Hello, my name is Mariah Pattie, and if you
are new to this channel I make videos about both sewing and worldbuilding, and
this video is about my recreation of the 1789 strapless stitched stays from
Patterns of Fashion 5. For this project I want to use as many historically
accurate stay-making techniques as I am currently capable. I have technically
made a pair of stays before, but they hardly count. I made them in high school
to wear to Renaissance Fairs just directly following the pattern I thought
looked coolest, with zero knowledge of 18th century or corsetry. They are
made from polyester brocade, lined in muslin, and interlined with nothing but
youthful ambition. I’ve been saying 2019 is the year I will finally make a real
pair of eighteenth-century stays, and this project has become an absolute case
study for Parkinson’s law. And now it is mid-November and if I want to get these
stays done before the year is out, it is time to get this project moving. Okay so first: the pattern. I’m planning
to make the stays directly from the book pattern, only adjusting them minimally
for fit. The pattern is already gridded in a very handy 1/4 inch to 1 inch
ratio, so if I scan it in and enlarge it by 4, it should print perfectly. There’s
nothing wrong with drawing out a grid and copying it by hand, but if you have
the equipment I find this method to be faster and more reassuringly precise. So I think the first step to do is I’m going to make a full mock-up. I bought
some green canvas and I’m just going to do one layer and bone it as well as I
can. Okay, one quick and dirty mock-up of the
stays. I can tell that it fits me pretty well. So basically everything I make I
have to take an inch out of the waist because as you can see all of these
splits are beginning on top of my hip instead of at the base of the waist
where they should be. So if I take about an inch out of the four pattern pieces.
The two tips of it are too far in, I think they need to be a little bit further to the
side. Anyways… So yeah I guess I need to probably do
need to do a round two. Okay it’ll be worth it. Well, I hope I didn’t just royally
screw it up. I used the grid to find the exact same
point in the waist on each piece and then I took out one inch, using the grid,
and taped it back together, and then I cut off the strip along the top here
using the grid and moved it down by an inch to widen the top point. So I think I
need to take all of these pieces, trace them out on fresh paper, and then kind of
even out and smooth over these lines, now that none of them match up with each
other. I’m going to have to completely create new boning channels myself
because I don’t think I can use this so I’ll have to basically use the original
pattern as a guide and then make it up. …you can see that just taking one inch
out of the waist made a massive difference in the fit. It now like
accurately splays out across my hips and it closes almost all the way. So just
being able to more accurately proportion it to the length of my torso
made it just fit overall almost perfectly. So the fabrics I’m going to be using for this project are all right here. This is
going to be the cover fabric. This is “madder red” lightweight linen from
Burnley and Trowbridge. I was not able to find the correct shade of light brown
linen in the right linen twill, so I just went with something that I liked, even
though it’s not technically thick enough. So what I’m probably going to do for
strength and opacity, I’m going to double up the madder red for an outer layer, and
then I have this linen canvas, I have a medium weight natural linen, and then
I have a lightweight linen that I will probably use for the lining. I’m under
the impression that 18th century buckram is very different from modern millinery
buckram, so for this project I’m going to find out for myself by making it using a
video tutorial by Burnley and Trowbridge. You just need gum tragacanth, and you paint
it on. Very simple. I tried a couple of strategies for this. At first I was
planning to paint an entire length of linen, but then I realized that this was
going to be a massive waste of time and gum, so I decided to trace my pattern
pieces to the linen and only paint inside the lines. I traced them with a
water soluble marker, and then I realized that that was dumb as the lines began to
disappear when I painted the gum on. And I also realized that it was an inner
lining anyways and would never be seen, so I remarked the pieces with just a
regular ink pen. Okay so I finished painting on the first
layer of gum tragacanth tragg essence whatever it is, and it is worth
noting that even just a single layer took about a third of my jar, so I will
wait until they’re dry and see how thick they are before I decide whether or not
I’m gonna do a second layer. Okay so the glue has pretty much dried at this point
and it has quite distinctively stiffened the pieces, but I am gonna go ahead and
give it one more layer to see how much more stiff it gets. Once the second coat
of gum tragacanth dried, the pieces were ready to separate. I cut them with a
generous seam allowance, leaving plenty of excess to trim down later, because I
know they’ll fray in the meantime. Then I traced the pieces of buckram to cut out
the layer of linen canvas and the two layers of madder cover fabric. Next the layers need to be basted
together, but first an ironing job. The four layers will be stacked with the two
cover layers first, then the canvas inner lining, then the buckram interlining last,
with my pen markings facing up. I pinned them together, and it’s amazing how much
body each piece already has just from stacking the layers. Once all of the
pieces have been layered and pinned together, I’m going to baste them by hand.
