Reed All About It

It occurred to me that I haven't gotten to telling about my adventures with Reed Boning yet. Since I've already moved forward with the Linen-Reed Stays project, this is a quick summary. I'll up load the photos to go along with the process when the stays are complete.

The steps involved in Reed Boning (at least the way I did it) are as follows:

-Order more #9, 1/4" round reed than you think you'll need. Twice as much is a safe bet. If you don't order too much you won't have enough. Murphy's Law and all that.

-Soak reed in hot water in your bathtub. Stop to run to the basement when the hot water heater gas valve shuts off as it always does in the middle of this kind of project. Have kid help push the reeds around in the water to keep her from bothering you.

-Remove each reed from the water & stretch & flex the pieces against the curve to help them straighten out. Be rather impressed at how flexible they actually are. Get over confident and break one.

-Lay pieces out to dry a bit. Overnight and into the next day seems like a good amount of time.

-Cut lengths of reed longer than the channels you'll be inserting into. Trust me on that, you need to have something to hold onto as you shove the pieces in to place.

-Lightly wax each piece. Not too much or they will stick in the channels. Not too little or the splinters in the reed will stick in the channels.

-Be very thankful that you purchased that block of pure, wonderful smelling beeswax! Go back to the seller on E-bay and buy a dozen more.

-Put a band-aid on the enormous blister on your thumb so you can continue shoving stubborn reeds into the channels that are just barely wide enough. Stop and check your measurements again to confirm that the channels are just barely wide enough.

-Curse & swear, scream & cry at how impossibly hard it is to put so much reed in between several layers of linen at 3 in the morning because that's the only time you get to yourself to work on this kind of thing.

-Stick your throbbing, blistered hands into a bowl of ice so you can get this step finished already! To hell with the pain, just get it done.

-When a piece is to stubborn to go in all the way, pull it out & try going from the other direction. Continue this back & forth, back & forth until you've stretched the just barely wide enough channel to fit the reed.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting -Insert cat onto lap.

-Try using the pencil sharpener to taper some of the reed ends, especailly the ones that have dead ends into other channels thanks to the boning arrangement.

-Cheer when you get every last channel filled, minus the two that were sewn entirely too narrow and the two channels where the eyelet lacing holes will go.

-Mark the edge of the fabric on each piece of reed.

-Pull the reeds out slightly and trim off below that marked line. Yes I said below. Be generous with that cut because they one time you aren't is the time that it will matter. You want to end up with at least a 1/2 thumbs width from the edge to the top of the reed so when you put on the binding you're not trying to sew through the reeds. Plus if your edge is wide enough you can machine sew the binding. Not that I've ever been so lucky!

-Send reed shrapnel flying all over the sewing room. Laugh at the kitten who thinks they are toys. Gather all the extra pieces & have enough to construct a model log cabin.

-Push the reed back into place & repeat the mark & trim process on the bottom side. Alternately you can push the reed down to the right space on the top & only pull out & trim from the bottom. Don't forget to be generous with those cuts.

-Check to make sure all the reeds are in their proper place and that you didn't miss any. Trim the few that you didn't cut short enough in the first place.

-Marvel at your fully boned set of stays!! Take pictures & brag to everyone within ear shot that they are boned!

-Take three anti-anxiety pills & drink a bottle of wine, it's time to try these suckers on!

-Baste in your lacing strips. Dig out the 2 yard long piece of linen cord you've been hording for just this purpose.

-Realize that no one in the house will help you get into these back lacing stays. Damn! Consider waiting until a helper can be found. Give up on that idea out of sheer impatience.

-Take stays into bathroom & close the door, leaving cats & kid on the other side! Ignore all "mommys" and "meows".

-Put on an undershirt for later photographic modesty since you haven't made a proper shift yet & while you're at it, put on a petticoat so no one sees your underwear in the pictures either.

-Put the stays on yourself in an amazing feat of contortionism that even you didn't think was possible. (Actually it's not that hard. You put them on backwards, spin them around, smoosh in the boobs, and tighten the lacing using one hand to hold the cord tight while the other gathers in the slack.)

-Panic at the stiffness of the reed. Stop panicking when the Empress confirms that yes, the reed will bend and form to you're shape and you won't be stuck with those boned tabs digging into every bit of fat around your hips forever.

-Panic again at the overly large gap in the back even with the extra 2" worth in the lacing strips. Stop panicking when T digs up tons of great information for you about linen stretching & reed bending & a laundry list of tips if that doesn't solve the gap problem.

-Add two more dues to your "tab". Be very thankful that you've got friends who "get" the insane historic costumer "thing", even if it means you'll be paying in Chocolate & Silk Floss for the rest of your life.

-Decide after wearing the stays around the house for 2 hours, that they are really quite comfortable & you're not really anxious to take them off as you were the first 5 minutes after putting them on.

-Move on to the NEXT STEP!