Making 18th Century Stays + Chemise | Simplicity 8162 Review

Friday, April 16, 2021
Sewing 18th Century undergarments using a easy and simple pattern from Simplicity.

Yes, you read the title right, I really did make a pair of 18th-century stays (or corset) and a chemise! 

For the last couple of years, I've been somewhat obsessed with late 18th century fashions and after learning about the Fete De La Nouvelle France festival where people are invited to wear their own 1700s garments I decided to make my own 18th-century gown that would be semi-historically accurate and fun to wear. 

And the best place to start is with the correct undergarments. Specifically, it meant making a pair of 18th centuries stays that would give the correct body shape/style of the era align with an era-appropriate chemise using Simplicity 8162.

 And while they are not perfect, they are super cute and  I'm absolutely proud of them!

Pattern Review of Simplicity 8162 by Plaid and Sugar. Easy 18th Century stays and chemise, for beginners.

I mentioned above Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France which is a 17th and 18th-century festival event held in Quebec City (one of the oldest cities in North America) each summer for a week that I've been dying to go to for years (last years was canceled).  It involves re-enactments of the war and the daily life of the first French settlers in Canada, lots of food and so much more.

And is also one of the reasons I want to make the 18th-century outfit. 

People are greatly encouraged to dress up either as a common villager, a bourgeois, or nobles to further enjoy the event, and learning about this gave me the goal, or final objective, to make the dress that I've always wanted to make. 

related post: sewing my birthday skirt | Burda 9888 review

But before making the gown, I needed to make the undergarments.

I am so glad I was able to get my hands on Simplicity 8162, a pattern design by American Duchess that is perfect for beginners into historical sewing and easy to adapt/change into a more accurate garment if desired. Plus American Duchess has a lot of resources (blog posts and Youtube videos) that can make the whole sewing stays much easier.

But now lets get on with the review!

Making My First Pair of 18th Century Stays (+ Chemise)

the pattern

This American Duchess pattern was made for newbies like me and so the pattern and the instructions are quite simple and easy to understand. 

The first thing I did was make a mockup using cardboard to get a general idea of what it would look like and whether I'd need to make changes.

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

The only changes I made to the stays were that instead of them being half-boned (like the pattern showed) I made them fully boned so that they are stiffer and much more historically accurate, using American Duchess' tips on their where to put boning video

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

This meant drawing dozens of lines or channels that took forever (well two hours) to draw as I didn't have a quilting ruler. But besides that, I made no other changes.

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar
For the boning, I used plastic cable ties from Dollarama (20 for $2) and after cutting them to size I sanded them down and slipped the right into the boning channels which meant that the binding had to be hand sewn which...


Sewing the binding onto the stays took forever. The tabs were a nightmare to bind and there were points where I wanted to chuck it at a wall since it was so challenging to make the twists. 

related post: French Terry Sweater | Burda 6296 review

The first one took like 8 hours but for the second one, I decided to see if I could use my sewing machine, and turns out I was able to sew most of it, minus the tabs, in under an hour while being careful to not sew over the boning.

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar
simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

Also, after sewing the channels, I put in the binding then I staystitched the inside fabric then added the binding. The pattern had a different way of doing this part which was both complicated and totally unnecessary.  

As for the chemise, I had read that it ran large and so I sized down two sizes while cutting the sleeves in my size while fully doing without the ruffles as they were bulky (and somewhat ugly).

One thing that surprised me about this pattern was that it had godets in the sleeves as it was not only super easy to put but it made such a big difference in arm movement. I was able to raise my arms without worries that the arm seam would break. 

the fabric

Last year for a couple of home projects I used upholstery fabric and had quite a lot leftover and since stays are supposed to be supportive and thick, I decided to use those fabrics for the project.

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar
simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

For the main fabric and, I used a blue, yellow, and white floral fabric since it was the prettiest cotton blend material I had. As for the interlining (goes inside) I used an upholstery fabric that was much thicker than the aforementioned one.

The chemise was made out of a plain white cotton loose sheet that I found at Rennaissance (thrift store) for ~$5. The pattern called for 3 meters (!!!) of fabric and since finding good cotton fabric is a) impossible b) expensive and so using thrifted sheets was an amazing and affordable idea. 

related post: Linen Shorts from thrifted fabric 

Plus after cutting the pattern out I realized there was still a huge piece of fabric left which I hope to use to make the bum pad that I forgot to make. 

the final look

As you can see, I chose a bright blue ribbon for lacing and yellow binding that would complement the fabric of the stays which did much better than I expected. Plus I used some leftover ribbon for a chemise, giving it a matching and cute look. 

Reviewing Simplicity 8162, 18th Century undergarments pattern review by Plaid and Sugar

While the stays were uncomfortable at first, like any new garment, after the third time putting them on not only did I learn how to lace them quicker but my body got used to wearing them. 

Not going to lie, I had to learn how to bend and in a certain way as the front tabs would poke if I bent over or if I slouched but at no point was it painful or terribly annoying. Frankly, I liked wearing them. 

