measurements for these as they hardly cover your torso at all. If you’re ordering a waspie, please provide us with only the following measurements:

  • Low Rib circumference & arcs
  • Waist circumference & arcs
  • Desired Waist
  • High Hip circumference & arcs
  • Lacing Gap

DIAGRAMS

You may have noticed that all of the above measurements are labelled with a number. You can use these to find the same measurements on the diagrams below.

[full front and back]

[front overbust & cupped details]

[Busk lengths]

[centre back lengths]

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