Thursday, September 10, 2015

Draping a Victorian Bustle: How to Create a Bustle Skirt

bustle drape

Reinactment Bustle Gown?  Costume for a Play? or a Steam Punk lady?  All must have her bustle. I thought it might be fun to take a look at this layout of a bustle drape from the late 1870's to learn more about how to drape a Victorian bustle.


These illustrations are from a wonderful old magazine of mine dated July 1879, "Peterson's Ladies National Magazine". Within the pages are everything a homemaker could want. This includes a clear illustration showing the mechanics of the then current bustle drapery. That month the magazine featured a bustle with a two panel draped front, and a bustle train in the back. All of this would be fastened at the waistline, and covered with the longer basque bodice 'jacket'. This magazine was the first Victorian object that I owned, purchased at an antique store for a dollar when I was 10. (Needless to say, I soon had it memorized.)

1879 bustle dress

The bustle draft shown in the first slide takes most of the mystery out of bustle arranging. This one is really just a puffy apron worn over the underskirt. It's kind of amazing to think that this illustration might be all that a woman might have had as reference in making her own fashionable costume. Ideally she got some help, and was able to copy an existing bustle that her cousin had tailor made in Boston, rather than reinventing the wheel on her own!

One secret to success is knowing that most successful bustles where draped on the bias, so that those front corner 'points' are probably right angles where the selvage and cross grain meet. The bustle pleating was similar to bunting, ruching up the fabric to create the necessary drapery, then sewing it to a waistband that might wrap around the front and fasten somewhere on the side back.

Now that you have seen this, I hope that maybe your Steam Punk skirt won't be quite as difficult to make.

Repeat Thursday: Portions of this article was first published on this blog in March, 2012.

1 comment:

OnePerfectDay said...

Fascinating!
Thanks for posting this. I sometimes wondered at the complexity of bustles. The diagram does indeed de-mystify them.

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