For the 2017 new year, my husband and I found ourselves around the TV with his family basically just hanging out until the clock struck 12. His sister read a book and his nephew played on our WiiU, while his mom chuckled here and there when his nephew would lose or something….. I got terribly bored. I mean: BORED.  I don’t mind hanging out, but this was largely a solitary occasion we were having- I was getting antsy to get my hands on something. After a little while of frustration, I whipped these puppies up [mostly] before the new year and finished the eyelets yesterday!


So cute and little!

Oh- if you follow my blog but not my facebook page, this will be our baby announcement to you! My husband and I are expecting a little girl in May which is why I decided to make these adorable little things.

The Challenge: January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit.

This is the first piece made for my little Anne’s 18th century wardrobe. She won’t be able to wear them until she’s close to a year old (or maybe a year from now… we have big babies in both our families) but I figured if I have the time to make them now, might as well!

Chip Board
Linen Scraps

Pattern: Anne’s stays are largely based off of an extant pair from the Memorial Hall Museum. The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop at Colonial Williamsburg made a pair I got to handle while I was interning. Two Nerdy History Girls have done a blog post about them, as did Sew 18th Century. I made these slightly smaller than another pair of extant child stays from the All the Pretty Dresses blog– but similar in size to the yellow pair at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These are the smallest pairs of infant stays I could find measurements for.


Anne’s stays measure 18″ wide and 5″tall at center back.

edited-baby-stays2You might also notice the light boning in the stays themselves: My fabric is slightly see-through, so you can see the boning really well. In the pair from the Memorial Hall Museum, you can barely make out some extra reinforcements of boning in a similar arrangement to mine. Sew18th Century also made her stays like that, so I figured it was a good idea. The boning is simply basted into the pasteboard before covered with fabric.

(There’s also some extra stitching on the extant pair at the CF point, waistline, and armscyes. I suspect it’s either extra reinforcement (padding for comfort) or repairs)


Year: 1760-1800

Notions: Natural Linen Thread

How historically accurate is it? 95%ish I say this because I have never had my hands on an extant pair (only a reproduction) and I made the stays out of a woven checked linen- which is typically used for linings of stays rather than the outer-side of them. I did this because of the scraps I had on hand…. Also, how can you be 100% historically accurate, anyway?


So cute!

Hours to complete: 3.5 hours
Patterning: 15 min
Cutting: 15min
Assembly: 2 hours
Eyelets: 1 hour

First worn: Give it another year

Total cost: Maybe $3?

Favorite Part of the Project: I love 18th century pieces because you finish them as you go, so once you assemble the pieces, it’s done! That’s how these were.


These stays are constructed much the same to other 18th century stays. Pieces are whipped to the others.

My next favorite part were the eyelets. On originals, you can see the eyelets are 3/4’s of the way bound and then wrapped around the outer edge. I’ve seen other stays done this way, BUT in the case of these: if you were to bind the whole straight through the pasteboard, it would perforate out the eyelet entirely, so the wrapped part might be a way to combat that. I thought that was cool.


Comparison of eyelets from the Memorial Hall Museum


Compiled list of sources for this project:

18th Century Stays- Hallie Larkin

Baby Linen or Making a Basic Layette for Eighteenth Century Reenactor Infants- Sharon Ann Burnston

Baby Clothes- Sew 18th Century

Stays for the Very Young- Two Nerdy History Girls

The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop- Colonial Williamsburg

What Clothes Reveal, pg40- Linda Baumgarten


Striped Infant Stays stiffened with Cardboard, c.1770- Memorial Hall Museum

White Linen Baby’s Stays- Georgian era- Poppie’s Cottage

Striped Linen 18th Century Baby Stays- All The Pretty Dresses

Striped Child’s Stays, c.1740- Germanischen National Museum

Child’s Stays, c.1775- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Wool Child’s Stays- The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Linen Infant Stays, c.1770-1790- Philadelphia Museum of Art