How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing)

How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing), by Sidney EileenThis drafting tutorial is based on the basic conical block.

The piecing of this pattern is a modern re-enactment design, intended to give the proper fashion silhouette for the minimum amount of work.  The shape of the body is modeled after Dorothea Sabine von Neuburg’s pair of bodies, minus the shoulder straps.  The front-most tab placement is modeled after the pair of Effigy bodies.   I usually bone it lightly with spring steel, as that is the most efficient and easily available material for modern sewers.  It can also be boned with reed, but I recommend full boning if using reed.  It can also be boned following the style of Dorothea Sabine von Neuburg’s pair of bodies, but for comfort reasons I prefer a boning pattern that bones into the tabs.

Each side has only two panels.  The seam between the two panels is parallel to the centerline, half-way between the center line and back side along the straight bustline.  If desired it may be curved slightly towards the back edge.  This placement of the seam is seen on both the pair of bodies owned by Dorothea Sabine von Neuburg and the Effigy Bodies of Queen Elizabeth.

Mark the edges of the tabs along the bottom edge.  I recommend roughly 2” in width for most of the tabs unless the intended wearer is particularly large. Particularly petite figures may need as few as three tabs per side.  Particularly large figures should not need more than five tabs, even if the tabs get quite wide.

How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing), by Sidney Eileen

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Trace the outline of the front panel.  Mark the tab edges.

How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing), by Sidney Eileen

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Add the tabs.  I made my tabs 2” long and rectangular.  They can be longer if desired, but I don’t recommend making them shorter or they may not function very well for added comfort.  I also moved the edges slightly from the above image, so the front tab will bend smoothly over the front of my hip and the other two tabs are the same size.  If you want to use the Effigy Bodies as the model for your tabs, keep in mind that Queen Elizabeth’s Effigy Bodies have a very tiny waist, nearly 10” less in circumference than my own, so all it needed was three tabs total per side (two tabs on the front panel and one on the back).  You may want to add another tab or they will not bend smoothly over the hip with the curve of the waist, especially if you plan to bone with spring steel.

If you are planning for front lacing and want a gap in the front, be sure to bring in the front side by half the intended gap.  That is, if you want a 1” gap in your front lacing, mark a parallel line ½” in from the front side and erase your original front side.

For this particular draft I am planning to front lace, but do not want a gap, so I leave the front side as it appears on the basic block.

How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing), by Sidney Eileen

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Add seam allowance to the front panel and mark the front side to cut on the fold.  If you want a seam at the center front, add seam allowance there instead.  Tabs and top and bottom edges do not need seam allowance.  If you want to add trim allowance, do so.  This is not something I normally do.

Trace the back panel, draw a tab, add seam allowance, and mark the folded edge.

If you are planning for back-lacing, bring in the back edge by half the desired gap.  If you do not want a gap, or if the pattern will front-lace, use the basic block edge.

How to Draft Basic Strapless Renaissance Stays (Front or Back Lacing), by Sidney Eileen

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Now you should have a working pattern.

 

Bibliography & Other Resources

Waisted Efforts: An Illustrated Guide to Corset Making by Robert Doyle, Sartorial Press Publications, 1997.  ISBN 0-9683039-0-0

The ‘pair of straight bodies’ and ‘a pair of drawers’ dating from 1603 which Clothe the Effigy of Queen Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey by Janet Arnold, Costume, Volume 41, 2007 , pp. 1-10(10), Maney Publishing

 

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