March 17, 2015

Planning the Bustle Dress of Doom

So, now that the basics of my Victorian undergarments are all in order, its time to get cracking on the dress to go over them! I have the added challenge of designing a dress I like using mostly cotton, as these dresses take up a lot of fabric and I can't afford to buy 12 yards of silk or wool. In an effort to find some historical basis for making an entirely cotton gown, I have been searching through pinterest for examples. The two dresses above are quite adorable and very "summer" but I am looking for something more like an all weather traveling suit-ish design.

1885, American, Cotton and silk, MET
1885, French, Cotton, MET
1885-88, American, Cotton and silk, MET
1885, UK, Printed cotton, V&A
1883, UK, Printed cotton and lace, V&A
I have found several printed cotton dresses, but so far have been unable to find any cotton dresses in a solid color. I'm not sure if I want to use a print, I like the idea of using two solids with a nice patterned trim in the mix. If only I could afford to use silk! Perhaps one day. I do like the idea of making a solid color underskirt that I could make a matching bodice and overskirt for in the same fabric, and then another bodice and overskirt in a print. Two gowns, one underskirt! That's my kind of economical costuming!

 I really like the brown and white gown above, the way the bodice extends like a skirt appeals to me! I bet I could modify my bodice pattern into something similar.
 Speaking of patterns, I have Truly Victorian's 1885 Four-Gore Underskirt and 1883 Tail Bodice on hand to make the underskirt and bodice of my dress. I keep waffling on weather or now to buy an overskirt pattern or to just play around and drape one myself. For now I think I will juts start out by making a solid colored underskirt in cotton sateen, in a dark navy, if I can find it at a good price.
So that is where I'm at with my bustle dress project, to be honest, I was hoping by this time this year I would be done! Oh well, I sew more clothes than costumes these days, that's just the way of things I suppose. Hopefully I will acquire some fabric soon and can get started, I'll show you guys my sketches for the dress in my next progress report!


  1. The brown dress jumps out at me big time. I really like the use of both a matching solid and a damask-y looking pattern in the same late Victorian outfit like this.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. The Victorians certainly didn't shy away from mixing textures and colors! I think I have a plan for what I will end up making, but it is good to know what the Victorian's were up to as a place to start.


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