Clothing Gallery – Stays

Stays, Better known as a ‘Pair of Bodies’

Possibly only the province of the better off, common women stiffening the bodice (‘bodies’) of their petticoats instead (or perhaps wearing a second, or third hand pair?). However, today some of us (including myself) require the extra support they give to maintain the correct silhouette.


High status, red satin stays, Manchester Art Gallery. Presently dated 1620 – 40. Probably worn by Dame Elizabeth Filmer (1570 – 1638) and they are inscribed in ink near the shoulder with an ‘E’. Click on the picture for more details.

Stays from the effigy of Queen Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey. Dated 1603.

Queen Elizabeth I effigy stays laid flat as examined by Janet Arnold. 1603

 – Stays dated 1620-1630. From the Sittingbourne Cache. For details see . Very similar to Effigy stays above. Click on picture to go to a larger image.


The Effigy Corset: A New Look at Elizabethan Corsetry Instructions on how to make the Effigy Corset (Stays) and patterning instructions from Drea Leed.

Custom Corset Pattern Generator Makes a pattern for back laced stays that can be adapted to front laced stays. Not perfect but helps to get the right pattern shape. I find I need too add at least 2″ to the measurements generated if making fully boned stays.

Bodies (stays, corsets) Pattern From the Tudor Tailor. Probably not for those new to sewing or corset making. Seek assistance as stays need to fit properly to be comfortable.

Boning. Unless you wish to use Bents (stiff grass) or hemp cord, the best substitute for whalebone I have found are 4.8mm Cable Ties either 295mm long or 370mm long.

Vena Cava Design Corset and Costume Components All sorts of corsetry goodies!

The Zen of Spiral Lacing. One thing that many re-enactors get wrong is lacing. Stays and bodices of the time were spiral laced, that is a single lace from top to bottom (or vice versa). Here Jennifer Thompson gives clear and easy to follow instructions on eyelet placing, and lacing. Recommended!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s