Stay the Course, Part 3

How to construct mid 18th century fully boned stays with a stomacher front.

Step Three: Finishing!

Please note: I did not take photographs while finishing the red stays with the stomacher front that the previous two sections of this tutorial use. In fact, I've never actually finished those stays & have been wearing them unlined for nearly a year (*blush). Instead we will use a pair of blue strapless, front & back lacing stays that I am constructing for a friend as our example throughout this stage of the tutorial. Luckily it doesn't matter what style of stays you are working with, the construction process is always pretty much the same.

Part 1: Binding


Previously constructed stays using Parts One & Two.
Sturdy thread
Binding material. 3/4" strips of chamois leather, dutch linen tape or worsted wool tape are my preferred materials.

Lay binding right side to right side on stays edge. Binding only needs to cover around the very top and bottom of the lacing edges but you can bind around all edges if you want.

Stitch ~1/8" from binding edge using a back stitch for extra security.

Be careful stitching binding around interior curves of the tabs. This takes some fiddling to get just right. Swearing like a sailor while working on this step always works wonders for me.

Fold binding over to the interior leaving ~ 1/4" on the outside.

Whip stitch binding to the interior of the stays. This doesn't have to be perfect, pretty stitching, as it will be covered by the lining in the next step. Some coaxing might be needed around any curved edges and again in those dreaded inner curves of the tabs.

Take a break, your fingers probably hurt like crazy after sewing through all that leather! You can wear your new stays full time from this point. Lining is a nice finish though, keeps the interior more protected from sweat & body oils, provides a little more padding between you and the boning and when installed correctly, can easily be taken out for laundering or replacement without having to disassemble the entire pair of stays.

Part 2: Lining

Previously constructed & bound stays, see above.
Previously customized stays pattern from Part 1 (optional)
Sturdy thread
Light to mid weight linen. This is a great place to use scraps.

Cut out the lining using your customized stays pattern as a guide or roughly trace the outline of the already constructed stays. Lining can be cut as 1 piece, or as several pieces corresponding to each piece of the stays. It's your choice, depending on how much extra work you want to do & how large your scraps of fabric are. The lining pieces don't even have to match, so use up those scraps!

Lay lining piece(s) on stays interior, wrong side to wrong side.

Turn in the edges so lining barely covers binding edge. If using separate lining pieces for each panel turn in all edges over lapping the seams just slightly. Don't forget to turn under the outer edge so your lacing holes remain accessible!

Pin liberally, adjust lining so it lays neatly & smoothly. Re-pin several times to get the lining just so. One can never use too many pins at this stage.

Whip stitch the lining into place along the binding edge, along the outer edge against the lacing holes & along where the lining panels join if necessary.

Use care when working around the interior of the tabs as that is the trickiest area. Trimming the lining into a "Y" shape at the top inner curve of the tabs can make tucking the lining to the inside easier but it is still going to be a fussy job.

Break out a bodkin & the champagne , your stays are finished!


  1. I love this idea for binding stays! I've just started doing 18th century/regency, and most people seem to be doing bound bindings, so I am really excited to find something that uses piping and allows you to replace the lining without too much work.

    Could you post a picture of the finished stays?

  2. To clarify, this technique does not use piping. This is the "bound binding" method.

    The finished blue stays are pictured in the previous post under the review for the Bloody Lake Rendezvous. You also get a glimpse of the red stomacher stays in the same photo.


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