Ninon’s dress: binding the tabs

I’ve finished binding the tabs of the bodice of Ninon’s dress.

My bound tabs

I used kid leather to bind the tabs.  This may not be 100% historically accurate.

There are numerous examples of 18th century stays bound in leather, but I couldn’t find any extent 17th century bodices with leather bindings.  However, all the bodices I did find were bound in a different fabric from the main bodice fabric: usually a sort of ribbed tape.  I couldn’t find a suitable modern alternative, especially in the right colour,  so I decided to go with kid.

I cut apart an old kid glove for my bindings.  A few years back I found a bag of mis-matched and soiled gloves at an op shop and I picked them up thinking they might be useful.

My soiled kid gloves

Boy am I so glad I did!  Binding stays with kid leather is soooooo much easier than any other kind of binding.  Because the leather doesn’t fray, you don’t have to fold in the cut edges.  The leather folds smoothly over the inner and outer curves of the tabs.  The kid is soft enough to easily push a needle through.  It’s fantastic.

I’m binding all my stays in kid leather from now on – and I can, because it only took 3 half inch wide strips of kid to do these tabs, and there is enough of the one glove left to do it another 3 or four times.  Considering I have a dozen gloves, I have kid for a couple dozen stays!   Happiness!

The leather curving over the tabs

The other cool thing about the kid is that when you run out of a piece you just overlap a new piece and continue sewing.

An overlapped join in the kid

I’m sure my sewing technique will get better as I do more kid binding, but this first attempt doesn’t look too bad.

The binding from the back


  1. I bound my last pair of stays with chamois leather. Wonderful to work in too.

      • Auto parts supply store. I believe that chamois is still used as polishing cloths for car paintwork – I don’t think its been replaced with some sort of synthetic.

          • Hayley says

            Yes, you can get chamois at Supercheapauto etc, in the car grooming section.

      • I needed to do some overlapping, but not too many times. 🙂 Chamois leather sold in auto shops may be fake nowadays, so check twice if you buy from them! I found my chamois leather in a Swedish craft store and somewhere I have a link from an online store located in New Zeeland, if that would interest you.

        • That would interest me! And yes, if I bought from an auto shop I would grill them on the actual leather-ness of the material! I don’t want any fake micro-fibre stuff!

  2. old gloves, now there’s an idea! /steals. I’m going to have to pick some up on my next fleantiques fair trip.

  3. Alexandra says

    Do you think binding an 1880’s corset this way would be period? That just looks so easy, and it would be so much more comfortable against the skin than twill tape. And I know I have some kid gloves in a box somewhere.

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