1830 Stays – Part 1

Don’t judge…. 2014 was a rough year! Not that I didn’t get any sewing done… quite the contrary, but somehow mixing sewing and blogging never seemed to happen. In any case, the new year is already keeping my fingers busy flying through an long-suffering pair of unfinished 1770 stays, a new pair of 1830 sleeve puffs, and as of yesterday… some marvelous 1830 stays.


Past Patterns 1820s-1840s Corded Stay Pattern

To get the basics out of the way – I’m using the Past Patterns 1820-1840 stays pattern, view A (the wedding stays) with a few modifications. I liked the idea of working with stays that had a single pattern piece (plus gussets and straps of course) and the back curved lacing band intrigued me as well. I own an antique pair of stays that dates to about 1820 and they are cut similarly. Due to their petite size, there is far less cording – they probably would have fit a slender 11-12 year old girl.

But moving on to the ones that are now in progress… I was anxious to get started so I scavenged some medium-weight white linen and some cream twill from my stash to use for outer fabric, interlining, and lining. The instructions only call for two layers but I felt my choices were lacking a bit of heft so added one more.

I do have a wearable pair of 1820ish stays but since I’m not thrilled with them and I’ll be doing a lot more 1820-1835 costume wearing, it was time to start anew!

The fully traced stays - folded in half at center front

The fully traced stays – folded in half at center front

Rather than cut out a particular size, I traced the size 14 onto my linen but lengthened it to the size 20 length markings. All of the gusset markings were placed at the size 14 locations and lengthened if needed. I’m using a Frixion pen which erases with heat… second day in and I haven’t managed to press away any critical markings!

My plan is to complete the front busk area and the back lacing area and then fit in the gussets last to get the torso sitting exactly where I want it. If you’re familiar with this pattern, you’ll notice that I haven’t cut on the marked lined. I’m giving myself a generous 1.5″ seam allowance around the entire piece, just so I have some room to play with. I know this was common practice in 18th century stay-making so I think I just resorted to old habits!

Most of the time I find hand-sewing very relaxing – particularly if it’s just endless straight lines like the ones needed on these stays. I started creating the busk pocket and adjacent cording channels and was moving along rather quickly until…. for the life of me, I could not get the cording through the channels! So backed up (and yes, undid some stitches) and decided to sew the cording into its individual channel rather than try to thread it through later. That method worked much better! I’m sure my earlier failure had a lot to do with not having the right tools or correct width cording but either way, I’m happy with my solution!


The second or third attempt to thread cording through the already sewn channels. Eventually a new solution was found!

The tally so far:

  • Cost: $0 (all supplies & patterns from stash)
  • Construction time: 6 hours – mostly handsewing

Tomorrow I tackle the back and those lacing eyelets!


One thought on “1830 Stays – Part 1

  1. Pingback: 1830s Roller Print Pink Gown | The Mantua Maker at Midnight

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