New Project Just in Time for School to Start…

Wait…. what?

Yes, I’ve made more slightly bad/slightly epic decisions. I’ve begun a new (and pretty intense) project that will surely carry into the new school year. A school year where I will be starting a new job, entering graduate school, and moving. But hey! If you’re gonna do new things you might as well do all the new things! hahahahahaha—no.

But anyways! This project is actually awesome, so I’m actually really excited. I’ve started making a pair of 18th century stays! I’ve been wanting to do this and talking about it for a long while at this point, and I figured it was about time I finally did something. So on to the research!

from Bonnie Ambrose's Little Corset Book

from Bonnie Ambrose’s Little Corset Book

The base for my pattern came from this little gem of a book, The Little Corset Book by Bonnie Ambrose. However, while this image makes her patterns look really detailed and clear, they actually aren’t. The instructions for assembly seem to be missing some information at times, and when I double checked her pattern with some others online it seemed to lack historical accuracy. So I decided to make it my own a bit…. (no surprise there, let’s be honest fellow seamstresses)

Some sites that helped me alter my pattern:      —  a good overview via clear sketches of different common patterns for stays throughout the 18th century; note tabs attached to body of pattern   — the dreamstress is great in general, but she has a nice walk-through here of her progress on the stays; note where the shoulder straps tie together (especially under the “toile and cutting the fabric” page with historical references)     —  I’m pretty obsessed with these stays, they came out absolutely gorgeous and she’s taken some great photos that allow you to see the details; note the number of pieces, tabs attached, shoulder strap ties, and where it sits on her waist


From all that I came out with this:

sketched out pattern with dashed lines showing changes to be made

sketched out pattern with dashed lines showing changes to be made

freezer paper: a pattern's best friend

freezer paper: a pattern’s best friend

I made my pattern on freezer paper, which I cannot recommend enough if you don’t feel like buying a big role of brown paper. (courtesy of my mother’s advice)

Some bits of the pattern were also altered while transferring it to the pattern, namely the tabs. I stuck with the three pieces, despite them not appearing on any of the aforementioned websites, because I liked the idea of a side panel rather than relying on the front and back alone, but didn’t want to get as complicated as a Victorian corset with 4 or 5 pieces. Maybe next time.


At this point, the inner base of the stays has been cut out and seams sewn.







Next to do is sew the seams down more, iron again, measure/figure out boning (I’m using steel by the way, because the corset supply company I trust suggested that over plastic. Ya’ll do whatever you want though, I’ve also heard plastic can work out great), cut out/buy lining and outer fabrics, sew sew sew sew sew.


glitter and teacups,



2 thoughts on “New Project Just in Time for School to Start…

  1. if ambrose is the one I think it is, you’re right, it’s fairly rubbish. Treat yourself to a copy of waugh’s corsets and crinolines if you’re serious about historical underwear

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