1870’s Bustle Dress Overskirt

TV# 303 - Side Drape Overskirt

TV# 303 – Side Drape Overskirt

Today was set aside to work on the 1871 Side Drape Overskirt for my bustle dress. As I was cutting out the pieces it became clear that the pattern illustration is different from the pattern itself. The side drapes and the back sashes are longer that shown. Quite a bit lot longer, actually. But that’s not a problem for me, so I just kept pinning and cutting, figuring I can trust Heather and Truly Victorian to not lead me astray.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a self-taught seamstress. That means I have 50 years of workarounds and bad habits under my belt. One of the things I am trying hard to do is break myself of all my little cheats and learn how to sew correctly. That was the impetus for me to sign up for the Victorian Undergarments class with Jennifer Rosbrugh: I want to learn the right way to make this clothing. So I’m taking my time with this overskirt: pressing the fabric before cutting, marking fold lines, grading seams, pressing nice rounded curved hems, pressing as I go, not relying on top stitching to keep a lining in place – the works.

The side drape pieces and the back sash “tails” need to be lined, since they’ll have enough movement to show the underside. I choose black for two reasons: 1) it’s a good contrast with the primary fabric, and 2) it was often recommended for “elderly” women…and, even though I chafe at the term “elderly,” for the purposes of historical dress I’ll accept it.

It’s taking longer, but everything looks so much better. Back spasms are still giving me fits, so progress remains slow but it’s actually starting to look like something:

The front apron piece of the overskirt is unlined, but it has a pretty wimpy drape with this fabric, so I’m thinking of lining it with the black as well in the hopes that it won’t hang so pathetically. At least it’s worth a try – it needs to have enough substance to hang well under the weight of whatever trim I decide to use.

It really does need trim. I played around with black ball fringe today – it’s OK, but just OK. I’m sure there is something else out there; the perfect something, just waiting to be found. Now that I have a better idea of how the skirt and overskirt look together, the hunt for the perfect trim begins in earnest.

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