Friday, June 29, 2012

Fitting the dark brown stays + updates

My friend came over yesterday and she helped me to take better photos of my earlier 1780's stays. Check them out here! I've now sewn the pieces of the new stays together and I got to try them on a couple of days ago. This was the result:

I had made the the front too small and there wasn't enough space for bust. The figure was all too flat when the stays were laced completely. So, I opened the lacing leaving a gap at the upper edge of the center front, as seen in the picture, to achieve the right shape. I was considering for a while whether I would just always wear them like this or if I should make new front pieces. Also, I was getting a bit frustrated because of so much tweaking on stays and felt like I should just go with the earlier pair of 1780's stays and give up with the new ones. But, in the end, realizing that the eyelets weren't positioned right either - the front pieces wouldn't meet evenly - I pulled myself together and decided to sew new front pieces. The pattern needed a little reconsidering. In the picture below, you can see a sketch of the original shape of the centre front piece. There were two options how I could give more space to the bust: you could curve out the line at the side or at the front. I chose the option I because I had lacing at the front and it could cause some problems if the centre front wasn't straight. I also needed a little more space at the armpit so the option I also allowed me to add space there at the same time.

So, I took the old front pieces away, sewed up the new front pieces and I got to try the stays on again yesterday. This time, it was a success.

I had made the tabs a little longer than in my earlier stays. It turned out to be a good idea, accompanied the curvy lines of the pattern, the tabs flare out very beautifully! Also, I gave the tabs more tooth-like shape like in many of the 1780's stays so I suppose they'll be also easier to bind.

Now the shape is finally what I was going for. The top edge curves up radically and supports the bust area from the sides and holds it in place preventing the breasts from flattening and sliding towards the sides.

I'm really fond of the back side. The boning structure emphasizes the waist and the conical shape of the stays. You can also see the effect of the curvy seams of the back side panels: the stays follow the lines of the back very nicely.

I'm happy I had the patience to go on with these stays and not to give up with them. I've learned a lot during the process of fitting and pattern making of these stays and I really hope this post helps others who are pondering the same things I did. :) Hopefully next time as I'm posting I'll be able to show you pictures of the finished stays. We'll see about it later on!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dark brown 1780's stays in progress + graduation

In the last post I told you that I would make another pair of 1780's because I wasn't perfectly happy with the last ones - the fit was really good but the shape, however, wasn't. So, I started drawing a new pattern in the beginning of May but I had to put it aside because there was only a month to my graduation and I had a lot of stuff to finish for school. The month was really crazy and I got really stressed about having far too much to do so I didn't have any time nor energy to sew at home at all. But now I'm happy to say I finished everything in time and graduated! Currently, I call myself to be on vacation, even if I'm, in fact, just unemployed. I do think I deserve to rest and to the things I love for a while, though, and now I'm not planning to start looking for a job before August. There's not much interesting to say about my graduation, except that my mom gave me a new sewing machine as a graduation gift and I received this awesome congratulations card from a very dear friend of mine.


Isn't that just pretty? I think it's also really funny she drew the graduation hat on the top of her hair! And the card glitters! :D Now it has got a special place on my sewing table.

Alright, back to sewing progress... I've now cut the pieces for the new stays and sewn all the channels for bones, here's a picture of how it looks at the moment:

I chose dark brown cotton twill for the outer fabric because many 1780's stays found in museums are brown - all shades of beige and brown seem to have been really popular during the decade. I debated whether it would be a good idea to use such a dark color because one of the dresses I'm going to make to be worn on the stays is going to be very light in color, but as I couldn't find any good beige fabric the decision was easy in the end.  To achieve that curved profile I'm going for, I added more curve to the front, back and back side panels. I'm really excited to see how it looks on the first fitting which I hope I'll be able to do in some the next few days. Things will be much easier for me now because the stays will be laced in the front as well as in the back. The pattern is, once again, my own, based on a few examples in museum collections and books. As usual, I will use cable ties for boning but also four metal bones, two for the centre front and two for the centre back.