I kept the design pretty basic as I needed something I could actually finish in about six weeks. Below is the fashion plate I used for inspiration. It’s Plate 4 – May/June 1871 from the Dover book Full-Color Victorian Fashions 1870-1893.
Now, I don’t know *how* I chose fabrics that don’t photograph well at all or what, but here they are in raw form….
The purple is very dark grape color with tiny, black line flowers printed on top. This 100% cotton is gorgeous in person. The bodice and overskirt were made from a cream cotton with dark purple and green flower accents.
I also found a heavy polyester satin (yes, I know…) green that matched *perfectly* to use as the skirt sash and bands on the sleeve hem and around the neckline. The bodice design evolved as I went through the project (don’t they all?) and that’s how I ended up with the green as flat trim.
Oh, and don’t knock the poly as it was affordable and found at my local JoAnn’s store where the cottons (and linen underlining fabric) were purchased as well.
Patterns used were all Truly Victorian ones:
The underskirt was cut as is (but shortened 2″) and has a 2.5″ purchased hem facing to finish. I remembered to add a side seam pocket too. 🙂 This dress is “nearly completed” as I still have three rows of ruffles to sew along the lower part of the skirt.
Following the fashion plate, I shortened the overskirt pattern considerably, rounding the apron front hem line too. The hems were simply rolled under twice and machine topstitched.
I love how the sash looks like it’s holding the skirt pouf in place. I had to play around with it to look like the fashion plate, taking measurements of the puffed up skirt while on my dress form. The sides hanging straight were a variation of the Victorian bow method.
The bodice was pretty straightforward from the pattern, although I did leave off the peplum and added a simple ruffle. It is 4″ wide finished and 1.5 x the bodice waist measurement. The seam allowances are covered on the inside with bias tape as is period correct. I also cut the neckline into a V (obviously).
The inside is boned on the darts and side seam with 1/4″ flat white spring steel bones. The side back seams have spiral steel bones on them. Boning helps keep the bodice in place and smooth over your corset.
The buttons are etched plastic (also from JoAnn’s) but the green is such a close match even I was surprised at the find. The very top of the bodice under the green satin band is closed with a hook and thread loop. Although, my thread bar turned out too big on first wearing, so I’ll be replacing it with a smaller size.
Also out of the green satin I made a belt by covering a strip of belting and closing it with a simple skirt hook and bar.
The hat was a REALLY quick, 3-hour project started at 9pm before the event.
The whole ensemble is worn over a chemise, drawers, corset, and the TV101 Petticoat Bustle. That’s it!
My only regret learning moment was that I flatlined the underskirt with cotton muslin and it ended up as a really heavy skirt. The cotton itself was sturdy enough on its own that it didn’t need to be underlined. We are all learning with each project!!
Have you made a bustle dress recently? How did you like it?