Sunday, April 1, 2012

Maternity Stays

It is time to turn our attention to some feminine sewing. After all that wool and broadcloth and shiny brass buttons spending some time working on some purely lady-stuff sewing has been so enjoyable and relaxing. Not that I don't enjoy sewing men's stuff - I do, and already have plans for a white linen frock coat for David sometime in the next month or so - but it's nice to have change. To avoid monotony. To keep things fresh.

I finished these maternity stays yesterday and today David helped me take some photos of them. With my boys I did not need special maternity stays since they carried so very low but this baby is higher than they were. I suppose I could have gotten by with my regular corset but it was a little uncomfortable around the midsection. And who *really* needs an excuse for new stays? Not me. ;)

They are simply from Mantua Maker regency stays pattern, fitted to my pre-pregnancy body, adjusted for pregnancy by adding two laced sections that go from the side front hip to just under the bust. That's it. Really easy and the lacing will allow me to expand comfortably in the front and side while allowing the rest of the stays to fit my body normally.

The only other change I made was to shorten the busk. Instead of using a busk that goes all the way to my abdomen I am using a short one that goes to the top of my baby bump. As I grow I can shorten the busk (it is just a paint stick cut to length) or remove it completely if necessary. I get better bosom shape WITH the busk in but it is not strictly necessary for bust support.

Here you can see the stays laid out flat:

Detail of the abdomen lacing. I just slit the stays to make the opening and bound the opening with a straight strip of cotton. Then I worked the eyelets and threaded the lacing through. Simple.

The short busk:

The nice thing about these stays is that they give the right shape (generally speaking) for everything from regency era up through the Civil War era. So I can wear these with my regency dresses and get a good shape, my 1820's "New Salem" dress and my 1860's dresses for reenactments. I tried this green dress on today after not having worn it the past few years. The stays work very well underneath it. The bodice is a tad long so there are some wrinkles at the side but it still fits well enough to be warrant being worn.

I seriously love my black silk quilted bonnet for this beautiful April weather. It is too bad I will have to wait til the fall to wear it to an event. Our first Civil War reenactment will be in May and by then I am sure it will be too warm for anything but a light sunbonnet or a straw fashion bonnet. Sigh. Oh well.

It is hard to believe that it is already Palm Sunday and Easter is next week. The months are whirling away and
only four are left before Baby is due!



  1. Love the stays! Beautifully done! I just started on a set of 18th century gestational stays...fingers crossed they turn out half so well as these!

  2. Oh my, I love them! You look great, by the way. :) BTW, I was thinking about you when I was sewing this ( couple of days ago. You projects are so lovely!

  3. I feel I'm repeating myself, but really nice, as usual :)

  4. I love these! nice to see someone do maternity stays. they must have been very common in period since women spent most of their childbearing age either pregnant or nursing. But so far I have not seen anyone make maternity stays. Great job!

  5. How clever. And you could even use them when not carrying as well I suspect.

  6. the second picture is soooo cute!
    And I love your green dress with the bonnet and you standing in all that green spring-ness...its like a painting...

  7. Lady D, I think so too. If I lace the openings all the way shut, the stays will fit the same as non-expandable stays. So they are a useful addition to the wardrobe of any lady who is in her childbearing years and is planning to expand her family, I suppose. :)

  8. After *skimming* your archives I must ask: have you made a maternity AND nursing stay or corset?

  9. Hello there!
    I came across this post as I was researching maternity stays for my second maternity corset. My first I made using Past Patterns, but the shape is very much Regency and not 1860's- so for me they fit funny, the bust gussets are strange, and there's no support or boning and no curvature. May I ask why you decided to go with a Regency era pattern for yours? Is it because of the length, or shape? I'm considering using a regular corset pattern (one I've used several times before and I know it fits me) and adding shoulder straps and laced gussets, and cording sections of it and using a few spiral bones. In your opinion, would it work? The original period maternity stays I've seen are all closer to a regular 1860's corset shape rather than a Regency era shape. Thanks!

  10. Do you feel these worked better than modern day underwear? What did you do while nursing?

  11. I think it would be great back support if you would have it shape to help hold the bottom of the baby bump, honestly a stay or corset looks so much more comfortable than the modern elastic velcrow maternity supports.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!