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The 2020 Competition is now over.
The 2021 Theme will be chosen by our Members in April!

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Majolica MemoriesMajolica Memories 

Majolica Memories Majolica Memories

Majolica Memories Majolica Memories


Majolica Memories

Laurence Li, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

IG: laurencewenyuli

Photo Credit: CP Saw


The Design

For this year's contest theme of "Renewal", I was inspired by old majolica tiles from Taiwan. They are a kind of colorful glazed tile, in use from 1920 to 1935. Originally manufactured in Victorian England, these tiles add a pop of color to house exteriors, and are easier and cheaper to manufacture than traditional Chinese decorations (such as carvings and 3D mosaic). Under Japanese colonial rule, Japan exported large amounts of these majolica tiles to Taiwan, with designs based off of Victorian tiles.

Wealthy families would decorate their facades with these tiles, application ranging from a solid wall of tiles to a couple of strategically arranged "statement tiles" for those less moneyed.

Use of majolica tiles ceased with the outbreak of WWII, as the Japanese diverted their manufacturing towards the war effort. Thus, these tiles are only seen on old Taiwanese buildings from that period, and are in danger of extinction as old buildings are torn down for development. Inspired by the preservation efforts of the Museum of Old Taiwan Tiles (@tilesmuseum on IG), I hope my entry can “renew” new interest in this fascinating piece of decorative art.

The latticed closure of my stays form diamond-shaped tiles, with a cherry-blossom-patterned stomacher made from kimono fabric representing Japanese influence. Cherry blossoms, which bloom in the spring, also symbolize renewal.

The main body of my stays is gray, referencing gray concrete often found on old buildings. The stays are then mounted on a brick-colored chemise dress, tying the whole ensemble up with Georgian flair.

Mood board: https://pin.it/qkycctrco3ndb4


The Construction

I used a pattern for 1760s-style stays that I drafted myself, based off of “Patterns of Fashion 5” and supplementary instructions from Emma Brackenbury’s MA thesis (I participated in the testing of the instructions in the thesis). There are four panels in the pattern, and I added a latticed front closure, stomacher, and shoulder straps later. This was the first time I had drafted a corset from scratch by myself, and it took me five mock-ups to get a decent fit.

I decided to deviate from historical construction methods for this entry because it wasn’t wholly supposed to be historically accurate. So I used double layer welt-seam construction, with a cotton coutil as the base layer and linen for the outer. The boning channels were sewn by machine after assembling the panels, then 5 mm plastic zip ties were cut and filed to size and slid in. I also opted for metal grommets for a more modern look.

The stomacher is made from one layer of grey linen, one layer of coutil, and a fashion layer of deadstock kimono fabric that was given to me because it was faded around the edges.

The tabs are bound with bias tape made from the linen fashion fabric and stitched by hand, first with backstitches from the front and then whip-stitches on the back.

The stays are worn over a linen dress loosely based on the chemise à la reine that I drafted myself, which has hidden drawstrings in the neckline, underbust, and waist.


Materials Used

Cotton coutil, plain-weave linen (remnant from shop), vintage deadstock kimono fabric, 5 mm plastic zip ties, 8 mm metal grommets, large brass hooks and eyes, 7 mm cotton tape (lacing), double-faced satin ribbon


What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?

This is my third year entering the contest, and the main difference this year was that Chinese New Year (major holiday here) fell BEFORE the contest and so I had to scramble to get my supplies before all the shops closed for a week. And also I spent my entire CNY holiday putting together my entry. It was stressful, I won’t deny it, but it also allowed me to work dedicatedly on one project, which pushed me out of the creative rut that I’ve been in for a while. The contest is an excellent way to practice design skills, how to execute your vision, and (for me) also pushes me to research more, which I found enjoyable. To someone who’s thinking about entering, I’d say DO IT if you like to make fresh new things! But just don’t put it off until the last minute like I did. Therein lies procrastination and regret.

kitty mortensen
Oh wow, I never knew. It looks amazing and I love the story behind it as well. Gorgeous work <3
I ***LOVE*** this idea! Perfect for this year and the architecture theme, and you created it beautifully. Amazing job!
This looks so skillfully out together Laurence and such a pretty design too.
All. Those. Boning. Channels! This is an exquisitely-done pair of stays, and I absolutely love your inspiration source behind them!
I do a lot of historical Cosplay, and work at a couple of different Renaissance Fairs, so making historical stays has been one of my biggest motivators in getting started on doing my own corsetry. I can't begin to tell you how much your entry made me squeal with delight, seeing stays and stomacher done in a manner that is not only historically accurate, but incredibly beautiful! I'll have to look at this often, to remind myself that making the set of Elizabethan stays I'm currently working on doesn't have to be boring or Just utilitarian.
Beautiful work, the stays are so nicely put together and I love the little pop of the cherry blossom fabric at the front.
I absolutely love the way the flower fabrics peep from behind the triangles on the stomacher, delightful!
The front of your stays looks amazing. I love the fabric you chose.
Wowzers! I learned something cool and historical, and I got to witness an amazing set of stays with an equally incredible inspiration. This is an amazing piece, truly!
The inspiration and the detail on this are stunning. I also love how the angles flow into each other. And the cutouts on the front! Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us.
sauve piecemaker
I think your interpretation is a wonderful inspiration. The finished product is beautiful.
Loved the history lesson and the vision. Those boning channels are a dream - beautiful.
I remember your previous entries and was wondering if you would participate again this year, so it made me happy to see your name among the participants again. :)
All those boning channels look so neatly done and I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind your design.
Beautiful concept and execution!

Flawless work! Superb
I love your inspiration and your desire to reignite interest in these beautiful tiles. This was a great starting point for your entry. I love your historically inspired, modern take on the stays. You did really well with the fit, and your stitching is lovely. I've really enjoyed watching your work progress over the years. Well done!
These stays are gorgeous. Beautifully designed and made.
Gallagher Green
Wonderful job!
The stays are lovely. Thank you for participating - your entry is inspirational!
marloes dadswell
I love the story behind your entry and love the outcome! What a gorgeous result, it shows the amount of work and time you have put into it.
I love how you interpreted your inspiration and I really appreciated learning about the tiles in your story. Your stays are so beautifully made!
What a lovely, feminine design! Love it :)
It looks beautiful, I love the front of the stays! I also really like this interpretation of renewal, these tiles sound very interesting.
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