Sesquicentennial Ensemble: Skirt Foundations Trials and Tribulations

Quick re-cap of this project:

This year is Canada’s Sesquicentennial – aka: 150th birthday. I went to Ottawa for Canada Day this year (or Dominion Day for those who go old school) which was on July 1st when some friends and I celebrated in 1867 style. If you’re just tuning in you can see the finished outfit in this post.

The silhouette and style I went with is more 1867-ish than straight on 1867 because, to me, the whole 1840s through 1860s is such a snooze fest fashion-wise. I just do not like 1860s fashion; so I pushed mine more into 1868/beginning of the bustle-era. What’s the point of making something that I’m just not interested in, right?

I’m doing a whole post on just the skirt supports because, lemme tell you, this was a whole journey in itself!

For reference, this was my primary inspiration for the dress overall:


I had initially intended to use TV 108:

TV108 - Grand Bustle

However, I really love the look of this 1868 crinoline/bustle:

Corsets & Crinolines in Victorian Fashion - Victoria and Albert Museum:

Unfortunately, there aren’t any patterns specifically for this style in *these proportions* (that I know of, and I’ve looked – but if anyone can point me somewhere I haven’t, please do!). In casting about to decide what to do I came upon Laughing Moon 112, which is for various crinolines and bustles, including this one:

Not exactly the same as the extant but pretty darn close! I was sure I could work with it!

And so here’s mine:

So……I really love this! I love the shape with the graceful swoop at the back! It’s going to be perfect for late 1870s Natural Form (especially under the dress I plan to make for my birthday party in October) but…’s not got quite the volume I need for late 1860s. So I had a dilemma: do I make a different hoop? I could probably pretty easily alter the pattern of this one to make it fuller around the bottom, but that would mean making another one, which I wasn’t keen to do again so soon. Or, do I add fluffy petticoats on top to add volume? I had hoped to keep this whole ensemble pretty lightweight because summer but I already needed at least one petticoat to go under the sheer organdy of the dress anyway, so maybe one more wouldn’t be too bad? Maybe?

And my desire to not make another hoopskirt won out and I made a fluffy, ruffled petticoat to go over the hoopskirt:

Pretty, but this didn’t seem to give enough volume for a late 1860s silhouette.

So, in my attempt to continue avoiding making another hoopskirt I kept adding layers underneath……

My small false rump and natural form ruffled train – pinned up to focus the volume behind the legs……

I made a multi-ruffled petticoat to go over these and under the single-flounced one….

And achieved this level of fullness. Not bad. Not great. But not bad.

This is how the dress skirt looked over top of the crazy conglomeration of layers.

Kinda meh.

I finally had to admit to myself that I was just going to have to make another hoopskirt. Oh well.

I thought about altering the initial pattern I used to add more volume to the back but finally realized that the best thing all round was to go with an actual elliptical crinoline and add a bustle/bustle pad on top.

Fortunately, it went together quite easily and quickly and I had enough left over hooping for it:

And I have to admit I think it’s pretty cute.

I also decided to make something new to create a bustle effect over top of the crinoline, the Mantua Maker’s travelling bustle pattern:

Now, in looking at online images of it made-up……

and at the shape of the pattern pieces….

The pattern didn’t create quite the desired floof as-is.

So I did some pretty simple manipulation, mostly with slashing and overlapping to create shapes that I thought would better replicate the historical illustration:

A quick mock-up showed I was on the right track:

I used double layers of stiff cotton organdy (the cheap stuff from Vogue fabrics) and some cute bias tape from the stash.

It’s a very easy make and the genius part of it is that the bustling effect is achieved with a drawstring threaded through the binding along the upper edge – so that when you go to pack it you can flatten it right out!

Pretty cute, huh?

Now, it does crush after a while. The pattern instructions say you can add fishing line (threaded through the perimeter binding of each layer) to make it more springy. It’s not HA but can work. I think I may try this since I have some fishing line kicking around. If I were to make it again, however (which I just might!), I would make it out of double layers of hair canvas instead since it’s naturally more springy.

Here’s the elliptical crinoline + travelling bustle under the single-ruffled petticoat:

Here’s how it looks under the dress skirt:

And here’s a comparison of the two sets of skirt foundations under the dress skirt:


Makes quite a difference in volume, doesn’t it?

And it’s 3 layers instead of 5+

So, it was definitely worth it to make the new foundation structure and I really just wasted time in the end trying to make the first one work (that multi-flounced petticoat will be useful for other things but took me nearly a whole day to make!).

