Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finished Long Stays

As I mentioned previously, my mother was in need of stays for the upcoming season at Fort McHenry. I have made several pairs of short stays for different people but decided that long stays would be best for her. I had the Past Patterns long stays pattern on hand but if I would have had the Mantua Maker pattern, I would have used that. I purchased the Past Patterns long stays pattern on accident thinking that it said 1810-1820 and when I got it, I realized it said 1830-1840. The gussets and over all shape is quite similar so I'm not sweating it but I would still like to try the Mantua Maker pattern in the future just to see the differences. The instructions talk about the straps being this way and the gussets being that way to get the Early Victorian look. I would like to make up the Mantua Maker one to see if there is a huge difference in the finished silhouettes.

I used View A called the wedding stay. There are all sorts of fun pretty things that you can add so I assume that is why it is called that. This is to be a very utilitarian sort of garment so I did not take the time to do any of those fun things. I chose View A because it shows more boning than View B, the Corded Stay. Cording takes lots of time and boning is faster so that was my thought process behind choosing View A. If I were to do it again, I would do View B and just put more boning where cording is recommended. The over all shape of View B looks more practical to me so I would like to try it and compare the two further.

My mom was one size in the waist/hips and another in the bust so I just followed the lines where appropriate depending on what part of the corset it was. After the mock up, I also realized I had to shorten it quite a bit so I just hacked off about 4 inches so she would be able to sit down in it comfortably. With taking off quite a bit of the length, I also had to modify the hip gussets to allow for the shortened length and still get the full width to allow for the hips. Hopefully you can get an idea of those changes in the picture below. All of this was figured out on the mock up. Remember lesson number 1? Always make a mock up!

I debated with myself on whether to do hand done eyelets are not. I have a grommet setter and what seems like millions of metal grommets on hand so I could have done them quite easily. In the end though, isn't it nice to have the entire thing be white? I think metal grommets would have ruined the look. After I was finished, I figured out I can do 10 eyelets in 1 hour so it really did not set me back that much. It was good practice too.

Yes, that is polyester ribbon. I promise to get something better eventually ;-)

The way the bust gussets are shaped, you have to have a drawstring at the top of the stays or pre-gather the fabric and then bind it. Other wise the fabric sits away from the body making a very unflattering sort of shape. The pattern shows 3 ways to do control the fabric this way which I thought was super interesting. I chose the variation that just put another binding on top of the binding that was already put on. Ribbons are inside and stitched so they will not come undone near the straps. Eyelets are then worked on the inside to draw it up however much is necessary. I made the binding out of the same twill fabric used for the body. The rest of the corset is bound in this matching fabric so I thought it would be fine but it is just too thick. When gathered, it is rather bulky. If I did it again, I would use a thinner fabric.

I used a paint stick for the busk. It was free. What can I say! The instructions include information on making your own but I know nothing about wood working so I was so not going to go there. My dad made the paint stick the right length and it seems to be fairly sturdy so far.

More eyelets at the bottom with a ribbon keep the busk in. If the stays need to be washed, it comes out quite easily. I thought that was smart :)

ETA: I forgot to add previously that I did alter the angle of the straps. This is the seam where the strap attaches in the back shoulder area. While sewn like this, the strap goes more on the outside of the shoulder than over it. With the lines of Regency dresses and the fact that my mom needs to be able to do more active things while wearing these stays, I wanted to change the straps to make them go over the shoulder, not around.

She put the stays on for me to figure out how the angle should be and then I just pinned it to know where to sew. Top-stitching works fine! I was not going to take out that seam if top-stitching would look neat and tidy. ;)

If I would do it again, I would add more cording or quilting vertically between the hip gussets. It just seems to need it but at least the lines of Federal Era dresses are rather forgiving.

By the way, whenever I do posts like this, I try to include *everything* I did, didn't do, wish I had done and information on the pattern too. This is for me because there is no way I will remember all this stuff when I go back and need to use the pattern again. I also do it for other people so that when they used the pattern, they will kind of know what to expect. If there is anything that you think I forgot and should include, please let me know. Feed back is always good when it is fresh in my mind so I can answer questions better.

Bethany Lynn


  1. This was so very interesting! I've never attempted anything like that and it inspires me to see an accomplished seamstress creating something so involved. Thank you very much for taking the time to post the detailed photographs and commentary on what you did. I'm sure your mother will treasure what you made, since it was made so lovingly from your own hands! Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. They look great. Your eyelets look so pretty, mine always look so messy.

  3. Those things are gorgeous! And you can do TEN eyelets in an hour!



  4. And thank you so much for including so much information, because posts like these are extremely helpful for me. Internet is practically the only place when I can learn about Regency-ish stays...
    Speaking of which, I'd LOVE to know your thoughts on the difference between these 1830s-40s and the real Regency if you ever do the other pair! After a lot of trying (practically years of searching the internet and the few Czech costuming books I know of), I've found out it's nearly impossible to learn much about 1840s corsets/stays online... or anywhere that's accessible to me. Which irritates me, because one of my potential costuming interests lies in 1847-8...

  5. They look lovely!

    I have the Mantua Maker pattern and made it up last year, modifying it for 1830's. :P I do like the Mantua Maker pattern but the instructions to put it together seem quite modern. I think the shape would be similar, but the bust is higher (which is not terribly flattering to larger-busted ladies tho) and less of a waist indentation since the profile is columnar.

    This is one pattern I've often thought of getting. You did a beautiful job and I really appreciate your practical advice and what you did putting this together (and I love the ribbon drawstring for the bust! I will have to use that idea myself!)