Fan Lacing

Fan Lacing Recently, a client visited ROMANTASY for a personal consultation, and examined a sample rubber corset made by True Grace Corset Co., that also had fan lacing. He was intrigued, as was I the first time I actually saw this strange contraption. In designing this client's final 1912H corset, I entered upon some email conversations with the company's principal, Michael Garrod. Here are some drawings of fan laced corsets graciously provided by Mr. Garrod, followed by a few of his comments, explaining fan-lacing.(Please click on photos for larger view.) Fan Lacing

"Fan lacing by my company may be ordered in two ways: first, the client may choose one set or pair of laces that form a fan, each side with 12 individual lacing cords or laces leading into one fan or belt "pull" of 9 inches in length. Or, they may order two pairs or sets of fans, each with 8 individual lacing cords.

"If a client wishes 12" in length of the fan or belt "pull", then I would make up 16 pairs of laces and fan them as two pairs of 8.

"I cannot construct a "fan" with more than 16 pairs of laces. The reason is because more than 16 and the pull almost converts from horizontal which easily closed the back, to vertical! A vertical pull on laces will obviously not do much to close the back. The customer may also choose where to place the fan along the backside of the corset.

"In a typical example of a fan-laced corset, the normal single cord lacing is retained on the corset from the top edge to about 2" above the waist line, enabling the client to close the area around the rib cage with single lacing.

"The remainder below that, that is, the waist and down to the bottom hem, can be fan-laced.

"Another design may insert the fan lacing only at the waist line, say, 3" above the waist and 3" below. From 3" below the waist to the bottom hem can be single cord lacing, as at the top. In no case is it practical to insert a fan of less than 4" in width.

"However, customers should realize that you cannot tight lace with fan lacing, for the following reasons. First, you are pulling up to 12 individual cords simultaneously with the belt in front, not just one lace at a time. Thus, the capability of the joined laces is just not the same as the capability of an individual criss-crossed cord to pull snug.

"Second, each cord has three rows of stitching and in addition, the laces are glued into place over a limited length (less than one inch) and won't really respond to a strong pull or jerk as may be used to get the last few centimeters of a tight-lacing corset closed.

"In one example I retain in my workshop, the corset has a 2.5" gap in the back when fully opened. The pull straps or belt in front move 5" to close that gap. It is not practical to have more movement than this.

"Fan lacing, therefore, is not a shaping process such as occurs with single lace closing of a corset, but is rather a firming or gentle closing process."

Why would someone want to order fan-lacing? ROMANTASY had one customer who had limited hand and arm dexterity due to palsy, who also was leaning unsteadily as he walked. He wanted a corset to straighten his back and also one that he could lace by himself. The fan laces permitted just that as he did not have to reach around his back and struggle. Another client simply liked the more medical-image of the fan laces and belts and buckles in front. This was not too surprising for us because the latter client was an accomplished vintage automobile restoration artist and mechanic!

Fan lacing is not inexpensive and that is because it takes Mr. Garrod three hours to make up the fan laces. Constructing the fan and inserting it into the back of the corset is rather complex! Thus, obviously, two pair of fans would be more expensive than one pair!

For a visual illustration to make fan lacing clear, please view the following photos provided by Mr. Garrod.

(Please click on photos for larger view.)