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The Augusta Stays vs The Cassandra Stays thedreamstress.com

The Augusta Stays & The Cassandra Stays – what’s the difference?

We’ve had so many questions about the difference between the Scroop + Virgils Fine Goods Augusta Stays and the Scroop + Virgil’s Fine Goods Cassandra Stays that I’m bumping the planned blog post about that up the queue and answering it before I even share the (absolutely amazing!) tester makes.

Although the Augusta and Cassandra Stays are both 18th century stays, they are quite different patterns.  Here’s how, and which you should choose depending on what you want as a costumer!

(pssst, don’t forget that the Cassandra Stays are 15% off until Thur 22 Feb, midnight NZDT)

Silhouette & Date – the difference between the two styles

The Augusta Stays are based on extant stays & stay patterns dating to between 1775 and 1789, such as this pair:

Stays, Great Britain, 1780-1789, Linen, hand sewn with linen thread, applied ribbon, chamois and whalebone, VAM T.172-1914

Stays, Great Britain, 1780-1789, Linen, hand sewn with linen thread, applied ribbon, chamois and whalebone, VAM T.172-1914

(learn more about the extant stays that inspired the Augusta pattern here)

Stays of this style are fairly short-waisted, with partial front lacing which makes the bust fit adjustable.  The goal of these stays was to create a short, curvaceous silhouette, with a ‘prow front’ that thrust the bust forward like this: )

See how Amber’s torso curves out slightly in her Augusta Stays:

The Scroop Patterns & Virgil's Fine Goods Augusta Stays scrooppatterns.com

Obviously the bustier you are (or the more you are willing to pad that area!) the easier it is to achieve the fashionable prow front!

The Cassandra Stays, on the other hand, are based on extant stays and patterns from between 1760 and 1780, such as this pair:

Pale blue glazed woollen damask over stiff foundation, lined with white linen. Bound with pale blue twilled wool, 1947.1622 Manchester Art Gallery

Pale blue glazed woollen damask over stiff foundation, lined with white linen. Bound with pale blue twilled wool, 1947.1622 Manchester Art Gallery

And this pair:

Missouri Historical Society Canvas stays (corset) stiffened with paste. (1775)

Missouri Historical Society Canvas stays (corset) stiffened with paste. (1775)

And this pair:

Stays, National Museum Scotland, Linen & Cane, 1765-75 A.1905.983

The goal of this style of stays was to create an elongated, conical torso with a front silhouette that angle out smoothly, like so: \.  They often used a curved bust rail to create a rounded front to the top of the bust, rather than a flat front.

You’ll notice that there is a 5-year overlap with the 1760-1780 Cassandra Stays, and the 1775-1789 Augusta Stays.  That’s because fashions rarely end abruptly: instead, they transition from one to the next.  So between 1775-1780 it would have been common to see fashionable women wearing either styles of stays.  Women who couldn’t afford new stays, or preferred earlier styles, might have continued to wear the Cassandra style up until the end of the 18th century.

While both the Cassandra Stays and the Augusta Stays have specific date ranges, we have been conservative in our dating, particularly for the Cassandra Stays.  There are numerous examples of stays that are dated to earlier than 1760 which have similar pattern pieces and boning layouts to the Cassandra Stays, such as these two examples:

Corset (Stays), 1740–60, American, linen, leather, whalebone, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Jason and Peggy Westerfield Collection, 1969, 2009.300.3330a–d

Corset (Stays), 1740–60, American, linen, leather, whalebone, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Jason and Peggy Westerfield Collection, 1969, 2009.300.3330a–d

Woman’s Corset (stays), France, circa 1730-1740, Silk plain weave with supplementary weft-float patterning

Woman’s Corset (stays), France, circa 1730-1740, Silk plain weave with supplementary weft-float patterning

However, as we were not able to examine any of the stays we found with earlier dates in person to determine if they were correctly dated, and to see how closely their pattern and construction matched the Cassandra, we stuck to 1760-1780 as a date range.  The Cassandra Stays could definitely create an entirely plausible silhouette for 1730-60 costuming, particularly if worn without the bust rail, so they have a flatter front.

