Stays Construction, Let’s make Butterick B4254

Continuing with my 18th century foundation garments lets take a look at the stays I made. As this was only my second ‘corset’ I decided to stick with a pattern again, although I ran into no issues scaling up the pocket hoops from Corsets and Crinolines I thought a corset with many different boning channels would be more of a challenge, a challenge I will take on at another date.

I ended up completing this project over a weekend (under forty eight hours) which I’m pretty pleased with! I did intend for this to be more of a spread out project but I just really got into the sewing and was happy to power though the whole weekend for it’s completion.

I used Butterik’s B4254 which is apart of the ‘Making History’ collection. I realised this pattern isn’t 100% historically accurate but I just wanted to used it as a starting point and ease myself into the procedures used and the period itself.
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I used version A (circled) which just has a back opening rather than front and back. I choose this for two reasons, the first being I wanted to create that stylistic ‘shelf’ look where the bust is pushed upwards resulting in cleavage and you get a very defined shape of the bust and then immediately flattening down into the waist. Also I thought that having a flat uninterrupted front would mean that when garments are worn over top they would sit flat and not bulge or pucker where View B has an opening, I’m not sure if this would happen or not but at the time I considered it as a contributing factor to choosing View A instead. The second reason being I didn’t want to hand sew that many eyelets! I’m very particular when it comes to historical dress, I like my eyelets hand sewn and colour coordinated. View A has 20 eyelets total where as view B has 40 total, I think my decision based on eyelets is pretty justified!

Construction

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The stays are made up of four pattern pieces the centre front, side, centre back and the shoulder strap. I decided to cut the pattern out in a size 10 although I measured to be a size 12. My reason for doing this was that when I made my 1860’s corset (Simplicity 1139) I used a size 12 and found that the corset was too large and wouldn’t cinch me in as much as I had hoped for, it was a bit of a risk but I had high hopes that it would turn out okay!

 

I had just enough cotton coutil left over from my previous corset to squeeze the patterns pieces onto. Thankfully I was able to get each pattern piece to follow the indicated grain line. I have kept the left overs just incase, this coutil is on the more expensive side so I try and get the most out of it!

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Next I marked the boning channels unfortunately I didn’t have any carbon paper or a tracing wheel at the time and as I wanted to keep this as a weekend project I elected to use the pin prick method instead… This was time consuming. It took me around three hours to do but now I always have carbon paper on hand and won’t make that mistake again! The channels were marked with a heat removal ‘friction pen’, I love these pens so much I’ve never had any issued with them not removing/staining my fabrics.

I then cut the lining out and this is where I went a little wrong, I decided to use a poplin fabric as lining. Yeah I know bad decision. A (100%) cotton would have been a better choice as the poplin is too thin and fragile. So far I’ve only had two boning channels suffer breakouts, luckily they aren’t in positions of friction so I’m not stabbed while wearing the stays. I might re-line the stays before binding the edges but I’ll talk about that later.
I cut two CF lining pieces out, that was unintentional (didn’t read the instructions) I did not double the lining up.
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Next I sewed all the seams up on both the top fabric and the lining. You can really see just how light weight my chosen lining material is here too. I look back and cringe!
The lining is then basted the lining to the top fabric.
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And now for the main event, sewing the boning channels. I would like to thank the Butterick gods for including a guide which indicated the correct order to sew the channels. This is so extremely important as the boning is inserted as you sew because with each channel sewn you would often close off the openings to another channel. The only time I actually found this tedious was when I sewed the horizontal bones at the top of CF, my boning kept trying to twist while I was sewing which was a pain but manageable. I used synthetic whalebone as boning which was left over from my 1500’s ensemble.  It took me seven hours to sew the channels inserting the boning as I went. I spent a total of 13 hours on the stays on the Saturday.
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Then on the Sunday I spent all day hand sewing the eyelets. I am aware I’m missing an eyelet on either side in the above picture, when ironing the piece earlier in the construction process I removed my eyelet marks! As soon as I realised this I remarked the placements and punched the holes and sewd over them. I don’t have a more recent picture I’m afraid!
To remove the remaining pen from the stays I set my iron to steam and ironed over the stays, making sure to move the iron quickly as to not heat the plastic boning up. The pen may want to stick to the areas you sewn directly over it but with a firm press it will disappear!


