18th Century Chintz Stays

March – September 2023

These make up for every plain white support garment I’ve ever made. They’re the RedThreaded 1780s front opening stays. In coutil and covered with Colonial Williamsburg’s “India Garden” cotton, a reproduction 1710s-30s chintz.
Initially, I made them in plain coutil and followed the pattern’s construction methods closely. Synthetic whalebone was used for the first time – 6mm, as suggested. A few interior seams, as well as the shoulder straps, were left exposed. This makes alterations easier. But in the end the stays felt a little too utilitarian, even for my standards. The new version has many changes. First, the channel layouts were reworked and the stays are half-boned. I might have tried narrower synthetic whalebone but having ordered 50 meters of the 6mm, was feeling guilty about adding more to the stash. Perhaps next time. Cable ties sufficed. A side back seam was included since the back is drafted as a single pattern piece. All of the seams are enclosed and the straps are sewn on permanently. Since the tab shapes were tricky to bind in version number one, they are redrawn to be wider at the base. The cotton batiste binding is handsewn. Finally, for whatever reason, metal eyelets and cross lacing are a modern convenience that don’t particularly bother me.