18th Century

These are the stays that never end

I’m still working on my ill-begotten silver stays.  They are not moving very fast, partly because I haven’t had a lot of free time, but mostly because they are cursed.

Every time I take them somewhere intending to work on them I find I have missed something important:  the kid leather binding, my awl for doing the lacing holes, the thread for the lacing holes, the thread for the binding, my snips, a needle, or (in the case of my Australia trip) HALF of the stays!

Here is where they stays are now:

Cover on, mostly bound, front eyelets done

Since the last post I sewed down all of the gilded linen outer covering fabric:

Little tiny linen on linen stitches - front on the right

I also worked all of the front eyelets, binding them in blue thread for a bit of contrast, and to match the lining:

Sigh. I still can't get my eyelets perfect and even

The lining is completely done, but I still need to work all of the back eyelets:

The lining

I’m binding all the edges in white kid leather cut from damaged vintage gloves:

The binding with two overlaps from one length of kid to the next

The binding isn’t completely accurate – it has both raw edges showing, and most extent examples that I am aware of have one edge folded under, and the other covered by the lining or outer fabric (usually the lining).

Raw edges and imperfect binding stitches

For all the progress, the curse continues in more ways than missed opportunities to work on the stays.  First there are the things that are horrible and irritating, but fixable, like this nasty little pucker on the bottom of one of the front tabs:

Grrrrrr....do not like!

I didn’t smooth the linen outer fabric to the edges properly, so it’s forming a pucker.  If I take off a few inches of binding, smooth it out, trim off the excess gilded linen, and then put the binding back on it will be almost perfect.  Only an hour or so of work.  Sigh.

My other problem is not so fixable.  Somehow I got a bunch of stains on the gilded linen right in one area:

Grrrrr. Really do not like!

Because the linen has been so fragile (the gilding comes off) I don’t want to try scrubbing at the stain, and the stays aren’t dry-cleanable.

So yes, not my favourit, happiest project ever!  Still, I can see the finish line in sight with them, and it will be useful to have another pair of stays.

One stitch at a time


  1. I love the word “ill-begotten.”

    Can you soak the stain? Maybe with a little oxy powder? Or would that hurt the gilding too?

    I really should send you a piece of quilter’s lame. I swear it looks just the same except it’s cotton and fully washable.

    • I’m going to experiment on a few scraps and see what works. And thanks for the offer, but I don’t think my magpie fabric fixation needs any feeding 😉

  2. They are going to be gorgeous when they are finished. I can understand the “project that never ends” projects. We all have a few of those.

  3. I made a dress from silver linen and saved the leftovers for stays. I’m so excited to see yours completed. Your being too hard on yourself, your eyelets look great!

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