As promised, a post about making Regency Stays. This means the corset style worn during Jane Austen’s time period. I made what is known as short stays, which seemed easier than a full corset, so…here we go!
I found an awesome tutorial (http://biancavonbavensen.blogspot.com/2014/03/how-to-draft-regency-short-stays.html) that I followed. It uses measurements to make an original pattern to fit the wearer. I was making the stays for my friend who was modeling for my book cover shoot with another friend, to wear unde the Regency dress I also made (that’ll be another post, later).
(Here is the pattern I made; I measured and drew it onto tissue paper. I’ve since learned that I prefer gift wrapping paper for drafting patterns, but this worked for such a small pattern.)
I cut three of each piece (liner, interliner to stiffen, and outer layer) and assembled the three layers seperately. I used French seams, which would be period-accurate, and left them a bit wider than perhaps was necessary, but it added good structure, since I did not want to use boning.
I used an old bed sheet for the two layers that will show, and some heavier home decor fabric I already had for stiffening. It is streachier than it should be, but these stays won’t be worn extensively, so I think it will be alright.
Here are the gussets, to give enough room for supporting the bust. During the regency, the bosom was pushed up to create a shelf-like silhouette. The gussets are formed by inserting triangles into a slit in the fabric. I think I googled “how to sew a gusset” for instructions on that, but cannot remember the site I followed right now.
Finally, the pieces were ready to assemble. I pinned all around the edges, temporarily holding all three layers together. Before I sewed them, I added some cording to help support the bust.
You can see the diagonally-sewn cording under the garment, as well as some leftover cording I had. This gives just a bit more structure and support than nothing, but not as much as boning would have.
I found that this pattern was just a bit too big around; I’m not sure if it was measurign error or what, exactly, but I plan to take an inch off the back on either side, so that the stays may be laced more tightly if needed. I think for the photo-shoot, they were just a bit too loose, sitting where a modern bra would be, and therefore failed to create the proper silhoutte. My plan is to hand-sew the eyelets, as there were no grommets or metal eyelets at thee time (yes, I know, they won’t show, but I’d like the practice on something that won’t show…I’ll post about that later, if anyone is interested).
I also added hooks and eyes to the front; a proper treatment would have been a front-lacing closure, as I am pretty sure metal hooks and eyes did not exsist a the time, and I don’t think a split busk was used yet, either. But this is a modern convenience for my friend, who may wear the dress for a costume or something in the future, and I didn’t want it to be difficult for her to use.
I also plan on binding the entire thing with bias tape, and using the pictured cord for lacing in the back.
When I post about the dress, I will show the finished stays. For now, though, this is what I have.
Thank you for reading!!!