Redthreaded's Binding Secrets Revealed--with Video!

This is probably one of the top questions we're asked: how the $&# do you all sew your 18th century tab binding so cleanly, and by machine??

You have asked us for years.

We've always included photo instructions in our 18th century stays pattern. We've done classes on this topic at Costume College. Now, we're sharing our step by step video so everyone can improve their machine binding, whether working from our patterns or not!

All of this assumes your bone casings are stitched and bones are already inserted, or that you can insert them into the channels from the top once the tabs are bound. If you have any channels that end in the middle of panels, as with our pattern, then you will need to insert boning first. We skipped bones for the video sample. See written instructions below the video (there is no audio).


Complete all steps on a short stitch length: 2 or 2.5. 

Step 1. Slide any bones as far away from the edge as possible. Working from the back, machine along the final finished edge line of the tabs, pivoting carefully at the tops. This does two things: it stay stitches/reinforces the slash points in the crux of the tabs, and marks the final edge on the outside.

Step 2. open up your bias tape and place it right sides together with the stays, matching edge of tape with staystitched line. Stitch bias a scant 1/4” away from staystitching line, pivoting around the first curve and up to the top of the first
tab. Stitch a scant 1/4” up past the top of the tab, and then put the needle down and pivot the corset and bias 90°under the machine (as shown). Being careful not to let the bias fold up under the foot, stitch across the top of the tab until you are a scant 1/4” beyond the tab. Rotate another 90° and continue down and around the next tab.

Step 3. Trim on tab staystitch lines to create your rounded tabs. Be careful clipping up into the tabs and make sure not to accidentally snip your bias tape.

Step 4. From right side, press bias down, or “out” from corset, getting as far
into the tabs as possible, and then flip corset over to the wrong side.

Step 5. Working on wrong side, fold under bias edge and press so that the bias on the wrong side is slightly wider than the bias on the right side. The bias will help these curves transition smoothly. Be especially careful to pull the bias up past the top of the tabs. I like to use a tiny piece of fusible stitch witchery to hold that spot in place. 

Step 6. Stitch in the ditch from the right side, being sure to catch “lip” of bias underneath.

 BONUS: how to deal with edges/ends.

When you bind stays, you will encounter finished edges at the center back and/or center front. To finish these smoothly by machine, start your bias in step 2 by wrapping about 1/2" around to the wrong side and stitching through all layers.

 Additional notes

This is not easy. We make it look easy because we've bound thousands of tabs. Like...if it makes you want to throw your sample across the room the first few times you try it, that's OK. You're fine. You'll get there. The hands you're watching (mine) have hundreds of hours of accumulated muscle memory for these steps.

It is also not historically accurate--obviously--since sewing machines didn't exist in the 18th century. Our process is helped by several things:

1. We use machines with knee lifts, so the presser foot can be lifted hands-free

2. We use a narrow binding width--slightly less than 1/4". The narrower your binding, the easier it is to manipulate around the twists and turns. For more on the geometry behind this, see Cathy Hay's Perfect Binding tutorial. 

3. We use bias--also not historically accurate but easier for the curves for our stock stays (we *do* use straight of grain tapes for our Atelier stays, utilizing a similar machine method).

 We're hoping to add more, and fancier videos in 2019! We realize this one is rough, but we're just getting started.


  • Thank you for your feedback Will! Don’t worry, we’re working on our Video quality. You can read more about that here:

  • This was so helpful! I bought your 18th cent stays pattern on etsy and this tutorial was so helpful as i have never made stays with tabs before! Thank you so much. I would recommend that there be an audio guide voiced over explaining the process as you go, which would be even more helpful. They turned out amazing. Thank you so much!

  • The tabs were the most frustrating part of my first pair of stays! This will definitely help with my next pair. Thank you so much for posting this!

  • Very neatly done! My first attempt was half machine, half hand and took forever. Next time I’ll certainly try and remember to do it thus way :)


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