Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gestational Stays

After much yammering about them, the stays!

I decided after researching gestational stays to use my trusty 1780 pattern and split the sides at a spot that made sense, rather than copying the Diderot or the pattern in Salen's book.  This was mostly as a potential time-saver--I needed to churn these out pretty quickly in order to make use of them when I needed them!

The green linen version I made earlier this year:

And the gestational version:

Spot the other difference?  Yeah, I ran out of time and skipped the straps.

The basics:  The innards are two layers of canvas-weight fabric with a layer of peach silk on the exterior.  To compensate for slightly flimsy silk, I used fusible web to give it some heft--not 18th century accurate, but neither is our modern flimsy silk.  The binding is cotton tape.

The concept is simple--it's the same pattern I've used before (based on Norah Waugh's 1780 stays), which I've discussed making twice already (for the green linen stays, in particular), except that the front piece is not attached to the side pieces except at the very top, and an additional set of lacing holes is added where the stays would normally attach.

Detail of the side lacing--this can lace closed or out far further than it is currently.  It can also, um, get those nasty metal grommets covered in pretty peach floss when I get around to it, too.

More like the back lacing:

In the classification of "fully boned," "half boned" and other definitions, I'd say that these fall in at "rather lightly boned end of half boned."  I was unsure how wearing stays while pregnant would go, so went easy on the boning.  Boning is all cable ties.

I did, however, include one little variation that I didn't see on any gestational stays but put my mind at ease about bridging the gap between keeping a nice silhouette but being able to go lighter-boned if comfort became an issue.  I made a fully-boned inset piece that's attached to the interior back--it can be clipped out easily if it becomes uncomfortable:

Interior shot, showing the individual pieces joined and the interior of the side-lacing:

And the stays in action on my dress form.  Clearly, on a person, they don't lie flat on the front, but, rather, the front "hovers" over the bump.

So far, wearing these is a dream!  I could have actually made them a smidge tighter--the back laces fully closed and I could stand to "cinch" a touch more for back support.  The side lacing makes them extremely flexible in this regard--you can maintain a more rigid silhouette and give yourself support at the back without putting any pressure on the front at all.

I can confidently say that I can see why women wouldn't have balked at wearing stays while pregnant--they're no more confining than modern maternity pants and give excellent back support.  Plus, they've allowed me to keep wearing my "normal" wardrobe and I'm approaching the third trimester--I would have had to abandon all my fitted gowns, caracos, and jackets before now had I gone unstayed.


Isis said...

Nice work!

Angela said...

Great job! Good call on the removable stays to fit your needs. We don't know that women didn't do that, it is possible. However, if you are comfortable and period looking, hurrah! Now, the trick is what to do when you are nursing? I have a friend who does 18th century stuff with me. She just had her first baby - She used a short gown without stays during the pregnancy. We are going to a picnic this July so she is going to try her regular corset as she is nursing less now but her bust is really big. Any suggestions?

Rowenna said...

Angela--most ladies I know who nurse at events do the unstayed route. It does seem much easier than fussing with nursing stays, but it could be done--there's a pair of stays in one book (I think it's Fitting and Proper, but all my books are packed and I can't check) that has lacing at the top center--just a couple eyelets. It's assumed it's so you could easily unlace just the top and nurse. I'm planning to see if I can rework these in a similar way for nursing...we'll see!