And thats the stays finished! (To a functional state)

I still need to bind the edges of my stays and I’ll be using chamois leather to do this, thank you Hannah from FabricnFiction for recommending that to me! I did originally attempt to do it with cotton bias binding but it did not go to plan, unfortunately since then University work has picked up and I haven’t gotten around to finishing them off. And that was in late October last year, I do have a week off coming up soon so I’ll try and get them done then and update my blog appropriately.  I may also make a new lining to sit over top of the old one and sew it in when I hand stitch the chamois leather binding into the stays.

Here are some worn photos anyway along with my pocket hoops and chemise.

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Also bonus picture/appreciation for the reduction these stays give,MO5L2vat.jpg-large

Look at my waist in comparison to my hips!!! I was quite surprised to find they take three inches off my waist which I wasn’t expecting from a commercial pattern. I can get very close to a full closure lacing on my own with about and inch gap at the very bottom but from two thirds of the way up the stays make a full closure. I am fairly certain I could get a full closure with someone helping me into them which will likely be my mum when I go home for Spring break!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I’m pretty happy with the outcome of these stays and I’m sure they’ll look better once the edges are bound. I’ve familiarised myself a lot more with my corsetry books and the ones available at my university library so I want to make it a personal challenge for myself to stop using commercial (corset) patterns and instead use patterns from Norah Waugh’s books etc. I feel as though I’ve improved a lot at sewing the past year and my understanding of pattern manipulation has grown at lot too and using commercial patterns is just a security blanket for me now when I could be further challenging myself and extending my skill set and I want to move away from that comfort zone. I would like to complete another corset this year so I could compare it to the various ones I made last year.

And thats it!
Thank you for reading and I’m sorry for my radio silence, hand in for my current unit is Monday so I can catch up on older scheduled posts then!

-Nivera

 

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Pocket Hoops Construction, Norah Waugh | Corsets and Crinolines

October was the month I spent making 18th century foundation garments. These foundation garments are made up from a pair of stays, chemise and the pocket hoops which I’ll talk about now!
The pattern I’m using to make the pocket hoops is from Norah Waugh’s ‘Corsets and Crinolines’, this was my first time using a Waugh pattern and also my first time scaling a pattern up successfully!
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The materials I used for this project are as follows,

•2 meters of a medium weight fabric. I used 100% cotton in white

•5 meters of 1/4 inch boning. I used plastic covered flat steel as I didn’t have enough synthetic whalebone.
Rigilene boning is not suitable for this project.

•5 meters of 1/2 inch twill tape

•Heat removal fabric pen ‘friction pen’ in contrasting colour

•2 meters of white inch wide bias binding

•General sewing notions, scissors, pins, ruler etc…

I started off by scaling the pattern up to the size referenced in Corsets and Crinolines, which luckily didn’t take as long as I had imagined it would.
pocket hoops patternI then pinned these patterns onto my cotton, as you need two of each pattern make sure to fold your fabric and save time cutting out.
193e27bf00165fc5093b39def817b81ac6ccec5e_hqI decided to add an inch onto each pattern piece, this is optional but I did it for a few reasons. As it was my first time scaling a pattern like this I wanted room for error so I could fix mistakes, adding the inch would also enlarge the pattern slightly which was a plus for historical reasons.

While doing research I found that pocket hoops were made larger for women with broader shoulders as to keep proportions in check. And as I was a competitive swimmer during my childhood I consequently have broad shoulders so the size adjustment (though it may only be tiny) seamed to be a good idea.

This is all circumstantial and is something to be considered in your personal project.

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Next I used my heat removal fabric pen and marked out the boning channels on the TOP fabric side. I marked these on my pattern so it was easy to mark the end of the channel and then draw a line connecting these marks. Alternatively you can iron your fabric first and then draw the channels, just remember that ironing over the ink will cause it to disappear and if your iron is on steam nowhere is safe.
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I’m lazy so I drew my channels and then ironed but left an awkward channel down the middle un-ironed. This will get ironed eventually after the next step!
Next is to sew the boning channels! I aligned the twill tape it so the top edge meets with the boning channel line. Pin it in place and then sew the top an bottom edge of the tape. Remember do NOT sew the ends off and this is where boning will be inserted. It’s also important to note when sewing the top and bottom edges of the tape to get as close to the edge as possible, this keeps the channel as wide as possible making it easier to pass boning through it.
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I then ironed everything over making sure to press where the twill tape was sewn just to make sure all of this ink would disappear.
Next I got the square pattern piece and sewd one side to the main piece, sewing over the boning channels (this will close them off on one side). Repeat this process on the other side just this time stop and start sewing making sure to miss sewing over the channels (this will leave them open).

