I cracked the riddle of the princess seam on our Butterick pattern last night. For ages I wondered “Why do they include it at all?” To leave it out would make it much more accurate. Then I realised that this pattern was developed to fit and flatter a 21st century body without corsetry of any kind! It does a very good job of that, too. But 18th century women wore stays all the time. More digging reveals that stays do not, as I thought, make you that much thinner. They do, however redistribute you to a more conical shape. Well, that’s good news for a singer. I wasn’t looking forward to puffing and panting during my songs. Less curvature means the seam in the front isn’t needed, hurrah! Ok, so what do 18th century stays look like then? There are a few good sites on them and some pattern reviews. Here are a couple: How to make a pair of 18th century stays How to make an 18th century corset Ok. These look scary..terrifying in fact. there seems to be all kinds..front lacing, back lacing, strapless..but which is right? Eek! I consult the book again. well they seemed to have all kinds. And why not? Right, well, I don’t have time to draw out a pattern myself, even though there some instructions. I’m going to find a commercial pattern. I remember that I have one, butterick 4484, which I used for our pocket hoop panniers. Now the panniers seem to be reasonably in-period, not to mention practical, so I’ll stick with those. Woudn’t it be fab if the stays were too? Well, as it happens, there is a pattern review on How to make a pair of 18th century stays, it’s for B4254, but my pattern is the same as the front lacing design. Joy of joys, it says it’s ok, with some adjustments. Well if it ain’t broke….