1880s Striped Bustle Dress

11 May



This is my favorite costume I’ve made so far! It wasn’t without challenges, but overall I’m really happy how it turned out. The bodice and skirt are Truly Victorian “1884 French Vest Bodice” (TV463) and “1889 Draped Skirt” (TV290). I have just enough fabric to add a ruffle to the bottom of a petticoat/underskirt (made in plain ivory) so I may do that for next time and bustle up the  existing skirt into an overskirt. I think the draped skirt needs a bit more structure in the back to “kick out” the back a bit in order for it to work as a skirt on it’s own.

The bodice itself required quite a bit of fitting adjustments to work on me. I always have an issue with TV patterns and shoulder width. It seems that the patterns are drafted to fit linebacker shoulders and I always have to chop off 3″ from each shoulder in order to get it even close to where my shoulder crease is. I do appreciate that TV has instructions for using different sizes for the back pieces vs the front, but it doesn’t solve all my issues with a small back/narrow shoulders/large bust combo. Following the instructions, I chose a back size and then the “adjusted front” size which put me using the largest size in the front, but when I tried on my mock-up, the front was nowhere near closing across my bustline. The back fit pretty well, but I ended up adding width to the side pieces. I considered doing a FBA, but decided to try an easy fix to see if it would work and it did! The other fitting issue is with the pesky “armpit crease” that happens when trying to fit a large bust without a side dart. With the mockup on, I pinched a dart as if I were going to make one into the armhole and marked it. I then “swung” it to the bottom of the bodice and redistributed it to the vest seam as well as two darts (the pattern only has one). This resulted in the best fitting bodice I have ever made (so exciting!). One other thing that helped was using the the neckline and shoulder seams on the back bodice size and not the front.

The next hurdle was the sleeves. I have a bad habit of not doing sleeve mockups. One day I will learn… I did cut out a sleeve and fit it to my arm, but I did it without sewing it into the bodice mockup. The result was a sleeve that fit but was inordinately poofy. Poofy 1890s sleeves is not a look I was going for in my 1880s dress, so I cut down the sleeve head drastically and still had to use gathers to get it to fit into the armhole. I think I may have cut down the sleeve head slightly too much, but that’s something I can fix next time as well as moving the front armhole in slightly. Overall, this was quite a success and not bad for a 3-day sewing spree complete with torrential rain and tornado warnings.


Top Row: Shows how I rotated the pinched out armhole dart into the body of the bodice.           Bottom Row: The fitting after the dart rotation. Added two darts plus removed some of the width in the vest seam. Last photo shows final bodice piece under the pattern in photo 3.

Things I would change for next time:

  • Shorten the upper back pieces to try and eliminate the horizontal wrinkles out. Boning would probably help with that as well. I ran out of time to do that for this one.
  • Rework the sleeve head
  • cut front of armhole another inch larger
  • trim the underlining fabric to stitch line to reduce bulk at hem and placket.

Dear Pinterest, I think it’s time to break up…

3 Apr

We started off so well. I was exactly the kind of person you were looking for and vice versa. I loved being able to save any image from the web or my computer and since then I’ve amassed quite a volume of research, but that’s the problem. It’s MY research and I’m completely dependent on your platform. At first we were quite the happy little community of individuals pinning away and sharing ideas. Then a feature called “suggested pins” was introduced and I admit, it was a little weird seeing pins from people I didn’t choose to follow, but for the most part they were related to what I normally pin anyway so I got used to it. However, things have taken a nosedive and I no longer feel like I’m part of a community. The ethos of Pinterest is no longer about sharing information between like-minded individuals but has turned into just another platform for marketers. I was a bit peeved when ads started showing up masquerading as “pins” showing the latest skinny models in spandex athletic wear, something I have never pinned in my 3 years on this site, but the final straw is the click-bait ads showing wrinkled faces touting some “miracle product” that only “celebrities know about”.

You didn’t have to go this route. If you needed money to survive, I would have gladly paid a yearly fee akin to Evernote to keep things more personal. Maybe then I would have felt like I had more say in the direction you ended up going. You had the potential to be more than just pretty pictures; you could have been an even better resource for researchers but I guess it’s true that “money talks” and you just couldn’t resist.

So here I am: 3 years, 107 boards, 7,000+ pins, and 1,000+ followers later. The magic is gone and I no longer trust you with my data. Don’t take it personally (actually, please do), but I’m seeing other websites/applications. I’ve already saved all my data as a html file using Pinback and am trying out Dropmark because it allowed me to upload all that data I’ve been dependent on you to keep safe. While it doesn’t quite have the social media aspect to it, I can add tags to better find things in the future. Also, when I sent an email to them, I got a response within 15 minutes.

