Lockdown, Locking Corsetry And Punishment Corsets

Close up of locking corsetry

Something has become very apparent to me over lockdown. It announced itself with tentative emails from new clients, most of whom were complete newcomers to corsetry as well as to my door. These weren’t practical daily wear corsets they were seeking either- questions about elaborate locking corsetry, punishment corsets and decadent fetish pieces came up again and again. As these clients began to explain their stories, and talk about what had lead them to finally making contact after a life of curiosity, I realised we had all been given a bit of a wake up call.

lose up of cupped overbust

When our routines and our plans and our security were summarily cancelled a few months ago, some of us took a look at ourselves in this new hush we found ourselves in. We began to question why we’d been denying ourselves things that held our hearts so fast. I don’t want to seem glib here, as I know that for some of my clients, corsets are something fun that they indulge in, and there have been serious hardships and sacrifices made during this crisis. However I also know from nearly 14 years of working with trans clients, crossdressers and fetishists that corsets can be a part of a deeply fulfilling practice of self actualisation and acknowledging a part of themselves that is absolutely vital to their well-being and happiness.

Close up of locking buckles

The frank and open conversations I was having with these new clients kept returning to emotions, to roots of this long held passion or self knowledge in childhood- seeing a particular actress on stage or a style of nostalgic dress that has fascinated them for a lifetime. And yet, those dreams have been subdued for years, put to one side in order to fulfil other people’s requirements from them, or perhaps from trepidation of the unknown. However, this catastrophic shock to the system in whole and our lives in particular has left us reeling, and questioning something simple and profound of our secret hearts. If not now, then when?

sketches for locking corsetry

I would also add that something I frequently hear from my fetishist clients is how this other world they build for themselves (or with a partner) is pure immersive escapism, and how during times of stress it can be a refuge to open a drawer full of transportive garments and items. How the touch of certain materials is enough to push away a hard day or the smell of leather change a mindset. One client calls his corset from me “a holiday in a box!” It strikes me that there can never have been a time so fitting to have the means at home with which to lose oneself so completely.

 

There was one hurried video I published to YouTube back in January that seemed to be the siren call to all these new enquiries. It was a commission from late 2019 featuring a locking punishment corset for a male client, with locking panels inspired by a Edwardian bathing corset! You can see it here-

Something about this corset has really captured imaginations, or possibly just a new audience as I’ve tried to reach out through this new platform a little more. It was so commonly referenced in new enquiries that I started to keep a tally! The thing is, I’ve been so eager to work on corsetry like this and had come to believe that there wasn’t really much demand at the level I work at. These pieces are seriously labour intensive (my most recent commission used 20 metres of steel boning which all had to be individually cut and tipped into around 60 bones) and there is an unavoidable cost attached to this. Not to mention that I really dream of working on locking corsetry with an opulent, couture approach, which makes the process even more exclusive. Working with exquisite French lace, lovingly handstitched to jewel toned, gleaming silks- the juxtaposition of delicacy and luxurious indulgence against a hard working and well engineered fetish corset.

I’ve been delighted to find not only imaginative, creative clients through this process, but also some who share my vision for blending a detailed and lavish aesthetic with sleek locking mechanisms, so there will certainly be some exciting pieces to show you in the coming weeks and months! but in the meantime, here is a second video of a different style of locking corsetry, fully removing access to the lacing and fastenings. I’m fascinated by the subtleties involved in making these deeply personal pieces- every tiny decision has a lot of thought and intention behind it.

Another interesting note is that most of my new commissions have needed to be built for self locking! Either because the client plans to use it entirely unaided, or because they are sometimes away from their partner and need to be able to follow orders remotely. I will be releasing another video soon showing how to self lock your corset if this is of interest to you! However I have also been looking into some very interesting technology that could play a part for couples using our locking corsetry! Watch this space!

If you have questions about your own locking corsetry commission then please feel welcome to contact us.

Summer Tightlacing And Stealthing

stealthing silk mesh corset

I think really, every corset aficionado ends up needing a good stealthing corset to call on! It’s like the “little black dress” of your foundation wear. No doubt you will have more showstopping pieces in your collection, but knowing that underneath the pile of lace and satin and strappy bits tangled up in each other is your reliable, comfortable, discreet old friend who just happens to reveal a killer figure at a moment’s notice? That’s priceless.

