The Early 1870’s Bustle Dress and HSF Challenge #5 “Bodice Black and Blue”

Fichu and fabric for Early 1870s-style Bustle Dress

Fichu and fabric for Early 1870s-style Bustle Dress

The annual Victorian Heritage Festival is less than a month away, so *ahem* I think it’s time to get my new bustle dress underway. I want something I can wear with the 1870 fichu I made for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. And the next HSF Challenge (#5) is “Make a bodice – a garment that covers the upper body.  You can either abide by the strictest historical sense (see the blog post for history of bodice terminology) or can explore the idea of bodices in a more general sense.” I just love it when these kind of things come together. And I had the perfect fabric already in my stash, so making the rest of the decisions has been pretty easy.

The first time I saw the fabric it made me think of the 1930’s, except for the color being wrong. Then I saw a photo of an extant garment (can’t recall where it was) and it was just about a dead match. So I took about 10 yards home and it’s been waiting patiently ever since.

Here’s the plan:

1) Truly Victorian #104 – 1870 Blouse Waist Patten, View B

2) Truly Victorian #210 – 1870’s Underskirt, with ruffle

3) Truly Victorian #401 – 1872 Side Drape Overskirt

I already have the combo petticoat/bustle I made in 2011 from Truly Victorian #101, Petticoat with Wire Bustle (made before the pattern was revised…not sure how the new one differs). All of the eyelet ruffles were from a single twin-size bed ruffle; $2.99 at Goodwill.

I started laying out and cutting the underskirt yesterday, which also happened to be the launch for the Imperial Tonure (bustle) project for my Victorian Undergarments class. Since I had the fabric all laid out and ready to go I went ahead and cut out the underskirt. Deluding myself once again, I planned on having it together in a jiffy. Then I somehow managed to lose all track of orientation with the pieces and sewed the side back panel to the waist edge of the center back panel. This left me about 4 inches of fabric short from meeting edge to edge. So I shook my head, laughed, and pulled out my seam ripper. The phone rang, the dog needed to out, the mailman came and I settled back in and proceeded to sew the right back side panel to the left side. *rolls eyes* I really do amaze myself sometimes. Another quick bout of “un-sewing” and it went together the way it should. Sheesh. (It’s never the complicated stuff that gets me. Probably something very telling in that.)

While I was in the middle of fabric origami it I remembered a trick I’d heard of but never used. To help keep in-seam pockets in place, the suggestion was to cut the pocket with a little bridge of fabric at the base, which then gets sewn into the seam and prevents the pocket from shifting or moving around too much. By that time the simplest things were becoming interesting so, I figured, why not give it a try. After all, it didn’t look as if the seam ripper was going away any time soon.

Here’s what the right side pocket looks like:

It’s getting late enough now that I want to stop for the night…need to rest my cold and achy hands. Tomorrow, the rest of the underskirt (a bit more than a full size smaller than the last one I made – yay!) goes together and we’ll see if those bridges hold up to the promises. Then, hopefully, I’ll get the “Big Mama” Imperial Tonure cut and underway.