From the Summer 2012 Thread-Headed Bust-or-Bust Collection, we proudly present yet another pair of leather stays!
(I'll quietly wait here as you drool over my contorted flesh.)
I pretty much continually obsess over leather stays. That's normal, right? I think about them more than I think about housecleaning (har!) or eliminating my increasingly obvious mustache combined. (Not that there is much else to do here in the great state of "93% Humidity" in the town of "Flash-Flood Warnings Since Monday.") And yes, you read the "2012" correctly at the top. I cut these out almost exactly a year ago, and haven't gotten around to posting about them til now. Please feel free to make up your own excuses for me; I've grown weary of providing my own.
Construction and tools are pretty similar to my very first pair, except that I used the previous stays as my starting pattern rather than going back to Drea's Elizabethan corset generator. After more than a year of use, I had a pretty good idea of the changes I wanted to make. The most obvious change is, of course, the front-lacing action. I wasn't sure that I cared for it in theory or practice, but I wanted the experience. Now, I'm a convert to the style. These are SO much easier to get on and off.
And for the record, yes, they do lace closed in the front. This was a quick n' dirty photo shoot out in the driveway. While you're at it, please ignore the shoestring lacing.
I changed the shape quite a bit as well. These are shorter, with a wider top and narrower back. The hip tabs flare out much higher than the original pair and the front "tummy panels" bow out slightly due to the changes I made to the hip area. Consequently, these are more flattering for the silhouette of 1780-1790(ish) styles than earlier years'. The decorative cutting on the outside surface was the product of idle experimentation more than historical accuracy or academic research.
* The front (and back) lacing. Adjustment, ingress and egress are vastly improved over the original set of leather stays.
* The changes to the silhouette. My movement (arm rotation, mainly) is much better.
* I used a thinner leather this time around, around 8 oz.. I was concerned initially that I'd lose support, but the weight of the leather is excellent and flexibility is improved. I doubt that I'd recommend using anything much thinner for this style, but meh? More experimentin' is needed.
What didn't/doesn't work:
* R.I.P. shoulder straps; I knew ye not. These were initially cut with shoulder straps rising from the back panels, to be secured to the front on either side of the bust.The straps were technically functional, but they were annoying and created weirdness under every garment I own. Two flicks of the knife later, they annoy me no more. I probably won't attempt to cut straps into the body of leather stays again. Piercing the leather (front and back) and cutting separate, floating straps is much easier and potentially adjustable.
I'm in the midst of two new pairs, one of which is based on an item in the Nordiska Museet collections. Hopefully at least one of those will be finished before the end of the year. (Not that you'll see them, of course. At the rate I'm currently finishing projects and posting, they should go "live" on the blog sometime in 2022.)