Regency short stays are totally the sports bra of the 19th century

I’m buried beneath a pile of costume sewing here at Chez Anna. This Sunday is the Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society Bastille Day Picnic, the weekend after that is my first Civil War reenactment (hard to believe, but I really haven’t been to one of these before), and then 3 weeks after that is the weekend extravaganza known as Brigade Encampment.

So, Bastille Day Picnic. Originally, I had grand plans of making a whole 18th century wardrobe and wearing a Chemise a la Reine (for those interested, you can read more about this garment here), but I realized this past weekend that I only had a week to put an outfit together, and a Chemise a la Reine was just not gonna happen. I mean, I’m a crazy costumer, but I’m not *that* much of a crazy costumer. ;) Instead, I decided to go with a Regency outfit, since a) the clothes are incredibly simple, b) I already have all of the materials needed for an outfit, so this would be a great stash-busting project and c) I’ve been watching a lot of Jane Austen costume dramas lately.

Anyways, yesterday I went over to Nona‘s and we did a ton of sewing on our Regency costumes, since both of us are new to this era. I started the short stays this past weekend, and almost finished them yesterday, except for the eyelets (which will be done by hand). I’m using the now out-of-print Simplicity 4052. I read a lot of reviews about this pattern before I started sewing and heard that because it’s a Simplicity version of this pattern from Sense and Sensibility, it runs big and to cut out a smaller size. Well, I cut out my regular size 12 (after doing a quick tissue-fitting) and it fits totally fine. I didn’t have any issues at all with the dreaded 4″ of ease that everybody claimed it would have.

The eyelets will go between the binding, and the bone (which is actually just a cable tie I used in a pinch).

 So, the short stays are made from 3 layers: the outer fabric is cotton sateen, the interlining is cottom duck, and the lining is pima cotton. The trickiest (actually, it wasn’t tricky, just tedious) part was sewing in the gussets. that, and sewing so many layers of fabric together (especially the cotton duck, which, if you’ve ever worked with it, it’s like tent fabric). I’m used to my machine being pretty loud when sewing, but it was especially loud when working on these yesterday, and Nona asked me if my machine always made that noise when I use it, so I’ve decided to nickname my sewing machine “the clunker.” ;)

Luckily, there wasn’t too much machine sewing, as I spent most of my time hand-sewing the binding to the inside of the lining, using a whipstitch:

I tried these on today, and the fit is so interesting – they’re like a sports bra with the comfy shape (no belly constricting!) AND a push-up bra, since and they push the bust up to give the fashionable Regency “shelf” look where your boobs are basically under your chin. An added benefit is that since there’s so many layers and they’re so stiff, I’m pretty sure they have bullet-proof functions, as well. Pretty important if you’re in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Yeah, I totally just made an Alexander Hamilton duel joke. ;)

12 thoughts on “Regency short stays are totally the sports bra of the 19th century

    • ooh, glad I could inspire you! And Nona is actually planning on just shortening the skirt to make this into a modern dress she can use after the picnic! Empire waists are very flattering. ;)

  1. Pingback: Regency dress sneak peak . . . | anna in technicolor

  2. Pingback: 2012 – Sewing Year in Review « anna in technicolor

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