18th Century Spiral Lacing

18th Century Front Lacing Stays Spiral Lacing
18th Century Linen Stays

18th century clothing was often closed with pins – like the bodice of the 1780s “The Watercress Girl” – lacing, buttons or hooks & eyes. If lacing was used, it was usually spiral lacing, not crisscross lacing. For spiral lacing, two of the lacing holes at the beginning and end are spaced closer together.

At the Nordiska museet are various extant stays with spiral lacing at the center front like these antique 18th century blue cotton stays. And at the LACMA museum are hand-tinted engravings of stays with spiral lacing from 1797 like this or this. Here are different kinds of spiral lacing, as well as examples of spiral lacing from the 14th till the 18th century. And even though this is earlier, but here’s an interesting painting of a spiral-laced gown.

To close your stays or jacket with spiral lacing, tie a knot or loop at the beginning. You can either begin at the bottom or at the top (I find it easier to begin at the bottom). Either use a large blunt sewing needle or a metal aglet to help threading the ribbon through the eyelets. Then lace the stays or jacket in a ‘spiral motion’: down the eyelet on one side, up the eyelet on the other side, down the eyelet on the first side and so on. So there’s no crossing of the lacing cord. At the end, tie a knot or loop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *