Patterns and Books for 18th Century Stays

Simplicity 8579 Stays, 1700 – 1770.

With the release of our book, The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, we’ve given you patterns and instructions for a great many lovely 18th century gowns, accessories, and skirt supports.

…but one thing we did *not* give you in the book were patterns for stays. Stays are a complex subject that warrants an entire how-to book of its own. We knew their absence would be vexing, so to not leave you totally in the lurch for what-stays-when-how-where, here is my list of 18th century stay patterns sorted by time period:

Printed Patterns for 18th Century Stays

1700 – 1770 – Conical Silhouette

1770 – 1790 – Prow Front Stays

1790s – Transitional Stays

Tight Lacing, or Fashion Before Ease – Bowles & Carver after John Collet, 1777, The British Museum 1935,0522.1.227

Books With Patterns for 18th Century Stays

18th Century Stays by Redthreaded – Ready Made!

Other Resources for 18th Century Stays

  • Redthreaded – High-quality ready-made stays for the general 18th century, 1780s, and 1790s.
  • Period Corsets – High quality ready-made stays for general 18th century, 1725, 1770s, and 1790s.
  • Custom Corset Pattern Generator – Use your measurements to draft a custom pattern. This is originally for Elizabethan bodies but with some ingenuity can be used to made an 18th century pattern. Experiment!
  • Kleidung um 1800 – Sabine’s study (and patterns) on 1790s stays. 1, 2


  • Elizabeth

    January 11, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Could you please comment on the ease drafted into your simplicity pattern stays? Positive, zero, negative? The patterns unfortunately do not give finished bust and waist measurements.

    • Lauren Stowell

      January 11, 2018 at 8:49 PM

      There should be negative ease in the pattern – you want about a 2" gap in the back. Unfortunately once the pattern leaves us, Simplicity make their changes and while the pattern comes out pretty close to our original draft, sometimes they shorten the waist or make other small changes. The best I can recommend is to cut the size recommended on the back of the pattern envelope.

    • Anonymous

      January 12, 2018 at 2:21 AM

      I made my stays from your pattern with help from your blog. They fit perfect, but are laced closed both front and back (I'm also weirdly tiny) but they still fit perfectly so I'm not complaining! šŸ™‚

  • Kyleleen

    February 15, 2018 at 10:05 PM

    Hi Lauren and Abby! I've recently purchased your stays pattern (simplicity 8579) and I'm wondering if you guys might do a blog post (or youtube, or podcast) about the process of putting together that pattern. I'm especially interested in how you chose the style – are they based on an extant pair in a museum collection? Are they an almalgamation of elements you've found in your research? The low back is unique (and part of the reason I chose the pattern) does that relat to a workingclass style since they are nearly strapless? You describe the straps as posture correcting – that sounds like it has some intersting background! Too many questions to ask – sorry! I'm also intersted in the measurements on the pattern, I can't tell how much of a reduction in the bust and waist they are intended to give from the test in the pattern. I'm also not sure in the measurements listed on the envelope are for the unaltered body or for the laced up measurements. Such a long post, my appologies! Love your stuff!!

  • Jen in Oz

    September 20, 2018 at 7:44 AM

    Curious to know if there are any differences between McCalls 2003 stays and view B of Butterick 4254? If there are differences, which would you recommend and why?

  • Unknown

    January 14, 2019 at 6:43 PM

    Which stays/corsets are appropriate for the gowns represented in your book? Specifically, which was common for use with the Italian Gown 1780s and for that specific figure?


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