February 5, 2012

Regency Stays

I’ve been making Regency stays using The Mantua Maker 1810-3 Regency Corset pattern. Even for being my first corset, I've found it not to be that difficult to use and fit to me. I made my mock-up a size 16 (with D-cup gussets) in dark brown cotton duck from Joann’s (never again! too much fraying and so flimsy!), and it more-or-less fit. The bust gussets were a bit too small and the stays laced closed in the back. On my second mock-up in a much sturdier unbleached cotton drill, the only change I made was to increase the width of the bust gussets by ¼”.  I thought about cutting a size 14, but I liked the way everything else fit, so I figured I’d make a 16 and cut it down if needed. I thought perhaps the duck was just too stretchy and flimsy, and since it frayed so badly all the gusset seams were popping out.

Before even attaching my lacing strips, I had my housemate do a “fitting” on me by pulling it as hard as he could across my back to see how big CB gap was. It turned out to be only 1”, so I decided to cut down the back panel (a rather ironic move with this pattern). Since I can’t cut a straight line very well, I took my size 16 pattern piece and folded it half along the center and folded it back in the opposite direction to create an overlap of just under 1” (2.4 cm to be exact – centimeters are more precise) and taped it in place. (Why 2.4 cm? I was aiming for ~1”, and it was the first fold overlap I got that was even all the way down.) This reduced each back panel by just less than 2” (i.e., 4.8 cm). I then machine basted on my lacing strips and laced it up.

Learning from past stays fitting mistakes, I decided to use much longer laces this time. Unfortunately, I only have 5 yds of nylon corset laces and 6 yds of double face satin ribbon, so I had to improvise by lacing the top half with the nylon and the bottom half with the ribbon. It looked very strange, but it was so much easier! I didn’t have a moment of embarrassing “Help! Help! I’m stuck!” panic with my arms stuck over my head, flailing to and fro. I really liked the double face satin ribbon. It slid through the grommets so easily. I think I’m going to have to get more of it so I can lace the final one in it.

Anyway, even though I only had four bones (CB) and the busk in it, it still supported really well with minimal wrinkling. I was impressed with the fit, too. The CB gap was an appropriate 3-4 inches, the shoulder straps were at a good angle (the straps seem to be a common problem), and the bust gussets fit and supported without flattening. The only problem I foresee is perhaps the length. It goes maybe two inches below where my hip bones poke out in the front. I may end up having to cut it down at the bottom, though I hope I won’t have to because then I’d have to buy shorter bones. Sigh. I’ll just have to try it on right after I sew the channels.

Since the second mock-up fit so well, I decided to make it my interlining. I just have to repair a hip gusset that popped during the fitting. Oops. It was poorly sewn, iirc. Since it won’t be seen, I don’t have to worry about it looking really nice, at least. I’ve already cut out my lining in white cotton twill, so the next steps are to sew up the lining and cut out and sew the cover together in the white cotton sateen.

Pictures coming soon!

Update: see pictures here!

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