Taking measurements for a corset can be a little daunting and confusing. Here's a quick rundown that will hopefully help next time you need your sizing information!
Corset makers and pattern producers often have their own ways of measuring for their garments (or instructions on how to measure yourself), so make sure you always check their instructions or FAQ for any specifics. Getting familiar with the measurements listed here is a good starting point for both corsets and a wider range of other clothing styles. If you've made clothing or bought a corset in the past, you're more than likely quite familiar with these measurements already, but it never hurts to go over the basics again!
This measurement should be taken at the fullest area of the bustline, which is usually across the nipples. Make sure the measuring tape stays straight across your back and doesn’t droop.
This measurement should be taken directly under the bust, usually where your bra band sits. If your bra has an underwire, you may want to remove the bra for this measurement.
Natural Waist Circumference
To find your natural waistline stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart. Lean to the side and put your finger where your torso bends. Do the same to the other side, and repeat until you are certain of the location. It may be a bit higher than you think!
When standing, lift your leg and place your finger just above where the leg articulates into the pelvis. Take the hip measurement at this height. It should be roughly 20cm down from the natural waist (+/- a little for tall or short people).
High-Hip Circumference (sometimes referred to as mid-hip)
The high hip is measured at roughly 10cm down from the natural waist, or halfway between the natural waist and hip.
Nape to waist (length)
Measured at the back. Measure from the base of your neck (where you can feel the first vertebra that sticks out) to the natural waistline. Get someone to help you with this measurement, and make sure that you are standing straight!
Waist to hip (length)
Measure from your natural waist level down to hip level. This measurement should sit around the 19-22cm range (roughly).
A quick little tip - once you establish your natural waist level, it can be SUPER helpful to tie a string/ribbon/piece of elastic around your waist as a consistent reference point. This is especially handy for the nape to waist and waist to hip measurements, as well as extra corset measurements such as the distance from the waist to the top/bottom edge.
For all measurements, the tape should be held snug, but not tight. When you've taken all the measurements, it can be a good idea to re-take them and check to make sure that you get the same numbers. If they differ in any way, take the measurements again until you get consistent numbers. This might take some extra time, but it's worth the effort to have a corset that fits correctly!
When ordering or making your corset, remember to pick a size smaller than your natural waist measurement! Every corset maker/corset style/pattern works a bit differently, so they will usually have recommendations for how much smaller you should order/make your corset. As a baseline, I recommend a 5-10cm (2-4inch) cinch, as well as a 5cm (2inch) lacing gap. Personally, I'm not squishy enough for a big cinch, so I tend to opt for a 6-7cm cinch and a 5cm lacing gap, meaning I have to take 11-12cm off my natural waist measurement to get my corset waist measurement.
I hope you find this post helpful, please feel free to comment with any further questions or extra tips that you might have!