The Augustas can be worn for later 1790s looks if you are not aiming for an extremely fashionable silhouette.  While they wouldn’t be entirely accurate for earlier decades, if, for example, you were travelling with limited luggage and could only take one pair of stays the Augusta’s would look OK to all but the most experienced historical costumer eye under costumes from 1740-1775 if you wear them with a busk slipped down the front.

Boning & Boning Layouts

The Augusta and Cassandra stays use different types of boning, and have distinctly different boning layouts.

The Augusta Stays are half-boned, meaning that there are spaces between the bones in the stays:

Augusta Stays ScroopPatterns.com

Note how the bones fan out from the bottom point, with increasing gaps between each bone.

In order for the stays to be strong enough to shape you while still having gaps, the Augusta Stays call for 6mm wide bones.

The Cassandra Stays, on the other hand, are fully boned.  This means that there are no gaps between the bones in the stays:

Cassandra Stays by Klara Posekana @klara_posekana Scrooppatterns.com

Cassandra Stays by Klara Posekana @klara_posekana

All of the extant stays that we studied to develop the Cassandra pattern had very narrow boning: much narrower than the 6mm wide boning used in the Augusta Stays.
To match this look, we chose the narrowest widely available synthetic whalebone width: 4mm. This width is the closest match to most of the stays we looked at, and really highlights the spectacular V shape of the bones meeting at the front of the stays.

For extra support the pattern calls for wider 6mm boning which frames the lacing holes. Most of the stays we looked at also had a mix of bone widths.

Finally the Cassandra pattern has an optional bust rail: a curved horizontal bone which created the very rounded front fashionable in the 1760s and 1770s. Historically these were usually made of whalebone or metal, but we’ve developed a way to replicate the look in cane.  Bust rails were also used in the 1780s, so if you wished you could easily use the bust rail instructions in the Cassandra pattern to add a bust rail to your Augusta Stays.

The interior of stays with bust rail by Rebecca of Duchess of Downs Street

The interior of Cassandra Stays with bust rail by Rebecca of Duchess of Downs Street

Pattern pieces

The Augusta Stays have four panels (front, side front, side back, back) going around the body on each half of the stays.

When developing the Cassandra Stays Amber studied a couple of pairs of five panel stays as inspiration (front, side front, side, side back, back), and was intrigued by how much the extra panel let you refine the fit of the stays.  We also realised that none of the available patterns for stays in this style (including the scale ones in Patterns of Fashion 5, and Stays or a Corset) were five panel stays, so a five panel pattern filled a useful gap in the market.

Cassandra Stays by Klara Posekana @klara_posekana Scrooppatterns.com

Cassandra Stays by Klara Posekana @klara_posekana Scrooppatterns.com

Centre Fronts & Front Lacing

The Augusta Stays can be made in either the Theatrical Version, with a solid front with no centre front seam, or in the Historical version, with a centre front seam and partial lacing.

The Scroop Patterns & Virgil's Fine Goods Augusta Stays scrooppatterns.com

The half-lacing on the Historical version adds to the prow front effect, and is adjustable, while the Theatrical version with no centre-front seam gives a straighter silhouette.  (and either version can be made even more prow-front-y by following this tutorial for adding more bust space in the Augusta Stays)

Augusta Stays thedreamstress.com

View B ‘Theatrical’ Augusta Stays

The Cassandra Stays, on the other hand, can be made with either a closed front with centre-front seam in the Historical version, or with front lacing and an optional stomacher, in the Theatrical version.

The Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

The Fitting and Alterations guide given with the Cassandra Stays includes instructions on adapting the front seam of the stays to achieve different effects.

Front and back lacing on stays of this style is a feature that is infrequently seen in extant stays (although there are a few examples), which is why we have chosen to make it the Theatrical version.  It makes for extremely adjustable stays: they can be laced fully closed front and back, slightly open in both, with the front lacing with a wider gap at top and less at the bottom.  It’s even possible to create a fit and lace them to give that prow-front effect, as we did in the View B sample photos featuring Jenni (a blog post on exactly how we did that coming soon!)

Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

Binding

There are numerous places in the instructions where we chose slightly different techniques for the Cassandra Stays compared to the Augusta Stays, just so you’d learn new things if you bought both patterns, but the biggest difference is in the binding options.

The Augusta stays include instructions on binding with tape or straight-cut fabric in the Historical instructions or with bias-cut fabric in the Theatrical instructions.

The Cassandra stays include all of those options, AND instructions on binding with leather: a type of binding frequently seen in extant stays, but one which uses a different set of techniques to the other types of binding.

Leather bound stays by Jessica of @scotchirish1775

Leather bound stays by Jessica of @scotchirish1775

So, which one should I buy?

Well, obviously we think they are both amazing patterns and you should buy both!  But if you’re deciding which one to start with, think about what you want to wear over them.

Do you mostly do pre-1780 costuming?  Then go with the Cassandra Stays.

Do you mostly do 1780s & 90s costuming?  Go with the Augusta Stays.

Is being able to put on the stays by yourself with minimal wriggling an absolute must?  Go with the Cassandra Stays (unless you are confident altering the Augustas to be front lacing, which many costumers have done successfully).

To finish it off, here’s Amber of Virgils Fine Goods in her final unfinished fit test for the Cassandra Stays (red), and Amber in the Augusta Stays.

We’d hoped to have images of Amber in her beautifully finished View A Cassandra Stays, but every time she scheduled a photoshoot nature scheduled a blizzard!  

You can see in the images how much longer the Cassandra Stays make the torso appear, how much higher they are in the back, and how much longer the tabs are, for more rounded flare.  All of these help create the silhouette that was most fashionable between 1760 and 1780, while the sorter torso of the Augusta Stays is the fashionable look for 1775-1789.  As always, there’s an overlap in fashion as ideals transition from one look to the next.

The Augusta Stays vs the Cassandra Stays

Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

Meet the Cassandra Stays!

Four and a half years after launching our first collaboration pattern, the wildly popular Augusta Stays pattern,  Amber of Virgil’s Fine Goods and I are super excited to introduce you to our second stays pattern: The Cassandra Stays!

The Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

So many of you have asked for an earlier 1760s-70s stays pattern,  and for front lacing stays.  Inspired by this, we’ve created a pattern based on a number of extant 1760s-70s stays with a fully historically accurate closed front option, and a front lacing theatrical option that still gives a beautiful shape.

Buy the pattern here!  – and get 15% off for the first week!

While the Augusta Stays create the short-waisted, prow-fronted silhouette fashionable in the 1780s, the Cassandra Stays are designed to create the long, conical silhouette that was a la mode in the 1760s and 1770s.

Cassandra Stays by Cecilia @cecilia_theresa_design Scrooppatterns.comView A: Historical features a closed centre front, back lacing, and detailed information on sewing the stays using historically accurate materials and methods.

Cassandra Stays by Klara Posekana @klara_posekana Scrooppatterns.com

View B: Theatrical features back and front lacing, and detailed instructions for sewing the stays by machine, for a much faster make perfect for theatre, cosplay, and historybounding.

Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

Both versions include instructions for an optional curved bust-rail, to give that perfectly rounded front so characteristic of the 1770s.

Plus, you can make the stays with or without straps, and mix and match instructions and patterns for a more historical look to the front-lacing stays.

Cassandra Stays Scrooppatterns.com

 

The pattern comes in bust sizes 32”-54” (81-137cm) – one size larger than the Augustas!   To help you get the perfect fit there’s a 5-page fitting and pattern alteration guide.

We put so much work into this pattern to make it as well fitted, historically accurate, easy to make, and fun to wear as possible. Hopefully you’ll like the result!

Buy the pattern here! – and get 15% off for the first week!

The Cassandra Stays are the eighth collaboration between Scroop Patterns and Virgil’s Fine Goods. Our patterns combine Amber of Virgil’s Fine Goods’ extensive mantua making skills with my patternmaking skills.

Our goal is to bring you easy-to-use historical patterns with comprehensive size ranges and detailed historically-accurate instructions. The patterns are available as downloadable print-at-home patterns, to make historical sewing more accessible to sewists everywhere, and as paper patterns through Virgil’s Fine Goods and other stores.

