Trevette asked a wonderful question today that I have been asked before several times, so thought I would share my answer to her with you all~
Rachael, dear, I hope this finds you having a lovely day.
I'm writing to ask a big favor. Would you mind writing me about what happens to the two ends of the ribbon when you lace up stays? I mean I know only one ribbon shows on the front but it looks like you do end up at bottom with the two ends of the ribbon, so I'm wondering, what happens in the back?
In my head I can imagine a possible way , but not sure it would hold together or hold stays straight.
I went back and read your marvelous post and exquisite photos about making Marguarite's beautiful corset and want to say a huge thank you again for all the wonderful and generous information and photos you give about doll clothing construction.
Please forgive me if this is asking too much. All my very best to you, Trevette
This is a good question Trevette~ there are numerous ways to lace up a corset, and these vary even more, on the period, type of corset or stays being laced, and if the wearer is dressing themselves, or having someone else help them. I have shown a picture of Grete in her stays, and how they are laced up the back, this is the most common, very simple way using a SINGLE stay lace, very long. It is laced up one side, ever OTHER hole, turned at the top, and laced down the other side. Care is taken to leave a long tail on the front end of the lace, so when you come back down, with your leftover end now, you have and end hanging to tie a pretty bow. Then both ends and the bow knot will be at the bottom back of the corset, and these are simply tucked up under the back. If there is alot hanging, I wrap this in a little coil before I tuck it up under to keep all nice and tidy.
Now if you will also notice, I have drawn two loops at center back~ if you were a person dressing yourself, this is how you would lace your stays~ you will have a single LONG lace, with a knot directly at one end. You will lace up one side, every other hole like before, turn at the top and come back down the other side, only this time, you will tie your lace in a knot at its end, after all is laced thru. Now at the center back, you will pull out two loops of lacing, like I have drawn, of equal amounts, with both knots and ends of your lace at the very bottom of the stays. You will leave a few inches of a gap, so you can easily step into your stays/corset, and slide it on. Once in the proper position around your waist, you will grab these loops, the one on the right with your right hand, one on left with your left hand, and PULL them forward directly out in front of you, this will tighten the corset on both sides, top to bottom all at the same time. But there is a trick to it! (You will take the right loop in the picture above, across the BACK of the corset's LEFT side, and around to the front where you will grab it with your right hand, and same with the other side)There is usually enough lace length to wrap around the waist once or even twice, and tie in the front in a little bow. Once the petticoat is on, the knot is tucked beneath the waistband to conceal. I hope this makes sense :)
This is a great working illustration of why the invention of the front metal busk was so important and innovative in its day~ a woman could have someone lace the corset in the back and knot it off~ permanently. She was then free to get in and out of it by simply opening and closing the front busk~ no more strings everywhere!