Thursday, 6 March 2014

HSF 14: Under it All

I need a new pair of stays for my 1787 revolutionary gown. Since the challenge due March 1st is called "under it all" I felt that this was a good chance to really get going with the project. The bad thing is that I'm right in the middle of a month when I simply don't have much spare time. Sunday was a day when I didn't have anything planned though so I sat down  and focused on getting as much done as possible.

There are two reasons why I need a new pair of stays, eventhough I'm really happy with my other pair of stays. The first one is that the silhouette is a bit too early, eventhough I aimed for early 1780 with them they look more like in the middle of the century. For the quite extreme shape of the late 1780s I wouldn't be happy with them. The other reason is that, well the old pair of stays are blue and purple, and my revolutionary dress will be in a very sheer cotton, so I needed something that is a bit more invisible.

For the pattern I decided to go for the Reconstructing History 833 again, but this time I cut out the wide front and wide side pieces. All in all that means that there are only five pieces in the stays, front, sides and backs. For the strength layer I used cotton canvas, and then I had an unbleached linen for the outer fabric. At this point I didn't plan on any lining.

I definitely have issues with the pattern, and it runs large. Now I used a 2 cm seam allowance instead of the recommended 0.95 cm (3/8") and they still lace up fully closed. I've disregarded the instructions, but it would be nice with some kind of markings of where the pattern pieces are supposed to meet. I also find that the instructions really don't say much about boning placement, so in order to find that out I looked around a lot on pinterest to find references, both to original garments and reproductions. I gathered some of them on my underpinnings board. It will be interesting to see how the stays fit with boning placements that I chose, since it feels like quite a lot of guesswork and taking a chance. I used plastic whalebone for most of the boning, but where I could find suitable lengths of spring steel in my corset box I added that. The stays are halfboned, which is also a new thing. If it turns out that the plastic whalebone isn't strong enough for my body shape when it's used in halfboned stays I can probably change them to spring steel.

For practical reasons I've done quite a few deviations from historical accuracy. First of all it's fully machine sewn, I'm really not ready to make stays by hand yet. I've used metal grommets for the lacing, since I want it to be sturdy, and it's also quicker. I also chose to go with standard corset lacing instead of the accurate spiral lacing. I need to be able to get in and out of the stays by myself, and that is so much easier with corset lacing, especially since there isn't an opening in the front.

I think my shortcuts lowers the historical accuracy to around 40%. The materials and style is accurate, but not the construction.

At the last moment I also decided to add a lining. I had a beautiful light purple cotton, and since the outside is plain I wanted something fun for the inside.

My overall satisfaction with this project is so,so. Considering how little time I had I'm happy with the quality of the construction. It will work fine for this year's project, but I think that for the long term I will need to make a new pair, and in a smaller size.

Just the facts:

The Challenge: Under it All
Fabric: cotton canvas, unbleached linnen, printed cotton (from stash)
Pattern: Reconstructing History 833
Year: 1780s
Notions: plastic whalebone, spring steel, grommets, cotton bias tape, lacing, sewing thread
How historically accurate is it? 40%
Hours to complete: 12
First worn: In the house
Total cost: $20 (the fabrics are new, but I bought a lot more of them than I used for this project, everything else from the stash)

1 comment:

  1. I can recommend "Corsets" by Jill Salen, there are patterns wchich include boning channels, which I think is very helpful.