Friday, July 13, 2007

18th century Stays pattern -- the tentative RH 820

Bob did some cover art for me last night for the 800-series stays pattern. The rough drafts of the instructions and the historical notes are done. All I have to do is grade the base pattern into sizes and then it's as good as printed.

But I'm having a bit of a crisis. I want the pattern to contain options for stays from 1740s through the 1790s. For someone like me, this is a no brainer. The differences from decade to decade are really rather small. At least they seem small until you get to the 1790s and the back waist is at the level of the floating ribs! But really, that's just a minor adjustment.

Well... it's a minor adjustment for me. But I have to remember that I am not my customers. I don't use patterns. I've never used patterns. So what is easy for me may be a nightmare for my customers.

If I had only one or two sizes in a pattern, I wouldn't be so worried. But all those size lines, plus all the different "cut here for View A and cut there for View B" lines just plain add up to a lot of lines. And the more lines, the more possibility someone will cut on the wrong line. If the customer is making a Bristol mockup as I suggest, that won't affect much. But still, it makes things frustrating when you don't know which lines to follow...

I want to represent the full breadth of variations of stays during this time period. Some were simple and strapless. Others had straps and were both back- and front-lacing over a stomacher. And still others were back-lacing but had a small area center front that opened (possibly for breast-feeding). Some were half-boned. Some were fully boned. Some were half-boned and had extra reinforcement at center front.

Let me elaborate. At left is a set of stays from the 1740s. It's really not so different from the set of stays from the 1760s on the right. Matter of fact, stays like those on the right were worn much earlier in the century as well. And stays like those on the left were worn much later. The big difference between these two are not their date but the absense or presense of straps and a front opening over a stomacher. No problem putting these two in the same pattern.

But have a look at these two. The one on the left is from 1776 and the right is from the 1790s. See how the back of the 1790s stays are much higher? I could put the 1776 stays in the same pattern with the 1740s and 1760s stays (same shape after all) and just include options for half-boning (they also fully boned in the 1770s).

Can I really put this all in one pattern? Or should this become two patterns? Or three?

Update 3:16pm --
Okay... I've been staring at the sketches next to each other and I think I see a way out. The back of the 1790s stays are high in the back. But the front is as low as all the others. So I could probably include a whole different pattern for the 1790s back and sides and that would solve the problem.

So the pattern would contain:
Front (with options for stomacher and partial front opening)
1740s-1770s Back
1740s-1770s Side
1790s Back
1790s Side
Template for half- and full-boned variations

Of course this might through the pattern into two Arch E (36"x48") sheets. Will people pay an extra $5-10 to get four stays patterns in one? Or should I break out the 1790s stays by itself?


Countess said...

To keep confusion down Kass, I'd do two different pattern packets. Whether or not you put them both in the same larger packet is up to you, but I would keep them apart to keep confusion down for those who don't read directions! Crap, you could even make the patterns a different colour from each other. Don't you just like customers who can't comprehend what they read?

textilegeek said...

She's got a point... I personally wouldn't have an issue with it, but then again, I've been sewing for years now.

Corbie said...

I agree -- less confusion is good.

Plus, you could also include a Regency jumps/stays pattern (of the shortwaisted type, not the longwaisted proto-Victorian type) with the 1790s option. I'll try to remember to bring mine (and notes) this weekend... There are several examples of this type of stays/jumps out there, including (I think) one in a Philly museum. Kate Johnson has more notes on this than I do, as she was teaching a workshop out in MO on them. She doesn't like the longwaisted style, as she has some physical issues with wearing longwaisted items, and was really happy to find several extant examples that she could wear.

The only problem I have with the shortwaisted style is that, if you have a curvy belly, the busk WILL poke out. Need to figure out a way of dealing with that.