Basting is a great opportunity to use up cheap junk thread, as I’ll end up taking
out the stitches later anyways. And yesterday I finished basting them
all together, the next step will be to trace on where some of the boning
channel placement should be and as you can see, all of the edits that I made to
my original pattern that I printed out have made it pretty much useless for
tracing, so I’m gonna have to find the placement for the edges of the boning
and then just fill in through measurements in between. I’m going to
attempt to sew with this linen thread on a normal sewing machine. When you’re
sewing by hand with linen thread you need to wax it, because it experiences a
lot of friction and it can start to fray. I’m hoping that if it’s just on a
normal sewing machine the friction won’t be as high and it will be okay without
the waxing. So yeah, this is an experiment. I’ll let you know. Okay , time for the boning channels. It is
on my bucket list to completely hand sew a pair of stays one day. But it is not this day. I don’t think it would be the best investment of my time right now
given the fact that this is my first pair of stays that I’m actually trying
to fit to myself, and the very high likelihood that I’m going to screw
something up. Okay the channels are all finished,
except for one final back piece. This piece needs to be done a bit differently.
Starting from the center back, I marked out a 1/4 inch wide channel, then I
marked out a second channel 1/2 inch over from that. The half inch in the
middle will not be boned. That is where the eyelets will go. The quarter inch at
the centre back will be boned, but differently. I can start from the half
inch line and stitch the rest of the channels like usual.
Then I’ll fold the whole edge over along the basting stitch, and pin the fold down.
I did have to redo the stitching a couple of times before I figured out a
method, because the channel kept ending up too tight for the boning. I first used
a long stitch to baste down the center of the eyelet strip, then I inserted the
boning, thicker plastic boning for the center back piece. Once the boning was in,
I shoved it against the fold and switched my machine to a zipper foot, so
I could sew right up against the edge of the bone. Then I just seam-ripped out
that basting stitch. Yay, all of the boning channels are ready to go… Time to
start all of the boning. There are 138 boning channels, and I know this because
I would apparently rather sit here and count them than actually start boning
them. As whalebone has become rather inaccessible, I will be boning my stays
with this 3/16 inch half-oval reed, which I got online from Joann’s. I’ve read
that reed can be fiddly and brittle to insert, and indeed the first one I tried
to slide in just snapped. So I think soaking the whole bundle is a good place
to start. One piece done. That took a while, and
this was the easiest piece. I don’t know if I will ever work with reed boning
again. I did finally figure out how to insert the reed. It was a lot harder than
I expected, and I don’t know if other people know a better method, but this is
what worked for me. I tried tying the reed to a long doll
needle yesterday, and that was a start, but the string or the reed kept breaking.
For one, I drained the water and let the reeds dry overnight. They are still damp,
but not sopping. When they get wet they don’t slide through the channels well,
and they buckle under the slightest pressure, so letting them dry a bit
overnight seemed like the right balance. The doll needle was a good start, but it
wasn’t long enough. I used a strip of baling wire with a bend in one end to
pass the thread through. I used a thick, sturdy buttonhole thread to pull the
bones through. Just poking a hole through the bone for the thread didn’t work. The
bones are soft when wet, too soft. The thread breaks right through them, so I
had to sew the thread through a couple of times and wrap it around the bones to
give it the right combination of tension. I also passed a thicker plastic bone
through the channel first to stretch it out a bit. The reed went in much better
that way. Some of the reeds I cut to the correct
shape of the channel, some I left a bit overlong, because I’m still not sure
where the final cut will go before I bind the edges. Once I had a system, I was
able to finish the boning in one day. Then I trimmed down the edges of each
layer, staggering them. I made a clip at each point in the waistline before
trimming. I don’t want to cut down the edges around the tabs until the last
minute before I bind them. Now I just need to whip stitch all of the edges
down before I start sewing them together. In the original stays, there was a tiny
line of stitching to either side of the bust opening at the front. I’m not sure
exactly what that was for, but I’m guessing it’s just to hold the fold down
nice and flat, so I’m going to replicate that now with a spaced backstitch. It is now December 22nd, and I really want to finish this set of stays before
the year is out, and I am more than halfway done with whip stitching the
pieces together, but there is still quite a lot of work left, but lately I have
been focusing on this whip stitching section, which took me a little while to
figure it out. So my stitching on these stays started
out a little bit ridiculous, because I didn’t know how to hold the pieces
together. I was really skeptical about the whole idea of– can’t tie the
stupid knot– I was really skeptical about the whole idea of whip stitching them
