This project is undergoing a tweak — I think it’s going to become the opportunity for me to make one costume, inside to out, to the best of my abilities and as historically accurate as possible (read more philosophizing on why). Now, there will inevitably have to be compromises made, but I want those to be really conscious compromises. And most important, I give myself NO DEADLINE for this project. I will probably pick it up and put it down a million times.
So! I’ve wanted new 18th c. stays for a while, particularly something more shaped as in the 1780s styles, and was excited to see JP Ryan’s new shaped stays pattern. I spent the day tweaking the pattern based on various extant examples in Corsets & Crinolines, the Kyoto book, the Salen Corsets book, and Historical Fashion in Detail. I love playing with boning patterns and layouts!
I’ve got three questions for y’all:
1) I’m planning to bone these with plastic boning (with possibly a bit of metal boning as well for support, which is period per Norah Waugh). I am having a hard time getting over the desire to gag at the words “plastic boning,” but I have accepted that it is the best modern substitute for baleen (which, sorry, even though apparently it is theoretically possible to purchase from Inuit sellers, I have real ethical objections to). Yes yes, you’re all saying “Why don’t you use reed? It’s historically accurate and cheap!” I’m not, because while it was used in the period, it was considered a substandard material and I am not trying to create a lower class outfit. Stays of the sort I want to make would be boned with baleen, so it’s a baleen substitute I need. And I have seen the substandard-ness in action, with many friends who’ve made (beautiful) reed boned corsets whose tabs have broken. I’m not willing to put tons of work into a pair of stays that are only wearable for a year or so!
So given all that preamble… does anyone have recommendations for quality plastic boning? I’ve used metal for so long that I’ve never really paid attention to the various discussions. I was considering these 1/4″ wide plastic bones from Farthingales LA – opinions?
2) Linen is what’s period to use as interlining/support layers, but my experiences using it have been less than happy — it stretches! Who wants stretchy stays? Any advice on how you’ve dealt with stretchy linen? I’ve got some pretty heavyweight stuff, but it still stretched when I used it for my Nell Gwyn bodice. Do you just cut it down after you’ve sewn in the boning channels, or pattern the stays slightly too small assuming that they’ll stretch?
3) I can’t wrap my brain around butting the various pieces together and sewing them. What kind of stitch do you use, and how do you make certain they can take the strain? Should I use heavy thread? And how are the seam allowances on each piece handled — are they turned inside out like you would if you were bag lining? I’ve been checking Costume Close-Up and other sources, and can’t find any good explanation of this process.
Any advice much appreciated!