Sunday, April 17, 2011

bustle overskirt, v.1.0

For my train dress, I am using several images from my 1883 Peterson's magazine for inspiration.  This fashion plate is probably the closest to what I want for the shape, but with a plaid skirt and solid bodice like you see here.  I could probably just drape something that looks similar, but I thought it would be fun to use one of the 19th c. patterns in Francis Grimble's "Fashions of the Gilded Age".  

I thought the Sateen Dress from 1880 might do the trick, so I made it up exactly as the pattern shows.  But as usual with these period diagrams, the illustration and the actual results don't always match up very well. 

My main complaint is that the front of the skirt is so much longer than what you see in the picture.  Having petticoats and an underskirt to fill out the bottom would help this a little, but it still seems too long to me, and I really wish the folds across the front would be more distinct.  The slightly asymmetrical  bustling in the back also bugs me.  I know it is "right", but I can't help thinking that it just looks like I have a lopsided butt.  

But it's still a good start, and I think these problems are easily fixed.  I'm going to redo the front with much deeper pleats, which should take up the length and make the folds more obvious.  And for the back, I think I'll make both sides match, and I'll add a pleat in the center back at the bottom to make the tail into two points (like my inspiration pic) instead of the squared off look.  

And let me tell you - I'm so glad I basted this thing for the fitting instead of just sewing it up on the machine while hoping for the best (like I usually do)!  I guess I am capable of learning from past mistakes after all.  :)


Jenni said...

I've always wanted to try making one of these. I can't wait to see how yours turns out.

Kat said...

Hmm... I've always thought that the over skirt was just a drape, not a full skirt gathered over. You said something on lj about the pleated skirt? My thought would be that it'd either be pleated into a yoke, or just pleated into the waistband, with the pleats tacked to, say, a length of twill tape on the inside to keep them in place... Let me check something in the morning, tho.

Jen Thompson said...

Thanks for your input, Kat! The description of the skirt from "Gilded Age" does give a few clues about construction. The overskirt is definitely a separate skirt. It is very clear about that... but you are right, other skirts from this period might just have a drape, so it varies. The pattern also says "set the overskirt and skirt together on a double waistband. Sew the under edge of the front of the overskirt on the skirt, above the flounce". I think the skirt in the pattern has a foundation skirt (because of the lower ruffles), but the skirts with the floor-length pleats are less obvious.

Katherine C-G said...

The spotty dress overskirt was a full 2 or 3 inches shorter over the skirt/petticoat/corset than it was on the dressform or just on me with just the skirt. I was rather surprised with the difference!

Of course, it's a much looser drape and different shape than yours, but I just think you're smart to guess things under the skirt will change it, and I wanted to help confirm your suspicions :)

Dulantha said...

Ladies fashions in 1980s are better than the fashions at present.

Lisa and Robin said...

I was browsing the interwebs and saw this. I made the Truly Victorian polonaise out of the same fabric! Isn't it awesome? Check mine out at

I love your work.

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