“Spring is like a perhaps Hand in a window (Carefully to And fro moving New and Old things, while People stare carefully Moving a perhaps Fraction of flower here placing An inch of air there) and
Without breaking anything” - e.e. cummings
On the festive day that I write, St.Brigid’s day or Imbolc, I am in my apartment with my dog and spouse. We are home-bound due to snow, and it seems like spring is a million years away. But we have survived winter before, and to prove it our house is awash with the dried flowers of springs past. There are also roses on the antique vases we rescue from antique shops and pansies pressed into our old books. There are even flowers in our tea (bergamot and lavender). We tend our indoor plants with gentle love, hoping they will return the favour with cheerful blooms and vivid green leaves.
This spring will mark one year since I decided not to buy any new clothing, and to thrift and mend instead. Interest in sustainability lead me to rediscover sewing clothing from scratch, and to begin to learn in earnest. It was a short walk from there to historical costuming, and my world cracked open. Wild shoots of inspiration, determination, and excitement burst forth and my life will never be the same. On this, a traditional day of transition from the bitter winter to the grace of spring, I wished to make something to represent the bright, beautiful hope I feel.
My goal (see: challenge) was to use as few new items as possible. I recently inherited fabric and supplies from my mother, who gave up dressmaking before I was born. I used the RedThreaded 1780s stays pattern because of the relative flexibility in materials and techniques. If I didn’t have a particular skill or a piece of equipment, I could adapt and still maintain the integrity of the pattern. The American Duchess dressmaking book, as well as their YouTube channel, was another important resource.
To maintain the theme of sustainable use, I doubled the mock-up as my lining layer. I used a combination of hand-sewing and machine stitching based on my energy levels and the level of difficulty. The outer coutil layer was cut using as little fabric wastage as possible, and this worked to the benefit of the pattern matching.
I made the bias tape myself using scraps from an old 18th century cravat my mother made for a costume several years ago.
The original pattern called for cross-lacing but recommended spiral lacing for more historical accuracy. I referred to several online tutorials to learn the method when setting the grommets.
The only materials that were purchased new for the stays’ construction was a few yards of cotton twill tape and plastic boning. I bought the stays in bulk from a wholesaler, and the boning in a large reel, which I was able to cut to size and keep additional length for future products with little waste.
1 yard Covington floral cotton coutil fabric 1 yard cotton/poly blend broadcloth Less than one roll of Dritz ¼” plastic boning 3 yards of ½” cotton twill tape 1 yard white cotton scrap for bias tape 19 steel grommets RedThreaded 1780s front-lacing corset pattern (PDF purchase online)
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
I found out about this contest after I had decided to make the stays, but before I knew how, when, with what, or anything else. This contest gave me a deadline, a theme, and incentive to finish. Placing in the contest is secondary to the thrill of challenging yourself to a new (or improved) skill! Don't think about winning, think about what you could learn!
This is lovely, I genuinely had to do a double take if I had indeed clicked the beginner category. You are absolutely amazing I'm in no right insanely proud on your behalf ? lovely piece
I too was shocked to hear this was a beginner projects. Your choice of the outer fabric is lovely (has inspired me), and the way you used the pattern in the cut of the fabric is so pleasing to the eye. Truly a GREAT JOB. It even looks fun to wear. :)
This is absolutely breathtaking! The detailing is gorgeous! I adore the colours you chose! Good luck!
Your inherited fabric is so pretty!
I love this!! The elegance and Tasha Tudor vibes are stunning!!
Woaw so cool ! I wish my first stay will be as good as yours !
To me, the design section of your entry description reads as if it's an opening chapter in a book, it really is a lovely entry and I hope there are more chapters of your corset making to come!
I agree, the writing and the entry are gorgeous!
I love this soooo much! Incredibly well done!
Monica A Smith
This is so pretty. I love the fabric choice.
Wow! amazing to see looks wonderful and such a good use of inherited materials. Your story and video inspire me to try something of my own. Very well done.
I don't know which I love more - the inspiration or the finished project!
It is good that you used supplies that you already have on hand. I appreciate the provident living, as I do the same myself. It looks great for your first attempt. Keep up the good work and keep trying.
So much coziness felt just looking at these stays! What a wonderful accomplishment!
Beautiful! I love reading all the stories behind the projects!