If stealthing is new to you, panic not! It just means that you’re wearing your corset under your clothes without showing any signs of it to the muggles! So any onlooker just thinks you’re naturally blessed with graceful curves, unassisted by any crafty devices. Typically speaking a corset designed for stealthing will be of light construction with a few extra considerations to help it blend in under your clothing.

As we come into Summer I do find a spike in interest for a) light corsets for warm weather tightlacing and b) corsets that can be discreetly hidden under a stunning outfit for a wedding or party. The great news is that we can solve these problems for you, and the solution is not only practical, but really rather charming! Unfussy, well designed luxury is something we can never tire of.

For our standard size customers we have a ready made solution in our Eirlys waspie, made in silk or cotton mesh and delicately constructed but still offering a sensuous 4″ waist reduction! I could tell you more but it just so happens that I made a video that should answer all your questions.

For our bespoke clients we can develop this style further to meet different needs- the essential elements of silk or cotton mesh with zip fastening and light lacing cord can be brought to full coverage underbust styles, built to blend in at the bra line for a perfectly smooth seamless finish. Perhaps an overbust style to support the bust in a special dress! Combined with our careful attention to fit and designing especially for the unique needs of each body, these simple but hardworking components can create results that you will turn to time and time again when you need your figure (and not the garment) to be centre stage.

Cotton mesh corset stealthing

 

If you feel the heat, these pieces are also your perfect companion- natural fibres allow your skin to breathe and don’t increase perspiration like some man-made fibres can. The honeycomb mesh structure also allows air flow so heat doesn’t build up under your corset! It’s the closest you can get to a corset that you can forget completely about once you’ve put it on!

If I’ve piqued your interest then do get in touch for more information, there is a wealth of solutions to your tightlacing needs, and Summer doesn’t need to slow you down!

Measuring For A Bespoke Overbust Corset

Meriel Overbust with black lace

Before you begin

Taking accurate measurements at home can be easily achieved by following the golden rules.

 – Never measure yourself- always ask a friend or partner to help.

 – Always be honest- no breathing in!

 – Take your time

 – If in doubt- measure again.

Pick the time you choose to take measurements carefully, make sure you are not at a stage in your menstrual cycle that will distort your results, and measure between meals, so you are neither larger nor smaller than your average size.

It is useful to measure wearing the sort of underwear or clothing you would typically be wearing the corset with or over. For instance, if you are intending to wear your corset over a shirt or blouse, measure over a blouse style that is common to your wardrobe, or ensure that you are wearing the style of bra that you usually buy. If the corset is intended for underwear, measure up in your underwear.

 Be sure to wear a good fitting bra! The position of the underwire will help you get accurate length measurements as well as support the breast into the best position for your measurements.

If you are asked for front half measurements for bust and hip please wear a tight fitting vest/ t shirt where the side seam sits straight and even on you. If you don’t have one you can draw this line on carefully with eyeliner.

What you will need

New measuring tape (they can stretch over time) preferably a narrow one, around 1cm wide.

A 12” ruler

Masking tape OR a kohl eyeliner and make-up wipes

Paper and a pen

 

Step 1- Lengths below the waist

**Words in bold are measurements for you to note down on your sheet**

We start with these length measurements because we will need them for mapping the body in the next step. Please start by marking your natural waist with masking tape/ kohl liner. Your waist is the gap between floating ribs and hip bones, usually the narrowest part of the torso. Sit in an upright chair like a dining chair and look straight ahead.

First measure down from your marked waist point down into the middle of your lap for waist to lap while seated. This is where the corset will end and must be short enough for you to sit comfortably. Our example is 15cm/ 6″.

Next take a ruler or a thin chopping board and lay it across your lap. Measure from the waist down to this point for waist to tops of thighs while seated. This measurement should be shorter than waist to lap or around the same. This measurement tells us how short the corset must be mid centre front to avoid digging in when you sit down. Our example is 12.5cm/ 5″

Mapping the body

You can stand up now!

