Sunday, April 21, 2013

18th Century Stays

This weekend I finished up my first pair of stays, well there's a couple eyelets left to sew but ill get to those when I get some free time throughout the week.  I've definitely learned a lot sewing these, and while I like them a lot I'm concerned about the fit. I may need to take them apart somehow and make them smaller if that's possible... or I may just need to make another pair.

I gave it somewhat generous seam allowance and I think in the end just a few centimeters here and there snuck in.  It took a long time, I only remembered to keep track of the time for some part of it but marking all the channels, sewing up all the channels, cutting the cable ties took about 5 or 6 hours. Sewing on the binding took forever also and I have a lot of sore fingers from stabbing myself so many times.  On a side note those erasable pens were great for this project! Marking the channels and everything else and then after I just ironed them right off!

It does fit in a way... but it closes completely in the back and the bust doesn't fit like it should. Im assuming the bust doesn't fit because there isn't enough pressure pulling from the back.  But it also may just be cut too high up, at least it looks like it may be in the side picture. The good thing is I think this pattern is great! It probably just needs to be sized down a little bit. Also, I really love the crispness of the white and blue together. Originally I was going to bind the stays in this light blue but I didn't have enough of it and I really do like this bright blue.

Materials: white cotton outside, tan cotton lining, some stiff white lining found in stash. All fabric material I had on hand so nothing new.  Cable ties from home depot.

Time Spent: 10 + hours

Pattern: drafted from Period Costume for Stage & Screen by Jean Hunnisett. Pg. 135. While this book is meant for stage costumes, it still contains a lot of information that is historically accurate and in places where she says to put elastics such as where the shoulder piece connects to the front, obviously you would just do it without. Her patterns are from real historical pieces though, so I do feel the pattern is pretty accurate.

Time Period: I was aiming for the 1780's... and I think this fits that time? I've been researching stays of different decades so I'm still trying to learn what the difference is between like stays from 1760 and twenty years later in 1780.

Construction Details: I really truly meant to hand sew this thing but I'm actually really glad I didn't now. Since these are my first pair of stays I knew something could go wrong in the fit, so I decided to sew as much as I could by machine figuring once I had a pattern that fits great then I'll put a lot more effort and time into it. There is still a considerable amount of hand sewing in this but all the channels were done by machine.
I did make a long rectangular panel that I placed horizontal ties to go across the front of the stays to give it more shape (though I forgot to take a picture). I stitched this in between the tan cotton lining (unseen) and the white lining.

Change for next time: I found out later that supposedly there are more heavy duty cable ties. When I got mine I just looked for the longest one with the most in the pack, I didn't consider some may be stronger than others.  Take away more seam allowance, size down a bit. Take better in progress shots!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I actually thought I had found all the books there were on historical costume at my school library two months ago, but when a title came up online and I searched it in the library catalog, I found so many more! I ended up in a section that was dark, cramped, and dusty; it definitely wasn't a high-traffic area. I did find a LOT of great books, books that I've seen other bloggers mention before and ones I hadn't heard of. I checked out a good amount of ones that had patterns in them, but there were so many more just information books about historical clothing that I want to look through too sometime!

I'm really excited about putting these books to use. I've been looking through them all day when I really should have been studying! lol!

I've got some great 1920 patterns and a lot of other era's too that I'm really excited about. I have a lot of 18th century books because lately I haven't been able to stop obsessing over the 18th century! I want to make everything! Unfortunately I still need to get a pair of stays done before I can start a petticoat or dress or anything, but I found some great patterns and instructions in some of these books so it's my next project.

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Bedroom Plans


So while I'm not trying to design a historical bedroom here, I am always inspired by historical designs and love to incorporate them into my ideas.


I found some great ideas for canopy beds from Costumes, Cats, and the 18th Century blog! These pictures appear to come from Sweden... I think...  from Skansen. I love the look of this sheer fabric with just the touch of pink in the bows that tie it back.  These draped canopies are a great way to create a canopy over a bed that doesn't have the posts for it, and I love that it's historical too!

Originally I was going to use my blue and white floral fabric so that the bedding and everything would match but I think it may be too much (In reality.. I am just in love with this sheer fabric above) but I think finding a sheer like that will be hard. I'm always looking for sheer fabric to make an 1860 dress and I never find one I like. 

I also loved the detailing on the walls! Mine are a light blue but it would be really cool if I painted on small detailed panels like this.. though I'm not really the best painter!
Here's to hoping that the ceiling fan doesn't interfere with my plans...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Finished 18th Century Shift!

Finally, I settled in tonight and just made myself finish up the 18th century shift! It really is a pretty easy and simple sew and once I start hand sewing I actually do enjoy it... it's just getting myself to start is the problem! It's done and I'm happy with it and I'm excited to work on the stays next! (Side note: I actually have been really wanting to try more hand quilting lately since my pillow... I have some ideas in mind!)

Stitches used were backstitching and then a slanted hem stitch for the bottom hem, sleeve hems, and neckline hem. Then eyelets made at the neckline, and a cross-stitched monogram.

It's not the prettiest item of clothing... but it's the first thing I've completely hand sewn and it does make me feel more confident about moving into 18th century sewing. 

I wish I had tracked how many hours I spent on this, it would be interesting to see. 
My favorite part was making the little monogram at the top, it's white so it can't be seen unless you look closely, but I just love it! It's supposed to be "DD", I hope they look like D's! 

 I also made little eyelets for the string to go through. Originally I wasn't going to encase the neckline for a string since there wasn't that much fabric there to gather but I'm glad I did it. The little gathering it does have makes it fit better. 

So next in 18th century sewing I want to make stays, then I plan on a linen petticoat and the jacket from Costume Closeup