Portfolio: 1770s silver linen stays

The Idea and Inspiration:

I fell in love with a gilt linen fabric, and thought it was the perfect excuse to make a pair of front and back lacing linen stays that were both practical and pretty.

The stays were very roughly based on the 1750s stay pattern from Jill Salen’s Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques.  I altered the pattern pieces to suit a 1770s date, and used a 1770s half-boned boning layout with horizontal bust support bones, rather than the fully boned layout of the Salen stays.

Sewing the stays was a bit of a trial.  Every small, silly thing that could go wrong, did.  They were variously called ill-begotten, evil, and the Silver Stays of Doom.

Fabric and Materials:

Gilt linen outer, brown linen support fabric, blue cotton lining, kid leather binding, rayon ribbons, plastic whalebone (cable ties) to bone.

The Dress Diary:

The beginnings of bad luck

Felicity helps with the stays  

The binding and eyelets

The finished stays


Lynn, Eleri.  Underwear:  Fashion in Detail.  V&A Publishing: London, 2010

Salen, Jill.   Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques.  Batsford: London, 2008

Waugh, Nora.    Corsets & Crinolines.  Theatre Arts Books: New York.  1954

Stay silhouettes

1 Comment

  1. Hi
    Love your website, I refer to it often when sewing historical garments.
    Question regarding the use of cable ties, do you use these because they are a close substitution for whalebone or other reasons?
    I’d like to try a pair of 1750s stays from Salen’s Corsets, but using steel seems like a waste and would make the garment extremely heavy. Your example used cable ties, did you find them suitable?

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