Wednesday, 16 December 2015

1795 Stays - Blue Silk Brocade

Pattern: 1795 Stays from the Margot Hill book, The Evolution of Fashion.
Fabrics: 100% silk, brocade for the main body. 100% silk dupioni for the binding. Lining and interfacing layers both 100% linen, heavy weight.
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Alterations?: The book pattern calls for pom-poms positioned at the back of the stays to hold up empire waist skirts. I chose not to add them so the stays could suit a wide fashion range. Also, such pom-poms and high rolls are better suited attacked to petticoats, in my opinion.
Construction: Done entirely with hand stitching, including the boning channels. 1/4" flat steel and spiral steel used for boning.
With back and front lacing fully closed and touching;
Chest: 40"
Waist: 33"
*The Hill book is particularly wonderful because the patterns have all been scaled for the same measurements, roughly, so you know what you're getting into before you even draft them out =)

~The Pattern~
You won't be able to rely on the Hill book entirely to make this. The pieces in the book don't show any placement lines for the boning. I drew my own placement lines based on images I could find of extant stays, as well as the drawings in the Corsets & Crinolines book from Norah Waugh.

As per the book description below, the large circles on the pattern indicate placement for pom-poms. You see a similar idea in the Corsets & Crinolines book. I chose to omit these because I wanted these stays to suit a wider range of era AND I don't particularly like them. I think getting that support at the back of empire skirts is better accomplished with little bum rolls on the petticoats.

The stays are comprised on three layers: Two layers of heavy weight linen and the silk brocade outer layer. The boning channels are stitched through all three layers, being visible on both sides. I could have added another mirrored layer for a lining, thus covering up all the stitching on the inside, but I didn't want to add yet another layer of bulk to the garment.

At the very top of the picture below, you can see the horizontal boning channels that go directly across the breast. This is achieved, of course, with a separate pieces of linen containing the bones. Clearly the channels could be in the linen layers with the others, as they would cross the vertical channels and prevent the bones from being inserted.

I used a standard back stitch, thus the "raw" side of the back stitch is visible on the inside.

The binding is 100% silk dupioni, a very tight weave that shows almost no slubbing. I used to apply binding by machine on the front side and then do the whip-stitching by hand on the inside. But after years of trial and error I have found that the very best way to get bias strips to turn corners smoothly is just take the time and do it by hand. I like how this turn turned out =)

I hand worked the eyelets over tiny brass rings. I like this method because it provides a templates to keep the eyelets uniformly round--they so often stretch wide along the grain if you aren't careful--and they provide extra strength.

Pictures taken over a padded dress form and mannequin cover. 

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