Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone: 1770's Stays

Well, well, well...better late than never, right?  For the HSF Challenge #19 I chose to reproduce the 18th century stays in the "Costume Close-Up" book by Linda Baumgarten.

 (Pre-lining shot)

 (Post-lining...it is pieced at the side seams and at the straps, tacked around the edges so that it can be removed and replaced when soiled.)

  Unfortunately, because I hand stitched everything, they took me twice as long to finish as I thought they would...a month and a half, to be exact. Row after row after row of channels stitched...and my fingers are not thanking me after binding the seams and edges in leather. Ouch!

There are a few differences between my stays and the stays in the "Costume Close-Up."  I used reed instead of baleen(for obvious reasons) to fill the channels, I lined the inside of the tabs with linen instead of leather, and I added straps to mine, because I'm way to busty to go without support (for this, I was inspired by the stays on Diary of a Mantua Maker's Blog.)

 I'm feeling very Revolutionary after making these stays...especially with the current government issues.  I'm listening to the Les Miserable soundtrack as I write this blog post (I know, not OUR revolution, nor the proper era for the stays, but the soundtrack is inspiring none-the-less.)  I feel like I could be one of the "little people" that rises up and shakes a fist at the big wigs that can't get along and make decisions in the Capital. 

"Do you hear the people sing
Singing the song of angry men
 It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again
 When the beating of your heart 
Echos the beating of the drums 
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes."
"And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings but we got some bite
 So never kick a dog because he's just a pup
 we'll fight like twenty armies
And we won't give up "

Just the Facts

The Challenge: Wood, Metal, Bone: 1770's Stays

Fabric: Linen for all three layers of fabric.

Pattern: Drafted, but based on the one in "Costume Close-Up"
Year: 1770's

Notions: Linen thread, cotton embroidery floss, cotton tape, reed boning, and leather (cars shammy) for binding the seams and edges.

How historically accurate is it?: I would say 100%.  Hand stitched, appropriate materials and construction.

Hours to complete: ???? Too many?

First worn: Not worn yet, but hoping to wear it in a couple of weeks.

Total cost: ? Everything was from my stash except for the leather, which cost about $11.00.  Of course, I bought the items in my stash at some point didn't I...


Jeanne Grunert said…
I'm in awe of your sewing talent. My sister loved to make historical costumes but she tended more towards the Renaissance and Victorian ball gowns. Are those things comfortable or really uncomfortable to wear? Nice job!
ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,

The stays turned out very, very well. The colors, the scale of the stitches against the linen, and the random nub of the leather against the fabric weave, the combination of curves and lines. They are a thing of beauty, Jenni and worth the time you put into them.

You might consider signing them in India ink or something, somewhere in a little corner.


Your hand stitches are amazing!!! The white linen thread looks so gorgeous on the red linen! Three layers - your fingers probably show how much work this means!
One question about the leather binding (as I've never used leather for that purpose yet), is it easier to use than bias cut fabric?

Jenni said…
Jeanne, Thank you, you are too kind. The stays aren't too uncomfortable. You definitely have to hold yourself differently, no slouching or lounging around, and I love to take period stays/corsets off at the end of the day, but if they fit correctly, then they aren't too bad.

Natalie, thanks! ;)I feel pretty vain signing my work, but I'll consider it.

Sabine, Thank you. :) The benefit of using leather over bias binding is that you don't have to worry about cutting on the bias, of course you know that can be tricky. But other than that, it's very hard to push a needle through leather, and the leather doesn't form around the curves easily like bias binding does. If I had to do it again, I would try to find a special needle made for leather.

Popular Posts