1830 stays – Part 4

Amazing what a little snowstorm (or a big blizzard) and a few snow days will do for your productivity! An expected snowfall last Saturday led to the museum being closed for the day and I managed to get a fair amount done on the stays – enough to even do a quick try-on. Not an ideal fit, but good enough to proceed!


Yay to finishing all fourteen eyelets without an awl! Hopefully the symmetrical lacing will work – it’s the same on my original pair but I sense they will never feel as secure as the single lacing on my 1770s stays.

When I originally traced the pattern pieces, only one of the linen layers was marked so I decided to thread-trace all the marking and cutting lines with red thread from the front side of the garment. This made it much easier to begin inserting the gussets. You’ll see that I traced both the cutting and stitching lines – there’s not much room for error there.

Since my other half was out plowing several towns away, I managed to get this on myself and reasonably snug-laced. I had thread-traced the cutting lines for the hip gussets and cut them open about halfway up while I was wearing them. I just wanted to give some ease around my hips and try to determine if the bust area was going to work and a rough placement for the straps in front.

Once this mess was on and the lacing tied off, I determined the following:

  • The bust cups are workable but will need a slight bit of gathering as the binding is applied
  • Overall the bust is a bit large but I think someone else lacing them and shortening the straps will help
  • The length was perfect but the hip gussets will start about 1 1/4″ below where currently marked. Not surprising since that’s about the same amount I add to most patterns to adjust for my height
  • And lastly, I’ll probably machine sew the next pair….

Once all that was behind me (and I managed to get them back off of my body) I set to work re-marking and thread-tracing the new lines for the hip gussets. Those have been a work in progress – one done, three to go. I did finish all the stitching on the bust gussets, though. And earlier this evening I pulled any excess marking threads and got the iron heated up to remove the pen markings. I have the say – they are starting to look awfully pretty!

Taking a break from the monotony of straight gusset stitching, I decided to start marking and sewing some of the quilted details. And yes, I really did use cinnamon and a sock to transfer the pattern.


For the record, I hate wearing socks so I was happy to sacrifice half a pair to the costuming process. The pattern was copied onto white paper and pricked with a pin to create holes for the cinnamon powder to transfer the design through

I was skeptical that this would work but lo and behold….

Score one for historical accuracy… I was just perusing one the earliest issues of The Lady’s Book (aka Godey’s) and sure enough pouncing with cinnamon through pricked paper was the method recommended for transferring embroidery patterns. Go figure!


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