Tag Archives: bustle era

1870s inspired butterfly masquerade costume of turquoise and purple


1870s inspired faux bustle of pansy synthetic netting

The 1870s inspired butterfly masquerade costume that I made Sarah for Halloween last fall is made from historically accurate Truly Victorian patterns, with an accurate corset which I draped using duct tape, but it isn’t made to be historically accurate; it’s made to be a fun, pretty, historically inspired Halloween/masquerade costume. But because it’s made from historically accurate bustle era patterns, it needs a skirt support. For Halloween, Sarah wore the costume over a borrowed bustle of not-quite-the-right shape, and an old cotton Civil War era skirt of mine, which I puffed and pinned to keep it from dragging on the floor (she is not as tall as I am), and to help smooth the lines of the bustle and create a softer, early 1870s shape. It worked shockingly well.

But in order to make the costume wearable on its own, without major borrowed components, she needed a bustle of her very own. I finally made just such a bustle…in April. Oh well! I used eight yards of 70″ wide pansy purple nylon net from Fabric.com, a piece of scrap ribbon, some upholstery thread, and a bit of regular thread. It took me about an hour, all told.

I measured out a length of net a couple inches shorter than the skirt, folded it evenly, and measured out the same length again. Leaving it folded in half, I cut off the doubled length from my yardage. Then I measured out another length of net, a couple inches shorter than a single side of the previous piece (so, probably  6 or 7 inches shorter than the skirt). Same as before, I folded that evenly, measured out the same length again, and cut off my new doubled length, leaving it folded. Now I had two big pieces of netting, folded in half. I laid them together along the folds, matching up the long (remember, this is wide netting!) folds. Then I pinned one end of the pair of folds to the arm of the couch, and the other end to a pair which I put in the middle of the room, basically stretching the netting out across the room. This made it very easy to run a gathering thread through both doubled pieces at once (by hand), using a length of upholstery thread.

After I ran all 70″ of gathering, I scrunched it up and used a quick whipstitch to secure all of it to the piece of ribbon, gathering all 70″ of all four layers into a space of about 15 inches. I didn’t want to make a full petticoat, only, well, a nice big butt fluff. After the base “skirt” layers of the bustle were secured, I basically bundled up the rest of the netting into one big bouf with a bit of a tail, and hand-stitched the whole mass, rather haphazardly, to the center of the “skirt” section. Because the netting is very lightweight, and the costume is very lightweight overall, the support doesn’t need to be very sturdy, or very determinedly poufy – just fluffy. And it succeeds in being fluffy!

Once it was finished, I persuaded Lyndie to try it on so I could see how it looked, and I was quite satisfied. Very purple, and very fluffy. On its own, it actually looks rather charmingly burlesque. It has yet to be worn with the rest of the costume, because I want to put some finishing touches on the costume first…and also sleeves…but I think it will do nicely. At some point, I think I’ll have to make one of these for myself (because a faux bustle is a good thing to have), and when I do, I’ll take photos along the way and make a more comprehensible tutorial. I didn’t try to take pictures this time around, because I was making it up as I went along and wasn’t sure what I was doing. But I like how it turned out! It makes for a charming and very inexpensive fluffy shape to fill out the skirt of a pretty Halloween masquerade costume with nice historical lines.

1870s inspired corset of lavender cotton sateen with black flossing


1870s Silverado corset of lavender sateen with white flossing


1860s round belt drawers of white Kona cotton


Collected Resources: Naturalistic Crowd Scenes

I am using this post to collect references for period images of naturalistic crowd scenes from the 19th century and, perhaps occasionally, earlier. I will add images as I run across them.

  • Black, J. Anderson, and Madge Garland. A History of Fashion. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1980.

Images: A scene from the Great Exhibition of 1851, page 190; Derby Day of 1858 by W. P. Frith, pages 192-193; the 1850s Winterhalter painting of the Empress Eugénie and her ladies, page 195; a painting of London’s Hyde Park by John Ritchie, 1858, page 201; “The Eve of a Public Holiday,” painted by A. H. Hunœus in 1862, a great crowd scene, pages 202-203; the 1866 Monet of women in full, light-colored gowns in a garden, page 205; the 1874 Tissot painting of a crowd aboard a ship on a summer day, page 214.

1860s yoked chemise of white cotton


Intro: 1870s inspired butterfly masquerade costume


Intro: 19th Century Sewing

Fashions, ideas about clothes, and approaches to sewing changed a great deal over the course of the 19th century. This makes it difficult to make accurate generalizations – at some later date I shall return to this post and go into more detail, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for research resources…

Specific eras of fashion in the 19th century get their own tags:

These books are all helpful for studying 19th century clothing:

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1978.

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1860-1940. New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1993.

Bassett, Lynne Zacek. Textiles for Regency Clothing 1800-1850: A Workbook of Swatches and Information. Formerly titled Textiles for Clothing of the Early Republic. Arlington, Virginia: Q Graphics Production Company, Product division of Sally Queen & Associates, 2001.

Beaudoin-Ross, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion: Nineteenth Century Montreal Dress (Formes et modes: Le costume à Montréal au XIXͤ siècle). Montreal: McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992.

Blum, Stella, Edited and with an Introduction by. Fashions and Costumes from Godey’s Lady’s Book; Including 8 Plates in Full Color. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.,  1985.

*Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930. Hollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2009.

Clark, Elizabeth Stewart. The Dressmaker’s Guide; 1840-1860. 2nd edition, Revised & Expanded. Idaho Falls, Idaho: Elizabeth Stewart Clark & Company, 2009.

Cunnington, C. Willett. English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century.London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1937.

Dalrymple, Priscilla Harris. American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs. New York: Dover, 1991.

Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress 1650-1900. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1984.

Fukai, Akiko, Ed. Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century (The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute)2006 edition published by Barnes & Noble by arrangement. Köln: Taschen, 2006.

Ginsburg, Madeleine. Victorian Dress in Photographs. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1983.

Grimble, Frances. After a Fashion: How to Reproduce, Restore, And Wear Vintage Styles: Middle Ages to Art Deco, For Men and Women, Updated and Expanded. 2nd edition. Illustrated by Deborah Kuhn. San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 1998.

Grimble, Frances, Edited, Translated, and with Additional Material by. The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette. San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 2009.

Grimble, Frances, Edited and with Additional Information by. Reconstruction Era Fashions: 350 Sewing, Needlework, and Millinery Patterns 1867-1868San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 2001.

Johnston, Lucy. Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2009.

Lady, A (Anonymous). The Workwoman’s Guide: A Guide to 19th Century Decorative Arts, Fashion and Practical Crafts (A Facsimile Reproduction of the Original 1838 Edition). Guilford, Connecticut: Opus Publications with Old Sturbridge Village, 1986.

Leisch, Juanita. Who Wore What: Women’s Wear 1861-1865. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications, 1995.

Lynn, Eleri. Underwear: Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publishing, 2010.

Mackenzie, Althea. Hats and Bonnets, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.

Mackenzie, Althea. Shoes and Slippers, from Snowshill, one of the world’s leading collections of costume and accessories of the 18th and 19th centuries.London: The National Trust, 2004.

Miller, Marla R. The Needle’s Eye: Women and Work in the Age of Revolution.Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.

Montgomery, Florence. Textiles in America 1650-1870: A Dictionary based on original documents, prints and paintings, commercial records, American merchants’ papers, shopkeepers’ advertisements, and pattern books with original swatches of clothNew York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2007.

Olian, JoAnne, Ed. 80 Godey’s Full-Color Fashion Plates: 1838-1880Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1998.

Rexford, Nancy E. Women’s Shoes in America, 1795-1930Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2000.

Ribeiro, Aileen. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Salen, Jill. Corsets: Historic Patterns and TechniquesHollywood: Costume & Fashion Press, 2008.

Severa, Joan L. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1995.

Severa, Joan L. My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2005.

*Shep, R. L. Civil War Ladies: Fashions and Needle-Arts of the Early 1860′s; Primary Source Material from Peterson’s Magazine 1861 and 1864; Additional Hair Styles and Hair Jewelry from Campbell’s “Self-Instructor in the Art of Hair Work.” Mendocino, California: R. L. Shep, 1987.

Staniland, Kay. In Royal Fashion: The Clothes of Princess Charlotte of Wales & Queen Victoria 1796-1901London: Museum of London, 1997.

Steele, Valerie. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001.

Takeda, Sharon Sadako, and Kaye Durland Spilker. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010.

Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt. Fabric of Society: A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870: Essays inspired by the collections at Platt Hall, The Gallery of English Costume, ManchesterCarno, Powys, Wales: Laura Ashley Limited, 1983.

Trestain, Eileen Jahnke. Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800-1960Paducah, Kentucky: American Quilter’s Society, 1998.

Waugh, Norah. Corsets and CrinolinesNew York: Theatre Arts Books, 1970.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1964.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968.

Whitaker-Augusta Auction Company. Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection.Philadelphia: Whitaker-Augusta Auction Company, 2007.

Updated August 7, 2012.