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padding in 18th c stays

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:17 am
by kate/bob
another bit of brain picking!

My mum is doing the finishing on my stays for me as I'm not convinced that I'd do it justice. We've got a query about padding the tabs at the bottom. Is the padding to stop the bones sticking into you or is it for the shape? The instructions we've got say a bit of padding, but that's not hugely helpful!!

ta

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:00 am
by Shadowcat
I haven't seen padding in the tabs of any sets of original stays that I have seen - what pattern are you using? I actually saw a pair a year or so ago where you could see the inside, as the lining had come away - nope, no padding.

If the bones go through from above the waist to below, and do not cut off at the waist, they will not stick into you anyway. If they cut off at the waist, then of course they could do. Again, originals have bones that go through from above the waist to the ends of the tabs.

S. (Who has made lots of 18th century stays, from Hunnisett and Waugh.)

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:22 pm
by Tuppence
I've never seen padding either - I've seen leather pieces at the underarm level, and I've seen plently of illustrations of padded (as in quilted) bodices, but never padding at the waist in an 18th century corset.

The reason the boning goes down into the tabs is to stop them digging into the waist. Any pattern that tells you to cut the boning off at the waist is wrong, unless it's based on something I'm not aware of - though even if it is, I'd imagine it would be horribly uncomfortable, even with padding.

Debbie

(also made lots of 18th c stayes)

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:14 pm
by lidimy
Tuppence and Shadowcat - in the TT there's 2 patterns for stays that have tabs separate from the body, without the boning running through. The Vernon bodies and the Dorothea ones. Are these exceptional cases? Tis a tad odd.. I thought it must be wrong when I saw them, but Ninya & Jane surely did their research?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:35 pm
by Tuppence
Nope - they're right - but they're not 18th century.

Early stayes had separate tabs - by the 18th c they were cut as one with the body.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:40 pm
by GOK
Tuppence wrote:Nope - they're right - but they're not 18th century.

Early stayes had separate tabs - by the 18th c they were cut as one with the body.
But does that mean then that the Tudor ones are going to be horribly uncomfortable if the canes/bents are cut off at the waist? I must admit that when I looked at their patterns, I wondered if they'd made a mistake!

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:55 pm
by seamsmistress
GOK wrote:
Tuppence wrote:..............

But does that mean then that the Tudor ones are going to be horribly uncomfortable if the canes/bents are cut off at the waist? I must admit that when I looked at their patterns, I wondered if they'd made a mistake!
Again, no, they're not uncomfortable. When fitting to the waist, the waistline should be a tad higher than natural [at the sides and back] which prevents the bones/canes poking into tender flesh. TT shows this perfectly when showing the fitting for the kirtle bodices - same principle.

As to padding - I've examined many extant corsets and never seen padding, so I'm not sure what the instruction in the pattern you have means. It may be that the designer misinterpreted something they'd seen? Only guessing though.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:08 pm
by Shadowcat
Tuppence wrote:Nope - they're right - but they're not 18th century.

Early stayes had separate tabs - by the 18th c they were cut as one with the body.
What she said. The shape is different, so the weight distribution of skirts is also different. The tabs work well for 16th century, but not for later.

I've also seen leather at the underarm - often chamois - but that is probably to prevent wear, as well as for comfort. Still not really padding though.

S.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:11 pm
by lidimy
Hmm.. so higher than the natural waistline.. but I thought the point of Elizabethan gowns was to elongate the waist? Or is it really ALL optical illusion?

Sorry about the Cuba :oops:

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:13 pm
by Tuppence
Hmm.. so higher than the natural waistline.. but I thought the point of Elizabethan gowns was to elongate the waist? Or is it really ALL optical illusion?


It is - c17th ones were cut high, but Elizabethan ones distinctly not.
Some of it is optical illusion though, and some of the pictures are a bit ridiculous (thinking of a couple in particular that have the body length completely out of proportion).
What she said. The shape is different, so the weight distribution of skirts is also different. The tabs work well for 16th century, but not for later.
What she said. Also, the body is a slightly different shape, and many of the boning materials are different.

I have an early C17th reed boned corset that's cut to my natural waist with separate tabs, and it doesn't dig in at all.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:30 pm
by lidimy
K, thanks :D

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:15 pm
by kate/bob
thanks as always for the words of wisdom all. I thought it sounded a bit odd, hence the question! I shall phone mum and say no padding. The boning does go down into the tabs so hopefully it'll all be fine.

