18th Century Stays… a Saga

I’m in need of 18th Century stays… because I’ve been wanting to make an 18th Century outfit for years but I just couldn’t settle on a style.  Now I have and more on that as I work on it, but for now, I need the foundations.

Let me say that I’m not stranger to corsets and stays.  I have my Elizabethan that I love and I suppose, if it comes to it, could work for fitting purposes for the 18th Century.  I have made several corsets for my Victorian wear, and a few regency stays (working on those fascinating wrap ones in the future).  For whatever reason, these ones are not going well.

B4254

B4254

I’m using a Butterick pattern, 4254, because it has been recommended and because I don’t need an abundance of support that might have pushed me toward drafting or another company.  I’m a 32A and there lies my problem.  I picked the size that should give me 3-4 inches in the back and comfortable support around my chest, though I always expect it to be big there given my measurements. But this pattern?  Oh boy.

I felt fairly comfortable throwing it together and then I threw it at my dress form knowing that it doesn’t squish like a real person.  Yep, Houston, we have problems.

It's a bit loose on the dress form, which is a cup bigger than me.

It’s a bit loose on the dress form, which is a cup bigger than me.

It’s a bit wide for my tiny bust and by a bit, I’m going to go with upwards of 1.5in, which is significant but not un-fixable.  I know these stays are supposed to be wide, but I’m pretty sure there shouldn’t be a gap.  If I need to, I am not opposed to inserting bust pads to achieve the correct period shape.  The neckline of my garment will not be so low to make cleavage a point to consider.

Without pulling too hard on the fabric, it closes.  May take .5in out on each side to help with that

Without pulling too hard on the fabric, it closes. May take .5in out on each side to help with that

Next problem:  It closes in the back on a solid dress form.  That means that it will be big on me, a human.  This is frustrating.  Apparently at 24in waist actually means a 27-28in waist.  I’ve worked with Butterick before and haven’t had this issue.  In fact, the end product usually makes me think that I should have gone up in size.  But this is a decently easy fix.  I’d had to do it, but I can remove .5in on each side.  I’m hoping that by doing this, I will also pull some snugness around the bust line.

You can see how long the sleeve tabs are.  I need to play with this once the boning is in since I may want it to lower it to my actual waist

You can see how long the sleeve tabs are. I need to play with this once the boning is in since I may want it to lower it to my actual waist

Next: I’m tall and everything is short on me.  Fine.  That’s actually okay since I will be wearing a bumpad to fill out my skirts (no paniers) and I am comfortable with them sitting on my hips.  That said, the straps are rather long.  As in, too long.  I can overlap them on the bust.  Another easy fix.  A trim will be in order for those and for the back which rides exceptionally high.  I’ll do this once things are together.

My biggest concern in how big it is.  I could be worrying about nothing.  I did that with my Tudor and to be honest, it’s a bit too snug.  Taking out a .5in on each side might do the trick; I’m not going for waist reduction like I do with my Victorians.

Any tips?

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