Stay-ing Alive

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

If you saw my previous post and you know anything about 18th century clothing you probably thought: Wait a second, she doesn’t have stays!

And you’d be right– at least for now.

I’m about 1/3rd of the way done with the JP Ryan strapless stays. Although I would’ve preferred the strapped version it only goes down to a 34″ bust and for me that’s not gonna work.

I made a mock-up last Wednesday and attempted to fit it, which is hard with something that laces in back when you’re on your own….

Stays mock-up featuring my previous sketchy sewing set-up

However it told me that the length was actually perfect! If you’re long-waisted watch out, you might need to lengthen this pattern.

I ended up adding 1″ to the bust as I have a large ribcage and minimal boobage so I don’t really….squish. As-is I was worried about the arm “holes” being too far forward.

Thursday night after practice I skyped with my SCA dad and modified the pattern pieces so I could cut them out after work on Friday.

And that’s when the comedy of errors began.

I folded my fabric in half, cut all my pieces out, marveled at how much extra fabric I had, and went to sew them together.

Half-way through sewing the center-front seam I remembered I need four of each pattern piece, not two, since there are two layers per pattern per side.

Ok, well, I’m at the sewing machine, so I’ll zigzag the edges so the layers will stay together!

And proceeded to zigzag all the edges, hence making it impossible for me to insert the bones.

So I unpick half of the sewing I just put in and cut the other set of pieces out. Sewing everything together for real goes better right through sewing some mock boning channels on scrap to figure out the width.

I start to sew my first boning channel and my sewing machine breaks.

It’s just the tensioner, but I can’t figure out how to get the back off of the machine, so it’s out of commission until I can get it to my dad. But I’m on a roll with my stays, so I say what the heck and sew the first 2.5 panels worth of boning channels by hand.

In the meantime my dad took about 5 minutes and a YouTube video to fix my machine so I switch back to that. I actually prefer handsewing the channels as it is more accurate and less stressful, but it takes a really freaking long time.

As of 10 minutes ago half of the stays are boned– can you see where I switched from sewing by hand to the machine? I can’t.

Stays stats:

Pattern: JP Ryan strapless stays, size 6

Fabric: 2 layers of 7 oz white linen from

Thread: medium pink DMC tubino (a cotton sewing/bobbin lace thread).  Yes, it is actually a bright true pink, but it looks kinda purpley-grey because of the pencil lines behind it.  Erasing over them did very little but I am told the graphite will rub away as I wear them.

Boning: 1/4″ flat reed from

I’m going to bind them either with 1/2″ twill tape (in pink) or 3/4″ petersham.

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