Friday, March 17, 2017

Bernhard Stays, Round #2, part 1

Remember how I started the J. S. Bernhardt stays, three years ago (how has it been three years?!!)? And then my dog ate them and I gave up?

Well, they are back on the table. I recently dug the beginnings of my former stays out of my scrapbox, where I had chucked them in discouragement after finding that Walter had nommed them. After a bit of smoothing and cleaning, I discovered that the body (which I had started the finer details on) was actually intact - he had done the most damage on the gussets. Hooray!

However. I know I have gained probably 15-20lb in the past three years (also, how did that happen?!) So I thought I should try the mockup on to see how it fits now. Good thing I did! My bra size was 34D then - now it is 34DDD. And my whole body is somewhat wider than before (the lacing gap is 3" wider than in 2014).

So goes life. But I am a big fan of embracing my body (although it is a bit disheartening to compare the EXACT same mockup on myself over time and pounds :| ) AND the advantage of my new size means that I can experiment with this design on an even curvier shape! The technical nerd in me is cool with that.

What happens when you try to put on your mockup alone.
Also pictured: when you don't consider your footwear choices before taking photos.

First things first: those bust gussets. Way too small. As soon as I put on the stays, I felt unpleasantly squished, not comfortably embraced. Even after scooping and lifting (a life skill for humans with breasts), I felt squashed. And simultaneously precariously plopped on top of those leetle gussets. Sooo... chopped right through one side to compare. This revealed that the gusset needs to be 1.5x wider than before, and about 0.5" longer. Freeedooommmmm for the breast! Below you can see a comparison of the chopped side (on your left), and the old non-chopped side (your right). The old gusset does create a nice "shelf" effect, but it is not comfortable. I am going to compromise with slightly less shelf and more comfort.

Old gusset = period-appropriate shelf, but discomfort.

Chopped gusset = freedom and a renewed zest for life.
One new thing I also discovered, per breast size increase, was an unattractive side-boob bulge. This will be slightly more held in check when the straps criss-cross in the back, but I don't think that will entirely cure it. I am going to make the bet that moving the gussets outward by 0.5" will help mollify this.

Aaaand, now we come to the back, which is a bit of a debacle. See that lacing gap? Huge. Which means the hip gussets are shifted too far over to the sides of my body. Wrinkles galore. Also, my swayback does not help this. Mulling over how to adjust this and get a nice smooth back. Any ideas?

The next question is... power through another mockup or try going straight to fabric? I'm tempted to go straight to fabric. But that back is clearly unbeautiful, and I would probably regret hand stitching all those eyelets into an ill-fitting back. This is the decision of the day.


  1. I'm impressed with how far you got with these & empathise with the increase in back gappage. Perhaps a larger back hip gusset will improve the wrinkles &/or a higher start point ... I found that on my last attempt at fitting stays

    1. I think you are onto something with the higher hip gussets... it would allow for my short waist, and the way my back curves out higher up. I am going to try that out and see!

  2. It took me two years to go from mock-up to finished stays, but I love them.
    The wrinkles wouldn't bother me too much (who's going to see them under the petticoat and dress?) but better smooth them out in case they give you corset bruising. Could also be that they disappear in the actual fabric, as multiple layers are more solid.
    In any case I keep my fingers crossed for smooth progress!

    1. Corset bruising sounds highly uncomfortable! You are right that multiple layers might help this, though - there will also be two bones flanking the eyelets, and they won't be poking out by my ears, lol.

  3. So beautifully adjusted, it has the perfect fit...and it's true, often the wrinkles smooth out with the actual fabric. I have the problem in the back with the pattern, too, as I have a quite broad back, in my case I simply added an inch on both sides and it fits well.


    1. Thanks! I think for my next mockup I will maybe stitch in the bones, so they can't wrinkle up on themselves. Hopefully that plus the extra layer of fabric will help. We'll see in a week or so, hopefully!