c. 1785 Stays (Of Fail), Part II: Fitting Update

In March 2022, I had another fitting on the pair of stays I started posting about recently. I tried a few different things and some seemed to work. It gave me hope!

I decided to add tape straps to these stays, partly to help counteract the back pulling away from my shoulder blades and slouching in towards center. This method of straps comes this pair of stays at the McCord Museum (accession number M969X.26), which is dated 1785-1790.

The idea has intrigued me for awhile and specifically appeals for this project because I didn’t like the fit and feel of the attached fabric straps and had already cannibalized them to make gussets, anyway.

Adding the tape helped the stays feel better, but the gussets were still a problem. I decided to move the gussets up higher by about 3″. I didn’t have quite enough fabric length to do that but I decided to piece on additional sections at the bottom. Piecing is completely period and seemed like a better idea than not having stays that I could wear!

Additionally, I maxed out the seam allowance on both sides of the gussets and the abutting pieces. I’m hoping those things will help narrow the back gap. I’ll also add a new boning channel in the gusset.

In terms of fit, the side view actually isn’t bad with the added strap!

The tape shoulder straps wrap across the back and then will hook in the front. For the fitting the test strap is just safety pinned. Other pins are marking where the strap hits as well as the finished length of the tabs.

After this fitting, the to do list includes:

  • resetting/piecing the gussets and adding boning channels and boning to them
  • whipping the edges of the stays in preparation for binding them
  • binding the edges of the stays
  • adding the tape straps for a final fitting

I’ve been very busy, so those things are moving along quite slowly. I did update the gussets and start whipping the edges, so there is some progress.

That’s all for now. Next post, I’m going to go back to the early construction details of these stays.

4 thoughts on “c. 1785 Stays (Of Fail), Part II: Fitting Update

    1. Thanks for your question. The answer is maybe, but probably not.

      Stays were going through a transition in the first decade of the 19th century. Some stays like these were still being worn, but it was more likely that they would have started to shift towards a longer length (down over the hips), a reinforced center front (to smooth the stomach), and a shape that included bust cups to lift and separate the bust (whereas these are wide and flat across the front without individual bust cups).

      Here is the shape of the stays I’m describing. https://thequintessentialclothespen.com/2011/12/18/project-journal-1815-1820-regency-corset-construction/

  1. I am glad I am not the only one for whom stays are a long and laborious process (although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone). They are looking very good!

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