Saturday, 15 January 2011

Extant 18th century stays in Sweden

While searching for inspiration for my 1790’s stays I looked through the online collection of stays and bodices belonging to Nordiska museet in Stockholm. And though the text is in Swedish, I thought it could be interesting anyway. The photos are, I’m sad to say, not very large. I have added a short description with every link.

An absolutely gorgeous pair of white brocade stays, 1730-1770. Fully boned, back laced, lined with linen and bound with white leather.

Front laced stays in “sämskinn”, (the only translation I can find are deerskin, which doesn’t seem quite right. It’s pliable and rather thin leather anyway.) 1750-1760. Said to have belonged to a priest’s wife in the provinces. And unusual shape, I think, not as low-cut as stays usually seem to be. Ten fabric pieces and 20 boning channels. Boned with whale bones, and, probably, steel outside the lacing holes.

Fully boned stays in ”sämskinn”, 1750-1770. Back-laced and lined with sturdy linen. More robust whalebone horizontally at the top front and along the waist. Possibly originally a bodice in silk that has been altered into stays.

The museum also has stays that doesn’t have photos (grumble grumble) but descriptions that really wets my appetite.

A bodice to a robe de cour in white silk, 1770-1779. The shape similar to other robe de cour bodices, but the inner layer has probably had stiff paper glued to it before the outer silk layer was attached, which I find interesting.

Stays with a stomacher, 1770-1779 in tan silk.

Stays in unbleached linen, 1740-1760. Back laced, made out of 12 pattern pieces. Bound in “sämskinn”, at the lacing holes pink in colour. Boned with whale bone with a sturdy steel boning set horizontally at the top front. The lining attached after the boning channels were sewn.

Stays in dark brown leather. The museum dates it to 1720-1729, but the stays are dated on the inside with “Anno 1687”. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see them? I wonder if they may be 17th century stays after all. Only four pattern pieces, the side seams well into the back, 12 tabs. The description is a bit fussy, but probably back laced. Bound with “sämskinn”. No mention of boning, but I’m not sure if it’s because the stays suffer from still have a text written when it was acquired (1907) or if it hasn’t any.

These below are not labeled stays (”snörliv”) but bodices (”livstycken”) and have been worn in rural areas in Sweden. Their shape are very close to modern folk costumes in Sweden, though today they are rarely boned and there are indeed unboned bodices from the 18th century too. Anyway, I find these interesting because I have often come across the notion that working women didn’t wear stays. But I find some of these bodices more akin to half boned stays than a bodice. They do seem, however, to have been worn visible, more than as an under garment. Also boned with reed instead of whale bone. Horror upon horror- the wench costume may not have been so historically inaccurate anyway. At least not if you are a Swedish peasant woman.

Bodice in brown sturdy calf skin. Front laced and lined with sturdy linen. Boned with 18 bones, probably reed, except at the lacing holes were it is steel. Overlapping tabs, like scales and a rather pretty inside with patches of leather to enforce the ending of the boning channels.

Bodice in fine blue linen, 1790-1820. Front laced and tab-less, half boned with reed. Very decorative boning channels sewn in white linen thread.

Similar bodice in red wool, 1780-1820.

Bodice in cream-coloured ”sämskinn”, 1750-1799. Front laced with overlapping tabs and sparely boned with reed, steel at the lacing holes. Bound in white leather and have a pretty decoration in pinked white leather. Lined with linen. Supposedly made as an engagement gift.

Bodice in green wool, 1780-1820. Boned with reed at the lacing holes and the seams, boning channels sewn in white linen thread. Lined with linen.


The Dreamstress said...

Fascinating! I'm in love with those white brocade stays! The samskinn ones look like kidskin (baby goat), calfskin or deerskin. Deerskin trousers were very common and popular in the late 18th century - a couple of costumers have recreated them.

Reading this post, I do have a confession to make. I made a bodice very similar to the ones you have posted for an Icelandic outfit for a school event for my little sister. Since then it has (gasp, horror), been worn a few times as a wench outfit to a Renaissance fair. (hangs head in shame). Not by me though!

Isis said...

Yeah, I love them too!

I have now been informed tha the term I'm looking for is chamois leather. :) I have always wanted stays bound with leather, but my hands can't handle sewing in that, but I think chamois leather is soft enough! i have ordered some, so perhaps my next pair will be bound in it...

LOL. Shame on you! ;) Well, tell her that she can say that she is Swedish then. XD

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