Pink Stays

Confession: I made my first 18th Century gown in 2009. And I've never had a proper pair of 18th Century stays. Ever. I've had half-finished mock ups that I wore anyway. I've used my Elizabethan Effigy stays, but never a finished pair. Until now!

I started two pairs of stays last winter and never quite had success.

Looks promising but eeeeh Not good. Pretty Fabric though.....

The yellow stays are adapted from a Reconstructing History, I think? It's been awhile. They are too big and just generally don't fit right. No waist reduction. Not comfortable.

The pink stays are the a draft of the Finely Whale-Boned Corset c. 1750 from Jill Salen's Corsets. It drafted up beautifully, though I had to take it in a little. And they look just like the pair in the book and give a lovely long line down the front! But..they don't really fit. I wasn't getting any waist shaping. I'm not a tight-lacer by any means, but if the corset makes me look like a tube, it's defeating the purpose.

Both pairs went into the naughty corner and I got wrapped up in other things and didn't return to this project until this winter and hauled both pairs of stays back out. With fresh eyes I figured out what was wrong.

The pink stays, in particular, are too long for me. Way, way too long. I have a really short torso and apparently I'm in denial about it. For comparison, I got out my Effigy stays, which is definitely the best fitting corset-type garment I've ever made.

Waist shaping!
Oh. Yeah. Okay. THAT's where my waist is.
I put the yellow stays aside because I determined the pink stays were better and easier to fix (though I actually have some plans for them eventually). The type of tabs on this pair were easier to alter. I slit them higher and higher, little by little, until finally I reached my actual waist. I raised the waist almost 4 inches in some spots, which also solved the problem of the top of corset digging into my arms and sitting too high on my bust.

And that's not even as high as it ended up. 
So that's why my tabs are so dinky and weird shaped. I slit them so much higher and then shorted them over two inches in length, so the shape of the original draft change a lot. I also ended up splitting the side-front tab into two tabs so it spread out better over my hip. The whole thing would be more elegant if I had taken the length out in the pattern stage and adjusted form there. But they are functional and it worked, so I'll take it!

So here's the final result! I still need to find some better ribbon for the front lacing and straps (it really should be cream colored rather than white), but they are very comfy and give me the right shape. The boning channels are machine sewn, but everything else is by hand. The seams were whip stitched together and then covered with linen tape. The binding is regular old purchased bias tape (I'm lazy, what can I say). I did about one million lacing holes in the front and back. I'm so glad I did the ones in the front, because I made that part a little small and being able to loose the laces improved the fit. I could probably loosen it more.


 The one weird thing about this pattern, not the mistake I made, but the actual pattern itself, is that the back is really low. If I made these again, I would raise it several inches. I should have also slit the tabs higher in the back, but they are still comfy so I'm not too worried about it. Here are some detail shots.

Regular lacing holes for the back. 
Itty bitty ones for the front!

It's pretty laid out flat too!

Overall, I'm really pleased! So what comes next?

 Maybe something like this.


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