Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cutting Down the Armholes on 18th Century Stays

I kind of guessed and free-handed a pattern for my new set of 18th century stays from an older pair that didn't fit so well.  What I came out of it with was a general design that worked pretty well, but when I laced it up, I couldn't lower my arms all the way.  Oops.  Time to pick out the stitches on the top binding, re-cut a few bones, and fix the problem.

The bones are cable ties from Home Depot, and I like to melt the ends of them to keep them from wearing through the fabric on the stays.

There are a couple of decent articles out there on alternatives for boning.  Whale bone is obviously out of the question, and I find that cable ties are a cost effective, durable, and good-looking option.

Mode Hisorique has a good one:

Jenny LaFleur goes into some detail on the wear here:

And a really cool article I found written by an author who has tried actual baleen, and was able to compare it to other options out there.  Her conclusion:  reproduction baleen is not the answer:

After reading these, I feel a bit better about "cheating" and using cable ties.

Here we have a set of before and after shots.I cut out about an inch from the armhole.  Now to find some more of that pink silk to extend the binding.

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