For my ballgown I’ll be making an under-skirt, front-apron, back-bustle, back-train and a bodice. The front-apron and back bustle will be attached to one waistband forming one over-skirt. The train I’ll be making separately so it can be removed. I’m using a commercial pattern for the under-skirt only, the TV201 1870s underskirt, which I already had in my stash.
So for the rest, I’m drafting/draping my own pattern. The bodice will be similar to my 1860’s ballgown bodice. The train will be fairly straight-forward, just a large panel rounded off. The over-skirts I’m draping myself, and to help others these are the patterns I came up with!
The over-skirt I wanted to make is similar to these images from the Musee de Familles and the Journal des Demoiselles.
The striped one:
And the yellow/red one:
I took an old sheet I had laying around for mock-ups, and started by pleating the top to fit the back width I wanted. I did this by eye, looking from where on the side I wanted the back bustle to start. After pleating, I pinned the top to the waistband of my bustle cage. For the mock-up, I used four large box pleats.
Next I started to pleat up the sides. Again I didn’t really measure these out, just did it by eye and pleated the fabric up until I liked how long the pleated section was.
I then looked at the center ‘swag’, and pinned around the bottom to where I’d like the bustle overlay to hang. I didn’t want to actually cut it, so I could re-use the sheet for latter mock-ups. This is what it looked like at this stage, if you look closely you can see the pins around the back marking the length.
I didn’t mark the position for the inside tapes which will hold the bustle in shape yet. The cotton held its shape quite well on its own, so I’ll make the tapes when I’ve cut and pleated the silk for the actual bustle.
Next up was the front swag! I used an old shawl-like square of fabric. This one wasn’t pleated around the front, but pinned on straight. Then I pleated up the sides to match the length of the back bustle. As turned out the fabric I had wasn’t quite wide enough at the bottom and too wide at the top, so it’s a bit tilted in the mock-up version. It did give me a good idea of the dimensions the finished apron will need though.
After I’d pinned everything, I took the mock-up pieces from my dummy and started measuring to draw up my pattern. This is the eventual pattern I’m using. I hope it’s readable, I overlayed the measurements in black just in case. As the pattern says, my waistband will be 68,5 cm, the front apron has a 37 cm waistmeasure and the back 31,5 cm adding up to the total. The length of the side pleats downwards is 30 cm. The pattern is drawn to scale here, every square is 5 cm. The tapes for the bustle were determined with the silk bustle, as it drapes very differently to the cotton. The little image on the right shows the width of the pleated top back panel with the length of the tapes underneath. The colored spots represent which position on the tape was matched with which position on the fabric of the bustle (red with red, etc.)
Made in my eventual fabric, this is what the inside of the back bustle looked like before sewing it to the front. I ended up making 8 box pleats at the top and the pleats on the side are also a bit smaller than in the mock-up.
And all put together, shown over my bustle cage! It’s not fully done yet, I want to add trim to the bottom and roses to the sides, but to get a picture of the eventual shape and proportions. The right side has a slit to put it on, and to reach the pocket in the underskirt which is on that side.
From the front (left) and back (right)
From the sides: