Every time a photo of this dress pops up somewhere I get requests for how I made it… you know, all the details like what patterns did I use, what are my fabrics, how much time, etc.
Without further delay, here is how I developed this pink bubble gum confection to wear at my first Steampunk event (Gaslight Gathering in San Diego) in May 2011. (Yes, I did say Steampunk!)
After I was confirmed to be on a couple of panels for the event I decided I needed a new bustle dress (of course, right?). This gave me about a month to get the dress done.
Being on a budget I pulled from my stash 7 yards of bubble gum pink silk taffeta that turned out TOO pink when I was buying silk for my 1876 Wedding Cake Evening Gown. Perfect for a new dress now!
To keep things relatively simple and quick I decided on the Truly Victorian 261 Underskirt with the TV374 Bordered Asymmetrical Overskirt. The bodice was made from the TV463 French Vest Bodice (which I have issues with – see below).
The underskirt was cut from a heavy quilting cotton from JoAnn Fabrics in a diamond print pattern. It was made up with the extra poufing in the back (using this method) as I wanted to have the ability to wear the skirt with other coordinating pieces or wear alone. I did not flatline either of the skirts.
The hem was finished with a simple 1″ knife pleated trim inserted between the skirt and the 2″ hem facing. I took a strip of the taffeta cut on the cross of the fabric then folded in half lengthwise. I set the pleats at 1″ wide. Knife pleats take about 3 times the length of fabric you need.
I’m not a fan of this taffeta. It was so tightly woven it hurt like mad to simply pin seams. And the overskirt has large, deep pleats at the back. Oy!
To finish the look I machine sewed on a tiny 5/8″ wide white trim to highlight the edges. Even though the pattern is designed for a border print/pattern it makes up nicely even in a solid. I wouldn’t make it again in a solid without adding trim to the edges though.
The pattern is given as a rectangle guide that you then have to extend your cut line to cut the full piece. It was large enough to demand my floor space to do this. The instructions aren’t confusing, per se, but I did have to figure out how the pleats “butterflied” out the back. That took more time than I wanted. But the silk nicely helps keep the poufy silhouette.
For the bodice I pretty much cut the pattern as is including the back tail pleats that I love. (Such fabulous little waves that sit upon your bustle!)
The “vest” part was cut of the skirt diamond cotton and edged in the same white trim from the overskirt. I was lucky to find such wonderful matching square buttons at JoAnn’s that I sewed on in diamond alignment. They are plastic but might pass for glass if I don’t say anything (Shh! Don’t tell!)
The cuff treatment was simply a wide bias strip lightly gathered to the end of the sleeve and finished with a 1″ bias band. It didn’t sit exactly like I’d wanted it to. I think it’s the stiff cotton.
It wasn’t until after I finished the bodice and saw photos of myself that I noticed the way the vest front was styled. It’s actually HORRIBLE for someone with a full bust. The design, although based quite well on 1880s fashion, starts at the neckline too close to the center front then angles out to the apex then back down towards the center front hem.
The line moving out to the apex highlights the wide Tracks of Land some women have. This is unfortunate. For my next 1880s dress I altered that vest seam line to something more flattering.
On a similar note, I’ve spoken with Heather at TV and she has released a new bodice pattern with a more pleasing vest front design. (Yay for new patterns!)
The dress has only been worn a couple of times. I think it needs to come out again as it really is delightful. Especially with the pointed French hat. 🙂