Friday, February 18, 2011

Regency Stays Experts - Opinions and Advice Please!

With my thoughts turned towards the Jane Austen Festival this summer, I have been trying to decide what gowns to make and, therefore, what undergarments I will need to make first, since I'm not really pleased with my 1790's short stays anymore (the ones with the gathered cups) because, #1, they are starting to become too large for me, which is uncomfortable as it makes the shift rub against my skin and #2, they do not provide as nice a line as I might wish. I was once a C cup. I hope to be one again. In the meantime, I don't need to be wearing something that makes me look twenty pounds heavier on top. The stays I have been using push the bosom together making a "mono bosom" look. It's really not that flattering to me, I am afraid.

I got some fabric for new stays. I have the Mantua Maker regency stays pattern and last year I made it, with a few modifications, for late 1820's/1830's wear. I made my own gussets and did not use the ones included in the pattern. I also made a more nipped in waistline instead of going with the more tubular shape often seen in true regency corsets.

I want to start work on my stays soon. Today I pulled out the stays I made last year from the Mantua Maker pattern and tried them on to see what adjustments I will have to make for a more regency silhouette. I know I'll have to make them much smaller around my hips (so far, all the weight loss seems to be coming from my hips and bust! It would be nice to loose some from the waist too! But I'll take what I can get!) but I would like experts opinions on the bust area of the stays. Is it high enough? I tried on my new regency dress with the stays and I really like how it looks with these stays a lot better than with the 1790's stays. These stays incorporate the use of a busk, which really helps with support and gives the bosom the characteristic "lift and seperate" look.

I know the regency bustline was really high and kind of "shelf" like. These stays don't really give a "shelf" appearance, but they do lift the bustline pretty high; in fact, I don't physically think I could lift it any higher. So, should I stick with these size gussets? Or is there a way I can modify the gussets to give more of a shelf appearance?

Another problem that you can see is that, due to the cut of the bodice, you can clearly see the top of the stays in the middle of the bodice. :( Any suggestions on how I could fix that problem? A brooch? Lace along the bodice edge?

So if these stays will work. . .all I will need to do is use the same pattern I used for these and make the hips a tad smaller. It would be a lot less work than going through the inconvenience of making mock ups of gussets and such! :P

This is all very new to me so please jump in with your advice and opinions!



  1. I'm not at all an expert. In fact, I have been planning to make my first pair of stays ever. I'll be especially interested in seeing everyones advice!

  2. The stays look very nice and seem to give the correct line. I would recommend adding a triangle of fabric to cover the stays that peep out. Or you can wear a fichu with that gown. You can also, if you have enough fabric in the bodice, you can pin it closed in the front. Any of these options will work just fine :D

  3. Sarah, I can't help with this since I"m not much of a sewer. I do think this dress is fantastic so far. There are a couple of sites that I follow via blogger and on FAcebook that you could email and ask about that. The first one is "Sense & Sensibility Patterns" sewing patterns, Regeny era gowns etc... and also maybe Bramblewood Fashiion because the young lady has made Regency dresses in the past. So she might be able to help. Here's the link to her website You may have heard of both of these sites, but I just had to include them incase you haven't :) :) Let us know what you decide!!! Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  4. Dear Sarah Jane,
    The line does look good. Do check fashion plates: I think for day a chemisette would be appropriate and there are a lot of different types, with or sans collar.

    Handsome dress, too!

    Very best and yes, I am back online, a little,

    Natalie in Ky

  5. Sarah, I'm no fact, I'm in the process of making my own stays...but the line looks good to me from what I've seen on fashion plates, and from what the ladies on the S&S forum have told me.

  6. Natalie, is it good to see you "back"; I hope you had a very restful internet sabbatical! I think I need those too from time to time. But at the same time, I'm so grateful for the wealth of research information available online too. I don't know what I would do without you ladies inspiring, aiding and advising me!

    A fichu or chemisette would indeed nicely take care of the gaposis problem in the bodice. Thanks for the idea! I wonder how the original was worn? What kind of stays were worn beneath? Did the lady who had the original dress use a fichu and/or chemisette? Was it worn for daytime loungewear, or more formal occasions? (I'm suppose less formal. . .)

    The real reason I want to get these stays done so soon is so I can make the ubiquitous "white dress" that every regency lady seemed to have. Lauren, I am definitely going with the fashion plate you sent and can't wait to get started! I thinking a gown like Elinors white gown in S&S, with 3/4 sleeves so I can use it for day or evening wear.

  7. I just finished making a bodiced petticoat for my regency dress which has boning in it, eliminating my need to make a regency stay. It worked out pretty well, but obviously not as supportive as a stay:


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!