Ribbon Corset: Take 1

So I’ve been pottering around with/obsessing endlessly over ribbon corsets for a while now. They seem simple enough, but there are funny structural things going on especially in the pattern I used from Jill Salen’s Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques. This first one I made was made on the exact assumption seen here, namely that the ribbon pieces can be laid out flat together to form a single front and a back panel. This technique works well enough, but on my second attempt (yes, there is a Take 2) it turns out that if the pattern and the overlaps are followed exactly, the panels can’t lie flat. It appears that the ribbons are supposed to curve in such a way that it is moulded around the body, rather than a flat piece that takes all its shape from the curves where the pieces come together. This would also make for a tighter cinch like the one seen in the picture in Salen’s book.  But more on that later. For now, here is my first attempt at the 1900 ribbon corset!

Purple satin ribbon corset with black lace trimmings.

The cinch from the front is not as dramatic as it can be. There is also some weirdness going on along the bottom edge where the side panels don’t form  a smooth line with the front and the back panel. This is the first sign that something is amiss with my interpretation of this pattern.

I made this corset in a hurry so had no time to order the proper materials like a split busk or even steel bones. Instead I improvised by making the corset with a closed front, and  used – wait for it – hacksaw blades to fortify the busk.

Hacksaw Blades

They were the right shape and size, exactly as bendy as spring steels and were lying round the house in great abundance…so I cleaned them and wrapped them in masking tape and voila! A corset that can saw a man in half!

Purple satin ribbon corset with black lace trimmings.

I like this picture. The curve of the back is quite dramatic and any awkward flab displacement is kept to a minimum…or else masked by my makeshift chemise/top.

Purple satin ribbon corset.

Now here is some more weirdness worth mentioning: I left the ribbons loose top to bottom, but added a lining at the back. This means that any flexibility gained by not joining the ribbons is completely destroyed by the flat and rigid lining, that has, might I add, no shape to it whatsoever. *facepalm* Not my brightest structural move.

Black lace detail on purple satin ribbon corset.

Some pretty detail.

Black lace detail on purple satin ribbon corset.

Some more detail.

All in all, I have to say that I am not very pleased. The shape is weird. The corset has no busk which makes it a pain to put on. The workmanship is shoddy at best and does not hold up to close inspection. It has pieces of hacksaw in it.

Still, I think it will look just dandy if I wear it to Madam Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams next week!