Elettra Piacentino

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Outline the story …

Entry inspired by Fantine from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Who was Fantine before she gave her life to the little thing that we know as Cosette?!

I imagine a young woman full of love and hope, that scarce in wealth began to learn needlework. To practice her skills she constructed her own garments so she could feel beautiful for herself and for her loved Felix....little she knew what was awaiting her in the future...

These stays are what I imagined Fantine made for herself before Cosette was born.
At different moments we can all find ourselves in different characters of Les Miserable. It is not only the story of some people but it is representative of the internal journey that each of us goes through while living our lives
I started being interested in sewing at the beginning of the pandemic through youtube, later in the summer I started to practice hand sewing. I found myself being particularly interested in historical sewing and undergarments as, I feel, they can be a magnifying lens of how the society changed over time.
When I learnt about this competition I could not help but think at what a young and careless Fantine would wear during the summer of her life...of course I had to start from the undergarments. Next project will be a proper chemise.

Outline the construction…

The short stays pattern was drafted to my measurements following the instructions from


The stays are constructed from cotton fabric (as far as I know) and are hand sewn to attempt a somewhat historically accurate construction.
The stays are made from two layers of cotton and are partially corded. They also have a busk (handmade from pine wood). Setting the gusset was really challenging...After making 8 of them I am still not sure what the best approach to gussets is.
Similarly, I am not convinced two eyelets can look exactly the same. :D
Many Youtube channels helped me to learn how to apply the different techniques needed, while looking at extent garments made me decide what kind of shapes and techniques were in line with the time period.




  1. Avatar Teri Plemel on March 12, 2021 at 1:24 am

    I really like the look of your cording.

  2. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 9:56 am

    The cording and the use of wooden busk is marvellous ! Well done

  3. Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    I’m really impressed by the fact that you handsewn this entire stay. I have to learn from your patience. Congratulation for the great result!

  4. Avatar Amy Sakovich on March 13, 2021 at 12:14 am

    So nice to see Fantine represented! Handsewn stays are such an ambitious project and your stitching and fit look great

  5. Sophia Khan Sophia Khan on March 13, 2021 at 1:04 am

    I’m so impressed by all the hand sewing. Your stays look beautiful.

  6. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 13, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Lovely! I love how you really thought about what the character would have been able to make, it very much brings Fontane to life!

  7. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:35 am

    Beautiful short stays! I love your dedication to the handcrafting, right down to the busk.

  8. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 4:55 am

    The color choice is practical and I think she would have worn the color. I like short stays and yours are constructed beautifully! Thank you!

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