Since my last I posted I really got cranking on finishing these. First, I put in the bust darts that I decided I needed in the last fitting.
Next, I re-hemmed the CB edge by double folding, as I didn’t want to cut into the selvages. Then cut and sewed on my new strap pieces, although in a moment of fatigue I sewed one of the linings on the wrong way at first. I went ahead and cut them as long as possible, figuring I will determine out the right length in my (hopefully) final fitting. My measurement to originally determine the length was somehow very off so it seemed safest to give myself as much wiggle room as possible. Finally, I took the plunge and trimmed the center front top edge (see my previous posts to explain why I had excess here).
Now I am on to the binding. I started with the bottom edge. I made my own double fold bias tape from the same twill fabric I used for the outside of the stays, by cutting strips 1.5″ wide. Some people use binding cut on-grain, but I decided to go the easier route rather than the more HA one. The final width when sewn was about 3/8″. It still looks wider than what I’ve seen on extant stays, but I’m not sure I could make it any smaller. Possibly sateen is easier to manipulate than my twill into this smaller dimension.
I then began to work on the combo binding/drawstring channel across the center front top edge. In the instructions, it suggests making this binding wider than the others, but I didn’t find an actual suggested width for any of the bindings. I decided to make it using 2″ strips, but keeping the 3/8″ seam allowance. My thought was this would leave room for the drawstring. I machine sewed one side and began sewing the inside by hand with a whip stitch. I got almost halfway done (including having put the eyelets in) when I decided to trust my instinct that it was too wide. That is what you see in the photo above.
I looked at some images of extant ones and the binding on them is all quite small. Almost none of them have a drawstring, either, which I am a bit suspicious about. With the recent boom in people making regency stays, I’ve gotten to see lots of reproductions and how they look with the drawstring being used to fit the top edge. Most of the time, I don’t think it looks right, either to modern or historical standards. That top edge should be hitting right around the fullest part of the bust, so a drawstring, unless used very sparingly, just seems like a not-so-great way to get around a poor fit. Depending on the thinness of one’s bodiced-petticoat and/or gown, excessive gathering there seems likely to create an unsightly bump line.
As I was removing my binding to rework it, I realized I had also forgotten to put in the bust bones, so it would have had to be removed anyways. Keeping the eyelets placed so they would end up on the inside, I trimmed down the long sides of the binding to the 1.5″ dimension I had used previously. I put in my bones and started pinning the binding on when I also realized I had forgotten to rinse the blue marking pen out! I didn’t want to do this with the reed boning in as when I’ve washed my old short stays with the bones in it stained them slightly yellow. You can see this in the photo below. I was relieved I had caught so many errors, but was also feeling like I had been too much on autopilot.
I rinsed out the stays and hung them to dry overnight. After some more thought, I also decided it would be wise to put in the buttonhole slit for my busk before binding. My mentor had advised doing a slit instead of leaving the binding partly undone. In the photo below you can see the original busk slit in the extant pair he let me study. I cut the slit using my snips and inserted the busk to check that it was wide enough.
I used Neal Hurst’s tutorial on buttonholes to guide me, and the same Coats Button Craft thread I used in my eyelets. I think it worked especially well because I have an extra panel of twill reinforcing the busk channel, so the buttonhole stitching was going through two layers of fabric.
Success! I’m now moving on to fitting the strap length and putting in the strap eyelets. I don’t have ribbon in my stash for the drawstring so that’s a slight delay on doing the final top edge binding.