Thursday, September 19, 2013

Starting my 1770's Stays

Well, it's not much, but it's a start! I finalized my pattern from my mock up, have the top 3 layers of my stays cut out and basted together and am ready to start sewing boning channels.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. Homeschooling two 1st grade boys and doing pre-K with Malachi requires so much dedication, planning, patience and flexibility and has been so tiring lately. It is fun - delightful at times! - yet at other times it is frustrating and I feel like packing them all off to public school. This week has been a low point. It's a constant effort at times to just persevere and get through the daily school schedule, especially now, with being rather sick and very tired due to early pregnancy, and also caring for an absolutely delightful, beautiful and strong willed 14 month old baby girl who has decided lately that she must be held almost constantly and she has to empty the bookshelves, tear apart workbooks and eat crayons whenever I am not looking.
the pieces look a bit distorted because the trunk they are on has ridges on top.  They will look much better once boned and sewn together! The tabs will not be cut until after the boning is in and the edge is ready for binding.

So though I do not have much to show yet with these stays, I am very happy with what I have been able to do. Research and sewing is refreshing and helps me relax and refocus after an intense day with my children.

The pattern is the 1776 stays from Corsets and Crinolines. They are incredible simple in shape - just a front piece and a back piece, and a shoulder strap - and the boning gives the shape to the finished stays. I used my old pattern as a starting point but had to drastically change it to get the right look. These stays will have a much lower waistline (my last ones tabbed out at about rib level!) and a narrower torso with a more conical shape.

I decided to hand stitch these and to make visible boning channels. There are several extant examples of half boned stays with visible channels and I am considering quilting or doing some sort of fancy stitch in between the bones. I would really like to cord the empty spaces between the bones for additional support but I haven't been able to find an original example from this time period that combines both boning and cording - does anyone know if such a thing was done?

The inside two layers are white cotton/linen blend fabric repurposed from some curtains my mom gave me and the outer layer a dull green cotton with a woven stripe. Not fancy and perhaps not the best/most authentic fabric choice but I want to use what I already have and not have to purchase new materials. Since these are, after all, just for fun.

Next up is marking and sewing the boning channels. That may take awhile, though I am hopeful I can make good progress in the next few evenings. We are rewatching the PBS show Colonial House and its nice to have handwork to do while watching something on tv.

I really really really want to get these done by the 30th, but we'll see! Hopefully I will still fit into them by then! ;)



  1. I've just finished my 1770's stays, good fun to sew, impossible to put on or take off without help (thank goodness for my husband) and took way longer than I expected as I'm not used to handsewing that much on a garment! Now that they're finished I'm making my panniers, also mostly handsewn.

  2. I'm watching your progress on this one with rapt attention. I have avoided getting too caught up in my love of late 1700's clothing because making stays kind of scares me. You might actually convince me to try with this one though! I can't even imagine what I'd look like in a 1770's corset, but that's not really the point any more, is it?

  3. Hang in there on schooling the kiddos, I am on my seventh year with my kids and we have more good days per year now than when we started out. It is a blessing to your family that will continue long after they have graduated. I finished 1770 stays for reenactment last year and I need to get them out to fix for this year's event. They cut into my under arms fiercely when I took a short cut in sewing. Thanks for the push!

  4. Dear Sarah Jane,

    Whoo, yes. I am impressed very much by your dedication to teaching your children. Guiding them to remain on task, interesting them in subjects in which they have no native interest. It's art, it's skill, it's love.

    The stays are looking really nice so far. The simplicity of the pattern intrigues me. Will enjoy seeing how the boning shapes each piece.



  5. Oh they're looking beautiful! xD Don't worry about the school! lol I'm homeschooled and lately things have been going better than in previous years. I think it all has a way of evening out after a while! :D

  6. Can't wait to see your end result! I'm homeschooling my 5 year old daughter this year, and we have a 2 year old and a 13 month old. I'm so relieved to hear I'm not the only one who has felt like sending her off to the public school, lol. Sewing helps me to relax, too. Praying it gets better for you!

  7. Can't wait to see the end result! I want to try late 1700s at some point, too. I'm homeschooling our 5 year old daughter and have a 2 year old and 13 month old sons. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's felt like giving up. Praying it gets better for us both!

  8. I was homeschooled, and with mommy being pregnant every other year (almost) and Daddy's job changing to cause cross country moves every 3 yrs, being far away from relatives, throughout my entire homeschooled years, things were crazy, to say the least. I remember mommy crying multiple times that we weren't going to graduate highschool, and that she'd messed up our education for good. There were bad years, like my 9th grade year when baby #9 came along 9 days after moving from AL to Chicago on 3 weeks notice (all the packing and driving the moving van ourselves). My mom was kind of overwhelmed, to say the least, and I spent the majority of the year going on long moody walks and being depressed on the deep angsty questions of life (as many 14/15 yrs olds are...) We had to count half credits for Home Ec and PE (the walks) and all the world lit I'd read, just to squeak me past the minimum 4 credits to get me to 10th grade.
    But amazingly, when the dust settled, between the "bad years" and the good ones, I did learned a lot. The rate was never steady, but learning happened. And so far (kids 1-5)all of us that finished our homeschooling have gone to college on full scholarships. So even though things were crazy, and productivity dipped up and down, we learned. So don't feel bad if you're having a "bad year", it'll all straighten itself out in the end.

  9. um, "I did learn a lot"

    Hopefully I haven't convinced you not to home-school....

  10. Thank you so much for sharing that Hannah! It was perfect timing for me to read that. Last week was so difficult - I have been apprehensive about homeschooling "the grades" ever since I found out I was expecting Anne, but when I found out I am now expecting yet another, it was just so overwhelming. I kept thinking that if I can barely take care of my baby this year and school 3 boys, how am I going to do it next year with an infant AND a toddler? So hearing about your mom successfully homeschooling all of you while being pregnant and caring for little ones. . .you have no idea how encouraging that is! And it is also encouraging to know that others have struggled with hard days/weeks/months/years, too.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!