Sunday, 11 January 2015

red roses stays ca 1780

So in the last days of the holidays, I felt a bit idle after having done the mockup for the gold handmaiden, but I couldn't do more on that project. Then I started to think that the HSF challenge for January is foundations, and I must get a pair of proper fitting stays before embarking on my planned 18th century projects. First a bit of advice, ask yourself these questions before starting a project:

Do I have access to a pattern?
Do I have enough material?
Do I have enough time?

Let's just say that if you answer no to all these questions, it might not be the best of ideas to start it, at least not until you can answer yes to some of them. So I didn't have a pattern, well I did have the RH833 pattern and my notes of what I didn't like with it. Then of course there are a lot of pictures online of stays patterns so I figured I could frankenpattern something. So I took the wide front, regular side, side back and center back pieces from RH833, put them on some fabrics and took a look at a bunch of stays pattern. You can find most of them on my pinterest board. I freehanded the patternpieces and came up with this pattern.

 I did a mockup of bad fabrics and could at least adjust the size and some obvious faults. The main thing was that the front was too high and wide, the side front was too wide and the curve where the side front meets the front was too curved. I knew of course that a soft fabric without boning doesn't really say anything about the fit of the corset, so I cut out the pieces in cotton canvas and a linen that I found, well aware of that I would probably have to do a lot of seam ripping. I boned the front and back pieces fully, since I was quite sure of their fit, but I only boned the middle of the side pieces, so I would have wide margins to work with.

The first full fit was a disaster. I looked like a wine barrel. I started out with taking in the seam between the front and side front, going from a seam allowance of 1 cm up at the bust to 2 cm at the waist. I also straightened the curve of that seam yet again.On the picture above you can see that there is a diagonal crease on the side front, the new seamline actually follows that crease pretty well.

The side back piece also needed to get a lot more shaping, once again taking it in at the waist. The main issue was with this piece, and it wasn't so much the size, but the placement of the boning. I had placed the boning on this piece vertically down, since I thought it would end up mostly on the back. It turns out this is more of a true sidepiece, so in order to get a better shape I unpicked all the boning channels and made new ones, that were placed diagonally on the piece.

When I had done that I felt that I was going to be annoyed that the boning channels on the side front and side back, almost, but not quite, joined up. I wanted to combine these two pieces into one single piece. By now I had run out of fabric though, so the only choice was to take a part the stays, unpick the boning channels of the side back, sew the two side pieces together and make new boning channels, then of course sew the front and back on again.

This is the new side piece.

One thing I hadn't planned to do was to have only backlacing. My front piece was so narrow though that I just wouldn't be able to fit the lacing on it. Backlacing is so annoying though, since it's so much harder to lace up yourself. With a helper I would be able to tighten the stays even more, I can definitely feel that they are sitting a bit loose, or not loose if you compare it to normal clothes but I can definitely cinch them a bit more.

Still I am pretty happy with the fit. They are a bit wide and on the high side over bust, but I think I can solve some of that when I start fiddling with how to add the straps. I also haven't cut out the tabs yet. There is some wrinkling going on at the side pieces, but considering all the wonky seams I've done to get the fit they were expected.

Oh and the name of "red roses stays" comes from the colour of the read thread, and I have a nice cotton with roses on it that I want to use for the lining.

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