Raspberry Mint Sorbet Bustle Dress Part the Second, aka Adventures in Bodice-ing

If you’re just joining, this is the second in a small series of posts about my most recently completed project, which I dubbed the Raspberry Mint Sorbet bustle dress, for probably pretty obvious reasons.

Here’s where we left off (because I haven’t shown this image enough already, lol) – which is where I left off last summer (post covering the skirts here).


My initial inspiration for the bodice was this fashion plate that I also liked for showing a similar colour combination to my own, which still feels a little too, I don’t know, for HA.

Le Salon de la Mode 1884:

The bodice pattern I used was this one from Patterns of Fashion:

Victorian dress pattern The pattern for this is on the Macmillan Patterns of Fashion 1860-1940 by Janet Arnold and from the V&A

I mostly only altered it for size and to make the bottom of the front a little more like that of my inspiration image. However, I did also skip the pleated and puffed layer of the centre front portion.

I flat-lined the bodice with leftover pieces of a soft and pretty lightweight cotton sateen bedsheet (with weeny white on cream polka dots!) that I’d mostly used to line something else and bound the seam allowances with my handy-dandy ivory snug hug rayon seam binding:

I was able to get away with using a straight piece of fabric to bind the hem, rather than a bias or shaped strip, because – dirty secret time – the fabric has a bit of lycra in it. Shhhh! Don’t tell, it’ll be our secret! ;o)

So, like I said, I wanted to try the bodice front of the fashion plate. But while working on it decided I also liked the look of lapels that you often see on mid-1880s bodices. I got this far with it before deciding I really wasn’t keen on how it was looking:

Looks ok, but kinda “meh” and even a little awkward. Maybe my centre front panel was too wide for the width of the lace? Maybe if it had been narrower and/or the lace wider to fill in more of it it may have worked? I dunno. I just know that I wasn’t happy with it.

So I tried playing around with it a bit. I tried adding a separate piece across the lower part of the centre front panel to help break it up a little but that did nothing for me.

Then I tried using that lower part with a pleated upper:

Ok, kinda better but still not loving it.

So then I just went with the idea of the bodice as it was originally in Patterns of Fashion:

Much better overall! But a little too poofy up top for my liking. And obviously still debating the lace trim on the lapels but definitely liking the look of the buttons.

So I took a little of the poofiness out by cutting away from the upper edge:

Bingo! (still debating the lace trim – that was a really hard one to decide on for a long while!). The ruching on the lower portion was flattened simply by pressing it.

You may also notice that I messed around with the collar as well. The original style as seen in both the fashion plate and the pattern drawing seemed awkward and just sort of too much on this bodice. So I searched through fashion plates on Pinterest and my books of images for *some* kind of credible alternative until I came across this one that fit the bill just right!

It’s also from the 1885-1887 Frances Grimble pattern book. Obviously it’s not exactly the same since I’ve got a ruched panel at centre front rather than a flat, buttoned one but I decided close enough for me!

I also really appreciated the curved and dipped centre front of the collar for the sake of comfort – doesn’t feel so much like it’s choking you this way.

And here it is all finished:

I was so happy to have found this little bit of vintage mint grosgrain ribbon in my stash that was just the right length for the bow at the neck. I think it just sets everything off so nicely!

Oh, and as you can see, I ultimately decided against the lace trim on the lapels and am quite happy with that. Although the Victorians had a tendency to go for more to the point of too much, I do like the cleanness of this.

A shot of the finished interior with waist stay:

For fastening I used a combination of hooks & eyes and snaps, which I’ve sometimes seen in period bodices. Also because, for whatever reason, I far prefer sewing in snaps than hooks & eyes so try to use them whenever I can! (chalk it up to weird sewing quirks – what’s yours?)

I kept the sleeve cuffs simple and used the draft from Patterns of Fashion as-is apart from altering for size.

And – dirty secret part 2: I left the sleeved unlined for both coolness and to take advantage of the added mobility and comfortability of the lycra in the fabric!

A shot of the bodice and skirt together – sans hat. I feel like it looks more movie-costume than extant dress, somehow, but I don’t seem to mind!

Next up: the HAT – possibly my favourite part (surprise, surprise, lol)

15 thoughts on “Raspberry Mint Sorbet Bustle Dress Part the Second, aka Adventures in Bodice-ing

  1. Love this dress! I have one suggestion( you can tell me to take a flying leap…) to me the raspberry sections need dimension. If you used a matching braid or braids to edge them? just a thought.


    • Do you mean the raspberry bands acting as trim on the lapels? If so, I think that might be a great idea – provided I can find something in the right colour! Otherwise, where specifically do you mean?


  2. Your attention to interior detail is really splendid. Love the mint/raspberry combination, and it truly could have waltzed straight out of The Importance of Being Earnest, and I see nothing wrong with that! Lol! Looks fab!


  3. This is gorgeous I was just contemplating the waist tape on my own dusty rose confection and your photo shows it perfectly. Thank you for being so inspiring.


  4. This is SO LOVELY! I’ve been whisting after a dress from this period for a while and yours is wonderful. Also, every time I read a post about it I get “Raspberry Beret” stuck in my head…sorbet, beret, close enough 😉


  5. This dress is absolutely beautiful! I have the patterns of fashion book, by Janet Arnold. I babe never used one of her patterns was wondering if they are difficult or maybe you could pay a tutorial on how to use them.

    Thank you, .
    I love your, work!


  6. Just so perfect .I love sewing and going to sew it for sister’s wedding .I wanted some very elegant and the princess style.This is just what i was searching.The pattern and flow will really go well i feel.Will use light satin color and the stud embroidery


  7. Fabulous! The bottom frill on thr skirt is splendid and it was really interesting seeing your development of the ruched raspberry centre. Hugely impressive work. I’m not so keen on the mint bow at the neck, I think a cameo brooch or similar piece of jewellery would be more elegant and more likely in real life.


  8. Lush. I am glad you decided to take away the fishtail lace and just go for the bow. Much classier! I agree with everyone else, the amount of work in the hem is astounding and makes the garment. Will be nice to see a matching bonnet.


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