18th century, 18th century clothes, 18th century clothing, authenticity, fail, interpretation, living history, stays
Grand weekend, right? Spent a happy day cleaning, missed any hints of the reported near-fracas, inappropriate hostility, or snide commentary, and thus had a perfect weekend, you think.
Almost…except of course the whole thing nearly derailed into a visit to the Princeton Art Museum. Why, you ask? The Great April Stay Failure.
Confessions of a Known Bonnet Wearer are what we’re all about, so here you go: Despite a quick stay alteration that appeared to solve the too-big shimmy, the Stays of Yore continue to chafe and annoy.
Turns out that lacing yourself up the back is nowhere near as effective as having someone else lace you up. Leverage: you don’t has it the way another person standing behind you does. And if that person naturally possesses greater upper-body strength than you, well, there you are. You will find yourself experiencing a great deal more containment than you might find desirable. Actually, the stays were more like nipple guillotines, as the fault shown here made itself all too well known.
Yes: the fool things were not made properly in the first place, exacerbating any fit issues that can be ascribed to weight loss, fabric stretch, or general high-level-of-activity use. Reader, I am up against it.
Not only do I have a pair of 1800 stays on the table needing to be finished, I have a banyan to make up and a bedgown to finish, all by April 21 for a program at work. A mere two weeks later, I will need really serviceable and decently-fitting stays if I plan to go back up to Fort Ti. Quickie torso measurements, anyone?
Of course, the thing is that these ought not to be done quickly, but correctly. I recognize that after four years of wear, these imperfect stays made of modern (linen and caning instead of wool and baleen) materials could legitimately be wearing out. But the really important thing is this: They turned out to be so (literally) painfully wrong that turning them around and wearing them backwards was better. No, that was not an ideal solution. I have a sizable bruise on my left underarm area and a red wear spot on the right and my poor handmade (just finished!) sketchbook is bent from use as a stomacher/busk.
Granted, I do have the materials I need to make new stays, but what I lack is more critical: time and a second pair of hands to help me measure torso length. I suspect that even a new pair (of wool and linen, thank you for reducing stretch) will take more alterations than I currently credit. Hilariously, while these pattern pieces may require some lengthening, the 1800 stays needed shortening to fit properly. So on my table sit one pair, shortened, and another pair, seemingly in need of an opposite alteration. Get fit or die tryin’, right?
Ow, ow, ow! I’m sorry I can only commiserate, instead of providing help.
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