Next mark on all the points we need to measure with masking tape or kohl liner, starting with the underbust. This should be just under the underwire of your bra if you are wearing one, or at the base of the breast tissue/ pectoral muscle.

Next up is the hip bone. This is the first swell of the hip below the waist, usually around 7.5cm /3″ below your marked waist.

After this mark your hips at “waist to tops of thighs” level by checking your measurement you just took for waist to tops of thighs while seated. Our example was 5″ so our next mark is placed around the body 5″ below the waist. If your waist to tops of thighs length was 4″, place your mark around the body 4″ below the waist.

If you are having an hourglass cut corset (follows the curve of the ribs) you must also make your mark for the mid ribs. This is halfway between your underbust and waist tapes. For instance if there is 5″ between your underbust and waist marks, place this new mid rib mark at 2.5″. Measure it so it’s accurate.

You are now ready to mark on your centre bust, place your mark over the fullest part of the breast, usually around the nipple and be careful to keep the tape level at the back.

After this comes the overbust marker, place high up under the arms and above the swell of the breasts.

Lastly, if you are taking “front half” measurements and you are not wearing a vest with a straight side seam as suggested, mark on your side line now.

You are now ready to take your measurements!

Measuring circumferences

We will start with your overbust measurement. You want the tape snug but not digging in and it’s best to be between breaths- not breathing in and not breathing out for a relaxed measurement.

Repeat for centre bust, underbust, mid ribs, natural waist, hip bone and hips at “waist to tops of thighs” level. You may notice I’m using a narrower tape measure for the hips- this is because it is more accurate on very curvy areas!

Front half measurements

We ask for these to better understand how the measurements you just took are balanced on your body- for instance if your hips are fuller at your buttocks than at the side! Measure the front half of each measurement from side seam to side seam. These sizes should be roughly half of your original measurement, so for instance if your underbust was 30″ we might expect your front half underbust to be 13.5″.

Measure front half overbust, front half centre bust, half underbust, front half mid rib, front half hip bone and front half hips at “waist to tops of thighs” level.

Body lengths

We now check the lengths between each measurement. Measure from underbust to waist, mid ribs to waist, and waist to hip bone (around 7.5cm on most people) We already have your length from waist to tops of thighs while seated from earlier on.

Next we take some more specific bust measurements- underbust to nipple and underbust to top of sweetheart curve which is measured over the nipple to the highest desired point of the corset over the breast

 

Nipple to nipple and underbust to overbust, this is measured over the curve of the breast.

You can also give us your cross cup measurement which is taken over one breast side to side, over the fullest part, and your desired length from waist to top of corset at the centre of the body.

Last but not least, we want your waist to underarm measurement! This is the highest point of the corset under the arm, and is measured up the side of the body. Check that it won’t be too high by holding a ruler against your body at this point and clamping your arm against it. Take your nape to waist by bending your head forward to find the top of your spine- measure down from this point to your waist.

We now have the main measurements for your corset!

There is a lot to think about when ordering a bespoke corset but we are here to help! If you are struggling please email beth@orchidcorsetry.co.uk and we can advise you on how to get the best results.

Quarantine, Business As Usual, And How You Can Support Us.

Well. What a strange time to share with you. For those of you who are in quarantine (most of us across the world I suppose!) I send soul hugs. we are social animals and it’s so poignant to be left avoiding our loved ones for their own safety. It’s also a worrying time for us all financially, as we look at an indeterminate period ahead of us where our working lives are uncertain. I am counting myself as very fortunate that for the last two years I have been working from my home studio, with everything I need around me to be creative and productive, even if quarantine measures are tightened further in the UK.

I have been truly touched by the number of new and old clients who have been in touch with orders, checking in on me and also confirming that they are still going ahead with their planned commissions, so I thought it would be worth letting you all know how things are working here, and what may change as this situation develops.

Close up of colour blocked corset

 

I hope it goes without saying that all expected safety precautions are being taken very seriously here during quarantine, we are still able to help with fittings and measuring by video call but are no longer welcoming visitors to the studio. I am social distancing and keeping the work area clean. Current advice suggests that the coronavirus can survive for 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic so although our mail services have lots of safety measures in place you may wish to consider leaving packages somewhere safe for these periods before enjoying them and washing hands thoroughly after receipt.

