1780s Half-Boned Stays

Finished – they close edge-to-edge across my bust, but I also like them open like this – more thrust!  See the difference in shape between these and Olympe’s?

In my recent obsession with stays, I decided to branch out and try my hand at some different shapes and boning patterns, particularly from the 1780s.  I love the bow-front shape with the tiny waist, and the very elegant line of the front, created by the curved front side seams.

This design presented some challenges.  Thanks to this post on Diary of a Mantua Maker, I was able to wrap my head around the idea of vertical and horizontal bones crossing one another, and also how to get that great “thrust” shape we all love.

Here’s the trick…well, two tricks, actually.  #1 is to curve the side front seam (this is on the front piece) rather dramatically, but set it against a straight seam for the side front piece.  This causes the front to pull in tightly, particularly across the stomacher, so that in profile, your front is now curved inward rather than board-straight, like we see on earlier stays and those of previous centuries.

A close up of “the pocket”
The pocket sewn inside – another layer of lining goes over this.
Boning channels sewn through the front – I did this for the look, but I don’t think I’d do it like this again.

Trick #2 involves the horizontal boning across the front.  I created “pockets” that I then sewed onto the front (you can also sew them to the lining, it’s easier).  The channels for the horizontal bones were slightly curved, which causes the boning to bow out.  I have a broken front on mine so I could get into them myself, but a full span of curved channels across the front would cause quite a rigid, ice-cream-cone-like structure.  Fun! (and I’ll try it, for sure).

See the curved front seam?

 Aside from those two things, it was business as usual.  These are “half-boned,” but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are less work!  I used 1/4″ ties for the majority of the structure, and 1/2″ monstro-ties for the horizontals across the front.

These stays are constructed of jacquard and muslin – the front pieces have the outer layer, then four layers of muslin across the bust, while the rest of the stays have just the outer layer and the one lining layer.  The edges are bound in boring ole twill bias, and the lacing is satin ribbon through grommets – yes, grommets, I know, I’m SO BAD! lol.

If you are interested in these, they are for sale on Etsy, or if you would like a pair similar, please e-mail me and we can chat :-).


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