Friday, June 21, 2013

Regency Short Stays

Well, I finally did it!  Yay! My regency short stays are d.o.n.e. :)  Here's the run down.

The pattern I used was the Sense&Sensibility underthings pattern.  Her instructions were excellent, with drawings of pretty much every step.  The pieces went together great, and the shape and look of the stays is good as well. I bought the downloadable version because it was less expensive.  So, I printed out the test sheet to make sure the scaling was correct, which it was, and then commenced with printing out the supposed 28 pages.  Um, well, er, I'm not that computer savvy and I printed out 58 sheets of pattern pieces.  I think I have enough patterns now to even make my dad a pair of stays :P  Well, maybe he wouldn't like that too much.

The putting together of the papers was easy-I had printed them out with cutting lines and grid markings. It does get a wee bit puckery in some places though, I had to cut out some pieces before putting together the entire puzzle.
tracing, cutting, and taping the paper

taping the "puzzle"pieces together

the handy-dandy grid markings

getting ready to cut the pattern out
 I had to make 3 mock-ups.  I have an odd body type anyways, so I'll give the pattern some leeway for that.  But there was an issue that I had to fix that a lot of "normal" people had to fix too.  This particular pattern is large at the bottom, like around your rib cage.  Like large.  I would normally cut out a size 14 (my bust and hip measurement is between 16 and 18 actually, but my waist and "body" are smaller, normally around a 14), which I did for the first mock-up.  For the second mock-up, I left the back at a size 14, but made the front, I think, a 6.  Also, I shortened the straps by about 2 inches.  (I'm 5'4", so petite)  Now for an average person, making the stays a size or two smaller should do the trick.  My underbust measurement is 29.5 inches though, so I had to make another mock-up.  The smallest size the pattern gives is a 6, so I sized it down to about a 4.  I left the "strap nubs" (lol, I mean the part of the front where the straps attach to) at a size 12.

The gussets she gives are accurate.  I would be wary about drafting my own gussets, so I'm happy she put those in there.  The pattern has an A, B, C and D gusset.  Because I needed a larger gusset though (DD), I put the C gusset on top of the D and then increased the D by how much was between it and the C. Thus creating a DD. (or maybe an E, I'm not sure)

The fabrics she recommended were a lining of cotton, interlining of canvas, and "fashion fabric" of linen or cotton.  I bought 1 yard of canvas for interlining , but there is enough left over for a friend to use for the interlining of 18th century stays.  And yay, it was only $4 on sale at Hanncock's. :D I lined these stays with a sort of sheer peachy colored cotton.  And the outer layer is white linen which I got by cutting up a linen dress from the thrift store.  I hand sewed the stays entirely except (don't hate me) the canvas interlining.  I was torn about whether to hand sew it or not, but I have a deadline to have us all dressed by (this Saturday) and to save time and effort (canvas can be brutal to hand sew!! I broke 3 or 4 needles last time...) I just used my sewing machine.  Hey, no one is going to see it anyway.
cutting out the lining

gusset stitching

the front lining

pinning the gusset on the outside fabric
basting all 3 layers together

 To attach the layers I used a method called "stitching in the ditch."  You sew in the seams so that the attaching stitches are not visible.  I had some issues with the gusset "stitching in the ditch" because all 3 layers didn't quite line up. Forget it.  Stitch it so it looks pretty on the outside, the inside can just do what it wants, it's not like visible white stitches on the lining are going to kill me :P.
stitching in the ditch to attach the layers
 I made a total of 12 eyelets, 6 on each side.  Bascha has this fabulous machiny thingy that makes holes and sets grommets for you, (and she lets me borrow it for civil war corsets :)) but I don't.  So to punch holes I use a snap setting thing.  It looks  like a pair of pliers.  I put the punching side on one side of the fabric, and the hole side on the other and then push with all my might to make a hole.  Then I take a pencil and stick it through the hole and twist it around to make the hole larger, and then I sew my eyelet!
eyelets and binding/boning channel
 I bound the stays with cotton bias tape, since I had it on hand.  On the very edge next to the eyelets the binding works as a boning channel too.  I boned this with some left over 1/4 reed.  The pattern says to put a boning channel on the other side of the eyelets as well, which I did on one side.  I didn't have enough room on the other side though, and I don't think it's bad without the bone there.  The pattern also says to make the bottom binding house a drawstring, but since my eyelets end at the very bottom, I sewed the binding shut.
top and bottom binding
When I got to binding the armholes, I had run out of bias tape in that color, and since white looked too large and harsh, I used some 1/2 twill tape.
armhole binding with white twill tape
On the side, right in front of the side seam I put one bone (zip tie).  And you can see in this picture the two diagonal bones (also zip ties).  These help with support, and to "lift" the bosom, and keep everything out of the armholes.  It feels SO much better with that boning there!
side 3 boning channels
Sadly, I can still lace the stays completely shut.  There is supposed to be a 2-2 1/2 inch gap. :( that's ok though.  The bottom of my finished stays measures 28 inches.  But they fit great!  It does not decrease my bust measurement at all, but it does shove everything way up there.  I put my t-shirt on over them just for fun and my sister and I almost died laughing.  If you're having a bad day, just go put on some short stays and a t-shirt. :P  With my short stays, I think I could wear an incredibly high empire waist dress.  Which is a good thing I guess since this is what the stays were designed to do.
Front.  It does lace completely shut.
If you have any doubts about whether or not to wear short stays or stays for regency, you should.  You can tell a difference wearing them and not wearing them.  They aren't that hard to make, they don't take a very long time, they are comfortable, and they're period correct!  I would recommend this pattern, in the download-able version.  Just please don't print out 58 pages! And before you cut out the real thing, make a mock-up to adjust if you need to.

These stays took me approx. 4 days, and cost between 2 and 3 dollars if you don't include the pattern.


  1. Your stays look great! I'm doing the eyelets on my set and was SO relieved to hear that you didn't have room for a boning channel on the outer edge of your eyelet row either (I thought it was just me!)...your idea of using the seam binding as a boning channel made me feel so much better-thanks for a great tip! Will be following your blog now-thx!

  2. Aw, thank you! Glad that was able to help :-) Best wishes on your stays! And yay!!! A new follower! :-D you just made my day! I hope I didn't use too many exclamation points :-P