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Padded Waistcoat

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:41 pm
by lidimy

As you may or may not be aware, my dance group is aided in the 18th century persuasion by a proffessional stay maker. In fact, his nick name is The Stay Maker, and his first name is Ian, but I can't remember his second name :?

Anyway, that's beside the point.

A fellow NEDer spoke to him about my needs for an 18th C set of stays, and he recommended an item called a 'padded waistcoat', which is unboned but has lots of sewn channels to make it stiff, and shoulder straps. Apparently it is suitable for people who don't need to hold a lot in, but besides that, not a lot is known about them due to lack of illustrations. Front laced.

Does anyone know anything more about these things? Anyone worn one before? I'm very intruiged!

Lidi :D

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:34 pm
by Tuppence
He's dead right.

I've not worn one, but they were definitely used. There's disagreement about why they were used - may have bee as he says instead of stayes for those who don't need huge amounts of boning, or for youngsters (like later corded corsetry), or for warmth - either on their own or as a separate layer.

there are lots of quilted petticoats and stuff around at this sort of time, so it all fits.

all that is from my slightly swiss cheesed memory, so will have a look and see what else I have.... doing c18 this week anyhow.

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:40 pm
by lidimy
Oooh great :D They sound quite comfy! I shall most likely be meeting him on the 14th October so I want to get an idea of what I'm looking for. Definitely a preety fabric either way, hee hee. I just hope that padding doesn't make me look fat :?

Chipperfield is the surname btw, just looked him up on google. He makes gorgeous stuff! :o

Lidi :D

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:28 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
I remember reading that there are records of charity school girls being issued canvas stays, in the 18thC and 19thC and I'd imagine they weren't boned. Not sure if it would be padded as such, just 2 or 3 layers of fabric which might appear padded once the channels are in - a sort of quilted effect?

I wonder if they'd have no busk or stomacher? I remember seeing a pic of a quilted 18thC stomacher somewhere, but not sure if it came from an outer layer or was part of an undergarment.

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:33 pm
by lidimy
Yeh, when I say padded I'm hoping that it's not actually stuffed with wadding or I'll look like a balloon :shock:

Or a charity school girl.

I was wondering whether it would have a busk too - for the 18th C I'd consider this the minimum level of boning, though I may be wrong. My Tudor gown isn't boned at all, but the kirtle underneath has a busk or I wouldn't get the shape.

Which makes me wonder, if it's not boned, does it need tabs still?

Lidi (:

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:13 pm
by Tuppence
did some looking up, and there's quite a long history of padding and quilting and cording being used as corsetry...

dug out some pictures & stuff for the 18th c (same books I was using to look up panniers) - will post them once I get chance.

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:45 am
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
The extant later ones I've seen pictures of seem to have tabs - which is supposed to stop the boning digging into your waist as you say, Lidimy, but it may have a second function that's probably to help with the general shape and hang of the skirt - somehow it hangs differently with a tabbed body underneath.

Dunno about 18thC, but for the 17thC there's still debate whether bum rolls were worn or not by ordinary folk, and there are very compelling arguments to say they probably weren't but what you're seeing in the woodcuts, etc is the effect of tabbed stays... Does my bum look big in this? Yes unavoidably, is the answer! :lol:

I'm just now making my second pair of stays based on the late 16thC ones, so have not had much experience of them but have to say that despite taking your measurements in a couple of inches, you do still feel fatter somehow, wearing them... But I think it would probably take a lot more than padded stays to make you look fat, Lidimy, so don't worry! :lol:

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:59 am
by Tuppence
generally the later ones do have tabs, but not all, and depends what date you're actually talking.

the way that the tabs are cut (generally) differs quite markedly between the 17th century and the 18th, especially if you're talking mid 17th.

but then so does the shape and position and pattern of boning, and the general shape of stayes - they're not that comparable.

there's a natural progression that can be traced, but it's too different to be able to draw any direct comparison between pre restoration and the mid 18th century.

assuming you're talking england anyway.

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:01 pm
by lidimy
I don't suppose this might be it? Not sure bit suddenly remembered the picture, and not knowing what she was wearing!

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:05 pm
by myladyswardrobe
Hi Lidi,

What you are referring to are sometimes called "waistcoats" or "jumps". Some are boned, but most are quilted ("padded" implies quite a thick layer)

Here are a few links to piccies: ... stcoat.asp
(you could buy this one!!! 8)
Very useful for looking at the piccies of how this is made! I'd suggest making copies of them! - Analysis of a Waistcoat
Could be useful info here!
and just as a bonus, - here's an article on a corset of the period!

