For this post, I’m going to be going over the basic principles of tying a chest harness, which is a pretty awesome tie. I use them a LOT, for various different purposes.
The post will cover
- what they’re used for
- limitations of the harness
- and the important principles of how to tie them.
What I Would Use It For
Chest harnesses are actually good for a lot of different things.
Use The First:
Shibari style chest harnesses are decorative as all hell. The first time I saw one in person I was at a party, and I watched in awe as this scantily clad chick wandered past me, smiling slightly, looking mysterious as all hell in this apparently intricate, decorative piece of foreign bondage.
And of course, they emphasize the chest. Enough said.
They’re freaking GREAT for photos.
Use The Second:
Properly tied, a chest harness is actually restrictive. Individual bottoms may have more or less trouble wiggling out of it; I find that people with shorter arms tend to find it easier to escape these. However, tied snugly and well cinched, people will find them quite restrictive and not that easy to get out of.
A good chest harness is also effective for making someone feel helpless and really emphasizing that sense of being bound; with all that rope crossing the chest and other places, you really feel caught up in rope. As a guy, it’s an interesting feeling trying to flex against all that restriction; there’s a definite sense of the usual masculine power (upper body strength) being locked down.
Use The Third:
A chest harness makes for a really solid anchoring point. You can tie other things to it really easily, and all that rope spreads the load or pressure across the torso instead of concentrating it in any one place. As an example, if you couldn’t do a chest harness beginning with the arms, then you can do one beginning with a single column tie around the torso and then attach the arms to it somewhere later on.
This same principle of spreading the load and making a good anchoring point also makes chest harnesses very useful for partial or full suspension of the body’s weight off the ground. That’s risky business, with increased risk; but it’s still a lot of fun, particularly partial suspensions.
I’ve also used chest harnesses in the past with a safety line to keep someone standing without fear of falling down. Useful when you have someone standing blindfolded and you can’t put strain on their wrists due to a previous injury – the harness makes for a much safer anchor point than tying their wrists above their head, for example.
Note: The chest harness shown below is a “floor play” harness. In order to make it better for suspension, there are a number of refinements that would need to be added for that, as discussed at the bottom of the post.
Use the Fourth:
If you’re one of those people that uses rope as a means of interaction instead of just using it for restriction -by which I mean you do connective bondage– then chest harnesses are for you. They take a decent length of time to tie, during which you have LOTS of opportunity to interact with whoever you’re tying. Sliding the rope in a caressing motion across the skin, yanking a friction closed with a forceful movement, forcing your rope bottom’s body to move according to your will as you tie them… it makes for a lot of fun. And by the time you finish the tie, the person in your rope has already been very, very affected by the tying process, and they’re already well into that “play” headspace.
- Rope bottoms with limited flexibility may have trouble keeping their hands/arms behind their back in order to do the style of chest harness depicted here.
- Because of the placement of the bands over the arms, care must be taken to ensure that the radial nerve doesn’t have a lot of pressure placed on it. Refer to the Safety Series Part 2: Solving Problems Before They Happen for more information on this. Refer also to IPCookieMonster’s video on the “Resources” page.
How To Create The Chest Harness
(Note: if you have any difficulties with some of the terminology here, consult the glossary)
The basic principles of chest harnesses go like this
- Start off with a single column tie – usually around the wrists behind the back, but sometimes on the torso.
- Moving upward, create wraps or bands going around the whole torso, usually including the arms.
- Use frictions to lock your wraps/bands in place against the stem
- Use cinches between torso and arms to make the whole thing more restrictive and stop your wraps from going up over the shoulders.
- Find a decorative way to finish and tie off.
Here’s how to do it in pictures
Start with the single column tie around both wrists. Refer to The First Tie You Should Learn – as you’ll see, most ties start off with a single column tie. Try and make sure your bottom has the inside of the wrists facing each other; it’s a lot safer in terms of circulation, tendons, etc.
Bring the rope up the back; you want it a few inches below the top of the arms. Then take it at right angles around to the front of the body.
Bringing the rope back around to the back, I’m going around the stem, and then reversing and going back the way I came. That’s a personal preference; some encourage keeping on going around to create the second wrap, but I find that this is more convenient for maintaining my tension and holding everything in place.
I now go back around the front to make my band of rope a bit thicker; as with any tie, the more wraps, the thicker the band, and the more comfortable and supportive it is.
Okay, made it to the back; now I’ve again wrapped around my stem to balance out my tension, and I’m about to form my first friction. Frictions are great; they hold everything in place while still being easy to undo later.
Working end goes in front of the stem, then under the band.
Working end is pulled down to one side.
Then up and over the stem again, coming down behind it.
And finally wrapping horizontally around the stem again to balance the tension before going to one side. Note: This is not the only way to do a friction, but it’s probably my favorite due to the symmetry. Anything that locks off your tension and lets you take the rope in the correct direction will work. These frictions are firm, but not as tight as they could be; for supporting load you want to compact them down tighter. I’m now about to create my first cinch.