This is beautiful. Amazing work! You're an inspiration!
That fabric is gloooorious! I’m so glad to see you’ve made it into such a delightful pair of stays—and so extremely well done for this being your first pair?!? I am astonished!
Thanks so much! Lauren Stowell from American Duchess has a similar if not identical fabric from Covington and it pleased me endlessly to find that out!
Fantastic work simply beautiful
Absolutely beautiful! They remind me of a beautifully patterned quilt, giving off that same sense of warmth and tranquility, especially as the pattern matching is so perfect.
silver gypsy 1
Your fabric choice is spot on for spring. I love the color and design which works great with the pattern you chose. You matched the pattern on the fabric so we'll it looks like one piece. You should be very proud of your accomplishments with this project.
This is beautiful work! I love how the stripes meet at the sides and, since I live in Minnesota and even though I live the winter, this made me long for the first big snowmelt and the first breath of spring air. It is a stunning homage to the season!
Saint Brigid is apt inspiration. Thank you for that lovely photo essay. It was a joy to get to watch your process.
First one that caught my eye and it's a fellow Calgarian. This is wonderful good job I love the fabric choice
Hometown buddies! The community here is so small it’s nice to know there are other folks out there!
This is stunning, and you have a video (I'm a sucker for videos LOL) great work.
I’m so proud of you! Your stays are beautiful, and give me inspiration to keep going on my own journey!
I love the fabric and the design looks quite intricate you habe done a great job
Robin J Siciliano
Gorgeous entry that I would be proud to wear! I am equally as moved after reading your entry form when you describe your decision to do a year of no new clothing. I am inspired to say the least and going to do some serious thinking about challenging myself and my family to do the same. Bravo!
I adore the fabric! This is really lovely work. Kudos!
Your fabric is beautiful and how you did your placement of it enhances the boning channels and stitching. It's an optical illusion to me like you id ribbon insertion with the patterning. Absolutely gorgeous and not a beginner stitch in sight. Your binding around the edges is also beautiful. Stunning job!
This is just gorgeous. You did a beautiful job with it and I LOVE the fabric you chose. It's a work of art. : )
What beautiful work!
They fit beautifully and I love the fabric!
beautiful work! the fabric used is so charming and sweet, and it fits you so well! and im so impressed with your resourcefulness as well - you've proved that one doesn't need to buy all new fabric to make something so high quality and gorgeous, well done!
Absolutely beautiful, you have done a fantastic job!!!!
I am in love with these stays! I've been wanting to make some for a while and this is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing!
I love the Video you've contributed. Filming while you just figure out the sewing thing is impressive!
Thanks very much! I was given a nice camera for Christmas, so I figured it was a touch of kismet and that I should start marrying the two bourgeoning hobbies!
You did wonderfully! I didn’t think that this was a beginner project, as I would consider myself a beginner and I am terrified of stays. It’s very motivating to see your work. Very lovely.
A beautiful piece, and I find the sustainable usages very heartening. You've done a wonderful job, and the result is both fun and fashionable. My favorite bit is the skirted bottom pattern.
It is really beautiful. Your video looks like you have some advanced skills. It's an interesting writing technique you have also.
You're so sweet! I don't really have advanced skills, I've just watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. Everything I'm doing in the video is the "best bits", so to speak. There's infinitely more footage of me desperately trying to thread a needle for a full two minutes, or having to undo lines of stitching three times. If asked to recreate this set of stays, I would probably have to look up all the tutorials again! I've got a long way to go. :)
What, a beginner's project? I'm stunned! I love the fabric, too and it looks sooo well fitted, I'm amazed. Great work!
Wow!! Your work is beautiful!
These are amazing for a first attempt, I love the fabric and the placement is great.
These stays turned out beautifully!! The fabric you used is so happy and springlike. Well done on challenging yourself with such a complex project - the binding alone can be so tricky - you've done a really amazing job. Well done! You should be really proud of yourself for what you've achieved.
The texture and warmth from this is just wonderful! Well done <3
This looks absolutely beautiful and neat, it looks exceptional for a beginner
You did a fantastic job.
Well done! It looks lovely. I like the fabric a lot!
I can only agree that this has turned out beautifully! I especially like that you used the mock-up as lining layer. That is perfect for the theme and very inspiring.