A "Hello, World!" program generally is a computer program that outputs or displays the message "Hello, World!". Because it is very simple in most programming languages, it is often used to illustrate the basic syntax of a programming language and is often the first program that those learning to code write.

Maybe a generic chemise (still in progress for me) is a better candidate for "Hello World!" of pattern drafting or historical sewing, but come on, right? A chemise is way less exciting than stays! My first stays are still in progress too and it has been months... So let's see what takes so long.
Truth be told, I already made a pretty decent (certainly!) prototype that I took from Patterns of Fashion 5, page 100.

That's a lot of cable ties that are now cut too short for me....

It was not a lot of work to make a simple copy in the same size, and it fits me somehow in the waist, I can even fully lace it, though at that point I am definitely tightlacing. The length of the stays is another story altogether. I don't know where exactly they are supposed to sit but they feel rather short. So, my next step was to alter the pattern to fit my body. Not only because the fit is off in the length, but also because my body doesn't like to cooperate much for it is not very squishable anywhere. I wanted to see if I can make a pattern that fits me better! So, back to POF5. On page 155 there are instructions on how to draft stays, the approach is based on the original practice briefly described on pages 13-15. That was my next step.


I started with seamly2d as usual but I quickly ran into problems mostly because instructions for drafting are not very clear and all my attempts resulted in skirts being very short because there was no space left for them. Given that I am drafting exactly the same stays as the one used as an illustration for the method that was rather annoying. So, I grabbed some paper in hopes that a more tangible medium will help. It didn't, but with few failed attempts I figured that my mistake is probably not lowering the bottom line of the stays in relation to the waistline. The stays actually have a waistline that is lower than the natural waist and during drafting, it has to be shifted down accordingly. Nothing is said about lowering the skirts line, but I guess it is implied.

At the end I got my pattern done but I was not feeling excited. The main problem was that the curve of the waistline is just eyeballed and doesn't reflect perfectly my actual measurements, same for the bust line. That can be very much a historical practice, to try and fail and fail... till one develops a good feeling for all those curves, but my fabric-time continuum can't afford that many holes punched in it. I thought it was time to take a step back and figure out how to make the curves behave.

After a bit of thinking I suddenly realised that the way to go is to model the chest as a truncated cone, then, if I unfold it, I get exactly the curves for bust and waistline. Given how in every book about stays they say that conical chest was in fashion I felt dumb that it took me quite some time to come up with that simple idea. I will spare the math, it is easy to google by keywords such as truncated cone or conical frustum.

Another nice keyword for googling is conical torso, thanks to it I have discovered Sempstress blog, particularly a post about modelling a conical torso block. This is the same idea but realised in paper. As for me I went to seamly2d and drafted a basic block based on 4 cone segments. We need to model 2 curves, one for the bust and one for the waistline, but our bodies are not exactly cones (surprise!) and the curves for back and front sides of waist and bust have different length, so to have a suitable approximation of a real chest we need to model back and front sides separately.

As basic as it gets. Back waistline has to be higher (WR) I just took the difference between front and back waistline and freehanded the WR_W curve.

For a bit more complication the waistline does not only have different curves for back and side, for many people the waistline is higher on the back, so it requires another adjustment. Any boned bodice cut from a pattern without that adjustment will dig in one's back rather uncomfortably. Another way to go would be to maybe tilt the cones appropriately to have them follow lumbar and thoracic curves, but I am not ready for that yet, baby steps!

With this basic pattern, I now have a better foundation for stays, I hope so. I still need to adapt it to an actual stays pattern. As a first step though, I took inspiration from the Sempstress Wench Bodice and made one of my own to check the basic fit. And it fits! The bodice itself is quickly put together, I also inserted 2 pieces of buckram I made with linen and rabbit glue just to see how that works, after all, I'll have to make buckram for stays... and then I forgot to trim it in shoulder straps, so the straps are totally crooked. Well, it is not a piece I want to wear anyway since I have got no ale to serve.

The outer layer was once a modern shirt... Maja is posing like a good model as usual. Please ignore the half-done but most likely abandoned chemise. :-)