The Finished Regency Stays

The day is here: My Regency stays are all done! After completing them, I took some time to give them a spot cleaning and wash out all the pattern marker, but now they are on the dress form at last and I get to post a few photos for you.

The only thing that is still left to do is to bind the countless metal eyelets in thread, but I will postpone that step until it is time for my first even next year. Out of all the eyelets, I only managed to work the two on the straps by hand, because I was concerned that metal might be a bit too poky in that particular place. And, besides, using the vario pliers is so fast, and a lot of fun. ;)

Anyways, enough of the rambling, here are the pictures:

The front, with the ribbon tightened inside the top casing.

Here is the front, with the self-made wooden busk. Since I have made the busk pocket a nit narrow to hold it better, it stands out a little. Inside the top binding, there is a ribbon which can be drawn up to avoid gapping at the bust. For my smallish cup size, this feature works miracles. Since it is not so visible in this shot, here is another pic of the cording and embroidery. Instead of the wavy line suggested in the original pattern, I made a garland in stem-stitch and added some small satin-stitched dots. :)

Close-up on the cording and embroidery.

Next, here is a view of the laced back. Since the dress form is less “squishy” than I am, the lacing gap down the middle is a little larger than it is on me. At the moment I am also considering to change the crossover lacing into either ladder or fan lacing. The second option is a bit tricky to figure out. But Sidney Eileen made a nice tutorial for it.

A look at the back.

Last but not least, here is a shot of the stays’ side. It shows the slanted spiral bone along the side back seam, the two hip gussets and a length of straight cording:

The side view of the stays.

The pattern suggested to floss the hip and bust gussets with embroidery thread. The was a period way to prevent the narrow seams at gusset tops from fraying. A satin stitch was recommended, but I went with the flossing technique used to secure bones in corsets from the later 19th-century onward. For this step, I consulted another great tutorial, also by Sidney Eileen. Here is a close-up of the outcome:

Detail of the flossing at the hip gussets.

And those were the pictures already. Looking at them, I must say that I am fairly chuffed with my very first proper pair of Regency stays. I have spent a lot of nights on them over the past six weeks. But I think they were well worth the extra time and effort. The stays are rather late for the Historical Sew Monthly’s “Out Of Your Comfort Zone” challenge, which ended in June *cough*. Although, now that they are done, I might managed to sew my first Regency dress with a proper period fit for the upcoming “Brown” challenge. Wish me luck!

Cheers, Nessa

P.S.: As an afterthought, I would like to thank you all for your support throughout this project. It has been one of my biggest sewing challenges so far. Without the advice and encouragement from other historical seamstresses and costume enthusiasts, it would have been a lot harder to do.

On the other hand, making the stays has also been a steep learning curve. Now I am much more confident about tackling the next sewing endeavors to come. And, perhaps, I will make yet another corset. But shh, I did not just say that… ;)

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14 thoughts on “The Finished Regency Stays

  1. nmayer2015 says:

    Gorgeous work. Nice job The cording and design are beautiful. . However, regency lacing is more of a spiral and not xxxx. More ZZZZZZZZZ. I think it only uses one lace that is knotted at top and bottom.
    I am trying to discover whether regency stay makers were often men because of the problem pushing the needle through the cloth. One source said something that rather suggested it.

    • Nessa says:

      Thank you. :) I do know about the lacing and am planning to change it. The crossover is only temporary until I can make up my mind. Since the eyelts are not offset properly for “real” spiral lacing, I will most likely go for the inverted ladder pattern which is very simiar and also creates a near Z-shape. The other option is fan lacing with front ties, which is also period accurate. I will have to experiment a bit, since I have no practical experience with either method….
      And that makes some sense indeed. I did lose a little blood when finishing the gusset seam where four layers of fabric came together. Even with a thimble on. ;)

      • nmayer2015 says:

        What is the inverted ladder pattern and fan lacing? I am not familiar with those methods or terms.
        . I wouldn’t think even leather thimbles would work . I wonder what size needles they used?

        • Nessa says:

          As for the fan pattern, I have linked a tutorial in the post. The author of it drew from an extant pair of stays in the LACMA collection. And what I call “inverted ladder” is a crossed pattern with a single lace that looks like spiral lacing once done up. ;)

  2. mindfulofchatter says:

    Lovely work! I have made a Victorian corset, but not a Regency one. While the Victorian ones can be time consuming, I do not find them too difficult. This looks a lot tougher! A sewing hint for heavier fabrics – I use a medical needle puller. It clamps the needle and you can push in and pull out with it. It has saved me a lot of finger punctures!

    • Nessa says:

      Thank you very much! :D And making Victorian corsets has always seemed so much tougher to me. These stays are sateen and a light cotton twill, which is a lot easier to work than the coutil or drill needed for other periods. And that helped to make sewing up the stays a bit less challenging. Thank you for sharing the hint about the needle puller, too. It might also help with the cording. It seems more elegant than guiding the needle with needle-nose pliers. ;)

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