January 16th, 2011
Having received the steel boning and twill tape that I ordered from Lacis, I set about putting the rest of my new stays together. But all is not well. Let me not alarm you — nothing is lost, it will all come right in the end; but for the moment, I am exceedingly frustrated.
1stly, the half-inch steel boning that I ordered seems far too flexible to make a good busk. Luckily I ordered 4 steels, so I can double it should my suspicions prove correct. I really think I will have to commission a metal worker to make a busk for my next pair of stays.
2ndly, as I prepared to hem in the bone casing for the wee little bones at the top front, I realized that my stomach gores are too short nearly by half. This would explain their ill-fit as well I guess. But it also means I need to tear out the stitching, extend the slits, and cut new gores to go into the spaces. Oh me, oh my.
3rdly, I am having trouble telling exactly where the boning is meant to go. I know there are two long bones flanking the rows “french holes” up each side of the back. There is also a pair of short bones going diagonally across the top half of the back. There seem to be another set of the same in the middle of the front. I think there are also meant to be bones between each set of bust gores, extending down to just shy of the stomach gore. But I find no evidence of side bones under the arms on the illustration or in the directions. The Workwoman’s Guide, written nearly 15-20 years earlier, but describing nearly the same form, does mention bones at the side…
And lastly, I realize that I will need to cut and sew a tiny buttonhole at the bottom of each bone place in order to insert or remove the bones once the stays have been bound. Did I mention that I hate buttonholes?
On a more cheerful note, I discovered the exact same pattern and directions from which I’ve been working (found by your faithful correspondent in Godey’s, 1857) in a copy of Peterson’s, 1855! So they are indeed earlier than the cage crinoline. And Godey’s should be ashamed for stealing so unabashedly.