Monday, September 23, 2013

1776 Stays Progress - Sewing the Shell

Over the weekend I was able to get all the boning channels marked and sewn, the eyelets worked and the pieces sewn together. I was unsure whether or not I ought to cut the tabs at the bottom, but finally decided to do so since when I try these on, once the boning is in, the tabs will be necessary in order to flare out over the hips. The stays simply do not fit if the tabs are not cut. For now the bottom of the tabs are loosely whip stitched together to prevent them from fraying. Hopefully they will stay intact well enough until the binding is put on!

I first sewed the backs, following the original boning diagram as closely as possible. The horizontal bone will be put in later and attached to the inside of the stays before the lining is put in. I used a basic running stitch, as small as I could manage, to sew the channels.

Then I sewed the two front pieces together. This was the first time I made a seam like this and at first I was really worried about it pulling apart. But this resulted in a quite a sturdy, strong seam that I think will hold up very nicely! The seam allowances were pressed under, then the two pieces laid on top of each other and whip stitched together. Later I will whip stitch the seam allowances down to the interlining to keep them flat, before I sew in the lining.

Then I marked and sewed the channels in the front. This only took a little over a day to do, though my fingers were quite sore by the time the last channel was sewn in! As for the back I followed the boning diagram as closely as I could, though I did omit a few bones just because I did not have enough room to put them in. A bone will go down into each tab and most of the tabs will also have a short bone through the center. This will prevent the stays from digging in at the waist. There will also be two horizontal bones across the chest. One just below the neckline and the other going from armpit to armpit. These will be sewn in after the vertical bones are put in.

I then sewed the backs to the front using the same seam as I used for the center front, and here they are so far! Finally starting to look like stays!

The next thing to do is to cut the neckline down a tad (it seems stays of this era were quite low-cut, though the backs remained cut high) and put in the bones. Then try on the stays and fit the shoulder straps, sew them on, then binding. And finally, sewing and putting in the lining. Will they be done by the 30th? I hope so! I think I can do it!



  1. WOW! By hand?! You are awesome! lol I think they'll be done!

    Love, Ruth

  2. Good golly all that boning!!! Wow, that really gives meaning to the word "stays". Looking good!

  3. I salute you for hand sewing the bones in place as well. I did all my binding by hand, but was glad to use the machine for the boning channels


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!