Tuesday 25 June 2013

UFO - Transitional wrap stays / jumps / brassiere

It's actually a FO.

Well, more of a working prototype that's terribly patched together, but considering the prototype had been a UFO for a very long time, I feel good checking it off the mental list.
Inspired by the famous Kyoto Costume Institute pair of wraparound brassiere and a brassiere based off it that used to be sold in the online Jane Austen shop (but cannot be located now I found it), which had a back, I tried to make my own transitional undergarment. It was back before I had read up more about corsetry, though. So, stupid yours truly made the pattern from a modern sloper, and just took the ease off unscientifically (as we say in German/English-infested colloquial Czech, "baj voko"). Of course it was not tight enough in the important spots (and I had no idea what the important spots were until I found out they were not tight enough), so a lot of crazy alterations happened, and it took me much longer to make than by rights it should have, because somewhere along the way it got thrown away as a UFO I did not feel up to perfecting at that point.

The imporantly tight / fitting part: the back. I had to shorten the straps first. Darts were added to the back and a panel to prolong it was added (because it rode up when I shortened the straps), again it was not tight enough on the bottom, so a gathering line of stitching was added (now hidden underneath the binding). It's far from perfect.

But in spite of all the trouble and not quite perfect fit, I think it gives me a fairly nice transitional late 18th century / early 19th century silhouette. Compare here. I definitely want to make a finalised pattern, maybe with lacing up the front instead, like folk bodices or some transitional stays I've seen in online collections, and give it another go with a better fit.

Unlike the inspiration pieces, my brassiere is just corded, not boned (with some of the last hemp cord I found at home - ordinary shops no longer carry it here! Horrible. I'm still re-considering what to cord my stays/jumps proper with.) So I guess it would qualify as transitional jumps?

After I took these T-shirt photos, I found out it fit better if I pinned it together in the front centre, as seen in the photos above. So these are not quite as representative of the fit as I originally thought, but still.

For comparison, two photos with a modern day bra, one that goes from normal (first photo) to push-up (second photo). There's not that much difference between the push-up and the jumps / stays, other than the additional bulk (chemise + wrapping stays? Definitely adds bulk) and the smoother, less separated front. (I was wearing a very clingy T-shirt, so it all shows well...)
It wears very differently, though, not that surprisingly. It took me a while to figure out the best way to put it on, but now that I have, I actually find it more pleasant to wear than a bra, maybe because currently all my bras do not quite fit either... I even fell asleep in it, in my not-quite-healthy-yet stupor. It survived nicely and felt much better than falling asleep in a bra. (All those solid metal and plastic parts in bras...)

 I don't know, there's something pleasanter about this look, even if it's just undergarments and a Frankensteined one at that:

Must be the clingy T-shirt as opposed to nice drape-y woven.

Oh, and it's not just a UFO FO-ing project, it's also a scrapbusting, stashbusting project. Namely, the binding. I had to start somewhere.

Just the facts, ma'am:

The Challenge: HSF's #2 UFO + The Stashbusting Sewalong's January Itty Bitty Pieces theme, but finished after the deadline for the former and posted much later due to lack of good photographing weather and laziness on my part.

Fabric: Old cotton damask duvet cover, a plain weave cotton scrap for reinforcing the added back bottom section, plaid cotton twil-weave flanelette scrap of mysterious origins and a beige cotton remnant (namely this one) for the binding.

Pattern: Made by me, very wrong

Year: 1790-1800ish.

Notions: Hemp cord for cording, cotton (or is it linen?) ribbon / tape for ties, white cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? I'd say... about 10%. Totally winged, mostly machine-sewn.

Hours to complete: No idea whatsoever.

First worn: Dabblingly probably in January, but the full, heavy-duty wearing occured this month, at home. Not worn out yet.

Total cost: Most of it was ancient stash = zero cost; the spool of thread was about 40 CZK, I think.


