So, I sort of did things a little backwards. Last summer, I made my first Regency gown. Then, I made the Chemise in the fall. And this winter I've been working on the Short Stays. Well, after many gruelling weeks of hand sewing gussets and eyelets, the Short Stays are finally done.
For those of you that don't know what Short Stays are, they are the turn of the 18th century version of a bra. A friend of mine tried them on and remarked that she felt a little bit like a foot ball player. I suppose that's because they lace up the front and are generally very stiff from three layers of fabric...as they should be for support. But, in all actuality, they are very comfortable, and soft. Even more so that many of my modern bras. They are boned in the front with white-boning, and gussetted to give you that oh-so-desired "shelf" look of the Regency era (which my dress form does not do justice...the poor flat thing). They aren't at all constricting as a Victorian corset would be.
I've been told that the Short Stays were a sort of 'transitional' undergarment. They were trying to get away from the uber-flat front look of the Elizabethan-Rococco era, but didn't quite know how to make that shapely, molded form of the Victorian era.
The Short Stays certainly weren't easy to make, but they were the best way I knew how to dip my toes into the murky waters of Period Undergarments. I actually feel more confident now in my ability to do the crazy stuff, and am excited to some day soon start working on a Victorian corset and ensemble.