I finally did it! I finished my pregnancy stays- just 6 months late!
I was interested in this project because not many people have talked about their maternity experiences while being in period costume. Also, because I’ve not seen this particular style of stays reproduced. So onto the deets!
Medium Weight Linen (Yellow scraps from my husband’s waistcoat)
2 Layers Heavy Weight Linen (white, canvas- more scraps from another project!)
These stays are based on the pair in the Jill Salen Corsets book for 1780-1785 (pgs 18-21). They lace up the back and have lacings on the sides as well to accommodate your growing bump. These stays are interesting because they do not have a lacing in the centerfront- whereas a few other examples do have that feature. I found that the general measurements (waist length and bust measurement) were very close to my own to begin with. The scariest part of this is to gauge some measurements since you’re to grow throughout pregnancy. Being my first pregnancy and having no idea what to expect, I made the decision to have the closed waist measurement an inch larger than my red wool pair of stays.
1/2″ linen tape from Burnley and Trowbridge (B&T)
Linen Thread from B&T
Cane/Reed for boning
How historically accurate is it?
I tried to make them as close to the original as possible- made of linen and bound with linen tape. I used cane/reed for the boning; which is merely what I had on hand. I wanted to use ash splint, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money for a pair of stays that will only have a little bit of wear. They’re entirely hand-stitched and I made them in a week (other than the binding on the tabs… that took me 6 months to get back to.)
Hours to complete: 35ish
I should have kept track, but being in the “get it done” mode, I didn’t bother. I know I spent at least 3 work days, a few evenings and around 3 hours in the car on the way to a conference. So the above is an estimate.
I wore this pair for the first time March 2017 at the Printed Textiles Conference held at Colonial Williamsburg this past spring. It was really great to be able to wear them around, albeit late in pregnancy, to compare with my everyday comfort. More on that later…
Total cost: around $25
Being a person of somewhat small stature, I’m always delighted when a fabric scrap will more than adequately be what I need for a project like this!
Overall I’m happy with the way they turned out and they are VERY comfortable and I can easily wear them while not in maternity mode. One of the biggest complaints among pregnant women is that bras are uncomfortable with a growing bust. With this pair, I had no problems with extra movement, underbust sweat, or shoulder strap pain with these like you do modern undergarments- WHILE PREGNANT. However, post-baby, I found that the measurements are no longer the most optimal- I can still wear them pretty comfortably- but I’ll definitely need a new pair to look and feel my best… but I’ll post about the post-baby-fit sometime soon!