I think this could be the start of something beautiful…


In case anyone is interested, here’s my profile so far:


While I haven’t fully explored everything, you can subscribe to people via RSS feeds, comment on other people’s “pins” and other things. Check out their blog for more info: http://www.dropmark.com/blog/ They seem very receptive to suggestions as well, so it has the potential to have even more things added in the future.

Project: Empress Josephine Ballgown

30 Mar

Once again, grad school has taken all my time and while I had planned a ballgown to wear to a recent costuming event, I just didn’t have the time to make it without fearing I would lose my mind. However, there is an actual Regency Ball coming up in June which gives me another chance! I am so excited about this ballgown and I can’t wait to start it. I don’t want this to be haphazardly put together, so I hope to start it soon to give myself time to do it well because this material deserves it.

My inspiration is Empress Josephine. I’m not recreating an exact dress, but I do have jewelry that is a passable reproduction to the pearls she wears in many portraits, including this one.

Victor Viger du Vigneau, L'Impératrice Joséphine, Rueil-Malmaison, musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau

Victor Viger du Vigneau, L’Impératrice Joséphine, Rueil-Malmaison, musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau

Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been collecting:


I would never wear this much gold and bling in real life, but that’s the beauty of costuming. I feel like in this case, it’s okay to be a little over-the-top. The base dress taffeta is a gold/ivory shot and the rose and gold stripe organza will be the sheer overdress. The other gold organza is for trimming as well as the lace panels for the bottom part of the sheer overdress. I’m hoping to figure out a standing lace collar out of the smaller pointed lace, but we’ll see how that goes. Lots of starch??? I was able to find some gold flats on ebay that will pass for Regency once I trim them and then there’s the ivory kid leather I ordered to make above-elbow gloves… so you can see that I have my work cut out for me. Here’s hoping I can get it all together and fulfill the vision that’s in my head!

Custom 3D Printed Dress Forms!

25 Jan

Every since the advent of personal 3D printers I’ve been anticipating the day I could scan my body and print a dress form. A shop in DC has started doing this and is considering expanding scanning stations if there is enough interest, so please contact them if you would like to see one near you. http://www.bitsofthread.com/classes/dittoforms-our-3d-body-scan-dressforms/IMG_1875

Redthreaded Corset Review

17 Jan

I know I should make my own corsets. I have supplies to make my own corsets. The problem is I have limited time to even make costumes, much less corsets! Up until recently, I have tried a number of RTW Victorian-style corsets and the best ones that work for my figure are underbust because the overbust ones do not have enough room and so when I sit, the “girls” are up around my chin. This is not a good look, not to mention it’s really not period. Because of this, unless it was Regency or Georgian, I was stuck making whatever would work with an underbust style.

Last year I stumbled across Redthreaded’s etsy shop and ordered some Georgian stays which turned out very well and when she opened up a special pre-order price for a Victorian style I thought I’d take a risk and try one. I am so glad I did. I don’t know how she did it, but I can actually sit down in this corset without feeling like I can rest a plate on top of my cleavage. It also has enough hip room so I can breathe while sitting down. I’d still love to make a corset at some point, but goodness, having one that at least fits just opened up a whole costuming world for me.

This is a single-layer, but has extra boning because of the larger size. There are also 4 grommets close together at the waist in the back so the lacing feels very secure. It’s certainly not for tight-lacing, but I’m comfortable with a 3″ reduction at the moment. It’s not the curviest corset and I kinda wish it was a little longer in the lower half, but it is an excellent basic.

IMG_7892 IMG_7893 IMG_7894

1898 Walking Suit

16 Jan IMG_1528

I’ve finally finished a costume AND I’m blogging about it! It’s a miracle. A big thank you to my mom for taking iPhone photos of me before I left for a museum trip with the costumer’s guild. The place was PACKED, but it was nice to see some familiar Impressionist works from the d’Orsay Museum in Paris. I had the pleasure of seeing them in Paris several years ago, but they are worth seeing again.

This outfit began as a possibility for a Christmas outing with the guild but I had my doubts I’d be able to make it before the event due to school. Grad school has infringed on my costuming, but I finally made it with last week. It was good to see everyone and I wish I’d taken photos.


IMG_1527IMG_1526 - Version 2

Patterns: Truly Victorian

  • 1898 Walking Skirt (TV291)
  • 1893 Blouse Waist (TV491) without sleeves. Vintage lace on the jabot.
  • 1898 Eton Jacket (TV498) Square collar, un-cropped length. Added an interior canvas sleeve-cap support.
  • 1890’s Victorian Corselet (TV492) Shorter length. Used skirt hooks and bars instead of lacing.

c. 1898

6 Dec

1890s Plan

The semester is almost over and I am looking forward to working on a new project.


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