Even after all of the research I had done I was still struggling with the issue of the bustle. I made a big “pocket” of sorts, that I will likely be stuffing with netting to give it volume, and then draping the bustle over the top. The problem there is that it’s really labor intensive, also, it’s probably going to look like there is an enormous tail under my skirt. And that is DEFINITELY the wrong idea. Then I saw what Lauren at American Duchess had made… it blew my mind. And I felt like a complete moron for not thinking of that myself. Seriously, I had sketched and thrown away so many ideas! This will fit delightfully under the “pocket” of fabric I made, and give the correct appearance (hopefully). Also, if you haven’t seen Lauren’s work you will absolutely die, she is amazing. Any time I have any sort of question if I am doing something right I go to her blog. She is such an inspiration to me, and really incredible at costuming. (She also has period shoes and stockings you won’t find anywhere else)
So, tomorrow I will venture into my old coat closet and pull out 6-8 hangers and go to work straightening and re-bending them to fit the shape I need. I will definitely post photos of the process when it is finished. I also need to get to work on the corset. It’s been such a learning experience. I currently have 4 layers of fabric (one of really thin woven synthetic laid diagonally, 2 satin, and the upholstery weight cover) and guess what… because I don’t have an industrial machine I have been forced to hand stitch each of the channels. Bad choice. I was fine with all of the innards, but once I added the cover it was too much for my machine, even with a heavy needle. Sad day. My fingers ached, and the stitching leaves something to be desired for sure. I have been using cotton cording, as opposed to plastic boning because of my deep fear of it buckling and bulging out in weird places. The layers of fabric may have prevented that, but I’m not taking any chances. It is easier to work with than the plastic boning, or even industrial zip ties (which I have also used) because it is pliable and will take on any shape you need it to. However, that also makes it a nightmare to work with. I have been pinning like crazy as I go so that I can be sure that the lines are straight. I also had to get a leather thimble because my finger was literally raw and bleeding from sewing so much through those thick layers. Holy headache. I should have been smart and attached them before putting the cover on and sewing it all together. Lesson learned for sure. Also, not I have the luxury of decorating the boning because it is on the outside. Weirdness, it looks all kinds of funky, at least I was able to make my own bias tape so it won’t be such an eye sore (not that I’m planning on it being exposed at this point, but you never know).
Now I’m on to making a “jacket” of sorts as well. I have had such a hard time deciding what the heck I am going to do for that as well. I will use the same fabric I used on the skirt, it’s lightweight and easy to work with so far, and the color will be easy to match or dye. Whichever I decide. For the “jacket” I will be using 2 different patterns. The first one is for a fur-trimmed Jacket in the book Reconstruction Era Fashion (which is an amazing book with TONS of resources for all kinds of projects. LOVE IT!)
Alright readers, I have shared my woes with you on this project. What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment, some feedback. I’m not necessarily going for historical perfection, but I am trying to stay as true to the period as I can. I need help with this craziness! I will be making a muslin of the jacket (and a lining, and the outer part of the jacket as well) so there will be a lot of sewing in this jacket. I don’t want to get mid way and wonder if I should have done things differently. Remember how much work went into the 1830’s military jacket? I spent so many hours working and reworking the pattern on that. I never was happy with it, and it still sits in a box in my storage shed waiting to be finished. All I have done on that one is the lining! Sad jacket. But off topic, so help me out here, give me your thoughts and opinions!