5 Amazing Facts about 18th Century Stays

Stays, sometimes called a corset, were an undergarment worn by women from the 17th through the 18th centuries. Stays were the precursors of the Victorian corset and ultimately the brassier. Stays were meant to provide postural support and alter the female figure into a socially desirable form. Stays were stiffened and formed with thin strips of whalebone called baleen, which was sewn into narrow channels in the cloth. Stays were made in a variety of styles, such as strapless, with straps, partially boned, fully boned, or with stomachers.  Stays usually laced in the back, but many had both front and back lacings.

Here are 5 amazing facts about stays:

  1. Until the late 18th century, most stays were made by men.
  The Stay-maker - etching by Joseph Haynes (British, 1760–1829) after William Hogarth (British, London 1697–1764 London), 1782, London

 

The Stay-maker - etching by Joseph Haynes (British, 1760–1829) after William Hogarth (British, London 1697–1764 London), 1782, London

  1. Children, including boys, wore stays.
                                           Child's Stays - circa 1770-1790 - American - Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

                                         Child's Stays - circa 1770-1790 - American - Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

3. Stays were such an important article of clothing, that thieves often stole them from shops and sold them to pawn brokers.

                          Shop-Lifter Detected - circa 1787 - engraving by Robert Sayer, after John Collett

 

                        Shop-Lifter Detected - circa 1787 - engraving by Robert Sayer, after John Collett

4. Churches provided stays for the poor in their parish .

                                                     Red silk stays - circa 1770-1790-  Victoria & Albert Museum

 

 

                                                 Red silk stays - circa 1770-1790-  Victoria & Albert Museum

 

5. Pregnant women wore stays, although their stays may have had extra lacing to accommodate the changes of pregnancy.

                    Gold Silk Stays - early 18th century - Spanish - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

                  Gold Silk Stays - early 18th century - Spanish - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The New Hampshire Highland Games 2015

Yesterday, I went to the New Hampshire Highland Games with my husband, our son, and his girlfriend.

Originating in Scotland and based on centuries old athletic events, the Highland Games are a gathering of Scottish clans and people to celebrate their Celtic heritage and enjoy food, dancing, drinking, shopping and athletic competitions. Highland Games have been held in Scotland for hundreds of years, and such events can now be found in many other countries, such as Canada, the US, Switzerland, and New Zealand.

Here in New Hampshire, we have been celebrating The Highland Games for 40 years at Loon Ski resort in Lincoln. Nestled in the White Mountains, Lincoln offers a spectacular backdrop for these festivities!

We arrived in time for the "Calling of the Clans," where representatives of each major clan answer to the roll call, and display their tartan. We cheered heartily when they called for our clan, Gunn!

 

The Clans at The New Hampshire Highland Games in Lincoln

We then explored the variety of vendors, selling all manner of Scottish and Celtic style goods, from tartan kilts, ties, and flags, to shortbread and silver brooches. For lunch, we feasted on fish and chips, meat pies and pasties, washing it down with spicy ginger beer.

 

Pipers preparing for the competition at The New Hampshire Highland games in Lincoln

We thoroughly enjoyed watching the heavy athletics, as men competed in the caber toss, weight over the bar, and sheaf toss. The highlight of the athletic events was Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays The Mountain on Game of Thrones. He competed in the weight over bar event and set a new world record!

For a wonderful day full of Scottish culture and events, attend a Highland Games near you!

Child's Kilt for a Wee Highland Lass

We vacationed on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia this summer, and I purchased a yard of our clan tartan (Gunn). I had thought to make a kilt for our little, one-year-old granddaughter. At nearly $100 per yard, the wool tartan was too costly to allow for errors, so I decided to make a test garment first.

I purchased some inexpensive flannel in a similar weight to the wool tartan, and started to decipher the kilt pattern. Making a kilt requires some thought and planning about the pattern. The flannel has a sett (pattern repeat) of 6 inches, so it was not too big for the diminutive kilt.

I played with the pleating arrangement and apron widths until I felt like it both fit the measurements and displayed nicely. Lots of pressing and starching tamed the flannel into a more workable hand.

I originally thought a two inch hem would be good, to allow for growth. But the pleats did not like the extra bulk, so I trimmed the hem to a scant 1 inch. Serging the raw edges also reduced the bulk.

I added velcro across the waistband front to allow for a better fit, and chose to have the apron opening on the right - the traditional style. 

Having completed the test kilt, I am very excited to move on to the real tartan wool!