I found it quite difficult making these up not knowing the reason for the shapings being muddy evil (as Cat would say!) so am learning as I go. Not that the stays are done totally authenically, nor will the dress to wear with them be, it's more of a beer tent thing really! Sadly I'm going to be outdone again by mooseabuse though who's gone and ordered a made to measure 18th c suit. I think I was supposed to tell him that it was a stupid thing to spend all that money on and that we've got a baby to feed rather than ooh, look at that isn't it beautiful!

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:22 am
by frances
Could it be that the 'padding' your pattern refers to is just an extra layer of stiff canvas?

Or could it be that you are not looking at stays of the 1700's, but stays of the 1600's? Because during the earlier century your tassetts could be padded to give a nice swelling over the hips all the way round the body.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:31 am
by Shadowcat
frances wrote: Or could it be that you are not looking at stays of the 1700's, but stays of the 1600's? Because during the earlier century your tassetts could be padded to give a nice swelling over the hips all the way round the body.
Interesting. I've not seen padded tabs on 17th century stays either, although I vaguely remember pairs of eyelet holes for lacing pads to, on a pair of court stays. And of course there are eyelets on the "Effigy Stays".

S.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:51 am
by frances
Hi S.

I was just doing a bit of lateral thinking, y'know. In some modern patterns for making repro corsets they say to pad the tassetts. In them thar days ladies would have worn a big bum roll to get the same effect. But it saves the modern person from having to make and wear yet another item of clothing.

Which pattern is being referred to in the original question?

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:22 am
by Tuppence
I've never seen padded tabs on a 16th or 17th c corset / stayes either.

Doublets, yes, stayes, never.

If it is as you suggest, simply to avoid having to wear a bum roll then I really don't see the point - not like the b roll is all that cumbersome as it is.

Also, for re-enactment it has the obvius downside that it's wrong (assuming we haven't missed that elusive bit of evidence, and excluding the posibility of tied on loose pads).

Also, wouldn't it make cleaning harder?

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:28 am
by Shadowcat
frances wrote:Hi S.

I was just doing a bit of lateral thinking, y'know. In some modern patterns for making repro corsets they say to pad the tassetts. In them thar days ladies would have worn a big bum roll to get the same effect. But it saves the modern person from having to make and wear yet another item of clothing.

Which pattern is being referred to in the original question?
Ah, yes, well, I don't use modern patterns for corsets - so I would not know. *sniff*

S.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:19 pm
by Tuppence
Ah, yes, well, I don't use modern patterns for corsets - so I would not know. *sniff*
:lol:

Me neither - hence we're probably dreadfully uneducated in that kind of thing...

8)

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:36 pm
by Shadowcat
's interesting how many of the commercial paper patterns resemble those in "Corsets and Crinolines"/Hunnisett/Arnold isn't it? :?

S.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:05 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
I can't think what 'padding' means either but then I've not made many pairs of bodies, as yet. Maybe it's just some sort of leather or tape as reinforcement, where the body bit meets the tabs? Gods alone know!

We spent a lot of this winter hand sewing the Elizabeth Vernon bodies from Tudor Tailor but I have to confess almost the split second we finished, I wished I'd made the Dorothea ones! Ah well... another long project to make some underwear no-one will ever see! :D :D :D Thing is, it makes your clothes hang so right it makes all the difference - and although years ago, for 17thC, we were amongst the first people using the patterns from Cut of Women's Clothes etc so thought of ourselves as uber-authentic at the time, we still hadn't got the concept of stiffening the bodies of things with buckram or whatever, or boning, or making bodies.... and looking back, none of it looks anywhere near as good as it does when you wear it with stays.

So worth the effort to persist - whether you're late 16thC, 17thC, 18thC or 19thC, the foundation garments is what makes the rest work, somehow!

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:15 pm
by Tuppence
's interesting how many of the commercial paper patterns resemble those in "Corsets and Crinolines"/Hunnisett/Arnold isn't it?


yeah - odd that, innit?

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:15 pm
by kate/bob
I can't remember who the pattern's made by but it does say that it's authentic. It said to put cotton wool in the tabs to pad them out. Will continue later when the baby stops crying!

