Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pretty Pink Stays

Just in time for The Dreamstress's "Shape and Support" Historical Fortnightly Challenge, I've finished (finally!) what (I hope) will be my last pair of stays for a while.

First, the Stays Saga.

Three years ago, I made the Scarlett O'Hara stays--a prototype of the pattern I wanted to use for a "real" pair of stays (and made from leftover curtain fabric, hence Scarlett, natch).  They served me well, but they were never intended to hold up long-term.  Then, looking toward a full season of reenacting whilst quite pregnant, I made Peachy Pink Gestational Stays based on a slight modification to that pattern.  Finally divested of a large belly and with my body working its way back toward normalcy, I set about last fall to begin making my real, honest to goodness, actual stays.

This is how they turned out:

They were functional and pretty.  Unfortunately, they didn't fit me very well.  They're a bit big overall, but most of all at the bust and shoulders.  Disappointed, I announced three minutes into wearing them for the first time that I'd likely sell them and start over.  The person to whom I announced this tried on the stays and they are now hers--they look brilliant on her.  They were truly made for her, not me!

Then another round, same pattern, scaled back in a few spots.

Workable. But I'm still not thrilled--mostly, again, in the bust area, and I wanted a narrower waist front.  So I tweaked again.

And now I am pleased with the shape.

The Challenge: #12 – Shape & Support
Fabric: 1/2 yard pink linen for outer purchased as a discounted remnant from, 1/2 yard Russian drill from Wm Booth Draper, 1/2 yard white linen lining
Pattern: Based upon extants pictured in Jill Salen's Corsets, and this lovely from the Victoria and Albert museum,

I fiddled with both the Butterick commercial stays pattern and the JP Ryan stays pattern to come up with something I liked.  The final pattern ends up being much closer to the JP Ryan half-boned stays pattern than anything else.

Year: 1775-1780 ish
Notions: Wool tape for binding and pink floss for eyelets, plus boning--I used cable ties.   
How historically accurate is it?  I'll give myself a 75%.  The fabrics are spot-on (was quite thrilled with the drill, in particular), and the pattern is very similar to extants, with adjustments made for my size and body type.  The boning, however...I had to make a concession and use either reed in a garment that I was basing on extants made of whalebone, or use plastic, which better imitates whalebone.  Rock and a hard place.  I went with the plastic because I've been happy with how it holds up and molds to the body in past iterations.  I also sewed this with a mix of hand and machine sewing--hand sewing details and binding and machine sewing long seams and long boning channels.  Eyelets are hand-bound.  My biggest test, however, is the shape created, and I'm very happy with the silhouette as compares to fashion plates, portraits, and other images.
Hours to complete: Ihavenoidea.  Seriously, with a toddler, this project was a few boning channels here, an eyelet good way to measure the time spent.  
First worn: For a brief fitting foray.  Very comfortable!  I promise a real first-time wearing photo soon.

Total Cost:  All told, I spent $50. ($20 for the drill, $10 for the linen, $10 for binding, $10 for pink silk twist for the eyelets.)  I used far less of either fabric than I purchased, too, so the total $30 fabric cost includes adding to the fabric stash!  (I think the leftover pink linen will make for a dandy toddler dress.)

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the fit, the form they create, and, most importantly, that I *finally* finished a pair of pretty pink stays for myself!


Evie said...

Can't wait to see them in person! I really need some new ones, too. The motivation is just not quite there, yet. Meh.

Rowenna said...

Thanks, Evie! I know you'll make gorgeous ones when you get the motivation :)