I needed a break from a real project, so I picked up a pattern I’d had lying around for ages – the original American Duchess stays pattern, Simplicity 8162.
I tried to search around for advice on whether these needed alterations, and found nothing. I remembered seeing someone comment that they ran short-waisted, though (possibly in a discussion of the new patterns they’ve put out?) so I referenced AD’s chart for lengthening (which I did by 1/2″) as well as for additional boning, 1776 style
If you plan on making these, I’d recommend reading AD’s Q&A post
, as well as watching the accompanying video on boning
One day’s progress:
I used a mix of featherlite boning, cable ties, and spring steel (and two tiny bits of spiral just for the curvy front bones…) – this is what happens when i’m sewing late at night after fabric stores are closed and I’m too motivated to wait for new materials to arrive…- I cut size 14, knowing that Simplicity tells me i’m a 16 but i always have to alter mockups down to a 12, and so far it seems to be working
– AD recommends making a little ‘pocket’ for the horizontal boning and layering it behind, but I just shoved ’em in against the vertical. Works just fine.
– I was too lazy to do a toile, as usual, so i just threw in an extra 1/2″ of length as recommended by AD and others (this pattern runs short) and am hoping for the best (spoiler: it didn’t)
– Interlining is cotton drill; fashion fabric is a faux slubbed silk, because i looked around the room and it’s the first thing i laid eyes on that didn’t have a place in a different project already
– If it seems like i’m way too chill about this, that’s because these are the first stays i’ve made and i don’t have super high expectations; i mostly just want to give it a try. I’m keeping up a pretty high construction quality (pulling my threads through to the back and knotting them, etc) so tbh if they don’t fit me i’ll just sell them. This is definitely the cleanest stitching I’ve ever done on a corset-type undergarment XD
You can see here that the bust totally doesn’t fit.
All seams whipped flat & straps are sewn on! All that remains is lining & binding.
(I don’t have my 18thc petticoat with me, so I threw on the 1880s one instead, with hip pads. Hey, it worked well enough…)
All done! They don’t fit properly at all, haha. They’re definitely wearable, but the bust is 3″ too small & 1″ too low for my DDDs, so they don’t give me the right shape. (If anyone is about 35/30/40 and wants a nicely made pair of stays, hmu!)
Binding and eyelets were all done by hand, and total time was four days of work in evenings (maybe 25 hours total? who knows). It’s boned mostly with 12″ cable ties and then a couple of steels and thicker 15″ ties for lacing support. (Plastic is pretty darn close in effect to baleen, and is more accurate in weight and structure than metal.)
I got a *little* bit lazy by the time I had to line them, so obviously the shape is a bit wonky, but it’s smooth and protects from fraying just like it’s supposed to – and it’s not visible from the outside anyway.
Some deets: I switched to spiral lacing and used the 1776 half-boned layout instead of what the pattern suggested. I used faux silk on top, cotton duck for strength, and cotton poplin for lining.
Overall: Not half bad! The pattern itself needs tweaking and my lack of toile was a huge mistake, but they were fun to make. One day I’ll actually make some 18thc clothing…