Technically. At least some of them.
This is, sort of, a follow up on my last post, and sort of a follow up on an older one that preceded it. A while ago I posted about this 1840s corset from the Met Museum, and how, when
I broke it down to pattern pieces and looked at the grainlines, it
reminded me of J.S. Bernhardt's Fig. F pattern.
Corset, American or European, 1839-1841, silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ID: C.I.38.23.10b-d
Nevermind Fig. F; look at Fig. B!
Compare Fig. B to my rough draft of the Met corset:
Divide the back pieces of Fig. B differently - cut at the "i" hip gusset slit that's closer to the front and incorporate the gusset itself into the back piece (notice that that particular spot lies around the underarm line both in Bernhardt's draft and mine!) - and change the remaining tabs into a large hip-hugging gusset; raise it over the bust a bit... You've got yourself a mid-19th century corset!
Of course the pattern pieces are tilted slightly differently in my rough draft, because I wasn't drafting it on a conical plane. And in fact, I think the grainlines are the main difference between Bernhardt and the later corset - Bernhardt, or at least Sabine according to him, lays it out with the centre back on the grain and everything else fanning out from there, with the centre front almost on true bias. The 1840s corset also has the centre back on grain, but the tilt of centre front is more akin to its tilt on the draft itself, as if you left the draft as is and just rotated the back pieces so that they are on grain...
On the other hand, though, if we consider Bernhardt-style stays as a precursor, it suddenly makes a lot of sense why a lot of Victorian corsets cut the side pieces tilted, on bias! Which otherwise comes rather out of nowhere if you're instead looking at them as a direct descendant of straight-cut Regency stays.
Fairly randomly chosen 1878 US corset patent from haabet.dk
All in all, it's fairly clear to me that if I started out with a conical block a la Bernhardt, it would actually be way easier to get exactly the results I need for this particular style - I would have far less counter-intuitive places to do subtracting of empty spaces in. The conical draft already wraps around the body the way you want it to and accounts for its non-rectangular nature; you just cut it up into sections where you need to and take it in so that it really hugs the body and supports the bust. Does that make sense?
It's a quick and dirty draft and I forgot a couple things, like taking it in in the back. But you get the idea. One day I'll do it properly; it's pretty clear to me now that I will have to. :D
A teeny tiny detail, but even the fact the hip gusset is cut on bias now falls into place for me - it seems many late 18th century stays cut them that way.
Ergo: Victorian corsets are still conical stays!
But that's not all! There's another fun image to support my working theory!
The working theory is that professional staymakers continued cutting things the way they knew, and just kept gradually updating the styles. That the straight-cut gussetted columnal stays we think of as Regency stays, that we think of as the direct precursor to Victorian corsets, are, in fact... well, not an evolutionary dead end, I think they may well have contributed something. But it seems to me it makes a lot more sense if they contributed less than we think. I think that the picture will be more complete if we think of it as Victorian corsets having at least two ancestors, not just one. That all the experimentation of the long Regency era resulted in the subsequent designs picking up features from all over the place.
Which brings me to the aforementioned another image. This is a detail from a satirical print from 1823:
Well, if that doesn't look a lot like what we consider to be 1790s transitional stays. In the 1820s! (And the picture can't be much older than its publishing date, what with her hairstyle, puffy chemise sleeves, and the dress to the left of her that I cut out from my selective image.)
I see two not immediately striking but I think very important differences in the image, compared to "transitional stays" like these:
One, the pronounced curve of her busk - really quite similar to the 1840s corset, especially in how it curves over the stomach instead of the more or less straight belly line of 18th century stays.
Two, the fact the bust cups do not look gathered but smooth.
Somewhat like these:
I am currently aware of three 19th century corsets / stays with smooth cups of this sort - the Glasgow example above stands out among them by having seamed cups (really they seem quite similar to a modern bra), likely to accommodate a larger bust. Three still isn't much, but it already is more than the one I knew of years ago, and goes to show that this was, in fact, a Thing. The third one is in the Czech National Museum, was featured in Stays, or a Corset?, and unfortunately has no online presence that I know of. It also has fully corded cups, in a diagonal pattern that I am tempted to say I am seeing in the Heath print, but I think what's actually happening in the print is simply shading.
The three extants are all, more or less, stays of the columnal style, so seeing it done on the conical plane in this picture is super-interesting. And it supports my theory that there was a lot of experimentation and variety going on in the first half of the 19th century, the styles were by no means set in stone, and they did not necessarily conform to our modern ideas of what was happening when.
A pattern for the stays in the print could basically be achieved by combining Bernhardt's Fig. B/Fig. D with the bust cutouts of his Fig. C - although, based on comparison to the pattern draft of the stays from the Czech National Museum, you should probably make the cutouts a bit narrower and deeper - there needs to be a busk in the centre front going all the way up, and since there are bust cups in the cutouts, the bottom should likely reach the bottom of the gusset slit: