Short stays and chemise

I used the Regency Underthings pattern from Sense and Sensibility to make a linen chemise and short stays for the RWA presentation in August.

The chemise pattern was very good, with detailed instructions for hand-sewing flat-felled seams. I thoroughly enjoyed the hand-sewing – although my stitches weren’t perfectly tiny! I used a bleached, softened pure linen fabric from fabrics-store.com – their IL020 weight, which I highly recommend. I zig-zagged the ends, washed it in the machine and ironed it before cutting out the chemise, and it was beautiful to work with, and to wear.

The short stays likewise came together well, and the instructions in the pattern were clear. I used three layers of fabric – a white cotton drill for the lining, a heavy linen for the inter-lining, and a white cotton quilting fabric for the outer layer.

Regency short stays - SEnse and Sensibility pattern

My only reservation about the stays is that for those of us who are no longer young, it doesn’t seem to provide enough support or shaping to stop ‘the girls’ from slipping down. So, it tended to flatten rather than uplift and separate – for me, anyway. I’m only a size B-C cup so it isn’t as though I need a lot of shaping – just more in the anti-gravity department!

A couple of weeks ago I spent an hour or so sewing cording channels and threading doubled cotton butcher’s string through them in the front panels. I’d prevaricated doing it, but it actually was quick and easy to do. It does make an improvement to the support for ‘the girls’, but probably not enough to wear the stays while doing anything more than sitting drinking tea.

Short stays with cording added

The ladies on the Jane Austen Regency Napoleonic Costume Construction group on Facebook made a couple of suggestions that I will try – stitching a small crescent shaped roll inside the stays to provide a small shelf for the bust; and/or wearing a bra underneath the stays to halt the slippage downwards.

If I were to make this pattern again, I’d use a different shaped ‘cup’, giving it more shape and more definition between the cup and the underbust. I’d probably also make the stays longer, to tame more of my soft rolls…

I have now bought Laughing Moon’s Regency and Romantic Era Corset pattern (from Australian costume supplier, Aylwen Gardiner-Garden). It’s highly recommended by the ladies on the Facebook group, especially for those of us who are no longer slim and sylph-like. I hope to start making the corset soon,and will report on my experiences.

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