Last month I mentioned I got in a bind when my unfinished corset split during a fitting.  It was on one of the seams which was stitched in the ditch during step J of making an 18th century corset. It split because I had not sewn far enough down the seam to the waistline, put in enough securing stitches, nor finished putting bias binding on the tassets round the bottom edge.

The split seam on my stays

The split seam on my stays.

As I needed to get some strong thread and I have been so busy on my petticoat, I didn’t have the chance till now to fix it. Claire had recommended button hole thread, but I was unable  to find any at John Lewis in Milton Keynes, so ended up getting cotton darning thread.

I had also been waiting for the thimbles I ordered for quilting, which had arrived now, so my fingers would be saved from pushing and pulling the needle through the stiff thick layers.

My thimbles: 3 x rubber, 2 x metal, and a leather thimble.

Thimbles: 3 x rubber, 2 x metal, and a leather thimble.

Repairing a split stay seam

Starting at the apex of the tear, I buried the thread knot so it would not be seen or rub against the skin of the wearer. Starting at this end, I was able to pull the thread tightly together and get in to the seam right up until the edge.

Starting to sew up the split on the inside of the stays

Repairing the split: Starting to sew up the split on the inside of the stays starting at the apex

To help strengthen the repair, Claire recommended that I catch the tread around the bone.  I sewed in between the bone and the inside/base fabric layers on one side of the bone, and then sewed between the bone and the outer/top fabric layers. Each time, I went back in the same hole the needle came out of, so that the stitches will not be seen when the repair is finished.

Repairing the split: invisible stitching, wraping the thread round the bone

Repairing the split: invisible stitching, wrapping the thread round the bone.

With all the layers of fabric, occasionally having to go through one of the Rigiline bones, I had to use a metal thimble to push the needle through, and use the rubber thimbles to pull the needle out. I wouldn’t have had the grip to finish the job without the rubber thimbles, I am really glad I bought them.

Repairing the split: rubber thimbles were required to pull out the really stiff needle

Repairing the split: rubber thimbles were required to pull out the really stiff needle.

Sewing all the way down was quite an effort, but the seam is now very strong. I am sure it would be the last to go now, but I think all the rest will be strong enough, especially when the bias has been added on the bottom.

Repaired split - on the inside

Repairing the split: on the inside - not as neat as before, but much stronger.

Once I had finished the structural repairs on the inside, I had to sew together the layers on the outside too.

The split can still be seen on the outside. You can see the stitches from the repair on the inside

Repairing the split: The split can still be seen on the outside. You can see the stitches from the repair on the inside.

Again I started at the apex of the split, but did not go around the bone. I just made sure I caught enough of the top fabric to make it secure and hold together firmly.

Repairing the split: binding the seam of the top layers.

Repairing the split: binding the seam of the top layers.

The seam is not perfectly straight unlike the machine stitched seams. This is because I pulled a little too tight and it has made it pucker very slightly, but overall it is not noticeable. I made sure I sewed down to the waistline this time and put quite a few reinforcing stitches as the bottom, which you can see at the bottom in the picture below. These stitches will be covered by the bias binding.

The repaired split: outside of the stays.

The repaired split: outside of the stays.

Just the binding and the straps left to do on the corset and I will be able to wear it out.