|Reed for boning, unbleached linen, twill tape ... ready!|
I explained how the cardboard mockup gave me severe cramping across my lower back and hips. I’ve wondered, with my history of back issues (an injury at age 15 made chiropractic care a near necessity over the years), how much of wearing stays was the 18c way of dealing with chronic pain, since at that point they were as much about support as shape, especially among working classes. Infants and children wore specially made stays as well, because society during that era believed that developing bodies needed the support.
|Inside of the stays...center is front|
Determined to get a rudimentary pair of stays made, I ordered ash boning reed (essentially the same thing used for splining on caned chair seats) and a few other supplies. The wood boning is preferable to other materials because of its flexibility and breathability—using all plastic or metal poses the danger of overheating during summertime wear. For the fabric, I needed three layers: outside, interfacing, and lining. I cut the outer layer from a rough, unbleached linen, the interfacing from white linen left over from my shift, and the lining from the unbleached linen. (I should have switched the interfacing and lining.) I’d made a mockup of cheap muslin and tried it on, and found that it fit well enough I could pretty much just cut out the pieces according to the original pattern. So much for the cardboard mockup being accurate. :-)
|Outside of stays|
|Lacing holes--I've hand stitched the edges of one, but not the others!|
After sewing in channels and and assembling the two halves of the stays, I inserted one length of boning into each, and made holes down the front and back openings for the lacing (not cutting the fabric, but poking a fine knitting needle through, then a thicker one, and using a heavy embroidery needle to pull the twill tape through the holes for lacings). At that point, there wasn't time to finish out the stays before trying them out for my book launch party.
|Pattern for pockets, and other goodies|
|Pattern for cap|
Any questions on the process? Details you want to ask about? I’m happy to share or clarify!