Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1820's Stays Finished Photos

As promised, here are some pictures of my finished stays. I am so relieved that so far they seem to fit; now it is a matter of seeing how well they will hold up with day-to-day use!

Here is a front view. I have a waist! :) Yay! I love my babies but I do not love what the munchkins did to my waistline. Flab, excess mushy flesh, excess softness, lovely little wrinkly silvery lines from which someone so inclined could read fortunes, permanently embedded upon my lower belly. Nothing majorly horrid, but still, it bothers me. Thankfully, there is such a thing as a corset. I don't think any amount of sit ups or twists will give me back my nice defined BC waist (which I didn't appreciate when I had it. I still thought I was fat, even then). But a corset will. It actually does not really take many inches off my waist but it firms up the torso and just redistributes everything into a nice shape. And it downsizes the look of the bosom. I'm soooo thrilled!!!
Back view. Compared to my 1860's gored corset, this one is very lightly boned. Yet it still provides the support I need and is extremely comfortable, just like it is giving me a gentle hug. There are three bones down the center front of the corset to take the place of the more period-correct busk (which I did not use), a bone radiating down from the outside of each bust gusset and one bone radiating up from the inside of the hip gusset. Then there are bones on either side of the back eyelets. The spring in the back is not even so I will have to work on that. Either I need to tighten the top or loosen the bottom to get a more uniform space.
A closer view of the shape from the side. The one thing this corset doesn't do is provide the "divide" factor so desirable in regency corsets. I think a period correct straight busk would have helped but honestly, there is no space between to have anything straight to divide! :( I content myself with thinking that these stays are for later than regency dresses anyway. I still like the overall shape and think it will work perfectly for what I need.
Now that this is done, I need some chemises. For these pictures I used a mid-19th century style since my one drawstring regency chemise currently needs new drawstrings.

But maybe I will start a dress first. I am going to try on my current 1820's dress to see if it fits well over the stays. If it does, I will use the pattern I used for that as a base and tweak it to suit me. I think I will start off with a very simple and plain basic 1820's style dress, perhaps something along the lines of this one:


  1. Dear Sarah,
    I so enjoy visiting your great blog.
    This is always a treat to visit your place and your pics are neat to view.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    God bless,

  2. I don't know much about stays, but it looks like you've done a wonderful job!

    I certainly hope you don't think you're fat now. You couldn't have possibly been fat before having children! I think it's a sad testament to our society that so many perfectly lovely, womanly girls think they are fat simply because their bodies don't match what is displayed by the media. You are beautiful, Sarah! Your body is shapely and lovely and healthy looking. I hope you know that! :-)

  3. How Beatutiful! I love the shape it gives you.

  4. Your corset looks lovely, you're an inspiration as always! I've had some thoughts as to making myself a corset for everyday wear, since I would like a firmer support. I think a corset inspired by the ones from the 1820's-30's would do well, they have a rather natural look to them...

  5. My goodness, you have the most lovely figure! What I wouldn't give... ::sigh::

    Can't wait to see the dresses! :)

  6. This is so cool! You really do look lovely, not at all like you've had three babies as close as you have! I wonder...I know that it is not the same shape as modern undergarments, but what *does* it look like say, under a sweater or t-shirt? I can't wait to see your dresses...it really has me thinking!!

  7. Your stays are beautiful and so is your figure! Makes me wanna go break out the corset now.... :P

    and you are NOT FAT! :)

  8. Lovely Sarah! I am so looking forward to seeing more of your new wardrobe! Makes me want to do this too..though I haven't an inkling on where to begin.
    I love the dress you posted for inspiration. How lovely indeed!

    And I agree with everyone else...you are very lovely and have a wonderful shape. Just splendid!

  9. Goodness, you look spectacular! You're so beautiful, Sarah, and your shape is lovely!

    I know what you mean about losing the waist, though. It doesn't matter if you lose every last bit of baby weight--or more--pregnancy just changes your shape. I never had a belly pooch before babies, but now the skin is stretched and I have to really suck it in. ;)

    I so enjoy your posts on historical underpinnings. You're such an inspiration.

  10. Oh, on a more practical note: the straps. Do they slide off your shoulders? I have a dickens of a time keeping things from sliding off my shoulders and it drives me crazy. The straps are so close to the edge of your shoulders, and I just kind of wondered if you have that problem.

  11. Oh my, thank you. I am totally embarassed about your kind words about my . ..ahem. . figure but for any improvement in appearance I must bow my knee to the synthetic symmetry of The Corset. Otherwise I AM just a dumpling shape. :)

    Tilly, I have wondered the same thing too, what it would look like beneath a modern outfit. I might have to try. I have a modern sweater I've kept in my closet just because I do like it so I might try to see what it looks like. The only thing I'd be worried about is having the corset lines show through a knitted shirt or sweater (unless it was bulky) but I think a knit t shirt under a sweater would help cover up the stay lines.

