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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reformation Day 2013 · Starting Things Off

Our church hosts a Reformation Day celebration each year and, of course, we always use it as a perfect excuse to dress up!  There is usually a different theme to each year, but since I like to re-wear my costumes as much as possible and don't have many other opportunities to wear renaissance clothing, I don't worry too much about fitting into a particular era or country.  The theme this year is about ancient celtics, and really, I don't have any desire to wear a sack to Ref Day. ;-)  Years ago, I came across the painting "Three Children with Dog" by Sofonisba Anguissola and was smitten!  I love the idea of sister-dresses that are so similar, but with their own personalization.  Gretel easily agreed to the plan, and volunteered to help with accessories and hand-sewing.  We'll be making some adjustments, and while I have the inclination, I just don't have the time to make them perfectly historically accurate so we'll be cutting some corners there.  

The first part of the project was making on my "pair of bodies" (corset).  I'm not sure if I technically need to make a boned undergarment, or if it's more accurate to just bone or otherwise stiffen the dress.  After my minimal research, I'm inclined to think that going the Pair of Bodies Route wasn't the most accurate, but given my frustrating prior experiences over the years, I really prefer the way everything behaves and the ease of adjusting the finished dress when there's a separate "corset" and dress.  I got my mock-up successfully made and fitted but I was a little stumped by how exactly they're supposed to differ from 18th cen. stays, as they're remarkably similar in shape?  I'm still not sure, but I decided to just go ahead and make them anyway.  We've decided to save time by not making a pair of bodies for Gretel, since she has stays.  Here is the completed pair of bodies- except for running out of cable ties halfway through, it was entirely a stash project!  Yay! :-)  It is made from 2 layers of duck, boned with heavy-duty cable ties, the busk was made from a paint stick, and the eyelets are done by hand.  I used the Tudor Tailor Effigy pattern, except with a busk in front, and the lacing in back.

After spending so many years sewing 18th century, calling these a "pair of bodies" instead of "stays" feels so strange.  Not to mention awkward when someone asks what you're working on... "oh, I'm just sewing a pair of bodies!" :-P


  1. rofl "sewing a pair of bodies" As far as they historical accuracy of people wearing corsets, I've seen lots of mixed information. Yours look really nice! :) Can't wait to see the finished matching but not matching dresses!

  2. Well done! Was this difficult? I've yet to try one of these.

  3. Thanks, ladies! :-)

    Rubina, personally I find stays like this to be rather easy to make. There are only straight seams, and no gussets to worry about placing appropriately. :-) The tedious part is cutting all the boning and sewing the binding, though!

  4. hehehe... I think I like saying "stays" better than "a pair of bodies". :) Can't wait to see the dresses!

  5. Tara, I know! For as much as "stays" took getting used to, I'm not sure I want to get used to "pair of bodies". It's kind of strange to shorten it to "bodies", too!

    As for the dresses.... well. I look forward to seeing the finished product, too! ;-) It's a very good thing that I have such an immovable deadline. :-P



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