We’re extremely proud of this pattern, and are so excited to see your versions!

All the gorgeous tester versions will be coming shortly! Their makes are so inspiring. They combined views, used our trim and fabric suggestions, and styled the stays to their own taste.

Many, many thanks to the following testers who have kindly let us use their images of the beautiful View A stays they made.  Our photoshoot of View A had to be postponed due to extreme weather, so we are so grateful they let us use their images so we could launch on schedule!

Purple stays worn with yellow skirt: Cecilia of @cecilia_theresa_design, model Jasmin of @mangaliker148  and photographer Lars of @till0.36

Mauve stays (not shown in this blog post): Jessica of @scotchirish1775 has made her View A: Historical stays in Size 44 Straight Fit, without straps.  Her stays are made from linen dyed with logwood, resulting in a beautiful mauve shade.  They are bound in pale yellow lambskin.

Black stays worn with blue skirt: Klára of @klara-posekana has made her View A: Historical stays in Size 48 Straight Fit, with straps.  Her stays are made from brown linen, and bound in ivory kid leather.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath: The prettiest pink pleasure palace

When staying in Essen in Germany last August I mostly asked my hosts what they wanted to show me, and just trotted along after them, learning and enjoying the adventure.  It’s a wonderful way to travel, because you get to see things that mean something to the people who live there, and get introduced to amazing stuff you might never have assumed was interesting (like the German Mining Museum and the best table centrepiece ever!).

But I did have one request.  Could we go see Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf?  I’d seen pictures of the palace online, and it is so pretty!  (and I wanted to see at least one castle in every country I visited 🤣).

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

So we made a girls day of it: Ripeka and Miss Six and I touring pretty pink pleasure palaces and the stunning park.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Let me tell you, the pictures I saw online did not begin to do this place justice!  It’s so utterly perfect and darling!

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

(I can’t say my photos really do it justice either, but they are hopefully a little better than the Wikipedia images, which are frankly pretty lacklustre).

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath was built between 1755 and 1770.  It was commissioned by Elector Palatinate Charles Theodore and his first wife, Countess Palatine Elisabeth Auguste of Sulzbach.  It was designed by French builder/architect Nicolas de Pigage.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

The palace is a perfect miniature jewellery box of a house, with a suite of rooms each for the Elector and Electress on either side of the house, connected by a secret corridor (secret tunnel!) through the middle of the house, and three large receptions rooms on either side of the house.  Upstairs there are smaller rooms for attendants (unfortunately we weren’t able to see them), and the cellars held kitchens.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Visitors and other attendants were housed in the two side annex buildings.  Today the annexes house the Museum for European Garden Art and the Museum of Natural History.  We only managed to see the first, and it was amazing: I’ll do a post on it.

But, back to the palace!

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

It’s the absolute perfect size: just big enough to be interesting and to feel fully worth the entry fee, but not so big that you walk through the rooms in a daze of elaborately sculpted ceilings and inlaid marble floors, thinking “wow, the 300th most amazing room I’ve ever seen in my life” until your eyes glaze over.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

With only 12ish of them, we had the energy to admire each individual ceiling, and to learn about the wall mouldings and frescoes.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

The ceilings really were fabulous.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

And the floors!  I dream of the floors!

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

We wore wool slippers over our shoes to protect them (except Miss Six who just had to clean hers)

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

I learned that you can actually book a photoshoot at Schloss Benrath, and I dream of going back to get something more glamorous than mirror selfies.  In period accurate dress, natch…

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

According to the audio guide to the palace, it’s possible that Charles and Elisabeth never actually visited the palace, or that only Elisabeth ever used it, as their marriage effectively ended in 1768, and they saw each other as little as possible.

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf thedreamstress.com

A wonderful visit, and a perfect day – with the most perfectly behaved six year old I’ve ever met!  We spent almost 5 hours trotting around the house, museum, and park (with a break for lunch) and she was cheerful and interested in everything the whole time, with impeccable museum etiquette.  And then we climbed back in the car at the end, popped her in her safety seat, and within 3 minutes she was fast asleep, utterly worn out.