Thursday, February 6, 2014

J.S. Bernhardt Stays - Part 2

Monday night, I actually managed to  modify my mock-up to narrow all the gussets! (Two days of sewing in a row, this is an accomplishment for me. Then it completely stopped for the week, of course.)

I decided that I really did want to raise the bust gussets by 0.5", so I stitched up the gusset slits by 0.5" (if you peer closely at the picture on the left, below, you can see my puckery seam stitching up the bottom of the gusset.) I also raised made the gusset significantly smaller, taking out a half inch in width and even more than that at the top edge. The rounded "almond" shape helps the gusset form a nice, rounded cup shape when stitched into the stays.

 For the hip gussets, I decided to take 1.25" out of the centre of the big gusset, and 0.75" out of the little gusset. To do that, I just folded them down the center and pinned,  and then I stitched out the excess like darts. 

Then, I tried it on again. Below you can see the same pose as last pose, for a fit comparison. My breasts are definitely lifted a little better, and there is no excess fabric in the gussets. The hips fit much more snugly, although I could probably take out a smidge more, as Sabine noted that the corset will stretch a bit after being worn on a warm body - every corset does this, but a corset on the bias probably does this a little bit more. 

The slightly less interesting photo on the left, below, also provides a nice comparison to the front view in the last post.  I think my bustline is significantly raised, but I have a hard time seeing it in this picture. Mostly because my waist is short, so I just look a little stumpy overall from this angle. But the other photos clearly indicate an accurate shape, so I am going to keep the bust gussets as they are. 

In the back, you can see I am still getting some unsightly drag lines from the side-back hip gusset, and the centre-back (CB) lacing. I think that  lowering the highest point of that gusset may help with this problem - I'm just going to make that revision in my final fabric.

While I was wearing the corset, I blindly stabbed at the bottom hem with a pencil (as you can see from my indiscriminate marks below), and thereby determined some sort of shape to the bottom edge. This is probably the most flexible aspect of the corset pattern - I could make the bottom hem whatever shape I please. The red line indicates which shape I please, this time around. 

That done, I just measured out what was to be removed from the corset and chopped it off of my gusset pattern pieces. 

My pattern is ready, time to cut fabric, woohoo! 



  1. It's such fun seeing the Bernhardt's stays being assembled so beautifully! This pattern is really a gem as it is uniquely made to fit the body, plus we get an idea first hand of how the stays have felt on the body back in that period.
    I also adjusted the lower edge of the stays to run in a smooth silhouette. Looking really forward to hearing how you like the finished stays and how you feel wearing them :)
    Thanks for sharing your detailed experience with the pattern.

    1. Almost ready to cut fabric! I am waffling a little bit about making the bust gussets even HIGHER... but I have not committed to that, haha.

      I noticed that perhaps Lauren of Wearing History will attempt this pattern, too! I am excited to see how that turns out.