Friday, April 18, 2014

CoutureGRAM: Underbust Stay

I thought I would make it a separate post to highlight the technique, rather than put it as a reply to your comments. You asked about the blue strip that extends from the center front between the bra cups to side seams all the way to center back.

Image: Source
What we see here is an underbust stay. This one I think is made of a max 1cm-wide elastic encased in the same fabric as the dress (you can recognize an elastic by the gathering of the silk casing). It is held in place by at least four thread chains, around the bust cup, close to side seams and in the back, over boning channels. The ends are finished with a hook and eye. This underbust stay may have been sewn ( it is not really recognizable on this image) to the garment where bust cups begin at the center front, about an inch from where they cross.

The purpose of an underbust stay is to ensure a closer fit of the bodice in a strapless dress. It provides additional support to the underwires and creates a cage effect with the vertical boning. Just note how the boning extends over bust points across underwire - this can tend to move away from the body where the underwire is placed. This is, by the way, another reason why spiral steel boning is better than rigilene for example, which is less flexible.

I can imagine this dress had a waist stay as well, but was removed at some point. All in all, quite an interesting construction we are seeing here.

Phew, I don't know how about you, but I love peeking into couture garments. I wish I had an access to a costume museum archive - I would accept any job there, just to have an opportunity to see and touch these garments. Sigh...

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a wonderful sunny weekend to those who don't :) 

P.S.: Thanks a million for your amazing feedback on my patternmaking and fit series. It means a lot to me!

13 comments:

  1. I love seeing things like this. Back in the early sewing days (read: when I made my bombshell dress) I was SO frustrated that my strapless bodice didn't fit perfectly and gaped and showed boob at some angles. Now when I see how much engineering goes into a perfectly fitting strapless bodice, I know why. It's really a feat of garment engineering! I love couture. Such a pure art. It's not about hanger appeal, but rather ensuring the garment looks beautiful ON the body. Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. This is so interesting! The woman who taught me how to sew worked for Christian Dior and said he was a vision, that he was a true designer and engineer. This dress proves that!

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  3. I nominated you for the Sunshine and Shine On award. See my blog for more info.

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