V&A Stays

RH711 - 1670s-1720s Stays

I've been covetting these stays since I first saw them in Hart and North's Fashion in Detail in 2002 or 2003. They're on the front cover -- how am I supposed to resist that? Well, I've just spent the past few months making stays for tons of other people. I figured it was time I made something just for me.

Those of you who have been reading about my other projects know that I recently finished a replica of the pair of bodys from the Effigy of Elizabeth I in Westminster Cathedral. As insane as it sounds, I really enjoyed taking the time to sew all the boning channels by hand. Of course with striped fabric, it was fairly easy.

I've never been one for pink. Matter of fact, I despise it (You'll note that the results of all my experiments with safflower end up on my husband).

So this is the fabric I've chosen -- 100% silk taffeta in peacock. It's a changeable silk, which means it is woven with blue threads in one direction and green in the other, giving it a luminescent look depending on how the light hits it. And guess what else? Changeable silk was used in the late 17th century!

I also have a source for 100% silk taffeta ribbon so I should be able to closely match the fabric. But I'm afraid the only good grosgrain I can find has a rayon content. I'll stitch it with 100/3 Au Ver de Soie silk thread.

The boning in this set of stays looks far finer than the 1/4" boning in the Effigy bodys. I'm probably going to use 3mm round reed. The smallest size of flat oval reed (my usual choice for boning) is 4mm and I think that's still too large. Plus full round reed will give the bones more structural integrity. Go here to buy reed boning.