Behind the Scenes: Star Trek Original Series - The Trouble with Tribbles. I've decided that Kuusi is a Tribble in cat form. This photo was taken around the time it was finished. He is bigger now.

My options for cording the stays proper: A twisted cotton cord, too thick and likely to unravel. A thin (baker's twine thickness) linen cord, probably too thin. I have a haunting feeling that I must have got another idea at some point and forgotten it again.
My unfortunate jumps prototype got lucky.

And I really, really want to make this dress one day:

Portrait of Anna Maria Frederike von Taube, lady in waiting to Dorothea von Medem, by Anton Graff, 1780s, currently exhibited in the Rundāle Palace, Latvia. Photo taken by my father and edited out by me. (That dark rectangular shade at the right was the shadow of an infoboard or something.)
Now uploaded to Wikipmedia Commons as well. I asked father to take a photo of it with his better camera because I liked the dress; it turned out to be a painting by a famous author not published anywhere online yet. She is a mystery lady.

I think she's wearing something like jumps. Or could be.


  1. You are very clever! When I saw the photo I thought of Jane Austen even before I read your post. It's lovely. Hana!

    1. Thank you! I kind of tried to sit like a person would sit for a portrait at that time - a bit difficult to achieve with a self-timer, but wearing the clothes helps. :D

  2. What a great post. I didn't know anything about underwear of the past, it's really pretty fascinating. Your brassiere looks amazing too.

    1. Thank you! Well, it's not exactly a historically documented garment, but one that sounds plausible...

  3. That is awesome! In a flashier fabric it would make an excellent outer garment for casual wear too. Denim maybe?

    1. I was thinking the same! Although denim would probably be a bit too thick; the damask I used for this is not as thick. I love the effect of the cording, not to mention it does help with the fit ;-), and that would not work so well with denim, I think.

  4. Lovely clothing! (I like the cat picture, too. :))

    I'm probably missing something obvious, but what is a UFO/FO in this context? Thanks!

    1. UFO usually applies to "UnFinished Object". So you can guess what FO means. :-)
      Thank you!

  5. I think this has an elegant simplicity, for all that it's thrown together underwear ;) I love hearing about other people making things from what they have available, whether that be fabric or pattern or both!

    1. Aww, thank you! I love that, too - it's one of the big reasons why I love your blog (that, and your wonderful sense of humour). I'm a big cheapskate - partly out of necessity (forget the silks, and 20 USD is a staggering sum for a pattern when I can get a whole Burda magazine for about a half, and I buy those on a rate of about one in three years...) and part because it's just way more fun.

  6. Dear Hana,
    So many years I'm uncomfortable with my bras!
    Your solution looks very comfy to me.
    Would you share your pattern?
    It would help me, because I'm able to alter a pattern, but not to construst it by myself.

    1. uups, I didn't want to post as Anonymus

    2. I was going to share the pattern for my sleeveless Regency bodice, which is basically the same pattern minus the wrapping flaps, and then that post got stuck in development hell due to the overall business of life... I'll try to get back to it.
      Mind you, this works best when a) pinned together in the centre, as mentioned; b) worn over a chemise - or a lightweight top that functions as a chemise. I have a sort of gauze tank top (now torn) that I wore with it when I felt like wearing it instead of a bra. And some of a similar fabric that I intend to turn into a replacement of that top one day when other projects are out of the way (yeah, right, she said sarcastically).

  7. I also would love the pattern for this as bras are not my friend and stays don't always work well under modern clothing.

    1. I can share the pattern soonish, I think.
      Ultimately, though, it's a pattern for *my* garment. Grading it to make it usable for a bigger range of people is on the list of things I want to try my hand on because iz's fascinating; but it would once again move the act of sharing from "hopefully soon" to "one day, possibly never". :-)

  8. Did you know that this is now believed to be alate Victorian posture improver? It is meant to be worn upside down to what you do, and the straps go around the arms and to the back.
    That is why it fits so poorly as regency stays.

    1. I do. This is a pretty old post, you may notice. :-)