together, because it didn’t seem very strong to me, but as I have been doing it
I can see how, if you do it correctly, you are doubling the layers that the thread
is going through. Another thing that I have learned is that the whip stitching
that I did when I was folding the pieces over originally, I was way too aggressive
with. I whip stitched it ridiculously tight, and that was because I wanted a
really hard edge to sew the pieces together with, but the problem with that
is that it’s pulled so far over that it actually kind of creates a bubble in the
top layer. Which is a little bit amazing that it’s that strong. As I’m going along
sewing the pieces together after they are stitched, I am going and taking out
that original whip stitching, and later I will probably go back and whip stitch it
down again. These are all my threads from when I took out the whip stitching. The
lucky thing is you can kind of reuse them. Okay, they are all sewn together. I think
the next step should be to go ahead and do the eyelets first. Because I shortened the waist
I can’t just follow the original eyelet placement, but I will spare you the
numerous failed attempts I’ve now made trying to fumble through these
calculations. Instead, here is my historically approved, no-math method for
spacing spiral lace eyelets. First you need paper, just a strip, any kind. Mark
the paper where your top and bottom eyelets should go. Add a bit extra, around
half an inch or an inch. I just eyeballed it. Cut the paper to that length, and fold
it in half. Now there are two layers. Fold it again.
Now there’s four. Again, and now there’s eight, again, now there’s 16. Firmly crease
the folds of the paper and then unfold it. Now, counting the ends, you have 17
evenly spaced lines. Tear off one segment. Now you have 16. Pin the paper to your
stays and mark each of the 16 fold lines with a pin on both sides. Then remove
every other pin so that you have alternating pins on each side, and an
extra pin at the top of one side, and an extra pin at the bottom of the other
side. And I ended up with nine eyelets on each side instead of 10. Since I took an
inch out of the waist that sounds about right to me. Okay so yesterday I finished the eyelets,
and then last night I started sewing down this trim tape over the edges and
I’ve actually discovered there is more than one function to this tape. One, it
is decorative but two, it hides these big whip stitches, which it actually has a
bit of a function in that the larger stitches are, the more prone they will be
to snagging on something, so it actually protects them from that and from
friction. So it is more than just decorative, it’s also quite functional.
However, I am having trouble with getting it to sit flat. I keep having to take it
out and try it again. It was easy on this middle section, it was easy on this flat
section, but when I get to these three curved seams that are kind of bubbling
up and around the seam, it’s either too tight, and then when I stretched the seam
out it’s kind of pulling, or it’s too loose, and it’s bubbling. So I am having a
hard time figuring that out. The method that ended up working best for the tape
was to stitch it down first in the center. The original tape was more narrow
and had a central braid that the stitching ran on either side of, so it
didn’t have as much of a problem with this. My tape is plain and a quarter of
an inch wide, too wide to neatly stretch over the seams. I measured the tape for
each seam, and overcut it by a few inches. Then just to help keep my
stitches even, I marked every quarter of an inch along the length of the tape. I
stitched it down first through the center of the whip stitched seam, and then
I went back and tacked the edges down in a zigzag pattern. Using this method
allowed the tape to lay curved into the seam and then stretch out with the seam
when worn. Once I finish stitching down the tapes,
I took the bottom ends and tucked them between the tabs, pulled them tight, and
stitch them down. I need to trim down my top edge before I can secure the upper
ends. I decided to follow the original pattern for the back and underarms,
but I’m extending the peaks and the front a bit to make up for the short
waist proportions. For the reinforcement strips, I’m going to use the linen canvas
again, and I’m not trying to make the reinforcements match up 100% to the
original pattern. I think it’s more important to try and make sure the grain
line follows the horizontal bust line. I am going to attempt to make the busk, and
I have access to all kinds of metalworking tools, not really much in
the way of woodworking tools, and only a very mediocre understanding of how they
work. This is oak, it is 3/4 of an inch thick and a inch and a half wide. I don’t
even know, we’re just gonna try and see what works. Can’t ever seem to get this thing to cut
straight. That one wasn’t so bad. This has probably been very upsetting for any
actual woodworkers out there to watch, but there we go. This is shaping up pretty nicely. Now I
have to start kind of sloping it up to make this more of a true point and less
of a Barbie kayak. That’s not too bad. I am pleasantly
surprised. Now that the busk is ready I need to
finish all of the reinforcement pieces so I can actually put it in. I’m going to
start by making a small, triangular placket to set behind the bust opening. I
whip stitched it down first around the edges, leaving the excess free to bubble
up in the middle. But this didn’t seem very strong.