Has this ever happened to you? You make one thing, turns out not to be quite right, you try to make it work but ultimately just have to give in and make the right thing after all?


Raspberry Mint Sorbet Bustle Dress Part the Third: The Hat – Both the Making and In Action!

This is the third and final post on the construction of my Raspberry Mint Sorbet bustle dress completed back in May

If you’re just joining now, here’s the first post, about the skirts, and here’s the second, about the bodice.

I started thinking about the hat while I was finishing sewing the dress. In looking at mid-1880s fashion plates I quickly knew I wanted to do one of those small-but-tall crowned hats from the period. They just look so pert and jaunty – and have such ridiculously fun trimming!

Some examples:

the upper and lower left-hand ones here

Illustration of bonnets and hats - 1887

Continue reading

Celebrating Canada 150 in 1867 Fashion(s)

I’m posting about this project in a backwards manner, showing you the finished ensemble being worn before the construction post(s) – and before I’ve finished with the Raspberry Mint Sorbet. But I wanted to get this up as close after the July 1 weekend as possible, and so you get the good stuff first!

So, as you may have guessed from the title of this post this year Canada celebrated its 150th “birthday,” maybe not such a big deal as a centennial or bicentennial, etc but still significant for us as quite a young country; plus, I wasn’t around for the centennial and will have to live to nearly 90 to see the bicentennial, so I’ll take it!

For the occasion a few friends around Ottawa and I decided to make historical dresses inspired by the year of Canada’s confederation, 1867, and get up to some shenanigans around the capitol over the holiday weekend. We initially intended to have picnics throughout the weekend but the weather ended up being just about as un-co-operative as could be and rained heavily, thundered and lighteninged most of the time. So we had to make some hasty re-arrangements and I’m quite pleased with what we managed to throw together last minute. I also actually quite like that we ended up doing something different each of the 3 days.

For the Friday we found a teahouse to accommodate the 4 of us who could make it (Me, Sarah, Liz, Catherine):

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

Victorian Christmas Tea

This is the event for which I busted my butt making my recent Natural Form gown – a Victorian Christmas Tea I hosted at our historic Capitol Hill house (built in 1908).

As hostess I didn’t really have a chance to take photos, but a couple of my guests, Gloria of In the Long Run designs (all her photos have her watermark) and Maggie (sans watermark) appear to have well taken care of that for me!

The theme for attire was Victorian but open to any part of the period to make it as easy as possible for people in a heavily 18th century/Regency-oriented region to attend.


Natural Form Teagown

This project was finished about a month ago, but I only just got photos of me in it this week, so waited until now to do a proper post. I started this early in the year and used it as my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge for March: Stashbusting.

My teagown is a combination of this inspiration original piece (It’s dated 1886 but I don’t know by what authority and the overall silhouette looks comparable to Natural Form to me):

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3 Continue reading

Pink Victorian Corset

As part of my adventures in Natural Form foundations garments I also made a new corset. This is something I’d wanted to do for a while anyway. My previous Victorian corset was fine, but I wasn’t getting quite the curve in my figure or roundness in my bust profile I wanted. It also makes my hips sore because – and this was a big revelation for me! – there wasn’t enough fullness at the hips built into the corset. Duh! One of those things that seems so obvious once you realize it. The adjustability gained from having a lacing gap at the back will get you only so far!

Enter this beauty from Jill Salen’s book, Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques

???????????? Continue reading

Late 1880s Winter Ensemble

***WARNING***Image-Heavy Post – I really love this outfit!!!!***

This was a very spur of the moment make. Only a couple of weeks before Christmas I decided to make it all of a sudden one afternoon to wear out for a holiday dinner with the same co-conspirators friends as the Victorian picnic summer before last. I could have worn my Autumn 1880s ensemble, and planned to do so. But all of a sudden in the afternoon one week before our intended dinner I was struck with inspiration for a new ensemble specifically for winter and vaguely Christmas-y. Within the space of a few hours I had the fabric and design picked out. I don’t know when I’ve ever gotten a sizable project sorted so quickly!

I got most of it done in a week, but ultimately our dinner was postponed until after Christmas. That gave me time to finish it properly, make the hat, and add an extra piece!

In case you missed my year-end round-up post, I won’t keep you in suspense, here it is:

IMG_1677c Continue reading