This is my first cinch. I’ve taken the rope that went to the side up between the arm and the chest, and carefully pulled it beneath the band of rope, and then pulled it downward over the band again. This is to lock the band in place and prevent it from sliding up over the shoulder. Sliding a thumb under the band has helped me create the gap that let me pull the rope through with minimal discomfort to the lovely lady here.
I’ve brought the rope back through the gap between arm and torso, and under the stem (to keep it reasonably neat) as I move back around to the other side to make my second cinch. You’ll note that I’ve added rope as I wrapped across the back; refer to How To Join Your Rope for instructions on this.
As you can see, the second cinch is exactly the same as the first.
Okay, so now I’ve wrapped the cinch around the stem, and now I’m about to make my second band across the lower part of the arms.
Around the front again, below the breasts.
And then again using the stem to maintain tension as I go back. Yes, it is distorting my stem somewhat; that’s not a serious issue, and it can be fixed by adjusting the tension as I finish up these wraps.
The process for making the second friction is exactly the same as the first. This is me halfway through it; yes, it will take practice. It looks nice when you’re done, though, and sits reasonably flat against the back.
Again, once the friction is done, it’s time to cinch the band. Exactly the same process as the first time. These cinches add more restriction to the tie, giving the arms less room to wiggle around.
Same process as the top one, then back across the back beneath the stem to do your other one.
For all intents and purposes, we now have a functional (non-suspension) play or decorative harness. We have two solid bands, which provide good restriction. We have top cinches which prevent the top band for slipping off over the shoulders, and bottom cinches to restrict the movement of the arms. We’re good. All we really need to do is tie off somehow; a slip-knot or vining or using a Cow-Hitch (refer to 3 Ways To Improve The Look Of Your Bondage) and we’re done.
But then we miss an opportunity to make something pretty.
Here, I’ve brought my last cinch back around, wrapped around the base of the stem, and brought it up at an angle. I’ve used a Munter Hitch (3 Ways To Improve The Look Of Your Bondage) to secure the rope to the top band (could have just used a twist, but I’m a fussy fancypants) and now I’m bringing it up over the shoulder.
I’ve brought the rope down over the shoulder, and bent it around the bottom wrap between the breasts, creating a V. Because hey, breasts. And I suppose it keeps the bottom band in place, too… but really it’s just fun to emphasize breasts and chests further.
Having created my V, I’ve now brought the rope back over and then down the other shoulder. I’ve created another hitch for symmetry. Again, I could easily lock off here to finish the tie, but there’s a neat trick that makes V shape harnesses more comfortable, preventing them from digging into the neck.
Taking the rope back beneath the arm, I’m about to create a sort of cinch.
By pulling the sides of the V away at a slight angle, I reduce the risk of the V digging into the neck. You don’t have to pull it far. You then run the rope behind the back, behind the stem again, and do the same on the other side.
Here’s the other side done.
Now, I actually forgot to get a picture of the finished tie from this side. It was a busy afternoon, all right? So I just invited a friend around to recreate the tie and make sure you all got a decent view of the finished pattern. In fact, you get two, because I’m feeling nice.
Pretty, right? And really practical and comfortable. I really enjoy chest harnesses. For practical as well as obvious reasons.
Finishing at the back isn’t hard. You can bring the rope up to the stem and tie off using a similar method as the third one in Tying People To Things. It’s basically a slip knot, which is safe, because it’s tied only to rope.
Or you can do a similar thing as in How To Tie A Rope Armbinder, where you take the rope upwards and vine between straps.
There are lots of fun ways to finish chest harnesses. I’ll add a few more from time to time, and at some point show how to make one without using the arms.
Edit: Now, with regard to suspension:
There are some important notes to add (hooray for ongoing learning); and I want to thank the readers that have contributed to this post. You guys rock!
Part of the reason why I post online is to test my information; and when you guys add to that information, you’re not just doing me a good turn; you’re also assisting everyone else who reads this site.
Things that would make this harness more useful for suspension or supporting load include:
- Lowering the top band so that the top of it rests lower; ideally just about the level of the armpit. This lessens the likelihood of the rope pulling the cinches up into the armpit, which also hosts an important nerve junction known as the brachial plexus. There’s a bunch of different nerves that spring out from there. That said, remember to keep the band on top of the muscles, not between, so as to protect that radial nerve.
- Compacting the frictions more tightly to make damn sure of no rope slipping while under strain.
- Locking off both top and bottom cinches against the stem with additional frictions; when the bands are put under strain via a suspension line, they will not then tug the cinches tighter. This means less change and less tightening within the harness.
- Raising the lower band slightly further above the elbow. Again, refer to the video on the Resources page with regard to radial nerve placement. More importantly, be guided by the feedback of your rope bottom; if it feels bad, take the pressure off and move the rope.
Phew, that was another long one. I hope you guys found it useful!
Many thanks go to Davion for taking the pictures, and 32Bit and TieMeDownKitty for being the models for this tutorial.
Additional thanks go to __S__ and Luke for contributing to this post.