A Pair of Summer Stays, or, Why I Wear a Neck Handkerchief.

Even though I don't make a lot (or any) stays at my job, I obviously have a need for them, and as a result I have regularly delved into the wonderful magical world of stay-making.



But Damn they're a lot of work. Let's be real. Damn Hard Work.

Anyways, I have a pair of "normal" stays, that I love and are super duper comfy (not featured on this blog..fyi...they're so worn now that they'll just look sad and pathetic for the internets), but I thought it would be nice to make a pair of summer weight stays, or what could be called jumps.

I don't really want to get into the discussion of stays vs. jumps vs. waistcoats vs. transitional stays but Imma gonna make 1 quick point.

I don't think all these "transitional" stays are transitional at all. I just think they're jumps and women wore the crap outta of them, and some might be short waisted and some are not. Some might be from the 1790s, but some are not. There's more to them than what has been noted in the museums. 

Nicole of Diary of a Mantua-Maker made herself a pair of these beauties about 2 years ago when she was working on the First Oval Office Project and she has been raving about them since then. So, I picked her brain about what she thought about them, likes/dislikes, and then looking at the original pair in the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, I decided to try my hand at this style. I did alter the pattern and the boning pattern to suit my fancy so they're not the mirror copy like Nicole made.

Philly Museum of Art: 1998-162-50

Cause I like my boning to go all the way dowwwwnnnnnnn owww owww (or something like that)...


They were super duper fast to make, which is always pleasing. I made them out of 2 layers of pretty tightly woven natural linen, sewn with linen, boned in baleen (with 1 or 2 rogue pieces of zip ties), and bound in linen tape.  and no, I haven't lined them. And I'm not planning on it. Cause lining stays is the second most soul sucking part of stay making, after binding the bottoms...so I say Nej! Nej to the lining!

I wore them today for the first time, and while they are really light weight and once properly broken in they'll be super comfy....but um....they are..um..



As in...I had to pull my shift up a lot higher than I like to wear it for the pictures cause I am super over aware of wear my girls are sitting in these things. No wardrobe malfunctions please. I am having to get used to this aspect of them. My stays usually give a nice compression to my chest, which I find to be the most comfortable, while these stays keep everything in a more natural (yet, quite perky) position. That lack of compression led to a mild dressing crisis this morning.

Nothing fit.

So I guess this just means I need new gowns now..that actually fit over my new stays.

Anyways here are the pictures....

No wardrobe malfunctions here. I always like to add 3-4" of reduction in my stays to allot for stretching, so I'll assume these will be meeting in the  middle soon. I also don't know why the eyelets were ever so slightly off....eh..sewing.

Side shot. You can see the amount of thrust I get in this style. I also carefully patterned them so the underarm is pretty snug in its fit. You can see how the shoulder straps have been wrapped around and are connected to the hooks in the CF.

Nope. No back lacing here. I lengthened the CB to my preference..I like higher coverage in the back. Helps with fitting gowns...and you can see how the straps up at the top keep the shoulder straps from creeping all the way up my neck. let me tell you, that's annoying as all get out. Trust me.

Here's how they look flat. I've leave the straps like that all the time. It makes it really easy to dress and adjust them in the morning. 

That is how much the baleen has molded today just after 8 hours of wear. Crazy.

No Lining. Don't Care.

Here's a detail shot of the hook that holds the shoulder strap in place.

So, when you learn to make stays from Mark Hutter, he always preaches leaving a healthy 1" seam allowance ALL THE WAY AROUND THE STAYS. This is why. That running stitch marks the original pattern. Yeah. That was too low.

Get low. So low. Oops.

Flare-y tabs are Flare-y...more flare coming soon.

Shoulder Strap Detail

Nice. Simple. Comfy stays with the best shoulder strap set up ever. I really can't recommend this method enough. It's really low profile and does a really nice job keeping your stays in place and your posture in check...it's a win/win frankly. 

Ok, well I guess I need to go make some new gowns now to fit over these suckers.

<3 <3


  1. These are amazing! You're making me itch to make new stays. I enjoy making them. There's something wrong with me. I like binding. But then again, I don't do the channels by hand. I really like this style too, since I have to make mine front lacing. Clever bit with the straps coming around to the front.

  2. Great job and they do look SO comfy! My next pair of stays will be front lacing, lol, even though hubby IS the "best ladies' maid ever"!!

  3. I've been working on a pair of linen reed-boned stays for this summer and was looking at a strap set-up like that, so I'm glad to see it worked well for you! Where did you get real baleen? I check ebay and elsewhere online for legal stuff from the Inuit every once and a while, but I've never seen any. A few of us had a plan a few years ago to use the salvage laws in Nova Scotia to go harvest some from the next beached whale that washed up during the school term (yuck, but worth it), but we never had a chance. =(

  4. It made me giggle when you said nej, nej. :)

    They give a very nice profile, but isn't it funny how much a new stays pattern can alter your shape so much?

  5. These are great! I wish you luck on wardrobe malfunctions (or preferably the lack thereof). I'm just about to start a new set today and had to laugh at the lining and bottom binding comments--3000% agree!

  6. Love 'em! Really love the straps--brilliant. How do they wear over time--does the tape dig at all? Totally agree on lining and binding...since I can't get around binding, am I excused from lining my stays? Good, because I usually do...And there's a clear reason ladies in the period wore kerchiefs. Those things cover a multitude of potential malfunctions :) I was fitting a gown last night (so hanging around watching Star Trek and handsewing in stays...it happens...) and kept glancing at The Girls in the mirror and thinking "Shoot dang!"

  7. Do you have the written pattern for these? I saw this picture on Pintrest and my heart and brain went "WANT!!" I have however never tried to sew something like this so if you have a novice friendly version that would be great. A friend suggested trying stays because I have so many problems with a corset. If one of you crafty ladies have a pattern to go with the above photos I would be really grateful, or if you could just point me in the right direction to find one for myself that would be great to. Thanks all!

  8. How did I miss this post? As always, your writing style gives me the giggle fits and occasional vapuhs, and I totally agree with your thought about what to call them. Methinks we do overclassify too much! They look a delight to wear. Wondering if at this point the straps dig in at the shoulders, but you know, bras do the same, so what's the difference?
    Very best from the Bluegrass,


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