|Pattern Description: |
A Partially Boned Transition Stay, circa 1793 - 1820, American. Taken from an original garment held by the Connecticut Historical Society.
8-26 (bust 31-1/2 - 48)
Multiple cup options (I used the cups with 4 drawstrings, rather than just 2, for more support)
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were a little confusing at first reading, but once I got involved in actually doing the steps, everything became clear. I did make one mistake, but that was because I wasn't paying attention.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like that it's a reproduction of a very unique and often ignored period of fashion history--the transitional years between the conical torso silhouette of the Georgian era and the more natural, neoclassical silhouette of the Regency (in England--of course, in the U.S., politically, it was the Federalist period). You can see the influence of both fashion periods in this pair of stays. The pattern includes very in-depth historical notes on common stay styles of the era, with citations and source material provided, and tracks how each stay style would have been worn under the fashions of the day as they evolved. Lots of details about the original garment, too, which were very interesting. The bust cups have drawstrings in them so that they can be adjusted to lift the breasts higher, if desired.
The stays I made are about 95 percent hand-sewn.
Cotton corset coutil as the underlayer, heavy-weight linen outer layer, and lightweight linen bust cups. Linen bias binding. Modern corset lace. Combination of flat spring steel boning, 1/4" and 1/2", and also 1/2-inch-wide electrical cable ties. Linen thread for the hand-bound eyelets. Heavy cotton twill tape for the bone casings (the pattern called for cutting tape from linen). 1/16-inch cord for the bust cup drawstrings and 1/8-inch cord for the strap lacings.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made one key alteration, and that was to cut the neckline down at center-back by 1 inch, as I don't want it to show above my gowns. The other alteration, made following the pattern's instructions, was to lengthen the bust cup gusset seamlines (basically, expand the gusset horizontally) to fit the bust cup opening, which is fitted to the individual's bust. It seems like a confusing process at first, but once you start taking the steps to do the alteration, it all becomes clear. I didn't have to deepen the cups, luckily.
Instead of sewing the straps to the front, I added lacing eyelets, which were also called for at the back neckline. This will allow the straps to move a bit for better shoulder positioning and adjustability. UPDATE: Okay, I had planned to do this, but because I had to take in the side seam so much at the top (see below), there was no room to sew eyelets between the side seam boning and the bust cup. So, I sewed the strap inside the stay as directed by the pattern.
The one mistake I made was to put the two central bust cup drawstring channels (and thus the drawstrings themselves) on the WS of the bust cup instead of the RS. This will make it difficult to adjust them while wearing the stays. Actually, it's not so much that I put them on the incorrect side as that I turned the top and the curved edge to the incorrect side (the RS) instead of to the WS, as the top and curved bottom drawstring channels are supposed to be on the cups' wrong side (interior). But by the time I'd figured this out, I had done too much hand sewing to willingly undo it. It'll still work fine.
I also have found that the placement of the bust boning channel varies depending on the size of the stay made. The pattern says X amount from the top eyelet, which is fine, and X amount from the bottom eyelet, which won't give very much room for that center front tab's raw edge to be turned and stitched. And there's plenty of room closer to the bottom eyelet, so I've spaced my bust boning channel a little differently, and am using a 1/2 inch wide steel bone, instead of a 1/4 inch wide one right there for extra support of the bust.
I'm also more narrow in the underbust area than the pattern is designed for, so I had to take the side seams in an extra 1 inch, tapering to a few inches above the stay's bottom, since my waist measurement is proportionally larger. Before taking in the side seams, the front eyelet panel overlapped at the top between the breasts. Now it sits perfectly parallel top to bottom. The side seams ended up pretty curved because I needed the waistline to remain unchanged. But once the front and back were sewn together and the boning inserted, there was no problem with the side seam warping due to the curve.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm already planning a second version of these made with an underlayer of linen and an outer layer and cups of silk, for an even lighter-weight, more formal effect. Fancy/sexy transitional stays!
The stays aren't 100% finished yet, but they're close enough to post this review. I haven't worn them yet, so I don't know if it will be more comfortable or allow me more range of movement than the full Regency stays I have. But that is my assumption, and I think these will be perfect for Regency dancing. Supportive, but allowing a degree of freedom. From trying them on for fitting, however, they really create a wonderful silhouette, even if it will be hidden under an Empire/Regency gown. UPDATE: After attempting to wear this under my new Regency ball gown, which is much less flexible in its waistline positioning, I've discovered that this style of stay is really only suitable for gowns where the waistline can be adjusted downward--one that has lots of ease through the bodice and shoulder pieces. This stay creates a very natural bust shape, but at a very natural bust level. Even with the drawstrings pulled up in the cups, the bust is just too low for the standard Regency waistline. This makes sense, as the style of stay is from between the late Georgian and the very early 1800s, when the waistline was still a bit closer to the natural waist level. I think this stay will work fine with my gowns that have very roomy drawstring waists and necklines, which will allow me to adjust their waist level downward. But it will not work with gowns that have less flexible fits.