Tuesday, October 26, 2010

17th c Pair of Bodies Progress!!

I have been progressing nicely on this pair of bodies. I am making every effort to be as period correct as possible, and in nearly every minute of stitching, I keep thinking to myself, its really no wonder why men were the staymakers! One really does need a lot of strength in their hands~ I have overly strong hands, and mine are really feeling this every step of the way. Got the back boning channels stitched, and decided to only make 3 on each side of the back opening~ Dorthea's had 4, but this is a scaled down version, and I just didn't like the bulky look of 4 channels. The wide one next to the opening is for the lacing holes.

So next step, once all the channels are stitched, is to fill with your boning material. Whalebone, splints and bents(type of stiff grass) were all used in the 17th c as boning/ stiffening materials. I have plenty of whalebone, and I really would have liked to have used it, but its so darn brittle, it just cannot be cut. Perhaps it wasn't like that 200 years ago when it was harvested, but it sure is now, so I will save that for something with 1/4" channels, something I wont have to cut it down for. A person could also use hemp or jute twine to bone their channels as well, I have used both in later period corsets and it works wonderfully....but I wanted a really rigid, period correct look, so I am using bamboo for Marguarite's bodies. Above I have already cut a hardwood center busk, and bones the 3 channels each side of it. I used the pliers to nip the ends off right at the edge of the material. I was going to work from the center out, like I normally do, but since I had to still stitch the lower edges of the boning channels going up the side of the front panel, and I needed to actually be able to get my hand around the material to stitch it, I switched and did the side sections next.

This really worked out well, and I stitched the channels as I filled them, so the little pieces wouldn't slip out. I used bamboo BBQ skewers, and split them with my x~acto knife to the right thickness, then whittled the edges until they were the perfect fit for the channels. On the side pieces, I cut them to the exact angles top and bottom, then slipped them in, and stitched the baseline below them. Here is a hint when using any type wood material for your boning. Trust me, this will save you much time and effort! Before you fill the channel, first pre-fit or stretch it with something smooth~ I used a metal rod that was the exact size of my channels. Insert the metal rod all the way up to the tip of the channel...and it wont be easy! You will have to wiggle and jiggle it to separate the 2 layers of lining from each other....twisting is actually best, I found. This acts like a glove stretcher, and once you pull it out and insert your boning material, it will slip right in like butter.

This is the main reason why, if you are using a fragile fabric like silk or velvet for the outer layer, you want to have a backing fabric for it, so your boning doesn't pierce it, or grab a thread and make a run or hole. The boning is placed between the 2 linings, not up against the outer fabric. See my rubber gloves~ I am forever changed and love sewing with them on~ they help my sewing hand grasp the needle easily, and I wore one on my other hand while doing the boning, to help grab the bodies better, and they also kept any dirt and oil on my hand from getting ground into the fabric. One really has to get physical when boning a corset like this. I wont lie, there was some swearing involved......

Here is the above bamboo stitched into its channel. If you have angled channels, it really does make a huge difference to take the time and cut the angles in the boning material as well, so the entire channel is filled. If you leave the top and bottom of the boning straight across, it will look "hokey"....this is why I don't like to use steel boning, because it is so hard to cut.

Front panel fully boned~ woo hoo!

Trim the boning right to the edge, the binding will cover this, and keep them from popping out.

Inside. Next step is to stitch the lacing holes at the back opening~ don't fill the back boning channels yet~ it is easier to needle the eyelet holes first, then add the stiffness last.

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