February 13, 2011

DPP challenge

So when I saw that my two favourite periods were being covered in the DPP competition this year I was so excited! I had grand plans of full natural form outfits and possibly a pair of stays or two. Unfortunately due to time and money my plans were slimmed down and slimmed down again until I was left with making a pair of stays only and in true form I left myself only a few weeks to do it!

I thought I'd try and document some of the process as I went. I was using a couple of new techniques including my first bit of proper embroidery and using reed as boning. I had made one pair before for a friend that was boned only with steel and it weighed a tonne!

Originally I was inspired by these images I found on the web:

As you will see I ended up going for something completely different but I liked the idea of emphasising the front panel shape.

I enlarged the pattern in the Corsets and Crinolines book for the 1780s stays and adjusted it to my measurements.

After making a mock up I raised the top line, lengthened the waist, and made a few other adjustments. I also experimented with how to pattern the boning and whether to use one or two reeds in each channel.

I decided on the fan type pattern of boning and only one reed in each channel. It seemed strong enough. I was pretty pleased with how the second mock up turned out.  It was at this point I started to wonder how wise I was to use reed! I wanted the traditional material but I was never going to be able to clean this and was a bit worried about breakage! Maybe I should be using artifical whalebone?? What if after all that binding of tabs (this was a previous painful experience!) I would have to undo it to replace the boning! At this point though I had the reed and didnt have time to order anything else so I decided to just plough ahead with what I had.

Now I had to tackle the embroidery. Having only ever done a bit of flossing on the ends of bones I was a little worried! Here was my first practise at satin stitch and couching.

Then I cut out the front panel ready for embroidering. I used a little fray check on all the edges particularly as I was going to be handling this piece a lot with the embellishment.

I played around with the pattern of the design for ages before getting something approaching what I wanted. I didn't anticpate it being so hard to draw a few wavy lines and some tear drops! Eventually I came up with this.

Then I had to work out how to transfer the design. I decided that poking holes with my awl and using a
pencil to mark it through to the silk would be my best option. Would use the holes for the stems and the flowers I would draw free hand onto the panel.

This seemed to work pretty well! Now for the scary part of actually doing the embroidery. I have to say I found I quite enjoyed this!

Once I had done that on one side I simply reversed the stencil to get a mirror image on the other side and this is what I ended up with.

Now using the silk layer cut outs that I already had as a guide for the other layers, I stacked the two layers of coutil underneath it and pinned and then basted the layers together before cutting out. I had previously interfaced the silk as well.

Once I had the layered panels cut out I made the channels for the reed. With previous experiments I determined I wanted a channel that was about 9mm wide. I played around with the pattern on paper before carefully marking out with chalk and sewing the channels.

Once all that was done I assembled the panels together. I admit now that I didn't do this the traditional way and instead machine sewed the seam allowences together carefully making sure that the channels at the seam allowences were not caught by accident.

Before I could sew the horizontal channels at the top I had to put in the reed. This was much easier than I thought. I just cut them to size and gave them a brief sanding to take off any rough bits and slid them in. I had experimented with using the curve of the reed, as it came in a circular bundle, for the front panel to help shape it but found that it made the bottom stick out so I steam ironed most of the length of the reed just leaving the top to curve outwards to help the shape of the top of the stays. The pic below is before it is boned.

Once I had the vertical bones in I used a zipper foot to sew the first line of stitching for the horizontal channels and then a regular foot for the rest and slid in the reeds, which I left unironed to help with the shape.

I also attached the straps at this point. You'll notice that my pics of the process start to majorly fall off about now! This is because I suddenly realised I had about two days to finish everything before the deadline and didn't stop for anything! I cut out the pattern again in an Irish linen and sewed it together before laying it into the stays. I tacked it all together and then at the centre back turned the seams in and topstitched them down.

Now I could put in eyelets for the spiral lacing and acutally try it on!!


Then came the bit I had been dreading..all that binding! Surprisingly it wasn't quite as painful as it had seemed before! The bottom edge did take about 6 hours but I was happy with it at the end and even had time for my little photoshoot before getting my entry in with about 5 hrs to spare!

This is actually a piece I'm really proud of! If I was to do anything different I would have cut down under the arms a bit as it sticks into me there slightly and I think double stitching or reinforcing the seams might have been a good idea! But on the whole I was very happy! I'm even thinking of making another pair in plain white linen with artificial whalebone to use as a more practical 'working' pair.

I've had all sorts of problems uploading photos to this blogger so I've the left the proper photos for the entry. Learning how to photograph them was a lesson itself! But on the whole I think it went pretty well and I managed to avoid staying up 'til 3am three days in a row this time! Yeay! I hope you like them! :)

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