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Beige Linen Stays – c.1750s

Jill salen Corset, 1750s stays from Colchester Museum, 18th stays, bespoke and museum based corsets, living history costumes, reenactment clothing, poldark costumes, theatre costumes, authentic and museum based period clothing, 1700s mantua maker

Beige Linen Stays – c.1750s

Replica of c.1750’s Stays
Colchester and Ipswich Musuem, Uk

– Fully Boned using Rattan Cane
– Centre Back Lacing with CF lacing Detail.
– 8 Panel with Pink Ribbon Trim
– Straps with Pink Ribbon.
– All the Eyelets are Hand-Worked.
– Natural White Linen Lining
– 4-5 Layers per Panel.
– Steam Finished.
– Self Binding.

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Product Description

Based on the Stays in Jill Salen’s book and that are part of the Ipswich Museum Collection, this pair of Stays is the culmination of all our research and practise in getting that shape, that wonderful conelike shape, just right.

And we’ve done it in pink!

– Made from 100% Linen in a nice beige colour and complemented with pink ribbons to cover the seams, this pair of stays has also got extra layers of linen canvas and lining to really create that curve. They have been steam-finished which moulds the cane and has extra canvas at the CF, plus a modesty panel of Linen beneath the lacing to really help with that curvature.

– It can also be unlaced at the CF to release any extra space needed and has an inner line of Boning that will become visible if the CF is indeed unlaced – this happens in 5 of the original Stays that we’ve seen and was obviously a technique used to maintain the inner bone but allow the CF lacing to be functional.

– These Stays have been bound with Self Fabric (ie the linen fabric that was used for the Stays) and has straps made of the Self-same linen and supported by a canvas layer.

Each eyelet has been handsewn in pink and the stitching of the channels also runs in pink – yet it’s gentle on the eye and with a pleasing natural tone to it.

We hope you like them.

We also have a short film talking through the details of this stays if you would like to know more and also to have a personal tour through these Stays: Please click on this link here:

The Jil Salen Stays

If you’d like a pair then please pop this item into your Shopping basket and purchase it and we will need your measurements for this Pair of Stays to then get made up into your size.


This took a lot of research, but we are confident that we have uncovered a way to make these stays using the modern sewing machine but adopting Georgian techniques. Each panel is made up separately already boned and then all joined together, with a ribbon to cover the seams – as it was done in the original process. It is worth mentioning here that if a fitting is wanted then the corset gets basted together and fitted without boning. The fitting is mainly to check fit and heights and depths of the neckline and points.
Each corset has 4 layers to the topside which consist of:
– The top layer – in this case 100% linen
– The second layer – a firm fabric to support the top fabric.
– The canvas or a course-weightier fabric.
– And the fourth layer – which is the backing to all of the above and keeps the bones in check.
In addition to these layers, there is a strong fabric sewn down the front of the inside and across the bust for the centre busk and inner bonings to be slid into. Then the whole garment is lined with the plain linen.
Silk or Polyester ribbons are hand sewn on which cover each join (and we’d love to find a better way to do this as it is a very delicate part of the work and bends many needles).
It is also worth mentioning that if you wanted the 100% natural and more authentic fabrics then the idea behind the layers doesn’t change at all, but for example a horsehair canvas is used instead of a polyester drill.
The boning used in these stays is Cane, which takes the steam and keeps it shape perfectly. We were so excited when we watched it hold the curvy shape far better than we ever dreamed.

Many study sessions and frustrating hours have been spent staring at the Stays in the museums and wondering how they were made and we’re really beginning to feel like we’re making headway into understanding their development over the century.

The general shape of stays didn’t seem to change much between the Tudor times to the Eighteenth Century. Pattern cutting techniques got better, alongside a slight change in the shape desired and it was also discovered in the latter half of the 18th century that you could get the same shape and support while using less bones, all of this helped develop the same basic idea along it’s way through the 1700s.
The discover of using less bones also contributed to another change in style (welcome the half-boned stays) and the rising waistline altered their look once more.

The main purpose of stays/corsets in these periods was to provide the idealised shape for each period, along with the belief that it was good support for the body.

That idealised shape, during the 1700’s, was a cone shape; smooth and clean, and creating a very rigid look. It was never, really, to make yourself look totally slim. In the 1740’s there was infact, a vogue for putting very thick busks into the CF of the stays to create a more defined waist and these busks could be upto an inch thick. A letter of the day compares them to pregnant women so, in no way, did they necessarily make you slimmer.  This clearly defined cone was a shape that the body would never create by itself and this is mainly the reason for stays. The corset was cut to give the breasts nowhere else to go but up and the waist was elongated down.

Who Wore Them:

Another interesting social debate is ‘who wore them?’ There’s a drawing from the play ‘Pamela’ where the heroine is handing back her more lavish clothing due to the fact she is about to return to her home (and ergo into a more poorer situation). The painting hints at the fact that because she will no longer be in service where these types of clothes were required then she no longer had a need for them and therefore was returning them back to the House keeper (please see J.Style’s book ‘The Dress of the People’ for his explanation). The stays in the painting are faint and half beneath a pile of clothing but they do appear to be slightly silky looking and therefore considered ‘fancier’ stays.

The point is that you could use this as evidence that the poorer classes did not

wear boned stays. And along these lines comes the evidence that there are also many images of poor people in loose baggy short gowns or bedgowns with a simple tied-up waist and clearly no stays on = John Collet’s ‘The Elopement’ is a much used example of this (see the older lady on the right).


There are also images of women in very poor circumstances where the woman is in boned stays. You can see this in Francis Wheatley’s ‘The Sailor’s return’

Francis-Wheatley--The-Sailors Return - HandBound Costumes
the woman, though sitting in a poverty wrecked room, is wearing her boned stays. According to John Styles, the lady in this image is ‘dressed for indoors, with stays worn over her shift and a red petticoat.’

‘The Dress of the People’ is a fascinating book and J. Styles uses all sorts of contemporary evidence in his research.  On page 222 he paraphrases a social researcher from the time by saying that ‘Eden suggests that a cheap cloak would last 2 years ,a  cheap hat 2 years and a cheap pair of stays six years.’ (Eden ‘State of the Poor’) We don’t have the definitive term for what Eden meant by ‘cheap pair of stays’ but it is undeniable that Eden was talking about very poor families and what they wore.

Other sources do mention ‘leather stays’– which could be what was meant by a ‘cheap pair of stays’ as they didn’t necessarily need bones (though often did – see Killerton museum’s Collection), but in another account, using a Log book from a poor farming family, John Styles, in his book again, shows the Mother and two of her daughters purchasing silk whalebone Stays!

Ultimately, the point of all of the above is in the realisation that many different classes had a desire and opportunities to wear a pair of Fully Boned Stays.