Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wintertime Blues

Alright.  I made it through the workshop, have bound my stays, and am almost over a nasty cold.  So I can finally update!  Between starting up my wedding planning and beginning an evening job this week (I finally get to wear the costumes!), the rest of the year will be me posting instructions on things I've finished more than building new.  I've just got the riding habit in construction as of now.  For the wedding there will be a Morning suit, both a 1930s and 40s evening gown, a 40s hawaiian wiggle dress, and possibly some top hats.  All of that won't be posted until after it's debut of course.  Now, on to the stays;
Through my local source I managed to get a pile of white oak scraps to use as boning.  I broke up the strips to approximated lengths and whittled them down to the right width.  I managed to not take off any fingers, but it did take me over two weeks.  The bottom binding was done just in time for the workshop, so my habit is fit over them.  Mark used me as the guinea pig wearing my older stays so we got the fun of comparing "patterns" later.  I haven't officially measured, but they were almost the same except for an almost 2" difference circumference in bust and waist.  Don't ask me where all of it went!  I got the top binding done today and just have to line.  Excuse the cheesy pics as always:

I eventually cut the straps further toward the front than the basting line.  After a weekend of wear they were bruising me (despite wonderful forced posture).


I haven't finished the ends on top because I'm inserting double bones into the last channels and haven't cut them to size yet.


The binding technique applies to all but very thick leather.  You put right side to right side and stitch 1/4" or so in from the edges.  Fold it to the back and stitch through all layers.  Since I used some metal bones I couldn't sew through those.  Traditionally you would go through the bone ends if possible to keep them from shifting (pre-flossing technique).  I used a back stitch on the front side and a prick stitch from the back.
I'm using ribbon to tie the shoulder straps, but still haven't found a cord that I like.  For now I'm just using linen tape or twill tape.  Optimally I would find a silk woven cord, seven strand without a hollow core, but so far as I can find it doesn't really exist anymore.  So, I might settle for cotton.
When it comes to lining I'm going use a regular linen.  The tabs are done individually and the bodice is made from as few pieces as possible (usually 3 or 4).  It's all loose and meant to be easily replaced.  The seams are butted and whipped.  Lining edges lay over the binding edge be it ribbon, fabric, or leather.  While you fold back before you get to the back (or front) eyelet line, you do have to work the lining around the strap eyelets.  Do it the same way you do regular ones, just use fewer threads to hold it back.  I'll get pictures up as soon as I finish that part.

13 comments:

Jennifer said...

Beautiful stays! You inspire me to make my next late 18th C. stays all by hand instead of "cheating" and sewing all the channels by machine.

fuchsias18thcdress said...

Hey you! Just wanted to tell you I have nominated you for the Excessively Diverting Blog Award! Go check my blog out for more information! ;D

Lucy said...

Intimidating and amazing! Beautiful post.

Sara said...

I love the pattern that you made for your stays! I've never seen any that lace up halfway in the front- that may help me with some fitting issues with my stays. Thanks for the inspiration :)

ColeV said...

Thank you everyone! I'm glad to hear I'm inspiring some projects! And a special thank you for the nomination, it sounds very exciting and I'll be getting together my list soon.

annamae said...

lovely! I adore the lacing in the front. rather unique which is fun :) I've been enjoying your blog since finding it recently.

Tanja said...

looks good!

Tanja said...

What you do is art! I love clothes from the period

3ampoems said...

I have a few questions about stays since I just finished the construction of the foundation layers of my very first pair! (channels, boning, all there)

1) My "helper" is having problems lacing them up...they are lace-in-back only stays, and he finds it impossible to keep the tension towards the bottom as he is pulling the laces tighter towards the top. I can only reach up so high myself so...is there any way for me to better explain to him how to lace the stays up?

2) After wearing them for about an our, I noticed I was being poked under my arm. Is this normal because of not being used to the strict posture? (Im only being poked when I let my shoulders relax)

3) I *think* I may have realised too late that the stays are cut too low and am worried some things may...escape. Can I fix this by Cutting the fashion fabric and lining with a higher neckline?

Your stays all look great so hopefully you will have some great tips for me :)

ColeV said...

Congrats on your new stays! When I lace, I lace in front and turn them around fairly loose. From then I start pulling, bottom up, on the exterior loops one after the other. If things are slipping it might be the lace type you are using or maybe the eyelets are too large for the lace? I use linen tape and when I'm lacing it holds it's place easily.
The poking might be the posture. Your jacket/gown should also encourage the correct posture. But if it's still regularly poking, not just when you slouch, you might consider altering it. Bruises aren't worth it! Leather binding around that area helps too, if you don't have that. I've seen extants with leather only in the underarm binding for that reason.
The low cut is a common issue. If it covers "certain anatomical parts" it should be ok. The boning height is what is important more than the fabric. Do you have straps? Adding a lace on pair can help with that as well and you can remove them if need be. Try pinning on a scrap of fabric strap next time to see if that does anything.
Hope some of that helps!

3ampoems said...

Ok so I removed one of the bones in the back underarm area (I realised that there was two that came up to a point in a ^ shape where it was poking, and the poking is still there a bit, but significantly more subdued, and I think a good binding should fix it. I finally was able to lace the stays up by myself (I did it from the top down--is that accurate or must it be bottom up?) and I was wondering: if there is poking at the waist and side seam tab when I sit down (digging into the top of my hip) does that mean that the stays are too tight? or perhaps the steel bones will "mold" to your figure more as you wear the stays. Or is it a more serious issue of the boning being either not long enough or incorrectly placed? Sorry for so many silly questions, I just don't want any problems after the fashion fabric and lining has been put on ^-^

ColeV said...

Lacing can be done either way. I recommend bottom up, but I know it's more difficult for those who aren't really flexible. I don't know if the poking is a bad fit (I doubt it though), a bad pattern, or just temporary. It's kind of hard to tell without seeing it. I do know that historic stays were made from oak/ash or baleen and actually molded with steam and heat before going to the wearer. All of the metal bones coming out of stays that I've seen are well warped. A picture might help if I could see that. It shouldn't be poking there though, they shouldn't have to go through a breaking-in period to be comfortable.

3 am poems said...

I moved the bone that was poking my waist furter down into the tab and it is a bit better. I just posted on my blog about the stays and there are a couple of picture (they are blurry unfortunately--I have to run off to work) check them out..if you can see anything, and if you can see anything obviously wrong with them, let me know! Thanks again so much for all your help, I linked you in my post :)