Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Regency Corded Stays - Progress

I've been slowly working on some new stays over the last week. I had hoped to have them done by now (my initial plan was to get them done over the extended Memorial Day weekend!) but as it often happens, things take a little longer than planned. I've been enjoying sewing on them bit by bit and a little progress each day quickly adds up! They aren't done yet but are very close to it. Another day should do it.
Progress shot from a few days ago. Since then, I have added more
embroidery and the bones and started the long process of binding. 

And now it's time for boob discussion so if that is not your thing, scroll down. ;)

The stays I made last year were okay but I felt that they didn't support the bust as well as I would have liked. So with these, I added some length to the top of the stays at the front where the gussets are inserted. I also thought a wider busk would help with the position of the bust. The desired regency look was a lifted, mounded, separated breast line and not cleavage-y. And mine came out cleavage-y. Which is okay, I guess, but it's not as flattering as the separated look.
1812 evening dress depicting the lifted-but-
separated look so desirous and fashionable in the early
19th century.

My problem is that I have a very narrow underbust measurement (like 29"-30") compared to a more normal bust measurement (currently 38", though I'm still nursing). In modern bra size I wear a 30 or 32E Soooo....that means the two breasts are squished together in the front and there's not much space between them. A little busk made of a paint stick just does not separate the two breasts as much as is needed.
Even in an obviously well endowed lady, the bust is still depicted with
So a wider busk will help, right? I'm experimenting. I bought a wooden yard stick that is the perfect width and is also thicker. It will be covered in white silk and used for the new busk. The bust pocket on these stays is about 3/8" wider than the last stays. The result of that COULD be busts pushed up and apart into the armpit, though. Hopefully that won't be the case with mine. I won't know for sure until these are done and I can lace them up and find out. *fingers crossed*

I wanted to take make these as nice as I could since I want them to last me a long time. The cording pattern is inspired by the stays in the Fashion book by the Kyoto Institute. (Thank you to Blake for the gorgeous book!)

The fabric is a nice non-stretch white cotton twill with a woven stripe. My local Hancocks is closing so I got it on a huge discount. Perfect stuff for corsets and stays.

I wanted to do some embroidery on these to dress them up a little. I am not good with embroidery so the design I went with is a very simple curvy line done in chain stitch with a few little leaves here and there. I may do some more - I want to do a line around each gusset and may do some more on the front. It's very simple but it has a nice look to it and will hopefully withstand the wear and tear of use pretty well. It does feel good to have pretty period underwear. :)

After checking with all the local shops I couldn't find any nice twill tape to bind them so I went with some fabric binding of pima cotton. It's tightly woven so hopefully will prevent the bones from working their way out.
The binding being stitched down on the right side. It wraps around to the back and will be
secured to the wrong side with slip stitches.

I still need to order some laces. Omg it's hard to find cotton laces! The only US based company I found that carries it is Corset Making Supplies and you have to order a 144 yd spool of it and they have a limited supply of white. Or I could get synthetic laces. But I don't want synthetic laces. Ugh. What to do.

After this I want to redo my shift from last year (it came out much too large) or make a new one. Then a simple, cooking-over-the-fire chasing-children-through-the-mud type of dress for a living history we plan to do next month. The boys will need shirts and breeches or trousers, too.
Isn't this dress from Centraal Museum  just perfect simplicity?! I love the hem - I
wonder if the effect is created with tiny tucks or cording. 

In the meantime, my little nursling is about ready to go down for a nap and then I can get back to binding! Our window is open this afternoon and the smell wafting in from the magnolia outside is divine!



  1. Full disclosure: I used to work there, so I'm not entirely un-biased. But Britex Fabrics in San Francisco has some cotton laces on their online store. They're not the cheapest, but they are nice, and you can buy only a yard.

    1. Awesomeness!! I just spent way too much time on their site drooling over their gorgeous offerings. They have some really beautiful stuff.

  2. Your embroidery is lovely! It really adds a sweet touch to the corset. It's nice having pretty period underpinnings! You've inspired me on the Regency long corset. I made a short one and like that, but the long corset has a different silhouette. I'd like to try it again! I made a long one before but it didn't turn out. It's great how you're able to fit in all your sewing even with a nursing child! :)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!