The only downside of the stays is that my bust becomes nonexistent and that waist is somehow bigger than without. 

Simplicty 8162 pattern review by Plaid and Sugar. Making 18th century stays and chemise.

I do have a couple of issues with the back tabs as you can see that they refuse to stay apart but it doesn't affect the look of the stays that much. Plus if I ever decide to make another pair (maybe in a couple of years), I'll try to fix that issue plus since it's going to be worn under the dress it is not much of an issue. 

Wearing and making 18th century corset and chemise pattern review of Simplicity 8162

The insides. 

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

simplicity 8162 pattern review, 18th Century corset and chemise by Plaid and Sugar

final thoughts

I still can't get over the fact that I made an 18th-century chemise and stays! 

It's been a dream of mine for years and after following Lauren of Virtuous Courtesan on Instagram for years and seeing her handmade historical masterpieces and seeing other sewists take the plunge on historical sewing I thought why couldn't I?

Plus the annual festival in Quebec City also pushed me further and gave me a goal that I hope I can accomplish (as long as it is not canceled)! 

Reviewing and making simplicity 8162, corset and chemise.

Overall the pattern was beginner-friendly and easy to work work with and I definitely recommend it to all aspiring historical sewists. Along with using bedsheets from the thrift store as it makes the whole thing much more affordable. 

If there are no costuming groups in your area, like mine, there are some amazing Facebook groups filled with historical sewists who are quick to help and can make you feel part of a community. Plus there are countless youtube videos and blog posts that can aid in making a pair of stays.

related post: blue cocktail dress | pattern review

My only issue with the pattern was getting it in the first place. Because Simplicity patterns are no longer sold in Canada so I had to wait until they were on sale on their U.S site and was able to get this one and the sister pattern, Simplicity 8161, for about $12CAD each.  
So if you want to buy Simplicity patterns join their email list and they'll send you an email when they are having their $4.99USD sale. 

As I write this I have started making the skirt and bodice of the robe a l'anglaise, so keep an eye out for that post. If you want to see what I'm currently sewing or any behind-the-scenes peek then make sure to follow my Instagram or Twitter

Have you ever been to a historical (reenactment) event? Would you dress up or make your own garments? 

Til next week

Loren Camila


  1. I am inspired by this, especially after seeing the finished design. Despite it being an undergarment, I love the pretty colors and fabrics you chose, and look forward to seeing the dress!

    Historical clothing has a certain air of elegance and confidence. I have always enjoyed looking at it, but never thought to try my hand at sewing my own attire.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. I'm glad to hear you have been inspired, Jaya! Historical clothing is fascinating, especially the different techniques they used, and while doing it I realized that it is much more challenging than I thought but fun.

      Thank you for your sweet words!

  2. You’ve done an amazing job of making this project and I love how it looks on you! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them!

  3. Oh my goodness, I can't believe you made this either (I don't mean that rudely!), it's amazing, what an achievement. I remember reading somewhere that wearing a corset makes you hold yourself more upright (ie, no slouching) so maybe those fashions weren't all just frilleries after all!

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! Sometimes still I can't believe that I made it also.
      While wearing the stays I noticed quite a difference in posture, slouching was hard since the plastic boning would poke me at waist! So yeah, while it did give the shape of the period it also helped one's posture.

  4. This is brilliant! You did such an amazing job! I love historical fashion and it always impresses me when people create such beautiful pieces - especially corsets and stays. Well done! It looks great on you as well!

    Julia x
    Last Post: Five Ways To Celebrate Spring 🌸🌱

    1. Thank you so much, Julia! Historical costuming is quite hobby I'll see costumer making these amazing gowns/garments and I can't help but be impressed and intimidated by their abilities!

  5. WOW this is impressive for reelz! I can't believe you did this too, I am super impressed it turned out great. Good job!!

    Allie of

    1. Thank you so much, Allie! I was also surprised by how well it turned out, was worried it'd be too small or unwearable 😅

  6. You did an amazing job! I love how it turned out and it looks great on you!

    1. Thank you so much, Lovely! I was so hesitant to see the outcome, but it came out better than expected.

  7. I love the fabric and colour choice, this is so impressive! Great job too, it looks amazing and really suits you 😍

    Anika |

    1. Thank you, Anika, you're too sweet. So glad I chose to use the yellow fabric as the main one rather than the purple, it's way cuter.
      Thank you for reading!

  8. This is such a sweet project! I love the fabric and it looks amazing on you! Great job, I loved the pictures where you show how you made it x

  9. You have done a great job creating this piece. You have taken some great photographs to showcase your piece. Thank you for sharing.


  10. Suas postagens são ótimas, estou seguindo seu blog e curtindo bastante!! Parabéns!

    Meu Blog: Rafaela Montes

  11. You did an amazing job! Super Impressed. Thanks for sharing!

  12. WOW, you are so talented!! Amazing x


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