If done right there should be small holes in the seams that open to the channels allowing for you to inset boning.

Next I prepared the boning I was using and cut it into the lengths fit for the boning channels. As I had to use flat steel instead of the synthetic whalebone like I had planned I ‘capped’ both ends of the boning with electric tape so the sharp ends would not pierce through the cotton. If you’re unsure of how to do this or want visuals check out my Crinoline Post where I explain my technique.

Once the boning is inserted you can sew over the opening and seal the boning in. I suggest doing this straight after inserting each piece of boning, rather than doing it all at the end. Specifically if your working with steel, the boning will move around and be a pain so it’s better to do it as you go.
It’s not called ‘spring steel’ for nothing and will take out your eye(s) if given the chance.

 

Once the boning is in it should have some structure to the pocket hoops. This is what mine looked like after sewing the boning in.
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They were just crudely pinned to my hoodie at this stage so they’re quite uneven! But this gave me a good idea of how they’ll look when finished!
Next is to sew the bottom onto the pocket hoops, this is the curved pattern piece.

YES! Pocket hoops actually serve as pockets when the correct garments are layered on top of them.

I simply pinned this on and then whip stitched it into place. It is a lot larger because of the additional inch on the pattern but it’s nice to have that extra room to work with. I suggest lining the strait edges up and then working around the curves.  I didn’t want the bottom to be loose and have a baggy look to it so I kept the fabric quite taunt when pinning and sewing it into place.
5583b20d827e1c228c9140ebc35bededd0644b89_hqOnce those are sewn on it’s time to clean up those edges. I turned over the raw edges on the inside of the pocket hoops or  you could sew bias tape on them. I used both techniques but I suggest using bias tape around the ‘pocket’ opening as it’ll look more professional.
9d8d521f3822e42f4dd6ba4226c5fd61b22c2e28_hq75388ecaf76824ac67f8bea341a60f1d8fe001d0_hqNext is to make the waistband, this length should be your waist measurement plus 20 inches. Mine was pretty easy! I have a 30inch waist so the waistband measurement was 50inches. You can just about see where Ive drawn my waistband in the below picture!
60a52e5cf31f0ee109d1ccc215e3b46fb8aa0d9f_hqTurn the edges in by a half inch and then sew them down. When complete my waistband was about an inch and a half wide. I wouldn’t suggest going too wide with your waistband as your going to have to tie it and the thicker it is the harder it will be to tie off
Fold the waistband in half and on the WRONG side mark this point with your fabric pen. Then on either side of this mark measure 4 inches and mark these points. Gather the tops of your pocket hoops down to 3 inches and even out the gathering. Then pin the gathered top edges to the waistband on the other side of your 4inches mark. Sew this down.
9a48f5e246e5cc90a8ba1fb18b5405a98adc5abf_hqI realise this bit is confusing but you want to get the top gathered edges of one individual pocket hoop and pin them down side by side with no gap and sew them down on the other side of your 4 inch mark.
I highly recommend pinning them on first and having a fitting to see if they sit right or need to be moved around first before sewing them in place.

Here’s another picture of mine sewn down to help make sense of this part.
4664a51dd8f104082c74ec2c700e67133734da5c_hqIf you’re still having trouble with this part I suggest checking out Angela Claytons’ Youtube video on making pocket hoops. I’m not 100% sure she used the Norah Waugh pattern but watching her attach the pockets to the waistband helped me make sense of it!

And then the pocket hoops are done! Here are mine on my dress form and stays!

And here they are being worn with my stays and chemise!
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I’m really pleased with how these turned out! And as far as working without instructions I think I did pretty well! When I come back from my Christmas holidays I plan on bringing the petticoat I made for my ballgown with my and putting that over the pocket hoops to see how they hold. I don’t think there will be any issues with them holding a garment but I feel the petticoat is missing when I look at these pictures!

I plan on making a walking ensemble or redingote to be worn over these foundation garments next year and I’m still occupied with my 1860’s ballgown at this stage!
I will fave following posts about the stays and the chemise soon!

Thank you for reading
-Nivera