Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Corps à baleine, France

This first pair of French stays are just lovely, described as a "Corps Alsace" and dated at 1770-80. Completely boned, the fashion fabric is an exquisite damask, and lined with a printed fabric. It is unclear what the fiber of the lining is, but the pattern is interesting. The shape of these stays do not really suggest 1770 or 1780 but much earlier. The spade and the spreading fingers at center front suggest a much earlier date. Bound in pink/peach ribbon, they are a work of art, no question. The ribbons at the shoulder straps do look original to the garment.

This Corps a' baleine, is dated 1735-1770, they are giving themeselves a wide range on this pair. Again the spade at center front and the spreading fingers. Decorative false lacing covers the center fronts. This lacing is not functional, but only for display. A beautiful gold damask is the fashion fabric and the stays are fully boned. Ignore the bows, the stylist put those on for the photos. The styling certainly suggests the earlier date.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

M. Diderot

M. Diderot in his Encyclopedia gave us these detailed drawings of some interesting stay accessories. These plates were published in 1771 as plates in the Tailor of Suits and Tailor of Bodices chapter.

From Left to Right

Single Point Lacing-Aiglet

Double Point Lacing-Aiglets-Braided


The question often arises among re-enactors who wear stays is what to use to lace them up? Here are the examples we have to go by, the aiglet is integral to the stay braid/cord. We often use bodkins or even bobby pins in a pinch to help lace up a pair of stays. How much easier to have a built in bodkin, eliminating the bulk of pulling a doubled cord through the eyelet hole.

Pennsylvania Gazette, July 11, 1754

This example of an advertisement shows us how the stay cord was listed for sale, along with other small woven goods such as ferrits (woven tape) and galoon (trim).

Of great interest is that I can find no busks for sale. None, zip, nada Unless my gentle readers can find me one! We know from extant busks that they were often personalized and carved by men for women.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baby Stays

A new online find, a set of English children's stays, they were described by the dealer as small enough to only fit a baby. These stays have seen wear, they are not pristine and they are not fancy. Simple brown (unbleached) linen comprises the layers, both fashion fabric and inner layers. They are 16.5 inches wide and only 7 inches long at center back (the longest point). They are mounted on a baby mannequin.

The white patch is an old paper label, not a part of the stays.

Knowing that Center Back is 7 inches and we deduct one and a half inches for the protruding tab, the body of the stays at center back is only 5.5 inches long. There are two bones at Center Back, two slanted bones at Side Fronts and two bones at Center Front. The back shows the typical configuration of eyelet holes for spiral lacing.

The stitching channels shown here are not fully boned.

The top binding appears to be linen tape or folded linen fabric. It would be practical to have the entire garment washable!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A New Auction Find

Blue linen stays, bound in white kid and white kid along seam lines. According to the auction house they are American in provenance. The very pale shade of blue is interesting, since up until now I have only seen a deep indigo or logwood shade of blue used on stays. This is a much less intense shade. The lining is obviously missing, but another nice example to add to the database.