Thursday, November 14, 2013

HSF #23: Generosity and Gratitude - the 1770s Stays

Historical Sew Fortnightly's Challenge #23: Generosity and Gratitude, Due November 18

From our Challenger: Celebrate the generosity of spirit and willingness to help others that makes the historical sewing community great, and give credit and thanks to those who have contributed to our collective knowledge without expecting payment in return. Make anything that fits the general HSF guidelines, and utilizes research, patterns, and tutorials that have been made available for free. Be sure to acknowledge all the sources that have helped you to create your item.

Well, I've been working on a pair of late 18th century stays since the spring and when this challenge was announced, I just knew that I had to apply these to it.  I already had a collection of articles and websites that I was using to get started. Actually, it was this challenge that was partially responsible for inspiring me to start blogging about costuming, so thank you to Leimomi for the nudge in the right direction.  I rely so heavily on the knowledge and experience of those willing to take the time to tell the internet about their costuming, I thought it was about time I make an effort at paying it forward.

Yikes!  Those can't be mine.  I don't know where they came from.

I'll start by offering a super huge THANK YOU to the following people for what
- sasosiserinde also used the same pattern I was using and it was nice to see it put together. The little notes one where she ran into problems with working directly from the pattern were helpful when I was getting ready to do the same steps. - Some useful construction notes.
- There is a SUPER detailed set of instructions on that cover the process from start to finish. I found this site most helpful when I was making adjustments to the pattern pieces to get a fit that would work better for my body.
- Brocade Goddess has an excellent follow along to someone's recreation project. Super detailed and with lot of notes as to why things needed to be done a certain way, or of a certain material. Might have been the post that convinced me that I just wasn't interested in binding my stays with leather, after all.
- Isis Wardrobe did some lovely embroidery that I think I'll try to imitate at some point, as I forgot to sew ribbon/bias over my construction seams before sewing on the binding and I'd really like to do something to hide that machine top-stitching.
- Festive Attyre has a very useful article on the placement of spiral lacing that let me just outright ignore the instructions and lacing guide that came in the pattern. Having the math concepts for eyelet placement really appealed to my scientist brain.
- I also found this article by Sidney Eileen to be helpful in figuring out what to do with my laces, once I'd gotten them into place.

The pattern: Simplicity 3635.  I was having trouble figuring out where to start when it came to drafting my own pattern, and so I dug through the drawer and found that I had acquired this one at some point along the line.  I figured it would be a good launching point for having pattern pieces on about the right scale and shape.

The construction instructions started getting frustrating, though, and before long, I'd put those back into the envelope and just used the resources I had found online and in a few books.  The only downside to this step was that, without the happy reminders of 5/8" seam allowances, I reverted back to sewing 1/2" as that's what the rest of my historical patterns from non-mainstream sources use, as well as what I default to when drafting something of my own.  Whoops!  This resulted in a little bit of wrinkling when I tried to make my support with its 5/8" seams line up with the lining and outer layers with their 1/2" seams.  I wasn't going to get too worked up about, first pair and all.  But still.  Learn from my fail.  When I'd first started sewing historical garments and had to get used to the 1/2" allowance, I took myself a small strip of electrical tape and marked the proper point on my sewing machine table so that I'd have an easy visual reminder when sewing.  Would have been handy if I'd done that this time.

One continuous line of lacing with ribbon.  I've since replaced the ribbon with two shoe strings anchored at the top and bottom.  With the plastic tips on them, I can leave the top and bottom few holes laced before slipping the stays on over my head and reaching around behind me to finish he lacing.  It takes a bit of finagling, but once I got the feel for it, it wasn't too bad.  The pattern had the lacing stop several inches from the bottom, but when I did that and tried them on, they felt really insecure.  Probably a product of being a bit too big.  I figure I'll give them a few trial runs laced as is, and if I decide later to end the lacing sooner, it's no big deal to go back in and insert another eye between two others.


The eyelet holes were put in by hand with an awl and edged with a thick silk thread.  I'm pretty sure the last time I tried to do this on a corset, I used sewing thread.  No wonder it took forever.  I timed myself and it took me less than five minutes per eyelet, which I thought was doing pretty good.

So in summary,

The Challenge: Generosity and Gratitude
Fabric: Cotton canvas and a mid-weight linen for sandwiching the boning.  Grey linen for the fashion layer and white cotton muslin for lining.
Pattern: Simplicity 3635
Year: 1770s, or 'round-a-bout
Notions: polyester thread for the construction, silk thread for the binding and eyelet holes, reed for the boning, shoes stings for the lacing.
How historically accurate is it?  Points off for cotton layers and machine stitching, so let's give it a 9/10.
Hours to complete: TOO long for a first attempt.  The boning channels alone were a tremendous time suck, as was the binding, but there's not really a good way around that last one.  I did get to sew the front side of the top binding down by machine, so that helped, but all the rest of it had to be done by hand.  Everybody was right, binding tabs leads to swearing.
First worn: Needs a top or dress to wear over it before it'll be fit for wearing.
Total cost: Mostly made from leftover bits of fabric, and the reed was much less expensive than the steel boning would have been (and omg, would that have been heavy), so I'll estimate it $35.

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