March 2nd, 2011
I’m pleased to report that I’ve bound my stays, and made a little buttonhole at the bottom of each stay place. All that’s left now is the flossing. It’s a great relief to be nearly finished with these — they’ve been quite a long time coming. However there are so many things wrong with them — I’m eager to start my next pair already. Most of the deficits are the result of imperfect materials.
The fabric (even though it came in a corset kit) isn’t quite right, being a single directional twill instead of a true coutil, and it’s too light to even qualify as fine jean. It probably would have been fine for a double layer corset, but it’s just not strong enough for unlined stays. The busk is all wrong. It’s too narrow, two floppy (even though I used two thick steel bones), and too long. I am now convinced that I need to do a little more research and then have a busk custom made. The metal eyelets for the lacing should be bone or ivory (French holes), though I don’t really see where I am to get those. Perhaps, if I can’t find evidence that metal eyelets were available in the 1850s, I will have to work them by hand in the future.
As for fit, I will know more once I’ve worn them for a while. Right off the bat, I think I need to make the back hip gores a little smaller. The bust may or may not need to be enlarged slightly. I’m also not too sure about the side bones. They weren’t in the original pattern, and they were pinching a bit last night. Luckily I can slide them in and out right now, so will try both ways.
About being able to slide the bones in and out…I think that’s a marvelous feature, and one I haven’t seen on any modern corset patterns. It makes some form of flossing (functional embroidery to hold the bones in place) mandatory however. The pattern suggests drilling a hole in each end of the bones and actually sewing through it, over the end of the bone. However I don’t have a jeweler’s drill yet, so I think I am going to go with later flossing patterns, which merely criss-cross the bone rather than sewing straight through it. I guess they must date from the point when bones became steel.
And that’s all that’s left to do. So I’m off to floss and then to wear it around for a while. Or maybe vice versa, in case I want to remove the side bones after all.