And of course, your piccie is this sort of thing too!



Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:28 pm
by lidimy
Thanks Bess :D

They really go for it over the hips don't they?! They're meant to be flattering right?

That's an interesting article on the waistcoat too. Some of the waistcoat necklines don't follow the low square neckline of the dresses at the time though - would they really be left to poke out, or would they be worn only during the day and covered by a fichu?

How eluding it all is!

Lidi :D

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:05 pm
by Shadowcat
I am surprised that you are being recommended a padded waistcoat for your dance group. I have made most of the costumes for another 18th century dance group, and a waistcoat would not be appropriate for the dances they do. Do check with Ian that he means a waistcoat for wearing on the outside, and not a pair of jumps which would have been worn under the dress - as far as anyone knows, that is.

Padded waistcoats, in general, were "undress" wear in other words, casual, wear at home to be comfy sort of clothes. If you are portraying a lady, you would be unlikley to wear your waistcoat at a public social occasion such as a dance.

The other group in the Covent Garden Minuet Company.


Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:09 pm
by lidimy
Well I shall be meeting him in a month or so, I'll shall have to compile a little portfolio of research and questions, and tell him to explain himself :lol:

Have seen the Minuet Company's site before - lovely costumes they have! :D

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:15 pm
by frances
Dear Lidi, I'd be surprised if Ian recommended these padded under-waistcoats to you. He may have meant that you do not need loads of boning - that a stiff inner canvas would suit your growing figure rather than the more solid garment that more sturdy/substantial ladies have to wear to get the correct silhouette. Over your hips you are likely to need more padding, depending upon whether you are going for the 'pannier look' or the rounder 'hip-pad' look. Ian does know his stuff so get him to draw a sketch for you before you make any decisions on buying fabric or making anything yourself.

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:20 pm
by lidimy
Definitely. I want to have something that I actually want to wear and will last me well.

I do like the whole boned thing though, even if I don't need it :oops: I don't think we do big panniers in my group, makes hey-ing rather difficult! (don't know how you spell it!)

Lidi :D

Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:10 pm
by lidimy
Met Ian today and we had a good chat about stuff :D As I wasn't so keen on the waistcoat idea (he infered that pretty quickly) we decided that, seeing as I'm unlikely to grow much more, I should get some 'jumps' instead (like Bess mentioned) which are apparently half way between waistcoat and stays, so a busk and some boning round the back being it (and lots of channel things for stiffness) he said that there was no way I was doing it by hand ever (fairy snuff) but I still get to finish it by hand 8)

As for material, tis going to be silk taffeta in some bright colour. Woop :D !! He's going to draw up the pattern for Oct 7th so I can get started ASAP. I'd never been measured before, it was really strange! Apparently I'm very well proportioned but have longer arms than most people :lol:

Lidi :D

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:59 am
by frances
Dear Lidi,

A suggestion from an old hand - make up a mock corset first in some strong fabric like cotton calico. As you probably know when you add boning the whole shape of the pattern changes. Wear it around the house a bit and see where it rubs/creases or seems too small/big. Only then make it up in expensive fabric. But still put in a central lining made of something stiff like furnishing calico - washed and pre-shrunken, of course. Just think of all the water you will generate when you dance.

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:27 pm
by lidimy
Just think of all the water you will generate when you dance.
Eeeugh! That's disgusting...! I was fine in my Tudor dress all day (though that was outdoors) but the dresses we use for dance are, let's say, more.... theatrical than period correct! (Though I'm not intending to let that rub off on my Jumps!)

Ian's making up all the pattern and stuff, I imagine he will be doing 60% and me about 40%, but I'm not too sure. I wouldn't trust myself to make them all by myself :shock:

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:59 pm
by janes-wardrobe
Yep pretty disgusting - that's why you wear a chemise or shift under your stays!

I was lucky enough to buy an original Edwardian ribbon corset on ebay a couple of years ago and it came complete with sweat stains!

The only people who don't wear anything underneath their corsets are modern people and I noticed the other day a website offering a simple boob tube to wear underneath corsets - obviously with the resurrection of the garment people are beginning to realise that it's not sensible to wear support garments that are not easily laundered on bare skin.

