Sunday, January 18, 2015

Regency Stays, Part II

Finally satisfied with the fitted mock-up, it's time to start on the real stays.

Using the mock-up pieces as a pattern, I cut all of the pieces out of linen.  Gores are being worked as single layers, straps and "body" pieces as double layers.

To conceal the seams between layers, I'll be working from the front to the back (more on that in part III). The first point of business is to mark the busk pocket, under-bust quilting, and gores.  After stitching through both layers to form the busk pocket, it's time to add the bust gores.

I've found Alysaundre's Perfectly Pointed Gore Tutorial very useful when it comes to setting gores by machine.  Those tacking stitches really help.  I tried two methods of finishing the gore seams on my mock-up: in the first, I use my normal felling method for a single layer: the two "body" layers are treated as one, the seam allowances on the body pieces are trimmed close to the gore seam, and the gore's seam allowance is folded over the raw edges and top-stitched.  In the second method, I attached the gore only to one layer only, pressed the seam allowances flat, then folded the raw edges of the 'lining' layer to the inside, top-stitching over the lot.  Working with two layers, I found this approach slightly neater and easier.
Basting the pointed gores.
Basting the gore points
Gores stitched into outer layer of stays.
Gores attached to one layer only, before ironing the seam allowances
Lining of stays attached around gores.
Fold raw edges of lining to the inside
Front panel of Regency stays with finished gores.
Finished gores
With the gores completed, it was time to start in on the trapunto.  I found this tutorial particularly useful in figuring out how to approach it.  Inspired by several beautiful original corded stays, I decided to cord the under-bust area in a diamond-pattern.

I marked the diamond pattern in pencil on the reverse side (my fabric marker appears to be hiding). Intending to minimize the extraneous lines, I only marked one stitching line per row, and used the presser foot to make parallel lines at 1/8" and 1/4" to the marked line.  The area to be quilted was 3.5" tall (3" inside the horizontal border), with 1" between each 'line' (double row of cords, set in 1/8" channels).  The diamond pattern was measured from the center front, with the initial lines measured at a 45 degree angle to the busk casing.  I practiced stitching and cording this pattern on the second fitting mock-up, to make sure that it worked.
Trapunto quilting/cording on stays mock-up.
Mock up: corded trapunto quilting on the left, marked lines on the right
The cord is a cotton crochet yarn, ala sugar'n'creme, as I usually use in my corded petticoats and sunbonnets.  Not having a trapunto needle to hand, I substituted a blunt-end tapestry needle to run the cords through the sewn channels.  This worked sufficiently well, even sliding between the stitches where one channel crosses another (I tested this on the first draft to see if crossing lines would work or not).  The short length of the needle would prove severely detrimental over a larger area, but worked fine on this project.
Quilting the stays for the trapunto work.
Quilting the first lines.  The thread ends were tied on the back and clipped close.
Running cords in the stays.
Running the cords
Quilting on stays.
One side quilted!
Front panel of stays with one side quilted, and the other quilted and corded.
Contrast of layers: right side quilted, left side quilted and corded.
Detail: quilted versus quilted and corded.
Close view: corded versus quilted.
With the trapunto finished, the last thing is to add the two short bones (1/4" spring steel) along the lower, pointed sides.  To accommodate the many things going on at the top of this piece, the bones along the upper portion of the side seam will be encased in between the layers of the side panels.

Completed front panel of 1820s stays, with gores, trapunto work, busk, and bones.
Completed Front Panel

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