February 2nd, 2011
I continue to make slow but steady progress on my stays. Last weekend I finished hemming in the stay tape (where it was indicated on the 1855/1857 pattern) and sewing a self-fabric busk casing (because I was too lazy to go uptown for 3/4″ webbing). I filled the channels with my zip ties, pinned the busk in place, and laced it up
The fit is very promising, but there are still a few issues. Mostly the problems are with my materials. I’m using plain twill fabric that came with a corset kit I never made, and it’s far too flimsy for single layer stays. I think that’s (partly) why it’s puckering around the gores. Also, the 1/2″ steel bone I bought to fill in until I can get someone to make me a real busk is way too flexible. It looked like I was wearing a spoon busk! Corsetmaking.com sells an extra thick boning that may do the trick. I need to order laces anyway, so I’ll give it a try.
I’m also going to put in some more full-length bones in hope that they will eliminate some of the worst puckers. As written, the pattern only has full-length support at the center front (busk) and flanking the lacing holes. I am hemming in tapes for side bones as I write. And if they don’t do the trick, I may also put full-length bones next to the existing half-bone between the bust gores, as shown in this 1845 French ad:
Going back to the fabric again, I think I will swallow my reluctance to pay $30 a yard for cotton fabric and purchase some real coutil for my next single layer stays. I’m also anxious to try a double layer version, as described in the Workwoman’s Guide. An added advantage to two layers — you can strengthen areas that don’t quite need boning with cords!
Regardless, I am actually very happy with the pattern and look forward to having a pair of working stays so that I can start fitting some actual dresses. I can’t believe I was worried about having too much spring though…these will lace nearly closed if I tug at them, taking my waist down to 24 inches instead of the planned 25. Eek!
P.S. There are now a couple of tiny blood stains on the front of the stays, where I tore my fingers on the pin holding in the busk. Just in case you wanted to know absolutely everything.