Tags: z:archive:18th:stays:diderot


an answer for Katie

Here are some pics to help me answer ktlovely’s question of how I treated the seams on my 18th century stays. I believe both Hunnisett and Farthingales recommend pressing the seam allowances toward the back, which I managed to do on one seam.

The front seam I pressed open to avoid any unnecessary bulk at the center front (I did double stitch this seam first to make sure it was sturdy though). My side seams are a little wonky because I had to put in that little adjustment panel after I finished the stays. I pressed the seams in the way that made sense for the tabs, as you can see. I then whip-stitched the SAs down by hand. I did the same thing on B’s 1740’s pirate stays by the way, managing to press all those seams toward the back. :>

My apologies for the delay in getting back to you Katie, do forgive me! :>

one petticoat down...

I have a petticoat – yay! Well, actually it’s not that exciting but anything crossed off my list excites me these days. :> I also finished up the bum roll, taking out a bit more stuffing and stitching the ends again. Here are a few pics of the cotton petticoat and bum roll in all their glory, along with a few pics of the newly finished stays on Narcissa.

For the petticoat I used two panels cotton fabric (45”x46”) and 2yds 1" cotton twill tape. The front is one panel and back another. The pocket slits are 7.5” long and unfinished, being on the salvage of the panels. The skirts are pleated in fairly large pleats, then gathered to the exact width required. The hem is 4.5” deep and allows for the bum roll in the back. I stitched my initials into the front inside of the waistband so I can easily tell which way to put it on. *wink* The petticoat actually turned out a little long somehow, so I think I’ll take a tuck in it when I attach the bottom ruffle. I’m waiting to do the ruffle, as it’s one of those “optional” projects this week. :>

All in all an easy project, and one I can now simply copy for the rest. (Yeah, all the specific measurements are here in case I loose the paper the are also scribbled on... feel free to icnore. :>) The one difference I will make for the linen petticoat is make a flatter front. It means the pocket slits won’t be on the salvage but oh well.

The 90” (or more precisely 88”) skirt circumference seems adequate, so I will cut down the 54” width of the linen and use the extra pieces make a nice wide ruffle at the bottom of that petticoat as well. I love those 18th century box-pleated ruffles! Okay… enough of a break, on to the linen petticoat!

stays & retreats

I must apologize for my lack of updates and responses to your posts. To meet my deadlines I’m trying to minimize my time online. This horrible little blue-eyed monster tends to suck me in and suddenly my day is shot! :P I’m afraid I don’t see it getting much better, at least until next week.

Despite my silence on here, I have been working on my outfit. Real life keeps getting the way so I haven’t gotten much done though. I decided to finish my stays before trying them on again (which I need to do before continuing with the petticoat). The process of reattaching the binding where I had added the extensions took forever (wretched tabs!) but I finished that up last night. So the stays are officially finished… again. :>

I went to a one-day woman’s retreat at church today that turned out to be very nice. It was lovely to get away from life for a little while, spend some time in the Word and be pampered a bit. I have a much better perspective on life and priorities now. I feel refreshed and ready for the mini sewing marathon ahead of me. I also went to a workshop to learn how to knit. I learned only the very basics but I had fun. I now have knitting needles and a whole skein of yarn to practice on for a while. I’d forgotten how relaxing the whole knitting thing was… :>

we have a bodice!

The basic bodice is all put together now. I need to try the bodice on before I can proceed. I want to make sure the straps and everything fits properly while adjustments are still easy. I also need to double check those back pleats and mark off the back hem. Working with bodice while the bolt is at the end is rather awkward. :>

So I guess the next thing is to fix my stays so I can lace up and try on the bodice. :> I just realized that I need a totally of 4 layers of green fabric and I only cut two. *slaps forehead* Duh! I’ll have to get the fabric out tomorrow and cut some more first thing.

first of the stripey cutting

I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to today. I don’t know where my day went. Well, yes I do – emailing, cleaning, sorting and then music practice. Once I was home from church and some errands I was to tired to deal with the project, especially the stripes. It all made for a little window of sewing time today. Mreh!

I did finish fitting the stay tweak. I fixed the fit and began my cutting day with the little side extensions. Luckily I have plenty of the original fabrics, so those are all ready to go.

