I finished my linen dress before the Valley heat set in so I’m ready for 110 degrees! All that was left were 2 finishing details: a waist stay and a fringed hem.
I love the waist stay-it keeps my dress from hiking up and the Petersham ribbon that forms the stay is soooo comfy next to my skin. This dress really feels lovely from head to toe.
So just to review 8th grade Home Ec, ahem, a waist stay is simply a piece of ribbon cut to your waist size or a bit smaller, and inserted at the waist of a garment. Its sole purpose in life is to keep your waist where you put it-an internal stabilizer of sorts. It keeps your dress from sliding up or down. Have you ever seen someone hoist up their strapless dress? Guaran-darn-tee that they did not have a waist stay in that dress! It KILLS me to see Hollywood types hoisting up their dresses-it is not a very attractive gesture. And it’s a super simple thing to add to anything with a waist-even a purchased garment.
Start with Petersham ribbon-this is a must. Petersham ribbon may look like “grosgrain” ribbon but it’s not. Petersham has a flexible picot edge allowing it to be shaped with steam, whereas grosgrain cannot be shaped this way. The reason you care is that Petersham will flex comfortably with your body, the rayon will remain comfortable in the heat or cold and it will not wrinkle or pucker like grosgrain ribbon will.
See how the Petersham at the top of the photo has those scalloped edges while the grosgrain at the bottom has a flat edge? This is the distinguishing feature of Petersham. Your local Big Box probably does not carry it-you’ll need to go to a proper fabric store or perhaps order online. See how the Petersham can be steamed into a curve without any puckering or pleats?
To begin the waist stay, I measured my waist and added enough extra for the turn of the ends and the tabs to accommodate the hook.
I robbed the hook from an old swim suit I wore in my Long Ago Prime.
I also added an additional tab, a “Fat Day Option” just in case. I turned under each end twice and simply stitched across the ends as well as across the additional waist tabs.
Once my ribbon was prepped, I attached it to the waist of my dress. I folded the tape in quarters and aligned those marks with the center and side seams. The bottom edge of the ribbon was placed to barely cover the existing stitch line for the waist seam.
Then I flipped to the lining side to stitch so that I could see the previous stitching line of the seam. I stitched the ribbon on, stitching along the exact same line that I used to attach the bodice to the skirt. Here you can see where I began to stitch the Petersham on with white thread, right on top of the previously stitched seam which used pink thread (just so I could show you what I was doing).
I left 2 1/2″ of the Petersham free at each end of the ribbon. This will allow some slack so that I can easily slip in the hook when the dress is on.
Here is the inside view of the stay. Now wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d been forward thinking enough to have purchased some pink Petersham?? As it is though, the waist stay provides a really nice touch to the inside finish, covering up the exposed seam.
This is what the stay looks like installed. The dress is on my dress form with the side zipper unzipped to show where I hook it. When I put the dress on I simply slip the hook in to snug up the stay and zip-done! Some prefer to anchor the stay more loosely, just tacking at the center and side seams but I prefer to sew the stay to the waistband all around.
Not everything turned out perfectly. This tiny little detail kind of annoys me-there is a 3/8″ gap between the top of the zipper and the seam-grrrr!
I love, love, love this fringed hem! It’s not my brilliant thinking-it came straight from the pattern directions but I think I will use this technique again-it’s just so me!
Here she is finished in all her glory. I am thrilled with this dress. Not every garment sewing experience produces something I really love but I did well on this one. Bring on the heat!