June 20, 2013

Stays Pattern Modifications- Part 1

I started my experiment with modifying the strapless stays pattern from this generator (and also sorta this tutorial) into new stays like the red V&A example. I looked through my books and some online resources as well to find drawings or diagrams of how stays like the V&A pair were patterned. A book I dearly want but haven't sprung for yet is Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh. I have found scans of the pages detailing the exact stays from the V&A that I am basing mine off of here.
So this illustration was my goal while editing my stays pattern. This was the first time I have tried to document the patterning process so I attempted to keep things color coded with little success ha ha

So supplies: paper scissors, a nice transparent ruler, different colored pens, pins, a french curve ruler if you have one, and of course the generator pattern. My generator pattern is from years ago and is a bit worse for wear and has some modifications already but I will explain those in a sec.

So here is a tracing of my current generator pattern in orange marker. Mine has been cut into individual pieces so I lined each up as I traced. It also has tabs drawn on so I drew the lavender outline of what the original generator pattern was like so you can have and idea of where to start from. Looking at this I already noticed where I had made less than optimal modifications to my generator pattern in the past as my waistline above the tabs was wonky.

So I have made several pairs of stays and have a copy of my most recent pattern laying around so I traced the center front piece from that over the orange and lavender originals to see what modifications I had done before. The easiest way to understand where to lengthen and where to place the straps is to make a mock-up of the strapless stays and pin on muslin to it while you have it on and trace in where those lines should be. At least that's what I did years ago when I first modified this generator pattern.

The easiest way to make corset or stays mock-ups is to tape the boning in place on a single layer mock-up with masking tape and to keep a set of back lacing panels around for just this purpose. I have back lacing panels with metal eyelets laying around to sew to the back of stays and corset mock-ups to be able to try them on without lots of work wasted on the mock-up. I think these mock up lacing strips are probably the best thing to have around when making historical foundation garments because they save you so much time!

Because I know I will be trying on several mock-ups I feel can be a little adventurous (haphazard) when it comes to modifying patterns I already know fit. I figured if I kept the bust and waist measurements the same in my new pattern as in the old one I would be okay. So using the diagrams from corsets and crinolines I redrew the side seam of my front panel. I made a point in the center of the underarm and ran the line from there down to the original waist point of the front panel. (the dashed blue line up there ^ )

Looking at the V&A stays it seemed that the front side seam was a bit curved to I tried to add that in as well. I began to outline the second side front piece as well trying to match the shape as much as I could to the diagram of the V&A stays.

Using the completely official method of eyeballing it I continued to re-draw the pattern pieces to look more like the V&A stays. When I had something I thought I could start with I cut out each piece. This is where it becomes really convenient to have old pairs of stays and a thin dress form. My new dress form is much smaller than me, meaning conveniently she can be padded out and corseted to match my measurements. I didn't go that far this time but I did put her in an old set of stays and pin the new pattern on to see how it fit together in a 3D way.

Here you can already see that the side seam isn't fitting exactly at the waist.

And here you can see that the top of the stays fit but the waist is much too small, unfortunately I didn't stop and add more to the waist at this point and jumped straight into cutting out a mock-up to try on.

So I made my first mock-up and there was some success but it was way too small in the waist so I reassessed the V&A pattern to see where I had left out the waist ease. I'll show you what I did next, next time!

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