18th century stays (Part 2)

And the first set of stays are finished! This post will be a more detailed how to make the stays as the last post on the 18th century stays was only really about making the pattern.

I’ll be putting up a post soon about the fabric you’ll need to make all of the aspects of this costume but for this you’ll need

  • cotton for the middle layer
  • linen or tight weave calico
  • lining fabric
  • cable ties
  • 4 meters binding or ribbon
  • embroidery thread or eyelets
  • 6 meters of ribbon for lacing (or lacing ties)

If you have strong linen or calico or even coutil (the ‘proper’ fabric for corsets) you can choose to just use two layers of that, skipping the cotton layer. However I like to sandwich the cotton layer with linen because it means I can get the boning channels really tight.

  • Cut your pattern out of all your fabric, you’ll need two layers of cotton (cut 4 pieces of each pattern piece), one of linen and one of the lining (cut 2 pieces of each pattern piece). The lining shouldn’t go over the sections where you will install eyelets as lining is more likely to fray than linen. Instead add a seam allowance the size of the lacing area to the front and back pieces of the linen and take away this area on the lining pieces.

    The three layers cut out, you can see the difference in the seam allowance in the front and back panels
  • Sew together the lining pieces and set aside. These are the only pieces that will have no boning.

    As you can see I haven’t even tried to pattern match these!
  • Pin the cotton layers together and sew boning channels- do not sew the pieces together i.e. don’t sew the side panel to the front panel yet. You should bone each piece individually. I use a 1 cm wide boning channel for this (3/8″).

    ignore the fact that I ran out of green cotton and had to use white for one piece
  • Pin the linen layer to this cotton layer and baste along the seam allowances of the piece but not the top or bottom- this will be where you insert the boning
  • Insert the cable ties into the channels. If you’re cutting them down to size it’s really important to try and round the ends because they can get very sharp. You can do this with a metal nail file or sand paper
  • Now baste the bottom and top together to keep the cable ties in place.
  • Now take a zipper foot and sew as close as you can to the cable tie. This way you get tight boning channels and a neat outer layer because only the channels you sew show up. When doing this make sure to fold the linen to cover both sides of the lacing panel.

    The blue stitching is the channels I made previously, I’m pushing the stitching line inwards, closer to the bones
  • Sew the pieces together, the front/side seam can be tricky because you’re matching a curved piece to a straight piece but just go slowly and use lots of pins. Remember to trim down or iron the seam allowances into submission, so they don’t ruin the shape of your stays.

    Lots of pins!!
  • Attach the lining as you sew the boning channels next to the lacing panel as shown below.DSCN0448.JPG
  • Baste the top edge, including the lining to keep everything in place.
  • Bind the top and bottom edges. If you’ve put tabs on your corset note these can be really annoying to bind, especially if you’re using ribbon not bias binding. This article from foundations revealed is helpful, but just consider that I’ve done three sets and only gotten marginally better each time.

    I machine sewed the binding to the right side then turned it over and hand sewed it on the lining side.
  • Mark the placement of the eyelets, below is an image showing how you should position eyelets for spiral lacing- the traditional technique used in the 18th century.7921321698_7d42eb2d24_o
  • Insert your eyelets, whether that’s sewing them by hand or using metal ones. I found sewing them by hand really relaxing, though I did get covered in pin pricks because my bias binding was only pinned on, not sewn on when I started these.Also hand sewing eyelets takes forever- around 3 hours per set of stays (at least), so it would be quicker and simpler to use metal eyelets.

    Close up of my hand sewn eyelets (these took forever!)
  • Insert the ribbon like the diagram and you’re finished
    The eyelets are flipped compared to the ones in the diagram above but you get the idea

    Here’s a picture of everything I’ve made so far- all the foundation garments are now finished (except for the pockets, but I’m embroidering those so their taking a while), just the actual dresses to start now!


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