Monday, March 7, 2016

Mid-18th Century Stays

I’ve posted about these before while they were in progress, but they’re finally done!

Super classy bathroom mirror pics ahoy!

These are copied directly from the stays in Costume Close-Up.  My friend Twila enlarged the pattern for me with her projector and I used it with no modifications—so these are the same size and shape as the originals.  On me they have a fairly substantial gap in back, but I am still losing weight and would prefer to not have to make new stays again anytime soon!  I also find that corsets and stays invariably stretch over time, so a nice big gap is fine by me.

The outer layer is a dark blue worsted wool while the bones are sandwiched between two layers of cotton twill.  They are boned with half oval reed from JoAnn Fabrics, of all places, although I believe it’s only available online, not in stores.  The seam tape is narrow cotton twill tape and the binding is a very soft, fine leather that I bought at Haberman Fabrics a long time ago and was always too chicken to cut into.  The tabs are lined in the same leather, with a loose linen lining tacked over top.  The boning channels were sewn on the machine, then the pieces assembled by hand and finished in a period manner.

Common wisdom is that the lining could be removed for washing, but let’s not kid ourselves here…I will not be doing that.  I sewed the $@#& thing in once already!  By the time I got to the lining my fingers had such thick calluses that I couldn’t feel anything but pressure and I was using hemostats to pull the needle through the fabric.  On the upside, now when the new kitten noms on my fingers it doesn’t hurt.

For more (and extremely helpful information) on how stays were constructed in the 18th century, definitely check out Katherine’s tutorial and Merja’s post on her 1780s stays.  Katherine also has a tutorial on how to achieve tiny binding here.  I deviated from these methods a little but they are amazing resources.  I'm super happy with how these came out, and now I can start working on a gown to go over them!


  1. Looks great! I especially love the checked lining. I never did get around to lining my own stays, and I bet that will continue for some time :p

    1. Thank you! I have never had lined stays before so it will be interesting to see how this holds up.