I touched on mockups in a recent post about made to measure corsetry. A mockup (also called a toile) is a prototype used to test the fit of a corset or other garment. So what specifically does the mockup do for you?
When talking about "custom" corsets, a mockup is the difference between regular made to measure service and fully bespoke. Bespoke fit corsets are made not just based on measurements but also include intermediate fittings before the "real" corset is made in final fabric. (Some makers may sell mockup service as an add-on to MTM corsetry rather than explicitly giving it the bespoke name... the vernacular can vary from one corsetiere to another.)
If you're buying a "custom" corset because your measurements aren't standard fit, fully bespoke service accommodates for the fact that the way you compress and displace maybe isn't standard either. You might squish more, or less, in certain places than is typical. Or your flesh redistributes in a specific way – more upward squish than outright compression, for example. That's why just taking your measurements and applying them to a standardized formula sometimes produces... underwhelming results.
There's also a certain risk of user error in taking measurements, especially if you're providing your own. Several common problems include:
- The act of taking your measurements can distort them, especially with vertical measurements
- The clothing you wear can throw off the accuracy (for example, a tight bra band can change your underbust measurement)
- The measuring tape itself must be perfectly level all the way around when taking circumference or horizontal measurements, otherwise the measurement will be different
So, a mockup provides an opportunity to correct flawed measurements.
But even if the corset measurements are technically correct, that doesn't guarantee that they are balanced for your body. This is why people can have extremely similar measurements but fit very differently into the same corset. The overall dimension is only part of the story: how it's distributed is the difference between comfort and pain. For example, I often find myself moving rib and chest fullness from the front and side of the body to the back. This matches my narrow, naturally rectangular rib cage shape as well as my scoliosis-curved spine and tilted-back shoulders, rather than forcing me to hunch forward into my corsets.
A mockup also gives your maker the opportunity to refine the style lines. They may move seams for a variety of reasons, such as:
- aesthetic appeal – either making a more beautiful line or artfully using the seams to dramatize shape (a low-key optical illusion)
- supporting the fabric – seam and bone placement can be key to minimizing wrinkles in the finished corset (typically seen as whiskering around the waist or front hips of a corset)
- accommodating for underlying anatomy – moving a seam to avoid having it lay atop bony landmarks or major nerves
- accommodating the angles of your posture – matching the curve of your spine or the invisible "side seam" of your body
Most importantly, a mockup gives you the opportunity to communicate feedback to your corsetiere before they create the finished piece. Any of the above and more is fair game, and the more communicative you are, the better. That's a two-way street, though – your corsetmaker will be aware of the needs and limitations of the style. You hired them for their expertise, after all!
As you can see, the relatively simple concept of using a mockup to test fit actually covers quite a lot of scenarios and needs! A mockup fitting (or two or three) makes a huge difference in the end result of a custom corset.
Do you have any bespoke corsets? What did you think of the mockup fitting process?