Thursday, November 20, 2014

Diderot stays FINALLY (almost)

I finally made these (almost). By almost I mean that I haven't put the grommets in or made the shoulder straps yet, but they are almost functional.

These stays were hell for me to do. It's because of having to mark the boning channels on the pattern pieces. That always gives me terrible anxiety.

Are these even the Diderot stays? I actually just remembered that I made them from Ralph Pink's free pattern. Did he base that on the Diderot stays?

As per my usual approach to these kinds of things, I didn't do anything to size these to fit me. Well I made one muslin about two years ago, which was just from the printed pattern. It was slightly too big, so for these I just traced the pattern pieces out without the included seam allowance and hoped for the best. I actually think they're going to work out well.

I boned them with narrow cable ties. I like the way it looks, but I'm not sure how much shaping it's going to provide. I actually finished binding this a couple of months ago, but then started thinking it was too flimsy, and that the hopsack fabric I used was just going to fray to little bits when I started poking holes for the grommets and the grommets were going to tear out like they did on my first Victorian corset, and then I thought I would make a stomacher and have these front lacing as well as back lacing, but then realized I had accidentally used up the rest of my hopsack fabric on my dog's Halloween costume and I'd totally forgotten that I was also going to need to make shoulder straps and OH GOD WHYYYYY.

So I had a meltdown.

But I recently started working on my friend Melissa's stays from Costume Close-Up, and then started stressing out about how to connect the panels together because I'm trying to make them using historically correct techniques (except for machine sewing the boning channels). So I decided to use my hopsack stays to practice.

Costume Close-Up says the panels of the stays in the book were butted together and whip-stitched. I read somewhere else online regarding some other extant stays that they were butted together and sewn together using a joining stitch.

So I did this, and it wasn't difficult at all!

I also decided to line it with this sturdy cotton fabric I found at Saver's. I don't know what you'd call it.

See, how the writing says "81.5 m"? I don't think it's ever been cut. My conversion calculator says 81.5 m = 89 yds. I haven't been able to unfold it all the way to measure it out because it's a huge heavy pile of fabric and if I try to lay it out on the sewing table, my cat will sit on it and will keep trying to sit on it every time I move her, and if I lay it out on the floor the dog will want to play with it.

It was only $7.99! Did I really need 90 yards of Japanese (or is it Chinese?) sailcloth (or whatever it is)? No. But it was a hell of a deal.

So being that I'm impatient to get this damn thing done so I can order my Anglaise pattern from Larkin and Smith, I decided to just lay the stays out on a length of this fabric and trace the outline rather than cut out and sew up the pattern again.

Will this work? I don't know. I'm not going to line the tabs.

I clipped the curves, pinned it to the inside, and started to slip-stitch it to the edges of the stays while watching The Paradise.

I think this lining is going to make the stays a lot more sturdy.

I'm hoping I can get it done by this weekend so I can set the grommets. My dad has an awesome work table in his garage and the weather should be warm enough that my hands won't go numb while working on it. Mayhaps I can also set the grommets in my Victorian corset so that I can model both next week.


  1. It looks great! I have so many costumes on my list, and I haven't started on a single stinking one of them! So I need to fix that. And Victorian Corset is #1 on the list, so I can't wait to see yours!

  2. Hey Jessica! Wow, I am so sorry I didn't know you had commented until now. I have lots of costumes on my list too, but they all require the proper foundation garments and jeez I just feel like I'm never going to get anywhere! Plus I have lots of non-costume things I want to sew. So I have to prioritize and I'm trying to focus on the costumes.