March 25, 2015

Bustle Dress Design Round 2

 Since the last time I spoke about my bustle dress plans, I have had to change my design direction a bit. Due to budget constraints (aka, spending too much on vintage straw hats recently instead of saving money for costuming!) I have the additional challenge of finding the most inexpensive (but not horrible) fabric possible for this costume. I don't want to sacrifice either authenticity or style to achieve this end and I think I had found a solution, and that solution is cotton sari fabric.

Seeing as imported cottons from India were a big deal in the 19th century, I don't think it would be too far fetched to have a bustle gown made out of sari fabric. It is much easier for me to order serious quantities of fabric at a much lower price from India than anywhere else I have found online. I have my eye on a dark navy blue cotton with a small scale all over floral print in white. I think navy and white is a good period correct color scheme, even though the dress will now lean a bit more "seaside", rather than "train travel" as I had originally planned.

 Below we have my original sketch, done when I was still planning on finding nice solid cotton sateens to make the dress. The sketch on the right is split down the middle into two designs. The design on the left side is the original idea, I was planning on doing it in tan and navy cotton. The right side of the sketch shows the new color scheme with the navy and white cotton as the main fabric of the bodice and overskirt with solid white cotton for the collar and trimmings. I would pair it all with a white petticoat with a double layer of pleated trim. The second sketch on the right is a side view of the basic design.

I would use the excellent border design on the sari fabric for the "vest" part of the bodice, the cuffs on the sleeves, and the hem of the back waterfall overskirt. If I have enough fabric to piece together some ribbon-ish trim to add to the pleats on the under-skirt I will use the sari fabric, if not I'll use a matching navy blue cotton. 

I am growing more and more happy with this design! Although different from my original plan, and much more suited to summer, I think it will turn out really fun! I am already dreaming of a Batternburg lace parasol and some fine ivory crochet mitts as accessories with this dress! I hope to order the fabric this week and then get started as soon as the fabric arrives from far away India. Which could take a while, but for the savings, will be well worth the wait!


  1. It's looking marvelous!!! I especially like the double rows of trim on the bottom. Few things say mid to late Victorian fashion like a generous helping of trim on a skirt. :)

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks Jessica! I can't wait to actually get started on the gown, pleats upon pleats please!


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