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:
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.
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.
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!
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!!