Carrow House

blublue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlaced


Record Number
NWHCM: 1897.35

Dated 1725-1775

Stays with a high back and low pointed front. Front and side panels constructed from brocaded blue silk, and the back of pale gold silk damask. The fabric has been pieced to fit, stiffened by closely set vertical strips whalebone giving the stays their rigid shape. While stays were a practical garment and unseen the extremely fine rows of stitching that follow the panel seams  emphasise the craftsmanship of the garment. The stays are lined with beige wool flannel cut in 3 pieces.  The stays are bound with narrow linen braid  and trimmed with cream silk braid over panel seams. The stays fasten with 16 pairs of eyelet down the back. When worn the shaped tabs at the bottom of the stays would splay out over the hips.

blublue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlacedblue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlaced blue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlaced blue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlacedblue silk stays 1725- 1775 - Laced Unlaced



Record Number
NWHCM: 1967.567.37

Dated 1870-1879

This spoon busked corset is constructed using alternative panels of maroon and mushroom cotton twill. The corset is stiffened with corded panels used vertically in the front sections over the bust and horizontally over the hips. Cording was a popular method often used in addition and as an alternative to whalebone. Cording was the application of sandwiching twisted cord (usually hemp, cotton or paper) between two layers of fabric. As the cords were inserted they were stitched in place on either side. Once the cloth was constructed the shaped panels could be cut. Depending on how the panels were cut the direction of the cording could be controlled. As in the case of this example cording was also viewed as a design detail. The corded panels provided suppleness to the gament whilst still controlling the wearer’s figure.

16. Laced Unlaced - 0100

The corset is boned in chanels of 3. The front section of boning finishes at the corded panel whereas the side of the corset features an external chanel running from top to bottom which breaks up the corded sections. The corset is trimmed with lace at the upper edge and also heavily decorated with contrast thread flossing over the bone casings at both top and bottom. It can also be seen over the corded bust panel. The bottom edge is machine bound. The centre back of the corset features 12 pairs of brass eyelets evenly spaced for the lacing.16. Laced Unlaced - 010216. Laced Unlaced - 0105

The spoon busk used at the centre front comprises of two parts and features 4 hook and eye closures. The design was distinctively wider at the lower edge and dished inward, going over the abdomen. The theory was the cupped metal shape would offer firm support md protection for the wearer’s lower organs.
The spoon busk was patented by Joseph Bekel in 1879 although there are plenty of early examples from the 1870’s featuring this innovation. With the combination of the cording and boning with the spoon busk made the corset heavier and a more restrictive garment. The spoon busk was a popular feature in corsets until the late 1890’s.


Spoon busk patent

Corset-Steel. No. 214,352. Patented April I5, 1879.







Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 214,352, dated April 15, 1879 application filed March 14, 1879.

To all whom it may concern:

“Be it known thar I, JOSEPH BECKEL, of the city, county, and State of New York, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Corset-Steels, of which the following is a specification.

Figure 1 represents the outer side of a set of corset-steels to which my improvement has been applied. Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the inner side of the same. Fig. 3 is a detail section of the same, taken through the line as m, Fig. l.

The object of this invention is to furnish steels for long corsets which shall be so constructed as to prevent their lower ends from hurting their wearers when the said wearers are sitting down.

The invention consists in steels for long corsets, having their lower ends bent inward, and provided upon their inner sides with pads, as hereinafter fully described.

Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts.

A B represent a set of corsetsteels, which are secured to each other by loops 0 and pins or knobs D, in the usual way. The lower ends of the steels A B are bent inward slightly, and have pads E attached to their inner sides, as shown in Figs. 2 and 3.

By this construction the pads E will prevent the lower ends of the steels A B from hurting the wearer when she sits down. With this construction long corsets can be worn with ease and com fort, so that the advantages from their use can be had without the annoyance hitherto experienced by their wearers when sitting down.

Having thus described my invention, I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent- Steels A B for long corsets, having their lower ends bent inward, and provided upon their inner sides with pads E, substantially as herein shown and described.”



Doyle, R (1997) Waisted efforts- An illustrated guide to corsetry. Sartorial Press Publications. Ontario, Canada

Corset-Steel. No. 214,352.  Patented April I5, 1879.

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Record Number
NWHCM: 1966.259

Dated 1600-1699
These back lacing Stays of heavy leather with stomacher front are constructed from 3 main pieces joined by Streatley stitching*. The front section of the stays is very wide at the top featuring a square neckline and tapers down at the waist. The leather at the front is covered with green fustian* and bordered by panels of brown wool. The top edges are covered with linen tape. The stays have 10 pairs of stamped and pressed eyelet holes impersonating hand worked eyelets. Scoring on the leather is used to represent stitching down the centre back. There are eyelet holes along the upper edge so that shoulder straps could be attached. Tabs at the lower edge would splay out over skirts. 


FRONT: Green fustain covered leather stays

The term Fustian is derived from Al-Fusṭāṭ, suburb of Cairo in Ad 200, where textiles were manufactured. It eventually spread to Europe where there were guilds of fustain weavers by the 13th Century. According to Wilhelmsen, fustian is the oldest cotton  fabric mentioned in English.

Fustian belongs to a wide group of fabrics that are characterized by their piled surface including moleskin, velveteen and corduroy. Fustain is also a subset within that group of fabrics in which the pile is produced by weaving two sets of cotton wefts or fillings, on a linen warp.

‘In all fustians one of the sets of filling yarns is made up of floats (yarns that skip over two or more adjacent warp yarns). When a pile fabric is desired, the weft floats must be cut, a process originally performed by hand with a fustian knife but now done mechanically. The pile is brushed, sheared, and singed, and finally the fabric is bleached and dyed’


SIDE: Panels joined by Streatley stitch

Streatley stitch used to join the stays panels is typically classed as a Glover’s stitch and can be described as being a combination of a backstitch and overcast stitch butting two pieces together. ‘It is made by passing the needle twice through the same hole’. The thread must be kept behind the needle (right hand side) at the second stitch. it makes the horizontal stitch and then the diagonal as it passes the thread on to the next horizontal. (Edwards) The stitch has a characteristic pattern of Z shapes on one side and x shapes on the other.

BACK: Leather scored vertically to imitate stitching

BACK: Leather scored vertically to imitate stitching


EDITORS (2014)

EDITORS (UNKNOWN) Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton,


EDWARDS, I (1929) Practical glove making. Pitman publishing Corporation. New York


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