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18th century stays


 I suppose I ought to actually post something. So, here are my first pair of TOTALLY FINISHED STAYS!!! I almost fainted with joy when I realised that I had finished the binding.

I used four layers of fabric: lining, two to make boning channels and one for the outside. What I quite like about them is that you can just about see the middle fabric’s pattern through the thinner outer fabric.

I was so nearly done when I realised that I probably wanted to sew the shoulder straps to the back and tie them to the body of the stays at the front. My regency stays (which I shall post pictures of when I have put binding on them) have back fastening shoulder straps. NIGHTMARE. Every single time you want to adjust something, unlace the stays, adjust, lace them back up again etc.

So I vowed not to do the same this time and sewed the straps on front fastening. Great. But then disaster struck. I had gotten so carried away watching ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ (great movie, 1980s version) that I sewed on one of the straps to the front and one of them the wrong way round.      Damn 

So out came the unpicking tool and I had to undo all of my handiwork. But anyways, I finished them and I am SO proud!


The finished stays laid out flat. My method of lacing isn’t spiral because when I tried doing that I realised that the top and bottom of the stays didn’t match up. Instead the lacing method is what I call the ‘V-lacing’. I researched pictures of period stays and I have seen some lace up like this.    Well, it’s not the evil ‘X-lacing’ of the Victorian era, so I guess I’m in the clear.


You can see the point at which I ran out of one colour thread for my back eyelets. 46 hand sewn eyelets in total. Very boring.


To help with lacing and to stop the ribbon fraying, I held a lit matchstick just under the end and with incredible amounts of skill, rolled the ends.


My cheeky method of hiding the stitching where I sewed the straps onto the body.

P1090508Side and front views.     P1090506

My stays are actually very comfy to wear and I don’t feel too restricted. I don’t as yet have a shift to pose in, so please forgive the scandalous amount of bare skin.

P1090535Oh look, another grainy photo. This time of the back.

These are a totally unorthodox pair of stays. They were made mostly by machine (I only recently found out that we have one and decided to make a pair of stays because I was too lazy to hand stitch a pair) and the boning is cable ties. Cable ties are great for boning because they’re easy to cut and shape and are cheap and readily available.

Thank you for reading my first costuming post! Please follow my blog and comment what you think!




One thought on “18th century stays

  1. They look great! Stays are quite challenging, aren’t they. And I like your idea of having lacing in the front as well, because it does make it much easier to put them on and off yourself. Otherwise you need to hire a lady’s maid!


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