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Late 1780s Pink Linen Stays

When I decided to take my first Burnley and Trowbridge workshop last year, I knew I wanted a new pair of stays. M my older stays didn’t fit my body as nicely as before, and I knew I would need something more comfortable to wear during the three days of fittings. Also, I wanted to experiment with a later style of stay. Inspired by several extant examples of pale pink and beige stays from this period, I decided to make a mid to late 1780s pair with front lacing and wide curved front piece using some lovely linen from my stash.

You can see the various stays I used for reference here on my project Pinterest board, but my main inspiration was this pair from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. I was intrigued by the boning placement, in particular the fan shaped horizontal boning across the bust, so I used it as my guide when I drew my boing pattern. I used the scaled patterns for the 1790 brown jean corset on page 23 of Jill Salen’s Corsets and the late 1790s stays on page 44 of Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh to create a base pattern with the seamlines and proportions I wanted, then lengthen it and adjusted it to fit my body. I went through a fair number of muslins to get just the right fit. I have a narrow rib cage, so it took a lot adjusting to keep the nice wide front look, while still giving myself adequate bust support. When I finished the stays, I was surprised at how well the horizontal boning and center front lacing work together to create that pigeon-breasted shape so indicative of the late 1780s, while keeping the bust supported. It’s not at all like my previous stays, which give a much straighter line in the front. In fact, it’s such a dramatic difference in shape that none of my older dresses fit over the new stays. There is a good two inch gap at the bust.

The stays are made from two layers of linen buckram for the inner structure and a layer of pale pink linen as the outer fabric, and is mostly machine sewn. The boning channels were stitched on each piece individually, and then the stays were assembled.

To make the horizontal boning channels, I stitched the vertical channels first, then basted in an extra piece of buckram inside the fronts just slightly larger than the area where the horizontal boning would go. Then I stitched the horizontal boning channels, making sure not to cross the vertical channels. I then worked the ends of each stitching line to the back of the piece and tied them off. Its tedious but worth it, and the mess gets covered by the lining.


The stays were lined with some lightweight linen from my stash, and the seams were covered with decorative braiding. They are bound with pink linen strips, cut on the grain, and boned with the narrowest width of German plastic boning I could find. 

Posted: 10/21/2017 7:07:36 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1780s, 1780s: stays
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Project Details

Late 1780s Pink Linen Stays