The sign of the unicorn. A fabric shop for 18th century reenactors and historians.

Boning | Stay Patterns

Boning

Caning For Stays

One coil of 3/16" reed caning provides enough for about two sets of fully boned stays and work very well with Stays by JP Ryan and Mill Farms 18th century Jumps patterns. Use two pieces of reed for each channel with the flat sides together. This provides more strength than 1/4" reed we provided before.

In the 18th century stays were usually made of a part of the mouth of the right whale called baleen but could also be made of split hardwoods or steel. Today the most cost effective and natural product available is caning. Unlike steel and plastic, caning is breathable and therefore can be more comfortable on hot days. These may break with time and often it is good to use steel stays in certain places to add extra strength. This caning is made of a reed grown in China and although it is not what was used in the 18th century these are fully enclosed within the garment and are not seen.

$21.75

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Caning in a coil used as the boning within a pair of stays.
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Wood Busk

Busks are slipped into a pocket In the front of the stays. If you do not have a special pocket built into your stays you can simply slide the busk between shift and stay and held in place by friction. The busk is intended to keep the front of the stays straight and erect since the front has a tendency to bend or buckle as they wear. These busks have the shape and style to be fit into a mid to late 18th century pair of stays. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey in London of 1754 it was recorded "she said she had got a bulk, that keeps down her belly so flat that no body can tell that she was with child, till she comes to the last month: she lost the busk at my house, and I burnt it before she was taken up: she at that time mended her stays."

These are individually hand crafted of various hardwoods (most are walnut), slightly curved on the outside and flat on the inside. They vary slightly in size but are around 12 1/2" long and 2" wide at the bottom tapering to 2 3/4" wide at the top.

Made in the USA.

$20.00

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Caning in a coil used as the boning within a pair of stays.
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Metal Bands

These metal bands are specifically intended to be used with the Past Patterns A Pair of Transition Stays. These are inserted in the horizontal breast-bone casings that make a transition stays unique.

$3.00 a pair.

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Boning | Stay Patterns

Stay Patterns

JP Ryan 18th Century Half boned Stays

Stays in the 18th century were worn to reshape the upper body. High fashion stays with shoulder straps were designed to create a fairly straight line from the bosom to the navel. Stays were the basic foundation garment upon which all subsequent garments were built. In The Virginia Gazette of 1774 "Run away . . .  a Welsh woman . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  an old pair of green coloured stays" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls.

Comes in sizes 8–22.

Made in the USA.

The fabrics suggested here are for a working class pair of stays made in America during the 18th century. Our suggestions slightly differ from that of the pattern based on our own observations of extant stays and discussions with Hallie Larkin. This pattern calls for 2 pieces of 1 yard 60" wide sturdy linen one for the outside and another for the interfacing. Most commonly linen stays were made of unbleached, brown dyed, cinnamon and blue for example 6.5 or 8.2 oz. unbleached linen or 6.5 dyed brown linen. Worsted wool was also common for stays especially satin weave yellow, blue, green, lavender, white and eggplant with green and white being most common. One more 3/4 yard piece is required for the lining. Commonly the lining was made of a lightweight blue and white check linen but a simple 3.7 oz. oatmeal linen or 3.7 oz. off white linen was also somewhat common. For basic hand sewing and the channels use 35/2 off white linen thread and quilter's thread or buttonhole twist for sewing eyelets. One roll of 1/4" white or natural cotton twill tape will be enough or at least 4 yards of 1/4" linen tape for the back lacing. One coil of caning is enough for two pairs of stays. You may want 2 metal stays for center front but a busk does the job nicely. Usually the top and bottom of stays are bound with about 7 yards of 1/2" wide kid leather. You can use chamois leather (available from automotive supply since it is used for drying cars but get a natural color) since it is much less expensive. Some original stays are bound with 3/4" linen tape.

$18.00

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J.P. Ryan Half Boned Stays pattern is a great sewing pattern for late 18th century historic re-enactor's and museum interpreter's clthoing.
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JP Ryan Stays pattern is the best, for pattern for French and Indian War, 1770s, and American War for Indipendance historic re-enactor's and museum interpreter's clthoing.

Stays by JP Ryan

Strapless stays are designed for comfort and give a cylindrical shape to the torso while allowing full freedom of movement of the arms and shoulders. The fully illustrated directions are included for any necessary alterations required to fit your figure. These stays are appropriate for late 18th century wear and incorporates features from extant 18th century stays in the National Museum of American History and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In The Virginia Gazette of 1774 "Run away . . .  a Welsh woman . . .  had on, and took with her . . .  an old pair of green coloured stays" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls.

Comes in sizes 6 through 24 for bust sizes 32-50.

Made in the USA.

