My most recent "me" garment is a pair of late 1820's stays from Corsets & Crinolines by The Goddess of Historic Fashion, Norah Waugh.
Since I didn't go camping over Labor Day weekend, I decided to park myself behind the sewing machine and skip on into the Regency & Romantic eras. (The next "me" garments will be Federal & Romantic day dresses).
Way to take a weekend off Gail!
The stays went together like a dream in less than two days, but are completely machine sewn. I figured none of my thread-counter friends will ever see this, and I wanted it fast.
I used 2 layers of very stiff, tight-weave cotton. The inside is mis-matched colors that we couldn't use for stock garments (slightly pink vs. slightly yellow). The outside has some staining, but the fabric is sound. Stitching is in a darker cream color, and the 1/4" wide bones are plastic. I sewed the channels at 1/2" and that seemed to work very well.
1 1/2 yds tight-weave cotton
1 yd stiff linen or coutil (interlining, optional)
plastic boning (cane/reed/metal, etc).
3 yds double-fold cotton bias tape for binding
old yard stick / wooden busk
ribbon / cotton cording
pencil or washable fabric pen
saw or utility knife & sand paper (if cutting yard stick for busk)
(I didn't use pins for this, you can if you want).
This pair is almost exactly like the ones in the book, the main difference is the 'quilting.' I used the presser foot as a guide and was rather sloppy with the inside decorative stitching (setting 13 on my machine, it's kinda triangles/zig-zag). It works well to stiffen up the fabric.
As there is no stress on the ties, I decided to use machine buttonholes. They seem to be working fine. I sewed them in vertically, so the stress is on many threads rather than a few, and poked the holes with an awl rather than slitting them. It's a pain to lace.
1. Transfer pattern from Goddess Norah Waugh book.
2. Re-size to fit you (4" smaller than bust, underbust, waist & hips... waist & underbust should be the same measurement in the stays, they will not close).
3. Cut 2 outside, 2 lining, 2 interlining.
4. Sew gussets in bust & sides.
5. Sew all pieces together, leaving back open.
6. Sew lining to fabric, turn & press.
7. Align seams & sew up either side of them for added stability (I've found this makes the stays/corsets last longer without pulling out... it doesn't always look great, but it works beautifully).
8. Mark boning channels & stitch.
9. Do decorative quilting / cording (optional).
10. Measure for front busk pocket, sew right sides together, turn & press. (this is not part of the original pattern, it's my own answer to the 'flap' problem).
11. Sew busk pocket in front & make button-holes or eyelets in flap.
12. Sew button holes or eyelets in back, spiral lacing.
12. Insert boning & cording.
13. Sew on binding.
14. Sew on ribbon for busk pocket.
15. Cut yard stick to length, sand & insert in busk pocket. Lace it closed & tie a pretty bow.
16. Lace up & wear!
This isn't as "flat" a shape as earlier Regency stays, and not nearly as curved as Romantic & early Victorian corsets. It does put my bust up around my chest when I sit, but I think it will look fine once I've got clothes over it.
Beware this pattern if you have larger than a C-cup... you can compensate by lowering the bust gores & slits, that should help quite a bit (I lowered from 3 1/2" to 4 1/2").
It's pretty comfortable. I've worn the stays for about 18 hours all told, but 8 hours seems to be the limit for a day. The main area that gets uncomfortable is the shoulders. If I ever make another pair for myself, I'll move the straps in about 1". Straps should be lengthened to sew them on the front, but it may be better to use ribbons like I did to make them adjustable.
And Mom's home!!!