It took me forever to trace my master pattern, not sure why. I was just being a slowpoke I guess. I enjoyed doing it though, so that should count for something right? :>

I measured out what I thought I needed for the back and skirt panels. Unfortunately when I measured and marked it out on my fabric, it didn’t leave me enough room for the other pieces. I didn’t really expect it to so no real drama ensued. I knew it was going to be close, if impossible.

The sleeve and shoulder strap fit okay but the front hangs over my skirt allowance a bit. I am quite determined to see this though, so I didn’t let it stop me. Hopefully I can eek out my extra inches in the skirts, creating a false hem or something. If not then I just won’t have a full second panel for the side skirt. Either way it’s a small sacrifice and I’m thankful I didn’t have to do any real piecing.

So far I’ve only actually cut the sleeves, the rest will wait until tomorrow.

Uhmmm... Is it just because I'm super sleepy or do these notes not make much sense? Oh well, it's as good as it's going to get tonight! :P

tweaking the stays a bit

I didn’t want to start the process of pattern tracing or fabric cutting today so I decided I would work on tweaking my stays instead. I've been putting it off for a while now... revisiting costumes is not something I really enjoy. :P

I adore my green stays but they are not without their issues. They are my first pair after all. :> They are a bit small, particularly at the hips and the sleeves don’t want to stay on. The most painful issue is also the easies to fix though - the top horizontal bone digs unmercifully into my arm if I hold my arms in a forward position. It can get very uncomfortable after a while. It’s an easy fix, just some snipping of the glorious cable ties and comfort is restored! :>

I’m hoping that will fixing the fit will fix the sleeves at the same time, if not I’ll worry about them later… as in after the Belmont tea. I decided to add the needed girth to the side, less fuss, less fabric (although I have tons of fabric still) and no new eyelets to sew. :> I unpicked the stays sections in about 3 minutes – may I just say I love this way of constructing corsets - then cut a little side inset toile out of 4 layers of old sheeting, quilted the layers together for stability and sewed everything up again before trying it on.

The stays were so much more comfortable (duh!) but the little toile does need to be tweaked a bit for a snugger fit. I decided I’d had enough for the day and left it at that though. I think my busy weekend finally caught up with me because I’m wiped. I’ve just finished dinner and think I’ll spend the rest of the day vegging in front of Mrs. Pacman, nibbling on See’s. I can’t think of a better way to end my weekend! :>

stripey draping

Today was much more productive than yesterday. Not that that would have been hard. Although I still felt a bit wobbly after yesterday, I didn’t have another headache until dinner time. Luckily the Excedrin killed that one off right away and I’m feeling good right now. Just a bit tired. I took lots of breaks today (taking it easy, as you kindly advised) but I guess that monster headache just really wiped me out!

I tried on my stays first thing this morning. I needed to take measurements with them on so I could work on the gown toile. I also took the measurements for the shift and a few pics in the stays. There will definitely be better ones to come! :>

After I finished making notes on all that I started work on the robe a l’Anglaise. I was originally going to just size up the Hunnisett pattern but that turned out to be confusing because of the sizing. I decided in the end to just drape a pattern myself, using Hunnisett as a guide. I also heavily referenced Costume in Detail, Janet Arnold and Revolution in Fashion as I worked. The gown on pages 56 & 57 of RIF is the outfit I’m most inspired by for this project, so I referenced that one a lot.

I stuffed Narcissa a bit, so she would have more of my curvy shape. I actually pulled that stuffing I’d tossed in the trash (from the false rump) and put it in a few plastic bags. I then placed the bags under the stays and laced it on tight. I can’t wait until I’m at a stable weight and can make a duct-tape dummy! :>

Oh yes, don't you *love* the fabric I used? *hee hee* Well there is a reason it was in the toile fabric bin. Using the stripes was helpful though. Beyond the fact that it helped me to better visualize my finished gown, the stripes helped me be aware of the fabric grain and what it was doing as I worked. I may try and use stripes more often for toiles actually... The draping of the back was pretty straight forward.

It was the front that gave me problems. No matter what I did I ended up with gaping where the bust and shoulder meet. I had the same problem with my Rohan gown, which I eventually solved with a bust dart. I wasn’t too happy with that "solution" though.

