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18th Century Child Stays Part 1

April 21st, 2010 (10:10 am)

I am not done with these yet. They are for my nine year old daughter. I haven't taken pictures of the last few steps, but I am done with boning them (with reeds) and am sewing on the leather binding. Wow. That is painful! I've sewn leather before but even with my glover's needle it takes a lot out of your fingers to push through the leather and canvas.

NOTE:  She will not be forced to wear these and will not be tight-lacing them.  She chose to have them and will wear them to the reenactment as part of her full costume.  They are only half boned and they are comfortable on her.  

I used plain blue cotton fabric for the exterior, two layers of cotton canvas for the inside boning channels, and a white linen/cotton blend that is really soft for the interior. I used cotton Gutterman's thread as I was too impatient to wait for my linen thread to arrive and Coats & Clark topstitching thread for the boning channels. I am using chamois leather to bind and it's quite yellow. My daughter likes yellow, though, so it works. Next time I believe I will use wool or silk tape/ribbon for binding if I have some.

The pattern is based off a few child stays I found online:

I enlarged the picture from mass.edu and traced it from the computer. I used the boning idea from the philamuseum.org picture, though, and altered them to be longer based on other pictures I can't find the link to at the moment. I made a cardboard mockup to try on my daughter and changed it a bit from there-made the armhole area larger as well as the bottom tab. They also needed extended out a bit on each side...but I forgot to cut them that way. They will do and can be altered later, if need be. If you want my pattern, I can trace it out and put it on here, but I have not done so yet.

They were constructed by (mostly) following these instructions-which were a lifesaver: http://www.cherrydawson.com/StaysWorkshop/stays_notes.htm

Sorry for the bad pictures! I was working mostly under growlights from my seedlings to keep my little one asleep.


This is my pattern traced out on the canvas. I traced it on the blue fabric about a 1/2" larger to bind over the outer edges...then I messed up and only used it to bind the eyelet edges as done in many 18th century womens' stays. Note my fabric is not as wrinkly as this photo shows. That linen wrinkles quickly but I think the camera caught all the right shady spots.

Here is my pattern on all four layers with the boning channels lined out with pencil. The angled lines are 60 degrees to the middle. It was easier to do with my ruler that way. ;) After they were marked, I just sewed the channels with my machine and hand finished the rest (so far)


Posted by: nakiamonroe (nakiamonroe)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)

Thank you. This is my first pair of stays so I was nervous about posting pictures online but they are turning out well.

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