So it’s a beautiful old french corset from early 1900. It was so durty, dusty, smelly, and rusty. It was a pity, this baby needed surgery quickly.
When i used to received the “patient” i used to carefuly study it to learn more about it, take photos, draw the pattern, then ask different informations sources how to clean it without damage. As the fabric was a strong coutil i decided to do the restauration and finally went with the following steps:
Using a magnet to know where the metal bones are, i have removed the 4 flat bones which were completly rusty, one was broken and there was a hole at this break point.
I have carefuly unsewn the front line and discovered the most damaged part : the busk was plenty rusty and a little protected by a surface paper.
I disliked cutting this antique paper however i still think it was the only way to do it to restore this vintage corset of some 100 years old or more. I used to keep the old steel bones and this paper rolled up in “silk-paper” as memories.
I have scraped the busk and painted it with rust preventive called “frametto”. Did the same with the rusty grommets, then painted them with the correct color oil paint. Then cleaned the 2 parts of the busk with this old stuff i saw my grandmother clean her copper pans with in france called “mirror” and wrapped it with another heavy paper.
To wash out the rust all over the right and the wrong side of the fabric I did a test on a little part using a chemical called “rubigine” as the other ‘grandma method’ of using lemon and light doesn’t really work on this specific item.
I just wet with the rubigine all rusty points, then touch nothing more and waited for 5 minutes, wet again all parts/seams that still resisted and waited again 5 minutes.
Then I ran to the bathroom to handwash the historic corset in cold water for a few minutes, carefuly washed it with natural soap “savon de Marseille”, then soaked it again in cold water with starch.
Then i put a terry towel on the floor, spread out the historic corset, overlaid it with another terry towel to carfuly remove some water and finished by drying it in my laundry room which is a really hot place.
After a little ironing, it was ready to get its new bones. To fix the 4 rusty ones i used this stuff that’s old but supposed to be rust preventive called “novelone”. I finished by hand sewing the little parts i had opened to get out the bones and placed the busk in in the same way. As there’s a hole in a front chanel where one old flat bone had broken I cut a little sample from under the lace, then placed it in the front hole seam and secured with a few hand stitches. Then I placed another satin ribbon on the lace, hleaving the antique one under the new one. And finally sewed the front hook which was falling off but fortunately still on the vintage corset.
I was pleased to notice the whole of the historic corset doesn’t reduce with the washing as i could verify with the pattern. I was quiet sad to see it back to the owner but i’m sure she loved it.