Category Archives: Jackets

Bustle Business

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!)

Here you can see the pattern for the Fur Trimmed Jacket. That’s likely what I will use. I love the buttons on the front and the lines in the finished jacket. The only problem will be scaling it up to fit me, as I am no where NEAR the size the women were back then.

This is the front of the jacket – see what I mean by the lines on the finished product? They are beautiful, and give the illusion of a nice figure. Who doesn’t want that?! The only thing I’m unsure of is the neckline, I don’t know how much I like it…

The back of this one has such nice lines, and I like the idea of having the waist pleated and the fullness of the back of the jacket. However, it couldn’t be this long. It would totally take away from the bustle in the skirt. So do I shorten it? That’s what I’m really facing now, I don’t know what to do!

This is the pattern for the back of the Paletot. It’s not bad, and certainly would be easier to work with as far as getting the contours right (I can work with darts) but will it work in a shorter length?

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!


The Bustle

Since deciding on the bustle dress ensemble project, I have been looking at the construction of the bustle frame. For those that don’t know, this is the piece that makes the dress.

It is made from a large, varying group of materials from cloth, wire, steel, plastic, wood, and sometimes bone. The frame it’s self is what determines the size of the bustle, and it changes from one year to the next. So really, in order to determine what kind of bustle frame to make, I first have to decide what kind of bustle the dress will have. This is the part where I really wish I had the ability to sketch something out, at least well enough that it makes sense when you look at it. Instead, I will use images I was able to find to try to narrow it down.

This first one is a cotton and wire combination. It’s more for the type of bustle skirt that has a bit of a “train” at the back.  It supports the heavier fabric skirts better, because it has the wire support. The potential downsides I can see are that a- the wire pokes through the cotton, b- the wire bends if you sit on it (unless you can master the art of gathering the supports before sitting) c- It wouldn’t work with a skirt that was narrower at the ankle.

Here you have the Langtry Bustle frame. This seems to solve the problem of sitting on the supports and bending them, and quite well if I may add. It’s almost like a device. It looks like it would also support the heavier fabrics, and work well with a dress that is narrower at the bottom. Truthfully I think that is the direction I will go. The only downside I can see is that it’s meant to be made from steel. I would imagine it would get quite expensive, creating a reproduction. But I wonder how it would work making a similar one from some kind of heavy weight plastic?

This one is similar to the one I posted above it, but it is shown with the underskirt. The more I look and think about this type of bustle, the more I think I will probably go in this direction. I like the idea of having the bustle high in the back, and having a somewhat narrower skirt at the bottom toward the calves and ankles.

Here you can see the front and back of a dress similar to what I mentioned. I love that it has all of the detail in the skirt, and then the gathering is on the apron or overskirt in the back. This would cover anything left exposed by the underskirt, and also mask any flaws. I like the ruffling on the underskirt above, the pleats don’t look as nice to me. The whole ensemble can be seen here.

This is an excellent example of the jacket I mentioned in the first post. It accommodates the bustle, and addresses my concerns of modesty. I really like the 3/4 length sleeve also, and I am pretty certain that is what I will do with mine. However, I’m probably going to use a ruffle instead of fur for trim.

I do really like the overall flow of this dress, the skirt is narrow enough at the ankles, and it would accommodate almost any size of bustle. I would probably make mine just a bit bigger. I also like the simplicity of this one, thought I most definitely will not being doing mine monochromatic. I also like the box pleat on the trim, it looks “frilly” but doesn’t have too much body too it. I would dare say this is nearly a perfect example of what I will be making. The only thing I don’t like is the back of the jacket, I will have it split as I mentioned earlier, so it will accommodate almost any bustle. I kind of feel like it looks less “stiff” than this one.

And of course I will be making a hat to match the whole thing. 🙂

So, blog readers, what are your thoughts? Do you like the pleating or the gathered ruffle better? What about color? Should I make a fuller underskirt? Should the overskirt be shorter? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.


Desicions, decisions….

Well, I think that I have decided to go with a dark blue (that matches the pinstriping on the fabric) synthetic fur for the cuffs. As for the collar I have been considering using it…. but adding the strips down the front of the jacket has really limited my options. So, do I take that portion off and add a more traditional style collar that would fold down flat (like what you see on double breasted jackets/coats).If I decide to go that route, I would use the dark faux-fur for that as well. If I stick with the mandarin collar I will use the same material used for the jacket… and then I have the dilemma of which way the pinstripes should go.
Help! Please give me your feedback! I have been having the most insane dreams about this jacket the past 3 days cause i can’t make a choice. LOL. End the insanity!

Drafting patterns from patterns

I got this hair-brained idea the other night (due largely in part to my daughter having a mother-daughter Alice in Wonderland night at school) to make a military style jacket. I have seen a lot of patterns that would fit the occasion. However, I also had a much more labor intensive and thought provoking option…. to draft a pattern based on a REALLY old one I have.

I stumbled upon this old pattern (something like 1830’s) of a men’s military coat. Generally they are made of wool, but since this is going to be my own thing and not historically accurate AT ALL I decided to go with something different. I chose a poly-cotton pinstripe. Its fairly lightweight, won’t wrinkle too easily, sturdy, and a good color. Here are a few photos from the first part of the process.

It has taken me some tweaking to get the pattern to work. At first I measured my arms wrong and cut the sleeves too narrow. This meant adding a gusset in the shoulder that runs down to the elbow. Lucky for me, it ended up looking fairly natural. I also didn’t account for needing to add darts to the front cause it will be a woman’s coat and not a man’s like the original. I cut the front sections too narrow, but added a 1.5″ strip down the front of both sides. Also, ended up looking fairly natural, like it was meant to be there. I haven’t yet decided how I will close it, if I should use a zipper, buttons, frogs, or leave it open. Here are a few photos of the progress I am at now.

I will be adding a buckle tie or something to the back (it’s pinned for now) but I am stalled out on that part… I haven’t decided what color to do the cuffs and collar. I am planning a mandarin style collar for the jacket, and was thinking something contrasting would look good. But I need to decide on that first so that I can make sure that everything coordinates. So, if you have any suggestions I am completely open to ideas! I am also open to thoughts or ideas, I’m not completely dead set on the mandarin collar.