Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Look at a Riding Corset: Ferris Good Sense Waist

I have not ridden at all this week due to having a bad virus which I caught from a public swimming pool, and has turned into an ear infection causing me to be dizzy :( So with me being out of auction for a bit riding wise, here is a look at a riding corset which I used to have in my antique corset collection, The Ferris Good Sense Waist...

c.1903-1906. A white sateen Ferris Good Sense Corsetwaist made by the Ferris Bros. (New York and San Francisco). Ferris corsetwaists were seen an a healthier alternative for woman from the traditional heavily boned corset. They were marketed towards all segments of society from working class women to wear as a comfortable working corset to wealthy women who could afford to keep horses and ride to use as a riding corset.

The corsetwaists relied on cording for support although some light whalebone was used and had button up fronts rather than a stiff busk.
Ferris made waists for babies and children right up to adult women and came in different models and lengths (short or long) and bust sizes (slim or full) to suit all figure types and heights. The shoulder straps gave support to the breasts and are adjustable.

This particular corsetwaist is the slim busted/ short length variation of model number 230 which had lacing on the hips which meant it could be used for sports such as horse riding, bicycling, golf, tennis, etc or by fuller figured women who needed more abdominal support.
The model down was the 220, which was identical to this corset but did not have lacing on the hips. Early models did not have the two tabs at the bottom from for pinning on stocking suspenders, these were added onto Ferris waists after 1902. There were fastenings at the hips of the waists for also attaching clothing to but these were removed by the original owner. Early models had button attachments while later 1890's and onwards Ferris waists have a clamp buckle attachment at the hips.
Measurements: Bust 32", Waist 25", Hips 31".


  1. "out of auction..." (intro paragraph)
    A Freudian slip, perhaps? Keeping you from ebay, is it? ;)
    Seriously, I admire how you find these things; good research.

  2. Doh! No, I bought it from Ebay a few years back but then I sold it last year to help pay for my Manorgrove :)

  3. It's in really good shape for it's age. And it actually looks a lot more comfortable than some.

  4. wow that's something special!! I own a victorian corset myself ( I make my own corsets for costumes and reenactment) that I can't wait to ride in.
    my saddle arrived by the way! It's gorgeous, the fit is reasonably well though I did make an appointment with my saddler to fix some minor problems. it does lean a bit to the left when I'm on it, though it's perfectly straight without me ;)
    and I may have it raised a bit at the cantle, not sure yet, I'll see what my saddler thinks.
    I am looking for a new girth, it turned out the saddle didn't come with a girth after all so I had to borrow a friends cotton all purpose girth to try the saddle out today.
    I'm looking around a bit for girths and I keep running in to either trifold ones or fitzwilliam girths. I now know fitzwilliams have three buckles, two "normal" ones and one extra on each side connected by a leather strap. now, are the keepers that hold that leather strap in place supposed to hold the overgirth in place too? because my overgirth doesn't seem to move at all, even though it's not kept in place by anything at the moment. and do I need a keeper for the balancegirth? because that didn't move during our short ride today either.

    can you tell me what the differences and/or benefits are for trifold and fitzwilliam girths? Emily is like Hattie in conformation, girths are placed towards her elbows, she's round and built slightly downhill, she also has a tendency for girth gals, though her current thorowgood dressage girth has never given us any problems and doesn't slide at all.
    which brings me to the next question: I've seen anti-galling fitzwilliam girths, not made of leather but of the same material that our thorowgood girth is made of. are they decent? or pieces of crap :P

    btw, maybe we could exchange email, because I don't mean to ruin your blog in any way and I know I can't expect you to use your blog to answer my questions. I don't want to be a nuisance.

    and it would also make it easier to send you some pictures! you are one of the people who really gave me some great advice so you helped me to find my new saddle, I'd love to show you how it looks!!

    thank you, Lieke

  5. I don't mind you posting comments here Lieke as then we all can share information, that is what this blog is about :)

    Feel free to email me photos and then I can post them here for us all to see your lovely new saddle! :)

    Fitzwilliam and three fold girths are similar in the way that they are made from a piece of leather folded into three folds. The only difference is that, the Fitzwilliam has a narrow girth in the middle so that all three billet straps are used.

    A Fitzwilliam is a traditional side saddle girth and there is the safety aspect that if one billet strap goes, then you still have two others buckled but to be honest, unless you are going to be doing regular heavy duty riding in your side saddle like fox hunting or eventing, a normal three fold girth will be safe enough.

    Since your horse has a conformation like Hattie, I wouldn't bother with a Fitzwilliam anyways even if you were doing eventing, etc as the less stuff around our croup high horse's bellies to rub them, the better. Hattie cannot wear a narrow three fold girth (one that is under 4" wide) as it rubs her so I have to buy wide 4" ones three fold girths from Robert Jenkins. He makes them from soft leather and even though the girth moves forward to the back of her elbows, it just curls back on itself and protects her from the overgirth and the balance girth rubbing.

    I only use Robert Jenkins side saddle girths on Hattie.

    I'm not sure if the keepers on a Fitzwilliam girth are meant to hold the over girth down as it would depend on the length of your flap and how high your girth is done up.

    Yes, you will need to have a keeper sewn at the middle of the girth (so it's underneath your horse) to put the overgirth and the balance girth through. They may not move when you are walking or doing some trotting but the more riding you do, they will start to slip and pinch your horse.

    All three fold girths made for side saddle use have keepers sewn in the middle and normal three fold girths made for normal riding, can have a keeper sewn on easily by a saddler (I have done this before and it only cost me a few £'s).

    If you are using a normal girth at the moment, just wrap a spur strap around the middle of your girth so that you can slot your balance and over girth through it (remember the spur buckle should be outside on top of everything facing the ground).

  6. Soon I am going to get Karen Trevor to make me a riding corset. I just love the way they make you look!!!