1780s stays, projects

Mothballs & More Mockups

It’s felt good to throw off the mothballs and stretch my sewing skills again — it’s been too long since I’ve sat down to sew!  I finally found some time to get some decent mockup fabric a few weeks ago — I love Stonemountain & Daughter for having 10,000 weights of white cotton in house.  Usually I go there for batiste, this time I bought a ton of cotton canvas.  I cut out the latest draft of my mockup, which didn’t take long, and then traced all the boning lines.

How do you make pattern markings?  Often, if the (generally lining) fabric is light enough (in weight/color), I can just lay it on top of the pattern and trace the lines.  If it’s a mockup, I use a fine pen; if it’s the real deal, I usually use a plain old pencil (I’ve experimented with the various chalk products, but find that they give me a less precise line and wear off quickly).  But when I’m working with heavier fabric, and there’s a lot to mark (like in a corset), it’s harder.  Back in the day my artist husband had a light board and I LOVED using that; nowadays, I make my own by using painter’s tape to tape the pattern to the window, then tape the fabric over that, and trace (only works during daylight!).

So it’s still only boned in one half (and even then, only in the center front, center back, and some of the side front pieces), and I haven’t slit the tabs… but at least it’s in sturdier fabric with no revisions.  Next, I need to find time to hang out with Jenn and get her to look things over, but I’m really pleased with where it’s at!

I did finally settle on fabric.  I am 100% thrilled with Burnley & Trowbridge — I emailed Angela with questions about which of their linens would be most appropriate, and she put up with about 3 or 4 rounds of further emails, mailed me swatches at no charge, and ended up selling me some fabric out of her personal stash!  I bought some heavy linen canvas (that was the stash fabric), as well as some linen/cotton fustian in case the canvas piece isn’t big enough for two layers.

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  • Reply Ginger October 30, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I love the boning layout! Just completely fascinating.

  • Reply kendra October 30, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Ginger – me too! I’m totally fascinated by the complex boning layouts of the 1780s. I found this pair of stays, from the de Young museum, on Flickr and as that museum is local, I’d really like to get in to see on them.

  • Reply vanityfairy October 30, 2009 at 7:12 am

    The mockup’s loocking really good!
    When making pattern markings I use a temp pattern marker that disappears when you dab it with a moist piece of scrap fabric (or of course if you wet/wash the fabric itself). It’s easy to see when sewing and super easy to get off.

  • Reply Monique October 31, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Pencil is perfect for so many fabrics. They have mechanical coloured pencils too for dark fabrics. For tracing bonelines I normally just notch the outline at top and bottom and join with a ruler. I am also completely in love with Clover’s roller chalk. It uses powder so it does wear away faster on some fabrics but its great for alterations or things you will run up quickly.

    (I love sewing notions and am easily drawn into conversation and what works well and the newest little gadgets!)

  • Reply kendra October 31, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Monique – I like pencil because it hangs around if I take my time getting around to sewing, it’s precise, and by the time you’ve sewn over it you hardly see it! But yes, those Clover roller chalks are the only non-pencil/pen thing I’ve liked… altho I still worry my lines are less precise. I need to back to experimenting with that marking paper that you run the roller thingie over (yes, those are the technical terms!). Yay for notions geekery!

  • Reply Hana November 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I have the temporary marker, but I figure the trouble with it is in its temporariness – on some fabrics it disappears extremely quickly, and you never know how it will work with the one you currently have at hand. So I often resolve to simple pencil as well.

  • Reply Katherine November 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    That shape is *fantastic*. Did you go from 3 to 2 tabs in your side back panel, or am I just seeing things from a funny angle?

    Interesting how the deYoung stays are so similar to the Worthing pair, except for the slightly different horizontal boning layout. I wonder what their relative size is; i.e., does one boning layout work better for a larger/smaller bust?

    And I wonder why they have them lace partly down the front but not all the way – if purely decorative, why go so far low on the deYoung pair?

  • Reply Kendra November 2, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Katherine — yes, there are less tabs in the SB panel — I wanted to be unperiod and have a lacing gap in back, but I didn’t want to lose any of the CF panel width, so I took it out of the SB and CB.

    I’m guessing different boning layouts would be fine for different figures, just smaller pieces… but maybe not? Obviously if you’re curvier you’re going to need more boning, esp. at the side of the bust.

    I have a theory that the front decorative lacing stays (not the Worthing stays, b/c they have that busk piece built in, but many others I’ve seen) COULD have been unlaced in front down to the waist, and then possibly slipped on over the head?? What do you think? Altho I’ve also noticed that those that front lace generally have the lacing holes spaced far closer together, so it’d be a lot to lace… of course, silly me, I’ll be doing the narrow spacing just to be more period!

  • Reply Hallie November 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Dear Kendra.. You are doing a great job in making your new stays. I would recommend that you follow the orginals in keeping the front lacing only partial and not all the way down. I think it might improve the shape and fit at center front. The stays appear to be torking to one side on your body, which might be because you have only partially boned the front. For the outer covering, believe it or not Jo-Anns has a cotton drill that is amazingly close to what was often used on later 18th c stays.

  • Reply kendra November 4, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Hallie. I don’t have it laced 100% closed, and I don’t have the 1/2″ metal bone in the CF that I’m going to have (it’s 1/4″ here), so I’m wondering if that’s why some of the torking is going on? Altho I always seem to have that problem when I spiral lace (which is why I don’t do it very often).

  • Reply Lauren November 10, 2009 at 6:41 am

    I apologize for accusing you of not updating enough! I see now that you’ve been quite busy! I confused this post with an earlier one. Forgive me! And it was fantabulous to see you and The Ladies at Vampyres :-)

  • Reply Hallie November 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Kendra.. I looked at your photos again and I think the problem is coming from the spacing of your lacing holes, there should be two close together at the top of the stays on one side and two close together on the bottom on the other side (it does not matter left or right as long as the two close holes on top and two close holes on the bottom are on opposite pieces). That makes a tremendous difference.


  • Reply Kendra November 16, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Hey Hallie — but I DO have those! Looking at the picture as is, there are two at the top right, and two at the bottom left.

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