The fabrics suggested here are for a working class pair of stays made in America during the 18th century. Our suggestions slightly differ from that of the pattern based on our own observations of extant stays and discussions with Hallie Larkin. This pattern calls for 2 pieces of 3/4 yard 60" wide sturdy linen one for the outside and another for the interfacing. Most commonly linen stays were made of unbleached, brown dyed, cinnamon and blue. Worsted wool was also common for stays especially satin weave yellow, blue, green, lavender, white and eggplant with green and white being most common. One more 3/4 yard piece is required for the lining. Commonly the lining was made of a lightweight blue and white check linen but a simple 3.7 oz. oatmeal linen or 3.7 oz. off white linen was also somewhat common. For basic hand sewing and the channels use 35/2 off white linen thread and quilter's thread or buttonhole twist for sewing eyelets. One roll of 1/4" white or natural cotton twill tape will be enough or at least 4 yards of 1/4" linen tape for the back lacing. One coil of caning is enough for two pairs of stays. You may want up to 12 metal stays for extra strength in some places (but using a busk in the front will stop the front stays from breaking). Usually the top and bottom of stays are bound with about 7 yards of 1/2" wide kid leather. You can use chamois leather (available from automotive supply since it is used for drying cars but get a natural color) since it is much less expensive. Some original stays are bound with 3/4" linen tape.

$15.00

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Mill Farm 18th Century Jumps or Leather Stays

Jumps include options for a front and or back laced, lightly boned undergarment that is perfect for work, undress, or a first pair of stays. Leather stays were worn by poor women. In The Pennsylvania Packet of 1776 "Ran away . . .  an English servant girl . . .  had on and took with her . . .  a pair of leather stays" as cited in Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls.

Comes in sizes 8–18.

Made in the USA.

$8.00

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Mill Farm 18th Century Jumps or Leather Stays pattern is the best jumps pattern for late 18th century historic re-enactor's and museum interpreter's clthoing.
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Past Pattern stays pattern is the best pattern for Lewis and Clark era, Nepolianic and War of 1812 historic reenactor's and museum interpreter's clthoing.

A Partially Boned Transition Stay Circa 1793-1820

These stays are comfortable, cool on hot summer days, and supportive. The full size pattern is based on an original in the Connecticut Historical Society stay number 1963-42-4. The pattern contains background notes reviewing differences among 18th through the early 20th century stays and corsets, show detailed drawings of transition stays in museum and private collections, and contemporary documentation dating the Connecticut Historical Society stay. These garments were in addition to the stiff and inflexible, waist-compressing item that many people imagine when the word corset is mentioned today. Fully illustrated fitting and construction instructions are included in this pattern. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey in London of 1811 it was recorded "I keep a pawnbrokers shop . . .  the prisoner came to my shop, she looked at some stays that were hanging up in the shop, she asked me if I thought they would fit her, I told her that I had half a dozen more pair in doors, I had no doubt I could fit her, I shewed her some more, she tried one two or three pair and then selected one, for which she was to pay me five shillings".

Each pattern inclueds sizes 8 through 26 for bust sizes 31-1/2-48.

Made in the USA.

$15.00

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A Pair of Transition Stays Circa 1795-1810

This pattern was pulled, with permission, from the extant garment in the Danvers' Historical Society in Danvers, Massachusetts. The threads appear to be hand spun and the fabric appears to be hand woven of linen warp and cotton weft. The thread count is approximately 40 warp and 36 weft. The pieces are sewn together with linen thread, perhaps the thread used to weave the fabric. The stiffening is whalebone. While the front is fully-boned the back and sides are partially boned. Variations of the front boning from Conner Prairie Museum in Fishers, Indiana and The Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania are included with the pattern.

Detailed Historical Notes explaining and documenting what is unique about a pair of transition stays are included in the pattern package. For example in The Proceedings of the Old Bailey in London of 1802 it was recorded "she pulled off her stays, and in the lefthand side of the back part of the stays, I found the note.".

The pattern comes in sizes 8-14, 16-20, and 22-26 all with cup sizes B, C, and D. The following sizes are layout out on 45" wide fabric. Sizes 8 through 14 require 1/2 yd. fashion fabric and 2/3 yd. lining, sizes 16 through 20 require 3/4 yd. fashion fabric and 7/8 yd. lining and sizes 22 through 26 require 7/8 yd. of fashion fabric and 1 yd. of lining.

Made in the USA.

$9.00

Metal Bands:

Past Patterns sells the set of metal bands that are inserted in the horizontal breast-bone casings that make a transition stays unique.

$3.00 a pair.

Add Past Patterns #030: Transition Stays to Cart

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Stay pattern for Sandra Altmen's transitional, late 18th early 19th century stays for historic reenactors and museum interpreters.
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