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:18 pm
by Tuppence
still sounds odd to me.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:19 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Ah well there you go then - nothing authentic about cotton wool! Even in the 18thC, raw cotton would not be an obvious material for stuffing anything - although it may well have been available as it's known at earlier dates it was used for packaging stuff at the docks! Why would you need padding anyways, if you could have some form of other structure to give yourself the right shape nether regions - like a farthingale, or whatever they are called at that period? It could be that the pattern's been made by someone who has misinterpreted remarks made by some costume historians re. tabs on stays achieving the sort of 'bum roll' effect, you can see in, say 17thC Wenceslas Hollar prints. It's not to say they were actually stuffed - just that they tend to splay out and so change your overall shape - not just the upper body but how the skirts hang, too (as well as, like others here have said, protecting your waist from the boning digging in). :D

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:20 pm
by frances
I have a lot of contact with the public - and they buy commerical patterns.

Hmm - cotton wool eh? Sounds like very lumpy tassetts to me. Does it specify what colour the little balls should be - hehehe. Oh, sorry, just my little feeble attempt at a joke.

Now I am getting rather concerned. Which company produces a pattern that specifies cotton wool. At the least it should be the batting that quilters use between the front and back fabrics. That is even, will not go into lumps over time and can be washed as required.

Dear Bob/Kate. Please stop your Mum going any further with this project if she is still sewing, and give us some more details. We would all hate you to do any more work on this garment without knowing what is going on. The last thing we would want is for you to finish it and only then find out what is wrong with the pattern. Re-making a corset is very tedious indeed.

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:34 am
by Tuppence
nothing authentic about cotton wool!
Except that raw cotton has commonly been called cotton wool for several hundred years.
Cos it looks like wool fleece. Why several european languages (thinking of german particularly) still have references to wool in their words for cotton.

Still sounds wrong, but could be a misconception based on that.

One medieval artist and writer even went as far to describe it (cotton) as growing on a tree that had little sheep hanging from its branches - when their coats got heavy the branches bowed down, the little sheep were sheared, and the boughs would spring back up till they were ready for shearing again. Even drew a picture of the cotton tree.

not really relevant, but I love that image :D

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:13 am
by frances
Aww!!

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:27 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Tuppence wrote:
One medieval artist and writer even went as far to describe it (cotton) as growing on a tree that had little sheep hanging from its branches - when their coats got heavy the branches bowed down, the little sheep were sheared, and the boughs would spring back up till they were ready for shearing again. Even drew a picture of the cotton tree.

not really relevant, but I love that image :D
Yep, that one's often quoted.

In 'The Secrets of Silk: From the myths & legends to the Middle Ages', Priscilla Lowry reproduces a couple of illuminations from Boccaccio's 'De Claris Mulieribus' which shows women picking silk cocoons from trees and the picture you refer to, may well be the illumination which illustrates the legend of Pamphile who was thought to have 'invented' sericulture - she's picking silk cocoons from trees - and they have little legs! (p.24)

They look like tiny sheep but the illustration is of sericulture, not cotton.
:D

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:01 pm
by frances
Oh, nice to hear this - but your story is not quite so sweet as the one given by 2d. Again the truth gets in the way of a good story!!

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:05 pm
by kate/bob
thought I'd take advantage of mini moose being asleep and carry on what I was trying to say before! The stays are in the post back from Scotland. The bit mum was doing was putting the front cover and the lining on cause her finishing is much better than mine, but then she is a dress maker!

I haven't done loads of research into the stays and the frock to go with them cause this is more of a beer tent type thing. When I was little I always wanted a princess dress with a pointy hat and big sleeves, but as I do medieval I know too much about the costume and can't just let my imagination go wild! I decided to do it with 18th c style stuff instead as I'm entirely ignorant and not worried about being authentic!

The basic pattern was made for me by corset angel with the instructions coming from the off the shelf pattern that I'd bought originally and then discovered that my measurements were on three different sizes. Hopefully the fact that the pattern was made by someone who knew what they were doing will help them to turn out ok in the end as I realised that there was little point in doing anything if the pattern didn't fit properly.

I'll let you know how it turns out and where I'll be wearing it all so those of you who do know something about 18th c costume will be able to avoid me and all the terrible inaccuracies!!!!!