I think the placket is actually supposed to be stitched tightly down with the row
of stitches along the eyelets. I didn’t bother to seam rip the old stitches, I
just sewed right atop them, matching each stitch for stitch. I’m going to go ahead
and start binding the top edge, because looking at these raw edges is kind of
stressing me out. So here is what I managed to complete this evening. Top
edge binding, I stitched it all the way across the front edge, and then I’m only
about halfway done with tacking it down on the inside. The center panel, I do not
know how the original was done. I don’t think this is how it was done, but I’m
pretty happy with it. I just sewed this inset panel in flush with the top edge,
and then I sewed the binding straight across the edge, and when it folds closed
it lays nice and flat. Anyways, goodnight. With only three days left to go, I first
need to finish off this upper edge binding. The next complicated thing I’ve
been avoiding is the reinforcement strip that runs along the base of the splits.
I’m not sure how this is going to work, but I’m going to start by cutting a
straight strip of canvas and ironing over a small fold so that the
reinforcement begins without a raw edge. I pinned the lower edge down first,
trying to line up the fold with the top of each split, and I might adjust how far
I cut the splits up so that each hit the reinforcement strip at the same place.
This is very weird and wonky and I don’t know how well the top edge will smooth
to match. I whip stitched the strip down, folding it over my table so I could get
at a flat edge. That worked pretty well, but folding it over the edge of the
table caused the tension to build up in the exact opposite direction of how it
will be worn. So I unstitched the outer half and tried it again. I did eventually
figure out how it needed to be sewn. I had to fold the stays into their final
position and basically sew blind, feeling the underside to make sure everything
was lined up, and that the needle was in the right place. This actually worked really
well, but part of that is down to the shifty nature of the linen canvas. I
don’t think it would have gone as smoothly if I had used anything else. I
wish I had a before-and-after, because it is really incredible how much shaping
just those two pieces on the inside added. Beforehand this would have just
been laying flat, now look at it: it’s 3D. Next I need to sew on the three belly
piece layers. I cut the belly piece layers from linen scraps leftover from
other parts of the project, then I just whip stitched each layer on individually.
To secure the busk, the book only mentions one layer, but I really can’t
figure out how that’s supposed to work in conjunction with the bust split, so
I’m going to use two layers and sew the busk between them first. To secure the busk piece, I centered it
over the front of the stays. I whipstitched them down just like the other
belly piece layers, but I left the top half loose so that the bust split could
shift freely above it. I also tacked down the center of the
open placket to the peak of the busk piece, just to try and keep it even. It’s
not very strong, but I’m hoping it doesn’t have to be. Now I can finally
start trimming and splitting the tabs and stitching the binding on. And
stitching the binding on took literally all day. To line the tabs, I took small scraps of
linen, and placed them over each tab. I traced them roughly around the edges,
trimmed them down, and ironed the edges over. Then each tab individually could be
pinned in place and sewn down. I left the tops of the tabs long and raw, as they
will be covered by the body lining. Except the center back tabs, for those I
folded over and secured the tops. To line the main body, I drew on seam placements
at the sides, then I laid a bigger piece of linen over top and traced it too. I did
need to remember to go back and add extra to the center to make room for the
bust split. I ironed it as well, pinned it in place, and stitched it down, leaving the
sides open so I could slip the back lining pieces underneath. Ok that’s left. I have such a headache. And there you go. 6:47. Oh wow, does my
head hurt– and everything else. Ok it is now after New Year’s, and I’ve had a day
to recuperate. I feel like by the end of that project I was slowly like
physically and mentally deteriorating. I did wear the stays to a New Year’s party,
but by 9 o’clock I had such a raging headache that I just left and went home
and went straight to sleep in my shift. The sewing is complete, but there is one
more thing to do. I need to douse the stays in water to get rid of all of the
blue markings, and I’m actually going to let them soak longer because I had an
idea to wear them while they’re still wet to see if the reeds conform better
to my shape. See look, I let them hang up to dry and the damp is now centered
perfectly on the waist and tabs. And now may I present: the stays. Okay so, final thou ghts. Sometimes I find
it useful to treat my relentlessly howling inner critic like a really mean
kindergartner. So I will only allow myself to critique three things that I
wish I’d done differently, and in return, I must also admit three things that I
actually like. okay first bad thing. Sometimes I play
a game with myself called clever or dumb, and it’s when I have an idea and I’m
like, this is really clever I can’t believe nobody else has thought of this
before. And sewing with linen thread in the
sewing machine was a dumb idea. I had to go ridiculously slow to try and keep it
from skipping stitches, and it’s still skipped. And the burrs on the thread
every once in a while would snap and so I would have to stop progress and start
over, and it’s just… it was so unnecessary. I could have just used a regular
polyester linen colored thread. The whole process would have actually been a lot
more fun because I could have just gone zip zip zip, instead of having to like inch my
way through sewing these things. Don’t use the linen thread in the sewing
machine. I have checked, it’s not a good idea.
