Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Binding 18th Century Stays--An Abbreivated Tutorial

After writing my 1780s stays tutorial, I realized that there was one part that was probably more helpful than anything else--binding the stays. I don't take credit for this binding method, rather Nicole, of Diary of a Mantua Maker told me about it, and I was later lucky enough to see it done on extant 18th century stays in Lara Corset's collection.

If you've ever wondered how 18th century stays had such a narrow binding, this is how. Instead of cutting all layers to the edge and binding, a seam allowance was left on the top layer of the stays, which was then wrapped to the wrong side and hemmed, essentially binding the stays before adding the binding.

Purple Stays 3

Here's the seam allowance on the top of the stays. Right now, it's all layers of the fabric. Inserting the boning is much easier this way.

Purple Stays 4

Only the inner layers of the stays are cut. The top layer seam allowance is left in place.

Sew the panels of the stays together. No need to do it by hand like I did, unless you're like me and actually think it's fun to hand sew stays!

Purple Stays 11

Once the panels are sewn together, fold the excess seam allowance to the wrong side and hem it to the lining.

Purple Stays 10

Here it is from the right side. Now, when you bind the stays, you're not doing it to finish the edge because it's already finished, but rather binding to finish the edge more nicely and provide a little extra strength at the seams.

Purple Stays 15

Bind the stays however you like. I used ultrasuede (also on Nicole's recommendation!). I'm afraid to get the truly narrow binding though, it does have to be done by hand. You want to catch the top of the hem more than anything else.


And nice, tiny binding, just like real 18th century stays!


  1. This is brilliant! I was ready to throw my stays across the room after trying to attach 1/4" double fold bias tape to all those layers. I'm definitely using your method instead. Thank you!!

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