Friday, March 1, 2013

Brown KCI stays

I don't know if you guys are starting to get tired of me posting about underwear but here's one more post about stays. I know a lot of people don't like making stays but the reason why I have sewed so many of them during the past year or so is that it's actually really fun to try out different kinds of patterns and to see the result in how changes in the pattern change the shape of your body. I've been pretty quiet about this project and the reason why I never wrote about it on the blog was simple. I've made so many posts about stays lately so I felt like there's no need to post photos of the stays during construction because I've already showed you most of my common construction techniques. Apart from the construction techniques, I have quite a few thoughts on this pair of stays so I'm going to skip most of the usual parts and write a sort of review of the stays and it's pattern itself.

This is the first time I used a pattern that I actually hadn't drafted completely by myself. I'm used to using the same pattern all over again and again because it's easy to change the pattern that already fits you so well. Anyhow, this time I used an already existing pattern from the book Fashion - A History from the 18th century to the 20th century - Volume I (see p. 126).

Since the pattern was in small scale, I scanned it first and then scaled it up to right size on computer. I was happy to notice the ratio between waist measurement and bust measurement was already right. So I printed the pattern out. However, I was not surprised to find out that the distance between bust level and waist level was too long for me. So I had to shorten the stays as well. I did it on computer and printed the pattern out again. Of course, shortening the whole pattern means that everything gets shortened lengthwise, including tabs and shoulder straps. So I had to redraw those parts back to the right size.

At first I thought I'd finally try out flat reed as boning material. But after finding out it was nowhere to be found in town, I was too eager to start making the stays so I gave up the idea of ordering it online. Besides, I still wanted to work from stash, not buying more materials if I already had something that could be used. So eventually I decided t go with cable ties as usual. The situation was pretty much the same with other materials as well. I had just enough brown cotton twill left from an earlier pair of brown stays from last year so I didn't buy any new fabric either.

As you'll be able tell from the photos, the bones of my stays aren't as narrow as the bones in the original. The original has got really narrow bones and there are lots of them. I guess the narrowest bones must be around 2 mm. But I did follow the boning pattern as precisely as I could with the 5 mm wide bones. I ended up using 148 bones while, according to the book, the original has got 162 bones.

Another thing you'll be able to tell from the photos is that I didn't follow the original that precisely at some other parts either. What's really the most important thing for me is that the shape of these stays is as close to the original as possible. Naturally, the resulting shape on my body can't be exactly the same as the shape that the original stays would have given to the owner, but I guess it's still pretty close, given the fact that I didn't have to change the pattern in any other part than in the length of the side.


What's so different then, compared to my earlier 1780's stays? Well, the first photo shows quite well how wide these stays are at the front. I would almost think that the front panels should be slightly narrower because it kind of feels like the stays don't fit perfectly over the breast area. But then again, looking at the extant stays from the 1780's, many of them have really wide front panels. And I don't think it's because the ladies were really busty. The fashionable pigeon breast look is probably mostly created with the help of huge neckerchiefs but the stays really are the base of that figure. So, with the wide front panels the bust gets really bowed out. The shoulders get also pushed towards the back, so that the bust gets even more accentuated.

According to The History of Underclothes by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington, the discomfort of the fashionable corset in 1779 may be gathered from the Sylph, a novel by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire: ... Then, they [the stays] are so intolerably wide across the breast that my arms are absolutely sore with them; and my sides so pinched! (p. 87) The Sylph is actually available on Google books and you can read it here. Check out page 69 for the whole paragraph in particular.






The neckline of the shift isn't actually quite wide enough for these stays.


Because of the white 5 mm tape over the seams and the amount of lacing holes (78)  to be bound by hand with thread, it actually took me longer to finish this pair of stays than it normally takes me.


When the stays are laid on floor you get to see how wide the front panels really are.


Still doing this the wrong way... The lining went first and the stays were bound after that. I had only a few pieces of linen in the stash so every panel is lined with separate pieces, which is not the historically correct way either.


Sources:

Corset c. 1760-1770 from KCI Digital Archives
Another view of the same corset via Dreamstress
Third view of the corset via Les Fées Tisseuses
Fashion - A History from the 18th century to the 20th century - Volume I 
The History of Underclothes by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington

For the end of this post, here's a promise: Next garment I'll sew will be something else than underwear...

34 comments:

  1. It's so beautiful and I like the thorough description of the sewing process and fitting. As stays are the foundation of historical garments they are so very important and there never can be too many blogposts about them!
    Thank you for sharing,

    Sabine

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    1. Thank you! :) I couldn't agree with you more! I really enjoy making the undergarments. Maybe even more than making of those things that go on top of them...

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  2. Fantastic!!! These are my favorite of yours!

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    1. Thank you! :) So are they my favorite, too. I definitely like the shape they give, even if this isn't the most comfortable pair of stays I've made.

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  3. Lovely! What did you use to bind your edges?

    Best,
    Quinn

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    1. Thank you! :) I simply used bias binding tape.

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  4. Not tired of it! These are AMAZING and look like they fit really well.

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    1. Thank you! I'm certainly not tired of making these either... There are so many other extant stays that I'd like to try out but I really am going to make some outer garments now!

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  5. What an amazing silhouette ! Beautifull ! Am very curious to see it under a gown.

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    1. Thank you! I'm really happy with the silhouette, too. :) You won't have to wait for that for long because I'm already working on something that goes on top of these stays!

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  6. I agree with Augustinytär, these are your most gorgeous! And I agree with you, making stays are fun!

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    1. Thank you! I'm not so sure about the making part but finishing and wearing the stays you made yourself is so much fun. Stitching the endless rows of boning channels kind of isn't ;)

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  7. oh WOW. This is stunning...I'd never want to put a gown on over it! Definitely don't stop sharing, it's really inspiring to see how much work you put into making them correctly!

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    1. Thank you! Can I be a daring tavern wench next time and wear nothing on top of these? ;)

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  8. Swoon! Just when I thought you had made the prettiest stays yet, you throw in another pair, even more gorgeous than the last! Seriously, if you ever feel like giving a course on stay-making, let me know. I could really use some expert advice because my stays always turn out not quite the thing. :P

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    1. Thank you! I'll keep that in mind the next time I make stays so maybe I can host a stay-along? ;) Though, your chinoiserie stays are going to be truly lovely!

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  9. Your stays are gorgeous! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award: http://asartorialstatement.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-first-blog-award.html

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  10. I nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award: http://demodecouture.com/2013/04/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

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  11. I have nominated you for an inspiring blogger award

    www.historyseamstress.wordpress.com

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  12. Cassandra BrechtMay 10, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Stunning stays . . . I don't think I've ever seen a finer example!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's such a huge compliment for me :)

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  13. Dear Sanna, could I use those photos in my new report about XVIII century corsets? Of course, I will check that this is your corset! :)

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    1. I'm sorry it took me a while to reply! Yes, sure, you can use any of these photos for your report. Is it on the internet? If so, then link them back to my blog or credit any way you prefer. :) I hope I'm not too late...!

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  14. hi there! I have been searching and searching for the pattern for those KCI stays...I can't seem to locate any copies of that book in my local library. If there is any way you would be able to share the pattern from the book, it would be amazing...

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    1. Hi! I'm sorry it took so long for me to reply! If you could give me your email address I can scan and share the pattern with you on Google Drive or just simply send it via email. :) (I have a Facebook page for Rococo Atelier so you can send me a private message there if you don't want to publish your email address here. )

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