My current stays are too small, and not super accurate. The lower-back gussets are not cut high enough for the lovehandles I've acquired in the past few years, so they cause a little bit of lower-back pain after wearing for a while. The bust gussets are just plain too small, and a set a little too closely together in the front for a proper silhouette. To top it off, there is zero lacing gap in the back (I would prefer a 2"- 4" gap). I made these when I was sixteen, and I still love them for the purpose they served at the time, but I need an upgrade. My body has changed shape and I have learned a bit more about this era, and it is time to reflect these changes in a new set of undergarments!
I need to make a simple pair of stays, due to time constraints for this project (my last pair took many, many hours of cording and embroidery). Perhaps eventually I will cord/embroider my new pair, but I first need to be able to whip up a wearable foundation! Frills and furbelows come after.
At first, I was torn between making short stays and long stays - the only extant short stays I have seen have been transitional stays c. 1790s (Sabine of Kleidung um 1800 addresses this in a well-researched post here, noting that the short stays we see post-Transition appear to be for certain occasions such as travel, or informal morning/evening wear). I wanted slightly later stays, and was thinking about making those short "travel" stays, because short stays are just easier to wear.
And then, lo, I came across Sabine's amazing post (should really be called an article or presentation, it is so in-depth) about J.S. Bernhardt's patterns for short stays. Apparently these stays are designed so as to healthily embrace the body, without excess of boning, and provide decent support.
This is exactly what I need! Sabine already put the patterns on grids for scaling, and she advises how to measure to scale up for your own size. Check out this post and read, read, read, because it is amazing and so helpful. Thanks to Sabine for her generosity in sharing all of this information and effort with the rest of us!
Following her instructions, I took the pattern below, measured myself, and scaled.
I placed a ruler in front of my shoulder to find the correct point to measure from to get my scale multiplier. My personal measurement was 23cm from the ruler around to the centre of my back. I rounded this down to 22.75cm, so that it divided by 7 into a nice, simple 3.25cm. I then scaled up the pattern so that each square = 3.25cm. Then I printed this out in two parts on 11"x17" paper and taped the pattern together.
It is very interesting to me that this pattern is cut on the bias. I haven't yet observed an extant example that is cut on the bias, but it makes perfect sense in order to hug the figure. I decided to just cut mine on a bias fold, instead of putting a seam down the centre. I might switch that up on the final piece, because the seam probably adds a little structure to the stays.
|I added an inch to the CB edge, which ended up being pretty |
unnecessary. Better to cut off extra than not have enough, though!
|I literally drew a slice of pie with a measuring tape|
across the top indicating how wide the gusset should be.
Fast-forward to the completed mock-up! I don't have any in-progress pictures because, well, there wasn't much to progress. I folded under the CB edges to create boning channels, and I hastily stitched a strip of fabric down the CF to hold my busk. Then I mentally patted myself on the back for actually including boning channels (because I HATE making boning channels on mock-ups, it always seems so pointless. It is, in reality, the opposite of pointless, but when I always end up chucking the mock-up, it seems excessive.) Finally, I pinned and stitched all six of the gussets. Voila, mock-up finished.
|I had no lacing tape, so I used eyelet lace from my stash.|
|UBER-curvy! Did not expect that.|
So... it was a bit curvalicious on me. That was unexpected, considering all the mashing and squashing my other stays have been doing. I kind of like it!
Things that are Right about this so far:
- it is curvy - my body is curvy, so that is kind of great. I am not large, but I am short-waisted and have wide hips, which I would prefer to embrace rather than straight-jacket.
- it is short - refer to afore-mentioned short waist. No more boning digging into my thighs when I sit!
- my breasts are shoved up and out - the ideal silhouette. I didn't think that one gusset would cut it (I am a 34D), but it sure does work out! The singular gusset actually helps with the sideways persuasion of the breasts. I might raise the gussets by 1/2" to get a smidgen more lift - should I? Or are they high enough?
- I love where the straps are located - they are far out on each side in the front, which is excellent for those wide Regency necklines, and they meet at a perfect place on the back (I like how the straps join the back at an angle, rather than attaching to the horizontal top edge.)
Things that are Wrong about this mock-up:
- the bust gussets are a smidgen too wide at the top - I think I will round out the edges of the gussets a little bit, so they are not a perfect triangle, and thereby draw in the top corners a bit.
- I need to re-shape the bottom edge, for sure - that widest gusset curves too low.
- both hip gussets are a bit too wide - I think I need to take 1/2"from the little one, and 1" from the big one.
- I may need to remove a smidge off the upper back opening - I usually have problems with lacing gaps at the top, where they close up too much. That will throw off the straight-grain, though, hopefully that is not a big problem...
|My bustline seems a bit low in this image... have|
to decide whether to raise the gussets!
|Too much fabric going on down there.|
|The hip gussets come up a little high on my back|
but there are worse evils. I think I will leave them.
I think I am ready to move on to fabric! I am in love with this pattern.