I got incredibly discouraged then, and put them aside for a few days, but a couple week deadline was looming, I’m not the fastest at sewing (or anything else for that matter) so I knew I had to keep at it if I wanted them done by the colonial dance. So I pulled out the side seams, cut off 2” and before sewing them back together, put the eyelets in at the back. Most Colonial American stays only lace up the back, but I really dislike not being self sufficient. I hate not being able to dress myself. So my stays would lace up the back, and lace up the front. I started with the back eyelets since I knew they would be the less perfect eyelets, that I would get better with practice, and also that there was less room in the back so if I still needed to bring the stays in I might still loose a bit off the front, but none off the back. Once I had two rows of eyelets I stitched the sides back together, and finally! They fit!
The rest of that weekend and week was taken up sewing tape along the seams and outside edges. I only managed to sew the tape (I used off-white twill tape) to the outside with the machine, then turned the tape under and whipped the tape to the back by hand. All that hand-sewing meant that I ran out of time, but was still able to wear them to the 1775 Ball, I just sewed the front closed for the evening and pinned the shoulder straps there eventually they will tie, and since they were underneath everything, who could tell?
We had a great time dancing and hanging out with friends, and after wearing them for an evening I was fairly pleased, and happy to finish them up.
Now, I did not get the lining put in before the dance, because according to the RH pattern the historical thing to do was to put the lining in last so you could take it back out and wash it. I’m not sure I’d do it again this way, but I’ll see how I feel after wearing them for a couple weekends in the middle of July, then I’ll know better. I fitted the lining and serged the edges because I was not about to take out the lining and wash it if I did not think it could handle being washed. I hand stitched the lining while in front of the TV on quite a few snowy evenings.
In the meanwhile, I had started on a new sewing project (which will be my next few posts) but it meant that I took my time on the stays. I did manage to put in enough time that I got the lining in, and put in front eyelets and arm strap eyelets just before wearing them again this past weekend. I feel incredibly accomplished and very proud of my 18th century underwear! They are definitely not perfect, I have things I would do differently next time, but I am happy with the final product.