Hunnisett does address this problem in vol 2. She suggests swinging the front up, creating a dart at the neckline that will be cut out later. Essentially it’s using the stretch of the grain right there to smooth the fabric. I experimented with that and it did work, rather clever actually, but I didn’t like what it did to the stripes. Although I’ve seen examples of both vertical and diagonal stripes in front during this period, I really had my heart set on the vertical. Like the gown on page 56 (RIF).

In the end the only way I could figure to do it with vertical stripes was to cut a separate shoulder strap. That is the way the page 56 dress is constructed, along with several of the gowns in Costume in Detail. The seam there right in front it not my favorite, but it’s period and the vertical stripes were more important to me.

Once I puzzled that issue out, the rest was simple. I marked the pinned seam lines then took the pieces off Narcissa. I then trued the lines, added seam allowances and cut out the second half. The pieces are all ready to be sewn together for the first toile. Tomorrow I should really cut out the shift but I’m very tempted to work on the gown toile instead. I’m not sure I can resist the call of the stripes… :>

the proud owner of bright green stays

The stays are finished! Woo hoo! You are reading the entry of a very happy little girl. I finally a pair of 18th century stays! I’ve only been wanting to make/wear some for 5 years or so. :>

The binding is the pre-packaged single fold bias tape you find at Jo Anns. I'm too lazy to make my own and this was just laying around the house longing to be used. The ribbon at the straps is some 7mm silk ribbon I found in my old ribbon embroidery stash. *sigh* I love silk ribbons. I’m not sure when I will have “official” pics of me wearing the finished stays. Maybe when I wear them for my next fitting. Or I may wait until I actually dress up in the outfit, whenever that is. Pics with the proper shift and my hair done sound worth waiting for. Well, here are pics on Narcissa for now…

Oh yes and some pics from yesterday evening of the binding pinned on. Ouch! I tried to be careful but I do have scratches on my hands, arms and legs from all those pins. *overly dramatic sigh* How I suffer for my art!

*much giggling*

on a stays break

Thanks for all the kind coments ladies!

Right now I'm taking a break. I've been working on the stays most of the day, not that I've gotten much done. I've worked the last four eyelets and pinned 2/3rds of the binding on the bottom. I HATE binding tabbed bottoms. I really do. Tabs are cool, when they are finished, but the process of binding them is such a pain.

I think it takes me longer to pin the tabs than it does to actually sew them too. Sewing takes a long time as well. Problem is I'm not a fast hand-stitcher. Also my back aches and my fingers are sore from all the stiching and pinning this week. I wish I could have my finished stays without the work. I really must marry a billionare one of these days! *rolls eyes*

*sigh* Don't mind me, I'm just tired, sore and ready to move on to something else. However, I'm trying to be good and finish everything up before starting the next thing.

Well, enough of my rambling. I've checked my friend's list, played a game of Tetris and scribbled here so I guess I've had my break. It's back to the grindstone...

on a roll!

Man I was on a roll today! It’s hard not to be highly motivated about the project after a weekend watching L’Anglaise et le Duc and chatting about costumes with elegant_musings I guess. :>


I actually stitched on the binding last night. I stayed up way too late but I did finish it. Today I sewed on the waistband and gave the pocket a good pressing. So that means the pocket is all finished. *throws confetti*. Yay, the first thing checked of the list…

false rump:

Ah yes, the rump. I needed to take some of the stuffing out but I didn’t want to mess with the waistband (which had been done by hand). So, I worked from the other end. I used a seam ripper to make a 2-3” hole in the bottom seam. I then removed what turned out to be quite a bit of stuffing. When I originally stuffed the rump, I was going on the assumption that the originals, made of cork, would have been tightly packed. They obviously weren’t using the Wingeo pattern.

Eventually I managed to get the rump to a size I’m happy with. It’s so hard to tell without having the stays and gown on and everything. I basted up the holes I’d made, in case I need to tweak it later on. For now though, the rump is also complete and off my “to-do” list. *throws more confetti*


I also worked on the stays today. First I measured the overlap on the sleeves and trimmed. I then pinned and stitched the top half of the binding, again using a stab stitch. I’m really into that stitch now. I just have the sleeve eyelets and the bottom binding to go… almost there! :>