Okay first good thing. I love the busk. It just happened that when I was buying
supplies from Burnley and Trowbridge, they were out of busks at the time, so I
didn’t get one, and then later on it was like, should I really pay 15 to 20 bucks
to order what is essentially a sanded piece of wood? I’m sure I could make that.
And then with this particular stay design it has that really weird kind of
angled busk, so I kind of went into it with a ‘I don’t know if I can make this,
but I’m gonna try to make it’ and worst case scenario I can just use stick–
strip a wood, It actually worked really, really well, like it’s not perfect,
but I’m so flippin proud of myself. The stays have that shape, and it could not
have come from anything else. I’m happy with that one. Okay, second bad thing. I
realized after I had finished them that I put the decorative tape on in the
wrong order. I was pretty sure based off of the pictures that the tape was
supposed to go on later, but I didn’t know why, and I kind of just wanted to do
it, so I did it but I actually figured out why it goes on last.
And that is if you put it on last then when it is pulled tight around the
splits of the boning channels it actually tightens and wedges the binding
up, instead of the binding having to cling to it. So that’s just a little
thing, but I was just like, oh that would have been so easy to just reverse order,
and it would have given it one more little function. So whatever, now you know.
Okay second good thing: Also playing the ‘is it clever or is it
dumb’ game I decided to wear the stays while wet, and try it to mold them to my
shape. That worked really well, like crazy well, like you see the very subtle lines
and curvature of these stays? They did not have that. It was like an instant
break-in process. It was a very, very cold thing to do
this lovely January. The first time I put them on they were very uncomfortable.
But if you think about it, at that point in time all of the reeds are straight.
They’re trying to stay straight, even though I am trying to bend them as I
wear them. So all of these tabs are trying to straighten themselves on my
hips which was just causing a lot more extra pressure. When I wore them wet the
whole thing just took my shape so much better, like I really can’t even begin to
describe how much of a difference that made in the actual end result. And the
third biggest regret I have is just the kind of loose stitching on the binding
on the bottom edge around the tabs. I don’t think that there was any technique
problem, I think that I was just in too big of hurry.
And you know, it doesn’t look as bad as it did. I feel like when I soaked it
everything about the stays just kind of tightened up a little bit. But it’s just
something else that I could improve on next time. And then the final thing that
I really love about these stays is a very arbitrary thing. And that is I really,
really love my color palette. I’d never really seen the shade matter red before,
and then when I was studying 18th century it just keeps popping up, and it
just kind of became intrinsically entwined with 18th century in my own
head. The fact that it gets to be on my staple piece is very satisfying. But then
I also really, really love the way the kind of rust color of the red looks
against the natural linen and the white linen, and I only have two pieces done
right now but like, when I get my petticoat, and I get my
rump, I want to make everything coordinate. Even though the matter red
fabric I used was technically too light, and you can tell, like it doesn’t look
the best up close. There’s definitely some bubbling that shouldn’t be there.
But I just love the color so much so I don’t even regret using the wrong fabric. So if you have made it all the way to the end of this long video, I really
want to thank you. I’ve been planning this for a while.
These stays were kind of my baby project, and now this video is kind of my baby
project, and I just wanted it to turn out really, really well, and to be very, very
useful to people. I want to allow the video to be long enough to give you as
much guidance as it possibly can, so you know, good luck. I feel like a drum.