Sunday, December 6, 2009

Project: Victorian Bustle Gown

Ever since I mentioned Rose Tyler's 1869 outfit, I've been itching to make a bustle gown inspired by it. Believe me, I've tried to dissuade myself from embarking on such a project for the Holidays (on such short notice), but I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about how I would make it.

I have in my fabric stash two burgundy red taffeta panels with tucked diamond motif: they were drapes leftover at a co-worker's apartment by the previous tenant and since they did not match her taste or decor, she gave them to me (lots of co-workers tend to give me fabric in such ways). Each panel is approximately 140 centimetres wide by two metres long.

And look, there is even a matching pointed valence with beaded trim that will require minimum modification to become the apron part of the bustle skirt! (I have folded the sides for the photo, but it is more than wide enough.)

I happen to own Burda 7880, and that is the pattern I was thinking of using for the skirt (as I read on another Blog, try to see past the pink).

There is one small problem: the pattern requires about seven metres of fabric for the skirt and bustled over skirt and I only have four. But I thought maybe since I didn't need the apron, I could somehow manage.

Yesterday morning, being unable to sleep due to the pain my latest growing wisdom tooth is giving me, I decided to go for it and cut the pattern pieces I needed to see if I could fit them on the pieces of fabric I have. I lucked out. I would need an extra metre and I don't have one.

So now I have a few options: I could make the under skirt in another fabric: I probably have enough black satin out there somewhere, or I could try to use this three toned shaded fabric leftover from a Bustier Project in Draping class (but I might not have enough again).

I have also considered using the technique used by Katherine in the making of the foundation skirt of her Pink and Green Bustle Dress, that is to attach the tubed underskirt at about hip level to another fabric which is shaped over the bustle. This other fabric will be hidden by the draped bustle.

Or, I could drape my own skirt by making a tube and pleating it over a bustle.

Speaking of bustle, I don't have one and if I intend to wear this ensemble at my Mom's for Christmas, I have to be able to move and sit easily. Fear not, I have found the perfect solution.

1868-1887 Traveling Bustle by Mantua Maker

It's a Traveling Bustle! Just like a bustle, it will give your skirts the right shape, but unlike a bustle, it has no steels or hardware and can lay flat or be rolled tight for traveling (from an 1871 Harper's Bazar)! Mantua Maker has a pattern for a Traveling Bustle, but I also found that Dre-ah over at 9 Degrees of Yarn and Me has made one without a pattern and it looks quite good (see Bustle Appropriate Petticoat and Traveling Bustle Complete). From her measurements, I can figure out how to make my own.

As for the bodice, I have to look at my many patterns, but I think it will be made of black velvet and be some sort of short sleeved bustier type of thing.

So that is what is brewing inside my head. I don't know yet if I'll actually get around to it as I have a few things I need to make first, but it sure is tempting! The only rule I have about it is that all fabrics need to come from my stash. The only thing I am allowing myself to buy is hook-and-eye tape and maybe some trim.


  1. I just finished making this for my living history character and I intentionally made the underskirt of a plain contrasting fabric and I think it looks great. It was quite a project. The pattern includes the bustle. I have been having lots of fun wearing it, the bustle is really no problem.

  2. I would love to see pictures! I did eventually manage to cut it in the fabric I had. Here is the result: