2. Making 1700’s Stays

Okay, its the long awaited blog post. I guess it has been over 2 weeks since I posted. This project has taken me a long time to complete and my life has been getting busy, but I am so happy that it is done!

This was the kinda project I was very intimidated to do, I mean it is a fitted undergarment and that, to me, just seemed very scary to attempt. But my fabric for the chemise hadn’t come so I decided to delve into this project!

To prep before I began cutting or even pinning out my pieces I needed to iron out my material, it was pretty dense so it took a lot of steam. After I cut out the pattern paper pieces I realized they were so wrinkly so I ironed them flat too. (it was funny they almost acted like they magnetized to flat surfaces.)

The first step, as always, is to cut out the pattern. Most patterns just have different sizes all in the same piece of pattern paper but for these stays every size had its own piece. (remember to match the grain with the arrows.) It was during this step that my dilemma occurred. The pattern called for the 2 outer layers to be of thinner material and the inner one of a thick sturdy kind. After becoming worked up and concerned I decided to just go on as I thought I should, I did the top and middle layer of my thick twill and the lining of soft. thin fabric.

Well with the dilemma resolved I pressed on to the next step. Marking the boning channels, slash lines, and eyelet placement on my fabric. This took a long time, but I sped up the process by marking the the first few marks on the top and bottom and then using a straight edge to make it all one line. (I also found it VERY useful to put little tags with the pattern piece number to the pieces when I took the pattern away. When marking you have to mark each piece individually.

Next it was time for me to sew the down the boning channels and then sew the heavy pieces together.

It is important to remember that when the two sides are sewn together you want them to be a mirror image of each other not a matching pair.

Now it was time to sew the white lining together and pin it to my double layer of heavy blue fabric.

Now it was time to sew these pieces together. It was so neat to sew the ends of the 2 wrong sides of together then flip them right side out to reveal a wonderful edge.

This next part took a while as well, I pinned the edges together then sewed them down. After that I cut the slash marks and I sewed down 1/4 inch double fold bias tape to protect the bottom from fraying. The pattern called for a whip-stitch but I wasn’t comfortable doing that so I made a regular stitch (I think its called a running stitch.)

I did kinda learn how to whip stitch later on. (For practice I did whip- stitch my 1700’s bum pad closed after stuffing it more.)

It was time for the boning (aka 5/8 inch zip ties) I cut them to the appropriate angles and then used sand paper to file them down.

I also had to cut down the bone so it was 1/4 inch away from the edge to make room for the bias tape. I did this by using a pencil to mark where it touched the edge then pulled it out a little and marked down 1/4 from my first marking. Then I filed it a bit with sand paper and pushed it back in.

Now it was time to pin the top down, sew, and begin applying the double fold bias tape.

I want to make a quick note here. I ran short on bias tape (yes 4 yards ran short.) but for my birthday one of the things my grandmother gave me was 1/2 inch single fold bias tape. By ironing that in half it became…..1/4 inch double fold bias tape!


At this point it seems like I have been sewing for a v-e-r-y long time, but it still needed eyelets. I ordered some grommets (the first time they were too big) so I ordered smaller ones. However when the package came it was completely empty😯. So… I decided to sew the eyelets instead of using grommets. Actually it is historically accurate to hand sew them. (metal grommets weren’t really invented till the 1830’s) So since I don’t believe anything is an accident I delved into sewing the eyelets.

The first thing you need to do is puncture the fabriic with and aul.

Now, once you have the hole the size you want to. (keep in mind that the whole will shrink as you sew.) I used embroidery floss to sew it with.

This took me a long time but it was pretty enjoyable and I sewed all the eyelets in on Sunday, it was almost calming. I even took them outside to sew in the sunshine later on. They didn’t all look perfect but that’s okay they are hard to see when laced anyway. And I learned more about embroidery.

And now I laced it up. (I used some plastic type of ribbon (shockingly not historic!) So all I had to do to keep the ribbon from fraying was to heat the ends till they melted a little.

And now it is done!It took me a good long time but what a great feeling of completion! I want to encourage you all, no matter what seemingly insurmountable task that lies before you go for it! do it! If it is the Lords will nothing that can stop you!

If you enjoyed the post give a like… and if you are interested in a post about how I made a home-made aul out of a branch let me know!

Afterword; (lesson I learned while in the making) I mentioned before how the grommets never came, I was really upset, but I ended up sewing them instead. I also said how I believe nothing happens by accident. You might say “but this was a bad thing.” Well, it just reminds me of the verse in the Bible, Genesis 50:20 , it talks about things intended for evil that God has turned into good. You see in the end, by sewing my own eyelets I gained valuable knowledge and experience.

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