18th century front-lacing stays

I’ve been wanting to take a crack at a pair of front-lacing stays for a while.  my only pair of 18th century stays, the pink shot silk ones, have two major flaws: one, they’re only half-boned, which is somewhat less support than I really need; two, they’re back-lacing only, which makes it impossible for me to actually put them on.  lo and behold, JoAnn Fabrics had a 99 cent pattern sale the other day, and I bought a ton of them.  one was this, Butterick pattern 4254, for several types of stays.  I happened upon this fabric that same day, on sale in the home decor section, I couldn’t resist.  it’s like the two were meant to be.

they’re finished up to the front eyelets, which I’ve been enjoying a Frasier marathon to get through.  once I finish the back eyelets, I can try them on for real – I’ve done a sort of trial fitting and I think they’re a bit short, width-wise, which means I didn’t take enough space into account for boning, but oh well.  it shouldn’t be a problem.  for boning, I used the fan favorite, electrical zip ties.  I have to say I’m pleased with them.

a close-up of some eyelets.  I’ve quite accepted the fact that I cannot sew anything close to perfect eyelets.  still, most of them are pretty regular and not too small, so I’m proud.

the inside.  I will be lining them, but I haven’t yet chosen with what fabric.  something fun, maybe.  I covered the raw edges where the seams meet with strips of the fashion fabric.  you can see that these stays are fully boned.  you can also see that the boning channels on both sides of the stays aren’t symmetrical.  that’s because I wasn’t thinking ahead (story of my life!) and nearly finished one half of them before I even started on the other half.  I also had some trouble because I was trying to adapt the boning channels given with the pattern from half-boned into fully-boned, and it just didn’t work.  so I forgot that altogether and drew my own boning channels.  they’re not pretty, but they serve their purpose; and besides, they’ll be covered by the lining anyway.

the inner layer, and all the boning channels, are machine-stitched, but everything that’s visible is hand-stitched.  just because.  I don’t think I’m quite up to a fully hand-stitched set of stays yet, but we’ll get there.

I wasn’t planning on finishing this project just yet; all I really wanted to do was to test out the pattern, and to experiment with cording – it worked pretty well on my ren faire bodice, so I was wondering if a set of stays couldn’t be made with cording.  (it couldn’t, by the way; not close to sturdy enough for my figure.  for someone much slimmer, however, it’s a possibility.)  so I yanked out all the cording, and was left with this sad half-sewn pile of fabric… and then I thought of my fashion fabric.  I figured, hey, why not, just for fun?  and then I came across this image of 1750’s stays.

it was like kismet.  I knew that fabric was destined for greatness.  so I went all the way.  and I don’t regret it; I love these stays.  I’ll have some more pictures once I finish them up, and hopefully can get them on myself!  it shouldn’t take me too long… the only reason I’ve gotten so much done so quickly is because sewing provides an excellent outlet for procrastinating on my NaNoWriMo novel, which I’ve been neglecting. <_<

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