You probably won't grow too much more - girls tend to stop growing (heightwise at least) earlier than boys - so if you wanted to make stays then you probably wouldn't be wasting your effort. Check out this young ladies work - she hand sews all her period clothing. She's had a birthday and is now 16! Though she was only 15 when she made these stays. ... k-54202189 ... t-54202054

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:12 pm
by lidimy
I agree - and besides the hygiene issues, I think it actually looks a bit vulgar to wear a corset next to bare skin. It cheapens the effect, even if it is proper re-pro corset rather than 'fashion'.

Rant over.

Ian is getting me some linen from London to make a Georgian chemise out of, ooh the novelty 8)

Cool stays she made, but I don't think I'm good enough to make all of it myself! The reason though, as you pointed out, that I'm getting 'jumps' not a padded thingy is because I'm not going to grow anymore so I may as well go for something more boned. But not full stays because, as Ian described me, I'm 'diddy'. Woop.

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:00 pm
by janes-wardrobe
It's been years since anyone described me as diddy - except in height terms :D

I'm sure you'd be able to do the stays - just a matter of patience. Do the jumps first of course - then spend some time on the stays - I believe each panel is made individually and then sewn together so you could start with the front and back panels and do the sides later - just in case you get wider.

Or do the stays with the stomacher - more room for expansion :lol:

I had a look at Ian's site - loverly stuff - I'm sure he's absolutely unaffordable to ordinary folk - I will have to do some museum quality replica's (the quality replica stuff - not the just to enhance display stuff) and post them on my own site. I've got an opportunity to make some stays for my daughter for next year so I'm going to go all out and handsew some nice ones.

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:31 pm
by lidimy
Don't get the wrong idea - the stays are subsidised by my dance group, else I'd never be able to afford them! Still have to pay partly; but hey, not so long til my birthday again so you never know :wink:

Ian said that the one thing he was going to put his foot down on was me NOT haand sewing them entirely :shock:

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:47 pm
by Shadowcat

Ian really knows his stuff, so take in every word, writing it down if necessary as he tells you. I suspect for the kind of dancing you are doing, the look is more important than the way it is achieved. If the Minuet Company had to pay for hand made stays, none of them would be wearing them - as it is, all the costumes I have made for them have them.


Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:53 pm
by lidimy
I know, I was paying uber close attention to everything he said! He just came out with all this stuff and I felt bad cos I kept asking him to explain what he meant! But it was soooo good! And handling my first ever pair of stays and corset was amazing, it was all so exciting :D:D:D (though he said it'd wear off! :lol: )

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:18 pm
by janes-wardrobe
Hand sewn stays are probably the equivalent of owning a posh car or something - you only pay for them after you've got everything else perfect.

For me it's the challenge of doing the job and the satisfaction of knowing it's entirely hand sewn - that and, of course, knowing how long it takes so that when people ask I can be realistic about offering a price or describing what effort was involved in a historical context so people can appreciate the garment fully.

The first 'corset' I ever made was a reproduction of the Pfaltzgrafin Dorothea Sabine von Neuberg 1598 buriel 'pair of bodies' ... t-47046831 ... 8-45904822 It got me hooked and I've been making corsets ever since. My nex project is a pair of 18th C stays for my daughter...

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:20 pm
by janes-wardrobe
lidimy wrote:... (though he said it'd wear off! :lol: )
NEVER :lol: at least it hasn't for me and it's now almost 9 years since my first!

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:01 pm
by Shadowcat
I've been making corsets for 25 years, and I still enjoy making them fit and do the job!


Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:15 pm
by lidimy
Well there you go. He said that if I did it all by hand I'd get bored with doing all the channels. Hmph.

I guess he just doesn't know me well enough xD Like you, Jane, I love the satisfaction of knowing I've done it all by hand! When I made my Tudor gown I had started off by machining it but later I unpicked all the machine stitches and re-did it by hand.

(though it could be argued that the real reason for this was because I knew that Bess, upon seeing it, would look at me with slight bewilderment and say 'Lidi, that's machined isn't it?' and I would never bear the shame.)


Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:21 pm
by janes-wardrobe
Ah but when you've been told your garment is machine sewn - cause it couldn't possibly be that good by hand and then you've shown them the hand stitching...

Though mostly machine stitching is pretty obvious or maybe a lot of peoples hand sewing isn't up to period standard :?:

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:23 pm
by lidimy
I'd be more inclined for the latter. I can only hope, however, to get to the stage where I am told my hand sewing is machined! What a (slightly twisted) compliment!