Historical Sew Fortnightly or Monthly #0 Part 2

Hey There,

It is week three of the new year and I have finally finished the first HSF project on my list: 18th century stays. Well…it was definitely a learning experience. I won’t hash out the first part of this project here so feel free to read it here.

For now, let’s get right to where it all went wrong. Well, not wrong, just not great.

I began by making my own bias tape and slashing the tabs into the stays. So far so good.

But it was when the bias tape had to go on the stays that things went a bit wibbly-wobbly.

I decided to go with the technique of machine sewing the bias tape to the right side and then fold it over and hand stitch the other side to the inside. And let me say it is very awkward to sew bias tape around many  curves on a full garment by machine. It would have been better if I hand sewed the whole thing rather than taking a shortcut with the sewing machine. The Butterick pattern said to sew it on like this. Well…actually no it didn’t.


I was supposed to sandwich the edges of the stays between the bias tape and top stitch it…How was I supposed to do that by machine?! Truth is, I wasn’t. This all would have been so much easier if I did it by hand. The bias tape ended up being wonky when all was said and done.


It was also at this point that I held the stays up to my body to see if they fit. And sadly, they do not really. They barely reached around my bust and waist. Also the top of the tabs did not sit at my waist as they were supposed to. The stays were too short for my torso. My girls kept spilling out when I tried to make the tabs sit at my waist. And by the way, the straps, could barley reach my shoulders. Fitting fail T_T.  I knew that these stays were a bust but I wanted to finish them anyway, just to complete the challenge.

dsc00096So I forwent the sew on eyelets and went for the the metal eyelets instead. Not historically accurate but it gets the job done. Which means, it was finally finished.


Ah! But did I mention it doesn’t really fit? Okay, here’s what happened. I cut a size too big from the pattern envelope and when I realized my mistake I decided to alter the stays. Of course this being my first pair, I had no idea what I was doing. And to make matters worse, I altered it on a dress form that was too small for me at the time. I didn’t realize it was too small until two projects later.  So not only are the stays too small around the bust and waist, they are also too short for my torso. See how there is a kind of muffin top between the straps on the dress form? That would pretty much be where the apex of my bust would land and…yeah…lots of breast spillage.

As you can see from the back I at least got to practice my spiral lacing. I did not even bother using satin ribbon to tie the straps. I just used the left over bias tape.

So sadly, I won’t be able to use these stays for any of my 18th century dresses I want to make. But, you know, I learned a ton from this experience so I, in no way, feel like I wasted my time. I learned: how stays should be shaped and where they should sit on the body, how to bone stays, and a better construction process. I also got to get some good hand sewing practice in, which is just the first of many projects that will let me do that. It was wonderful to finally get to work on a project that I have been dying to work on. Seriously, I haven’t felt this way in a long while. And that is the point of this year, to work on what I want to work on even if it does not turn out amazing. Plus, I am planning to make another pair, prettier and more wearable than these. I already acquired all the materials. Though I may give myself a bit of a break from stays and work on other underpinnings. As for these blue stays go, who knows, maybe I can re-purpose them for a Rococo-Punk style since I still like the way they look. For now, they will be a completed project in HSF which will be relegated to the back of the closet. Which reminds me:


The Challenge: #0 Starting Simple

The Project: Waist Stays (Finishing them from 2016)

Fabric: Cotton toile ($4 per yard), canvass ($10 per yard) and solid cotton ($4 per yard)

Pattern: Butterick B4254, Making History Collection

Year: 1730-1740?

Notions: 22 Metal Eyelets ($5.15+shipping for 100), 17 yards Plastic Bones($17 for 50 yards), 3 yards corset laces ($3 per yard)

How historically accurate is it? : The shape is correct for the period. Though metal eyelets would not be used in this time period nor would modern corset lacing. It should be sewn eyelets and ribbon or cord.

 Hours to complete: 10 hours-ish

 First worn: Never, doesn’t really fit. >_<

 Total cost: $32.

Overall, not a bad start for HSF. Just enough to get my feet wet. Time to start another project.

❤ Sarania



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