April 13, 2009

What is a Corset Winch

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Client’s Question:
“This might be an odd question, but I’ve noticed that a lot of old vintage corsets have this hook type metal fitting in the front near front busk opening . What is that for?”

Period Corsets Answers:
“The metal hook you are referring to is called a winch. It possibly came into fashion when modern factories made corsets for the working woman. It was an innovation that allowed a woman to tighten up her corset more easily by herself without a dresser. As she pulled the laces tight she would cross them in the back and bring them around to the front. She could wrap the lace loops around the winch to hold them taught so that they would not give while she wiggled the corset tighter. (Something like a cleat for sailors pulling in a line or being on belay for a rock climber.) She could tie it off on the winch and let the laces hang down without creating a big knot at the waist, as the winch was located somewhere below the waist line. During the day the laces might loosen as she worked. But the winch also allowed her to adjust the tension of the laces throughout the work day."


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