Thursday, February 26, 2015

1776 Stays from Corsets and Crinolines - Construction

I'm extremely excited about my 1776 stays. I have finished the construction with the exception of binding them and I love the way they look. So feminine! I made them front-lacing and back-lacing. I laced them up with some leftover ribbon just so I could slip them over my head and check the fit. I haven't laced them up yet because I need help with that, but so far I think they're going to fit perfectly. I'm really proud of myself!

I boned them throughout with 3/16" half oval reed, two per channel with flat sides together. For the cross-wise boning in the bust area I just used 1/4" cable ties because I couldn't get the reed through the twill tape that I used for the horizontal boning channels, and when I trimmed it down to slide through more easily it kept breaking. The center front lacing channels are boned with heavy-duty 1/4" spring steel (to hold the tummy in), the back boning channels with one reed and one regular 1/4" spring steel in each channel, and the curved side channels with spiral steel.

To trace the boning channels, I took a tip from my sister, who practices Sashiko embroidery, and traced the pattern onto very lightweight, sheer interfacing, then ironed the interfacing onto the fabric that was going to be on the innermost part of the stays. I traced only the outside line of each boning channel and drew an arrow in the direction of where the other line should be sewn. Then I used my sewing machine foot to gauge the depth of the channels. Measuring stuff gives me anxiety and nothing ever turns out right when I measure, so this was the easiest way for me to figure out how thick to make the boning channels and took the stress right out of tracing them to the fabric.

I didn't really intend to make these front lacing, but I had to because I'd cut out all the pattern pieces before I realized I meant to put the center front on a fold. So I had to add an extra boning channel on the edge of the center front of each piece to accommodate the grommets. This added an extra inch to the girth of the stays. When I slipped them over my head to briefly check the fit, I noticed that the center back edges will meet more closely than I had anticipated, and I think this is why. It's still going to fit just fine, and I don't mind if the center back edges meet because my silhouette is still going to look awesome even if I don't lace super tightly.

I've got 1/2 of my skirt pleated up and should finish pleating the other half tonight. Then I'll sew it up the sides and be done with it. I'm expecting a nice big piece of super soft, thin leather in the mail today to use for binding the corset. I'm almost done! Then I have to start on Melissa's costume. I think I'm going to have to teach her how to sew the binding on her stays because I may not have time to do ALL of that plus my own before the end of March when we go to Sherwood.


  1. You'll find front lacing stays are much easier when you are traveling and help greatly when speed dressing. :-)

  2. I bet! Do you do spiral lacing on yours? I've been wanting to try it but can't figure out how to tie off the ends...

    1. I spiral lace. For the ends, I just wrap the end around the last bar across and tie a loose knot that way.