    Serena, yes, the straps DO slide off at times! Once I have my dress made I think it will help keep them where they need to be, or I may work another eyelet closer in towards the front. Made as the pattern indicated, they are for someone with slightly broader shoulders than mine. A lot of the stays I looked at from this time period had the straps sewn to the front, they did not tie on so I might try that for my next ones to get a better fit at the shoulder.

    Sproutingflowers, your comment was so sweet. I agree with you about the media portraying the ideal as being too unnaturally thin and even under-developed. Just look at old paintings and you can see that for the majority of history, the ideal of a beautiful woman was someone rounded, shapely and decidedly - NOT - thin! For some reason in this day and age thinness is a god. It IS a pity. I fell victim to that thinking back when I had a 27" waist! :( Not that I starved myself or had an eating disorder, no, I just felt bad because I could "pinch an inch".

    For myself, I don't currently think of myself as fat, necessarily, but I'd like to get back in shape. I have a baby belly now but my mom (after 5 babies of her own!) told me that will never go away. :) One nice thing about historical fashions is that often when you wear them, it really doesn't make a big difference what size you are or what shape you are. A proper corset will regulate your figure so you can fit bodices nicely over it, and full long skirts make it impossible to tell if you have Thunder Thighs or not. :) Hey, historic fashions are great on a number of levels! I know just in reenacting I've seen women who are probably a modern size 2 and women who are probably a modern size 20+ and they all look fabulous in a nice trim corset and fitted bodice with the skirts springing out from the waist and flowing down in a soft bell shape. And if one had to really decide, fitted bodices really are more flattering to the more "developed" figure.

  12. Just another thought on this idea of modern day thinaholicism. And another observation of why historic fashions and/or making your own clothes is great.

    Most modern fashions are made to flatter the THIN figure. Think about it. Dresses made to go over flat stomaches (and make you look pregnant if you have even a slight pooch), low-ride jeans that make any girl with any natural flesh on developed hips look like bread dough that has risen too much out of its bowl, shirts that make anyone with a cup size larger than B reveal stomach flesh that may perhaps not be ultra-tight and firm (due to shirts not being cut long enough to go over a more ample bosom!)

    It's so liberating to be able to choose what fashions I like and what styles flatter ME and not have to rely on what the current trend is. I feel so sorry for women who think their only other option is shopping for dowdy looking cast offs from the early 90's at thrift shops. My heart goes out to them. I wish everyone could sew and loved to sew and could make clothes that they loved and felt beautiful in, whatever that style might be.

  13. You did a fantastic job with the stays! They even *look* comfortable and give you such a lovely, old-fashioned shape. I can't wait to see what dresses you sew to wear over them.

  14. The stays look lovely, and you look lovely in them. I like what they do to your figure. Having a similar body myself, I am looking forward to seeing how a stay like this works for me. Maybe I'll look like I'm 16 again. Or not. :P I have the same belly issues...I know they'll never go away. I think you just have to see it as a badge of motherhood. Looking forward to seeing the dresses you make to wear over them. Also, I agree with Tilly. I wonder what they would look like under a sweater or blouse.

  15. What a lovely line! I had a corset for a prom dress a few years ago that I wore regularly under my modern clothes. Sometimes it had a little line -- but not much more than what I get off a modern bra. I've not worn it in years, but you're inspiring me. Not only do corsets give a firmer, cleaner shape, they also make you sit up straight (one of my weaknesses).

    Let us know if you try it under that sweater!

  16. The corset is beautiful!! It looks like the idea I have in my mind of one to make... What pattern did you use??

    The only stays I have are my regency short stays, but I would like long stays that would work better for my Romantic era dress...

  17. Elinor, (Elinor is my FAVORITE Austen heroine!) I used the mantua maker regency stays pattern for these. I altered the pattern just a little by nipping in at the waist a tad more than the pattern does, lengthening the bust gusstets so as to not get such a push-up appearance, and drafting the front and back hip gussets on the existing side and back pieces so I didn't have so many gussets to sew in :P I have short stays too, but I like the tummy control and support the longer ones give. (plus I need to make new short stays since my current ones are almost 2 years old and they don't fit right anymore).

  18. I think this is beautiful!

    When you write day-to-day use, do you where corset everyday or everyother day?

    I'm sewing my own period dresses, or im trying to atleast. I want them to be able to where in my everyday life so its not as long or big as they should be.
    All i neew is a stay/corset that wont interfier with my life, need to be able to bend somewhat atleast.

    Babbling i know but i hope you can help me find a way to do Everyday corsets :)



Thank you for your lovely thoughts!