Fire and Ash



Ashley Nicholson

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

I have created a design for the character Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Carton is a man who thinks himself a burden, and finds comfort in sadness. In a brief and uncharacteristically passionate display, he confesses his love to a woman who is kind but promised to another. In his confession he says - "I ... wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire- a fire, however, inseparable in its nature from myself, quickening nothing, lighting nothing, doing no service, idly burning away."

With this quote in mind, I created a stomacher decorated in a way to represent flames, and a pair of stays in black and white to represent the ashes. When I think of Sydney Carton, he is dispassionate and simple on the outside, with a flaming passion on the inside. Thus I chose a lining with a flame pattern to accompany the simple exterior.

I had a lot of ideas for what garment to make to represent Sydney Carton, and eventually settled on stays. A Tale of Two Cities takes place during the French Revolution, so even though my comfort zone is gathered petticoats, I though I would really stretch myself to make a garment that somewhat evokes the time period that story takes place in

Outline the construction…

Most of the materials used in these stays were fabric scraps purchased from Joann Fabrics. I used store bought bias tape for the binding, and cheap amazon eyelets. I bought really nice eyelets from an etsy seller, but ended up not being able to use the tool I had purchased, because it was the wrong size. I went with the eyelets that came with the setting tool instead, and it worked out great!

As for challenges, this project was a huge jump from the other items I have made. Everything in this project except sewing seams was a new skill for me. In my mockup, I had difficulty making straight boning channels. I did not mock up the binding, and to me, that was the hardest part of the entire project. If I could do this again I would mock up the binding. I ended up hand sewing the binding on the bottom, and machine sewing part of the top, and hand stitching the rest.

I used the Red Threaded 1780's Stays pattern which fit well, and had really clear and easy to understand directions. There were definitely steps I missed and had to back track on, but overall I found it a very friendly pattern.

There was lots of information available within Foundations Revealed regarding stays and their construction that I was able to read through, as well as questions asked by others in the facebook group that I was able to use for myself as well.




  1. Avatar Bethany Rush on March 11, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    This is such a visually striking piece and honestly I think is just gorgeously done!

  2. Avatar marion Emerson on March 11, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Bravo! I love it and am inspired to try it myself!

    • Avatar Lisa Gallagher on March 12, 2021 at 12:31 am

      Clever, and really gorgeous!

  3. Avatar Lindsey on March 12, 2021 at 2:13 am

    The stomacher is *Fire Emoji*, so good!

  4. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 9:58 am

    I LOVE this! the lining is just SO cool. this is *fire* 😀

  5. Avatar Leora Wambach on March 12, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    What an awesome idea! I love your creativity; I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future!

  6. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    What a beautiful fit. And I love the way you incorporated the fire theme in such a subtle way.

  7. Avatar Manon L'Hostis on March 13, 2021 at 9:58 am

    This stomacher is wonderful !! And the matching lining, WOW.

  8. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 13, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    Really good job, these stays came together so well!

  9. Avatar Camille on March 14, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Oh i love that idea of texture ! that’s very bold 😀

  10. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:37 am

    Oh, my goodness, that fabric manipulation! <3 <3 <3 Excellent work, from concept to finish.

  11. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 4:56 am

    WHOA! Stunningly beautiful! You belong the ADVANCED section. Such elegant use of fabric! Thank you!

  12. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 23, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    This is gorgeous! I love the way you convey your character’s innermost feelings through this design, it is so creative and eye-catching! The shape of the stays is lovely, and the flame texture on the stomacher is just perfect! Well done for tackling such a challenging design, you killed it!

  13. Avatar Benigna on March 25, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    This looks amazing. I really like the fabric you used on the inside, like a secret extra.

  14. Avatar Bianca on March 29, 2021 at 4:39 am

    Whoa, this is so inspired. I love your explanation of the garment and the work it was inspired by. Rock on!

  15. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 29, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    This is so cool! I love how the lacing keeps the stomacher fire “contained” 🙂 Well done!! 👏

  16. Avatar Nina Martin on March 29, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    This is such an inventive idea! Beautifully done!

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