17 August 2007

18th c. strapless stays: mockup

Strapless stays mockup
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
After spending much of the past month on pre- and post-Pennsic mending, I decided to take a break and work on something thoroughly out of SCA period. J. P. Ryan's 18th c. strapless stays pattern is one that I've had in my stash for a while, and it struck my fancy. I'm not sure why - I've never done 1700s re-enactment, and I don't have any particular plans to do so either. But who knows, I may find a use for these stays while I'm living on the east coast, as I think there are plenty of colonial/revolutionary groups around.

I've done this mockup out of manila folders and packing tape, and it's a good thing I did. As you can see, I've needed to make quite a significant enlargement for the bust measurement. My bust and waist are a couple of sizes apart for standard sizes, so I frequently have to pick one or the other to buy for (particularly in a single-size pattern like this one). For most garments, I'll buy to the bigger size and just take things in as necessary in a muslin, or directly on my real fabric. But for something like a corset or pair of stays, I know I'm going to have to redraft most of it to maintain proper shapes and size ratios on the pieces, so I prefer to start small and enlarge. It may be a mental quirk, but it just seems easier to me that way.

All of which is to say, I've widened the top by close 5 inches total, and the bottom by just a small amount (maybe a half inch, if that). Note that the large gaps are *within* pattern pieces at the enlargement lines; these are not the seam lines between pieces. I haven't had to make any length adjustments, which means the pattern is drafted 1-2 inches shortwaisted relative to normal size standards. (I'd heard that this pattern was shortwaisted, and that's part of the reason I bought it in the first place - I hate making torso length adjustments on anything but the simplest of patterns.)

I've got 5 oz (and maybe 7 oz) linen for the main structural layers, and I've always got lightweight linen on hand for linings. I haven't picked an exterior fabric yet; I don't immediately see anything in the stash that seems suitable. I've ordered 1/4" reed for my boning material (the pattern suggest plastic or bamboo combined with metal at the seams, but I think reed is more appropriate, and I've been meaning to try working with it for a while).

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