1780s Stays


Read The Dress Diary

The Concept

An attempt to make as exact, and historically accurate, of a recreation as I can — which also includes these related projects:

… except that I caved and first made a machine sewn, modern materials version (in red silk damask), then made an entirely 100% hand sewn version (in green silk damask).

The Fabric & Trim

1st pair: Stays made of corset coutil, covered in red silk damask.  Boned with spring steel.

2nd pair:  Stays made of one layer linen canvas, two layers linen/cotton fustian, covered in green silk damask.  Boned with German Wissner plastic whalebone.

The Pattern

Based on an extant set of stays c. 1775-85 in the Worthing Museum, England, patterned by Lynne Sorge-English.

Useful Links


  • Dorsey, S.  “For Neatness, True Fitting, Shape and Fashion”:  The Craft and Consumption of Stays in Eighteenth Century America. MA diss., University of Delaware, 2008.
  • Sorge, Lynne.  “Eighteenth-Century Stays:  Their Origins and Creators.”  Costume 32 (1998):  18-32.
  • Sorge-English, Lynne.  “’29 Doz and II Best Cutt Bone':  The Trade in Whalebone and Stays in Eighteenth-Century London.”  Textile History 36 (1) (May 2005):  20-45.
  • Waugh, Norah.  Corsets and Crinolines. London:  Batsford, 1954.


  • Reply Samantha Dorsey May 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Your stays look absolutely wonderful!

  • Reply Sanna K May 10, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Very beautiful! I’m also making 1780’s stays at the moment.. And I wasn’t satisfied with the first pair so I think I’ll make another pair…

  • Reply Beatrice Guerrini September 7, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Really beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is ti on sale?

  • Reply Stays time | Avant Garbe June 26, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    […] Kendra’s amazingly detailed dress diary on two sets of 18th century stays […]

  • Reply Letters, Questions & Advice: March 2010 – Your Ward December 19, 2018 at 8:16 am

    […] Our own Kendra Van Cleave is currently working on an accurate pair of Revolutionary era stays, and […]

  • Leave a Reply