The Start of Stays

I decided on a pattern for stays I found in Nora Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines. The pattern is based on stays made in 1776. It’s half-boned, which means it has less boning than the older style stays. I’m taking out even more of the boning to resemble a different pattern from slightly later.



I took a photocopy to Office Max, had them enlarge it about 400% until the size gauge was correct and made a pattern from the print-out.

Finally, I made a muslin mockup (sans boning) to make sure it fit my mannequin (who I’ve named Pollykin). The mockup was almost perfect! Pollykin’s waist is a bit smaller than the woman who owned the original corset, but only small alterations will be necessary. Now I can order the materials and get started on the real thing!

Go to next post: ‘Jargon.’

Published in: on May 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. lovely. what will you use for the boning on the stays. i heard they use whale baleen at some of the years. like that you named your manikin.

    • Whale bones are of course out of the question (they don’t hunt whales to make corset boning anymore), so I will use the next best thing: steel bones. It is very difficult to make accurate reproductions of corsets, because of the materials. Nowadays we use coutil, a very tightly woven cotton-blend, where in the 18th century they used very tightly woven wool and linen. Linen woven this tightly just isn’t made anymore. This is why I’m focusing more on the dress (I plan to machine-stitch the shift and corset).

  2. Hi there!
    I’ve just ordered ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ with the intention of making these stays. I noticed that you said you enlarged the pattern in the book by 400% – I was just wondering what measurements/modern size this fits?

    • I made it for a size 6 dress form. The corset is a historically accurate pattern, though, so it is not made for modern women. You may have to alter it to accommodate for your rib cage (since it wasn’t constricted into a different shape as you grew). On the size 6 dress form, the pattern fit around the waist, but I had to substantially pad the breasts.

      I recommend making a mockup of it in muslin and trying that on yourself so you can see what adjustments need to be made.

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