This morning - it all looked so nice.

This morning – it all looked so nice.

I’m feeling more than a bit frustrated with my transitional stays. Actually, it’s the instructions. I know that corset- and stay-making are not beginner-level projects. I’m not a beginner, but I need help.

I obviously don’t know enough to make the stays on my own. True, I managed a Victorian corset which came out rather well, if I do say so myself. But this little project ain’t goin’ so well.



(This is the part where I make the legal disclaimer that these opinions are nothing more than that: my opinions. They are not a statement of fact, merely my interpretation of circumstances which are driving me flippin’ nuts.)

The instructional format is not working for me. Too many pages. Information not sequential. Have to keep flipping back and forth. Makes me unhappy.

Too many pages!!

Too many pages!!

Working without a fit buddy is difficult at best. Apparently, the author believes it should not be attempted.


(Copyright Past Patterns)

Either that, or I’m short a few limbs.

(copyright Past Patterns)

(copyright Past Patterns)

And failed to purchase the magic scissors option.


But I think the only way to figure this thing out is to keep going. So I basted the center front and back and basted the left side seam. Then pinned on the straps (marks for placement on back piece only – thanks) and wiggled into it.

The center front and back seams are indeed centered and straight. The side seam is at my side. The circumferential fit is snug, but not impossibly tight – that is, it’s a good reminder for posture but I can breathe.

OK, so far.

And then I came to the step where it really started falling apart for me: the bust gusset. As you can see in the illustration above, you are to put the muslin on with a bra under the chemise and locate the highest underbust line, and mark the outline for the bust gusset. So I did and this is what I got.

Anyone notice a bit of a disparity? The model seems to be sporting a lovely set of AA’s. I need to construct stays that will display a pair of DD’s. Hmmm. And no where is this addressed in the instructions or comments (except my own ongoing comments which are not all that helpful at the moment) other than to cut a bust gusset with more support. More on this later.

I traced my “outline” exactly where is was. Then I read the next part of the instructions, which state that the inner edge of the bust gusset must be located two inches in from the center front to allow for the busk. The tip of the black pen marks two inches in (that diagonal line to the left is the center front…I’m using my left side for positioning). As you can see, my…uh…anatomy doesn’t comply with that placement concept, even in its fully-brassiered state.

So I’m not exactly sure what to so. I know the high-underbust mark is correct – I’ve checked it three times. I’m thinking at this point I’ll just smile broadly and proceed as if I understand what I’m doing, put the bust gusset where it should be (as opposed to where I’ve marked it) and see what happens. The fabric is already cut and marked. I can donate a day to experiment with magical thinking. And, who knows – I might get wildly lucky and it will work.

In the meantime I’ll be trolling the internet looking for tutorials on how to fit this pattern. And bopping over to the Oregon Regency Society Facebook group for assistance and moral support.

And advertising for a fit buddy.

After all, how hard can it be to find someone who lives at the end of a peninsula to no-where and is interested in period sewing techniques?


8 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. I feel your pain. I too am…*ahem* gifted in that department…I also have a very small underbust…so it makes fitting tricky. I haven’t tried the pattern you are working with. But I did make the Daffodown Dilly Regency Era Wrap Stays which I found easy to put together and the pattern maker was very helpfull in helping via the internet with how it should fit etc. I then managed on my second attempt to convert it to a back lacing stay. The cording was all improvised. And the fitting done without a fit buddy.
    The way I did its was make up my mock up. then cut slit where the gusset to hold the bust would go and put the stay on with a peice of paper in the bust gusset area. Then in the mittor. traced my gusset shape ( the triangle needed.) I could then cut the gusset to sew in.

    • Maybe I misunderstood? Here’s exactly how the instructions read: “IMPORTANT: All bust gussets, no matter what cup size, are marked 2″ in from the folded and pressed front edge. The 2″ is necessary to fit the two stays between the front edge and the bust gusset on each left and right side of the stays.” Four inches apart – at that point they’re going to become “Marty Feldman-esque”…wide apart and pointing in different directions. LOL! I do believe an e-mail is in order.

      • I don’t think the instructions are wrong – look at this pin of a corset from 1811:

        which is not one for a tiny bust like some seem to be – maybe the look is to separate them so far they end up under the armpits?! Which is where mine would be… 🙂

  2. I’ve had the same problem with c15th kirtles, all those girls seem to have perky little apples whereas I have melons. I’d advise making it as tight as you can bear immediately below the bust as that’s where most of your support comes from, if you can get that right the rest should follow

  3. I have the same issue with ‘the girls’ and I also do the magical thinking. “I’ll just keep going and it’ll all make sense at some point” Sometimes it works and sometimes…not so much. Patterns are frustrating to me. I often feel that they need more instructions, but then I figure that they probably think someone making a corset is way more experienced than I am. I have talked to a few people who make patterns and I understand that it is hard to gauge how much information to include, but I think instructions on how to fit for a larger cup size isn’t too much to ask. If the particular pattern is just plain wrong for a larger bust size, then maybe say so in the sales information on the pattern.

    • I absolutely look for notes about whether or not a pattern will work for my size. You’re right – it’s not too much to ask, like making adjustments for petite or tall sizes. According to the pattern, it should be OK for me and the girls. There are multiple bust gussets to choose from – it took me a while to figure it out, but she has an option for a gusset with four levels of corded tiers up the “cup” that should support the heck out of the girls…if I ever get that far, that is. 🙂

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