“Stay”ing the Armhole: Tip From the Haute Couture

Samina shared this technique on her blog, Sew Everything Blog. I would never have thought of this or tried it, but she’s made a convert out of me. Thanks, Samina! What about you?

Sew Everything Blog

Balenciaga’s way:   In the book Couture Sewing, there’s a section on “stays”, with details on under-bust stays, pleat stays, waistline stays, and even crotch stays (yes, there is such a thing in haute couture).

claire's book Image from “Couture Sewing” by Claire Shaeffer, Taunton Press. 

This particular Balenciaga dress, circa 1965 actually uses a stay on each back armhole area in a capped sleeve to control pleats on the back of the shoulder. The stay, that strip of fabric you see in the image above on the wrong side of the dress, is sewn from the lower armhole facing to the shoulder seam at the neckline.  Balenciaga’s purpose was to control the back pleat (a design feature), and this little strappy, fabric stay seems to have worked beautifully.  I wasn’t successful in finding the back view of this dress which shows the back pleat at the shoulder.  Our imaginations will have…

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