Saturday, 29 September 2012

hand made stays, fully boned.

After some frustrating feelings that I wasn't quite hitting the spot with my research, I decided that what I REALLY wanted to do was to try and replicate a pair of stays properly, hand stitching and everything.

Now, on my numerous trips to the wonderful Bath Fashion Museum Study Facilities, they had unearthed two pairs of stays for me to study. I'd measured them, done rough drawings and marvelled at the stiffness, the thickness and the weight of them and then had moved on. (They had pulled out a whole selection from the 1700's and I wanted to goggle at as much as I could!) So I decided to go back and have another look at them and see what others they might have.

(Image Courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council)

Look at them all! 
The really curly beige one at the top left and the darker brown pair with light ribbon were the original two that I had studied previously.

Here's my quick study the first time round of the Beige pair. BATMC 1.25,85

But this time round I had the whole 2 hours to just concentrate on them. I've included in this blog my sketches from the 'red silk pair' which had no number attached to it and a photo off them.

(Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum,  Bath and North East Somerset Council)

 But the real delight was BATMC 1.27.865. Which, in the first photo is the pair on the bottom right-hand side. They tick ALL the boxes: the lining is coming off in places so that one is able to view the techniques from inside, some of the ribbons had begun to be worn away so you are able to view the stitching techniques used to sew the pieces together and they are from the middle of the century. IT's hard to contain a 'WAHOO!' even after all these months (I did this trip back in july).
I am so excited about this. For the passed few months I've slowly been pattern cutting, doing samples and now, finally, starting on my first go at them.

(Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council)

These are just my sketches from that study. I've enclosed more photo's of the actual corset on the page designated it.

(Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council)

(Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council)

I haven't YET been able to find the exact right shade of linen, I'm working on a slightly lighter shade at the moment but it will do for now. And obviously it's a no-no to baleen (whalebone) so I'm using cane as none of my other researching has found a strong enough substitute on such a narrow size. You can get mock whalebone but the narrowest I've found at the moment is only 5mm and that's still starting to feel pretty flimsy, cane on the other hand, when made up, has felt more solid and similar to the stays in the museums than anything else.
Following are just photo's of my beginnings. Consider though, that each long stitching line took me about 30 minutes, by the time you cut the cane, place it in and sew the line up. It's very time consuming.

Also, before I embark on just uploading all my images here's a photo of a corset in the V&A, and just how similar it is, although not fully boned and from a later period, it just shows you how consistent the general look of this period remained. 
I was reminded of this one when I first saw the pair of stays I am now replicating.

My Work:

Well this me so far, but I'm hoping to be updating this as each section gets sewn and prepared...phew, that seems a long way away though.