09 May 2009

18th c. strapless stays: nearly finished (no, really this time)

I had to rip out my center insert to re-do the boning channels, because they were neither straight nor even. While I was at it, I did a lot of basted fitting to double check whether I really needed it. In the end, I trimmed the new piece down to a mere 1 inch finished width. It doesn't seem like it ought to make that much of a difference, but it really does. That one inch is the difference between va-va-voom 18th c. cleavage, and spilling over the top in an embarrassing fashion. We've all seen the woman who makes you say "That isn't supposed to be an underbust bodice..." - I don't want to be that woman.

Once the fitting was finally finished, I adjusted the seams on the lining to match, and attached it with a big whipstitch at top and bottom, and a neat hemstitch at the back opening beside the eyelets. Here's a picture of the inside. All that's left to do is bind the edges.

In retrospect, I think a lot of the trouble I had with fitting these had to do with my method for enlarging them, as it relates to my shape. I followed the pattern directions, which have you widen each of the 10 pieces equally. Generally this is sound. However, if you're adding several inches at the bust, it really does matter whether the extra size is mostly breast, or mostly ribcage. For me, my waist and (more importantly) overall ribcage would fit the pattern size - the difference is DDs. The upshot is that the back pieces probably didn't need to be enlarged - my back, from side to side, isn't any wider than the original pieces. I should have concentrated the increase at the sides and front. I the end, I made it work and I think they'll be serviceable, but if I ever get it in to my head to do another pair, I'll probably start from a different base; maybe try to find a pattern or extant example that has a larger bust to waist ratio.

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