Thursday, July 28, 2011

1780s Stays (Italian?)

This set of stays is from an Italian collector of clothing from many time periods. Follow the link and you will see a number of items of interest from the 18th century onwards. These are some of the best photographs that I have seen online of an 1780s style pair of stays.
The back is not laced properly, but you can still see the offset lacing holes and the very high back of this style of stays. She is an Italian collector, but we can't assume that these are Italian, but we can probably assume they are European.

This side view gives a really good look at how those slanted channels and curved side seams shape the body. What you don't see is how narrow these boning channels actually are, having looked at many similar, I would estimate that the bones are no more than 5mm and could actually be less. Once again in this time period the outer fashion fabric is a plain shade of beige/brown cotton. The leather binding of the stays is now being replaced by linen or cotton tape. The fingers/tabs are more tooth like and less rounded than in earlier stays.

The partial front lacing allows for some accommodation to round out the shape. There are two sets of lacing holes, one to actually draw in the stays and another for a decorative ribbon. The front is very narrow with the boning pattern drawing the bust in and the shoulder straps providing support. This is a very nice pair of later stays.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Eyes Have it!

A new toy in my sewing box made me take a fresh approach to looking at eyelets as found in 18th century original stays.

This toy was purchased at Home Depot, a micrometer. Never knew I needed one, but don't know how I did research with out it! This handy gadget measures the smallest amount, in either inches or mm, and gives new meaning to stitch counter, now I can count the width of a thread and each individual stitch, accurately. Under $30.00, a must have for the totally crazed.

So armed with my new toy, and a camera with a good macro lens, off to the stays!

This first image is a close up of the eyelet, taken from the right side of the stays, these stays are 3rd Quarter 18thc. ( to be clear, these images are taken from original stays, not reproductions).


Entire Eyelet-Edge to Edge 8.40mm
Eyelet Opening:3.80mm
Whipped Edge: 2.30mm
Thread: 0.34mm, unbleached linen
Stays Fabric: unbleached linen

It is visible in this enlarged image that the threads are doubled as they are whipped around the eyelet hole, it is also very visible that the hole opening is whipped and that the buttonhole stitch is not used.

Comparing Threads

Now that I have a base line width of the thread used to make this eyelet, I went to my stash of linen threads to find a close match.

These are the threads from left to right, I did not bother to measure my fine linen threads, as only the thicker ones came close to the original threads.

Halfbleached: 0.20mm
Unbleached: 0.23mm
Bleached (ball): 0.35 mm Winner!!!!

In the past I have often used all three of the these threads for making eyelets, and they all make a nice eyelet, but it looks like the 0.35 is going to be the go to thread, which I have in bleached and unbleached.

Just for fun I will make a series of eyelets using all three threads and try to approximate the original eyelet. Next post..