Despite the quarantine I am still running my business as normal- I have all equipment needed to work on your orders and my main supplier also works from home so is suffering no interruption to business. I do have reserves in my supplies but the main thing looking to the future is what restrictions may be placed on mail services. I will keep everyone informed on this front but at present we are able to serve you much as we always have!

Your orders have never been more welcome as we try to weather this storm. I know that many of our supporters are not in a position to spend money on a new corset right now but if you did want to help us here are a list of our products from £10-£50!

£10- Gift Vouchers We offer digital gift voucher codes so even if the mail is interrupted in your area we can still send these to you for last minute gifts!

gift vouchers

£25- Chokers. Our Aures tassel choker has been proving really popular lately! We also have our classic Trinity choker which is simple and elegant, adding a minimalist edge to any outfit. There is one last limited edition Betsi choker left in our ready to ship section as well!

 

£25- Corset storage bag. Available with custom finishes to match your corsets! These are the perfect way to keep your beautiful corset protected and hung neatly in the wardrobe without damage from hangers. You can even pop a little lavender or a few rose petals in so they come out beautifully scented!

£30-£35- Suspenders. We sell sets of 20mm wide or 30mm wide suspenders which can be made to hook on or clip onto your corset! There are some lovely colours available and gold or silver hardware to choose for most options.

£35- £40- Harnesses. I just love how these can be used to style up an outfit! Our Regate harness has a simple lariat style and comes in 4 colourways. Our Morgan harness has a more layered look and comes in ivory or black.

£40- Valour lace mask. Available in three different lace colours, this delicate mesh mask is the ultimate boudoir accompaniment! A little baroque finishing touch to your ensemble.

£50- Branwen garters. These are one of our newest additions, and though we have 3 colours on offer we can source custom colours for these glorious strappy accessories!

Thankyou so much. If you are unable to buy with us at this time please keep interacting with our social media (we’re still suffering under Instagram and Facebook’s puritanical approach to lingerie!) and sharing our posts with your friends, helping small businesses stay visible is a huge part of staying strong right now! Quarantine is such an important tool in fighting this sickness and we all need to stick together in helping it be effective so keep listening to the latest advice and please be careful of any popular articles being shared on Facebook that haven’t come from official channels. There is so much misinformation but if something is TRULY effective in preventing infection you can bet it will be on our major news channels first!

Corsetry Q&A Video, And Our New YouTube Channel!

Image credit- Sinopa Rin shot by Francis Kinsella

For some time, I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to do a corsetry Q&A session. I know from conversations with new clients that a lot of the same questions come up regularly, which suggests the information isn’t easy to find online. I have tried to cover a lot of popular topics in this blog but not everyone has the time to trawl through years worth of posts seeking their answers! (incidentally I do have a corset information hub at the footer of the website- do click here for a nice summary of links you might find useful!)

I had also pledged to do more with video for the business this year as I know I’ve neglected it in the past- so, long story short, we now have a YouTube channel! It’s very new so your support is especially appreciated, you can subscribe here if you’re feeling generous!

Silk underbust corset with suspenders, corsetry Q&A

So, feeling a little like the new kid at school, I asked what you wanted to know about corsetry in general, my work in particular, and anything else you had a burning question about! I was so overjoyed at the response, and had a lot of fun answering your insightful queries. Some of you who know me a little better will know I’m fairly techno-phobic so learning to edit video has been a real learning curve. Added into the mix were seemingly endless technology issues from a broken data transfer cable, to the limitations of my smartphones video capacity, and a sudden loss of internet for days at a crucial moment! There was plenty of colourful language and self medicating with chocolate biscuits.

I have some ideas for the next few videos but I’d really love to hear from you if there’s something you’d like me to focus on in future. I want to talk to you in more depth about the tools I work with, walk you around some of our most popular corset styles in the shop, some instructional videos on self lacing and measuring for a corset perhaps! But please contact us if you have any ideas.

Well, without further ado, here’s Orchid’s first corsetry Q&A! It’s very long so in the comments I’ve listed times each new question starts, so you can fast forward to where you want to be.

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