Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Regency Short Stays

I love short stays! I have a set myself and I always recommend them to my customers.
I prefer them over long stays because they give you so much more freedom of movement. They feel almost like a sports bra when worn, but no sports bra would ever give you such impressive cleavage! You have got to love the lift and separate these give, I call this look the boobshelf, because it literally looks like you have your boobs on a shelf.

Look at that Ooompf!
Short stays where not as common as long stays, but they where more prevalent  in the earlier days of the empire period when skirts where still fuller and no tummy control was needed. They went somewhat out of fashion once the shiloutte started to get more slender and the flat fronted dresses of the 1810's started to become popular

1790's short stays from the V&A

Wrap stays from KCI

but they did not go away entirely until the waist returned to it's natural place in the 1820's

After 1804 stays started to get longer again.

I just finished making a pair of stays for a client.

Here's a look into how these things go together

I use Sense and Sensibilities short stays pattern, http://sensibility.com/blog/patterns/regency-underthings-pattern/
 I find it fits well for a variety of shapes and sizes,  it goes together easily and it creates a nice shape. It may not be 100% historically accurate, but it's close enough and who sees your underwear anyway.

I apologize that I do not have pictures from the cutting and sewing together stage of this project but really it's pretty straight forward.
So let's start with the already sewn up pieces of these stays ready to be assembled.

The 3 layers of the corset laid out flat

My stays always have  layers, heavy canvas sandwiched between 2 layers of softer and more attractive cotton. They can be made with only 2 layers but I prefer to interline with the canvas instead of having it exposed on one side or go without the canvas altogether. In this case I decided to line the inside of the stays with a purple cotton calico. The outer layer that is seen when the stays are worn is plain white so it won't show underneath gowns, but I decided it would be a fun splash of color to have the calico on the inside.

The 3 layers all pinned together

When joining the layers remeber to leave the bottom part open so the boning can be inserted.
After I sandwich the layers I draw out the boning pattern with washable fabric marker, I always bone my stays, it keeps them from scrunching up and retains the shape, it also gives extra lift to the girls.

Boning pattern

Then I sew the channels, i also do a couple of rows of horizontal stitching righ underneath the gussets, this gives extra stiffness to the fabric and adds more support, also it looks nice.

boning channels and under bust quilting

I bone my stays with cable ties. yes you read that correctly CABLE TIES!

Cable ties my ghetto boning material of choice

I have found after some experimentation that cable ties make great corset bones. They are cheap and readily available and mold themselves to your body shape, much like whalebone would have. I find they behave very much like spiral spring steel bones just at a fraction of the cost and no deed for getting out the heavy wire cutters. Also they don't rust in the wash!  And they certainly are very supereior to the terrible plastic boning sold at fabric stores! Just rember to round off the ends after cutting them to size otherwise the sharp tips will work their way through the fabric and pick you in the underarm.

Round off the ends with some utility scissors.

Inserting the bones

After inserting the cable ties into the boning channels I bind the entire stays with bias tape. I could make my own but I just use the store bought stuff, cause as my blog title already proclaims I'm a lazy costumer.

Plain old double fold bias tape, I use this stuff a lot!

Bound stays still lacking embellishment and eyelets.

I like to add a touch of lace to the finished stays, this is not neccesary but i think it looks cute and it hides a multitude of flaws. Not that my work has flaws or anything, me no my sewing is perfect....
I added 2 types of cotton bobbin lace.

Last come the lacing eyelets. I usually make hand bound eyelets and do spiral lacing. But in this case I oped for metal grommets and the more common cross lacing style because the customer is not a reeneactor and does not insist on the more historically accurate style of lacing up the stays.

I used a mallet to insert the grommets because i could not find a hammer...

Most non reenactors are not familiar with spiral lacing and hand bound eyelets tend to be smaller and require the use of a bodkin to lace the stays up, so metal grommets it is for these stays. I think the end result is rather admirable.

I's pretty.

Yet Simple

And cute!

And I just love the calico and dainty lace trim!

 I certainly like the pizazz the calico gives this otherwise utilitarian undergarment, There's nothing like a little touch of frivolity, and why be commonplace if you can be different!


  1. i WILL make one of those one of these days and you certainly should NEVER apologize for being a bit on the lazy costuming side(welcome to that sisterhood!). You did a marvelous and beautiful job and i would not in a million years thought of the zip ties for this use! Thank you soo much.

  2. ...and yes being german myself i truly understand the need for good food,drink and quality in items seen in thing german...you would not by any chance be aware of anything going on closer to the Alabama,Georgia,Florida or Tennessee area?

  3. well there's always helen ga if you are into oktoberfest. also atlanta has an excellent german butcher called patak bohemian meats! thy rock!

  4. WOW!!! You go, girl. I am proud of you. Thanks for sharing this on the WWW. One day, one day is all I can say.



  5. Thank you for such an engaging and informative tutorial. I just purchased this pattern in paper on Etsy from patternsoftime because I don't trust my cheap printer to do it justice. I love the calico lining, going to definitely try that!