For this pair of stays I did do a mockup – the style is very different from stays I have made in the past. I just did a single layer of cotton drill (canvas) with the front panel sewn in and lacing tape sewn to the back. The fit was overall pretty good.
The basic construction of these is as follows. For each piece, you trace it onto the fabric and cut AROUND the piece, leaving about an inch extra on all sides. Both the left and right sides are provided – even though they are mirror images – but this actually does help keep things straight. You need 2 layers of interlining fabric for each piece (that would be 4 layers if cutting without the left/right pieces) and one covering of fashion fabric for each piece (2 if cutting without left/right pieces). I cut them out 2 layers at a time, tracing onto the top layer only. Then you sew the boning channels, trim the interlining fabric, insert the bones, and press the cover fabric to the back. Tack the excess fabric down and the pieces are ready to be whip stitched together.
Here we go through all the steps on the first piece, the stomacher. The 2 layers of interlining and cover fabric have been roughly cut out – you can see the line that is the edge of the piece in the photo below. To determine where to sew the boning channels, I measured and drew a light pencil line down the very center on the back side. Since the boning channels will show on this pair of stays, I am using red thread but sewing from the back side of the interlining. It really helps to have a sewing machine where the bobbin and top side stitches both look equally nice when doing this!
In my stash of sewing machine feet I have an edge stitch foot that is exactly 3/8 inch from the center needle position. This is the perfect size for 1/4 inch boning. Still, always do a test channel on scrap fabric to make sure first. As you can see above, the edge of the foot runs along the previous channel. Fill the entire piece with boning channels. Now it is ready for boning:
For this pair of stays I used a new product, synthetic whalebone. It is plastic boning created to imitate the whalebone used in original stays, and is available from Larkin and Smith. It can be cut with a pair of wire cutters – it is a bit stiff for scissors. I like that it is about as flat as a piece of metal boning, so it will not add much to your waist circumference. Here is a picture of a piece of the synthetic whalebone and a piece of cane boning:
When all of the channels are boned, trim the interlining back to the cut lines.
After boning has been cut and inserted into all full width boning channels, the extra cover fabric is pressed to the inside, and then tacked down.
Cover fabric pressed to the back.
The same basic steps apply to the other pieces, with two unique differences. Both the side front and back pieces will have eyelets, so for these pieces, be sure to leave enough cover fabric to press inside over the entire eyelet area. The lining should not extend into the eyelets.
I saved the first boning channel to be sewn after this strip of fabric was pressed to the inside. This helps hold the first bone in place. The edges of this piece will be hidden under the lining, which will come up to the line where the eyelets begin.
The other odd piece is the side back, which appears to be curved. What happens is when you insert straight boning into this piece, it causes the piece to flair out nicely over the hips. It was a little tricky to map out these boning channels. Here is how I did it, so that it looks like the illustration in the booklet.
Measure the center of the piece, and draw a light pencil line 3/16 inch on either side – so that the boning channel is running down the very center:
Next I measured how many 3/8 inch channels will fit along the narrow top of the piece, and marked the far edge boning lines to be sewn. These channels need to be curved, so marking this first curved seam line is important to getting the others sewn in:
Then I started sewing 3/8 channels along that curved line using my sewing machine foot as a guide.
All that remains is to sew straight channels from the bottom up to fill in the spaces on the bottom between the straight channel and the curved channels.
The eyelets for the lacing in the front and back I did per the post How To Make Machine Thread Eyelets.
Time for assembly. Whew!