1870’s early bustle ballgown photos

Although I’ve already posted images of both the skirts and bodice of this dress, it needed one final finishing touch. The main colors of the dress are pale yellow and black, but I always planned to have some dark red roses as accents. With those done, it was time to finally get some images with the whole ensemble on! A more detailed description on how I made the roses is at the bottom.

The top of the bodice on the dress form, including rose.

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Wearing the full ensemble! From the front.

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And another one, if only to see the bodice point better. Extra roses worn in my hair!

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From the side.

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Moving towards the back.

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And from the center back. Small disclaimer: I put on the whole dress, including bodice, by myself. So it’s possible! Only I missed a hole when lacing, and it gapes a bit at the bottom. Luckily I’ll have help when I go to the ball in this.

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I really loved wearing this, if only for an hour for pictures. It feels very elegant, and the silk makes a wonderful sound. I doubted for a bit if I would actually make the roses, as it felt quite finished already without. I’m very happy I did though, it gives just that little extra touch. The whole ensemble also quite easy to move around and sit in, which is always a plus! I’m really looking forward to wearing this in Bath next may.

 

As for the flowers, I looked at various tutorials for making fabric roses, and eventually settled on a method using polyester fabric strips. The actual tutorial disappeared in the day between me making the flowers and writing this, so linking to that page is useless. I’ll try to describe the method as well as possible here, but as a disclaimer; I didn’t think this out for myself, someone else very generously shared this process online first.

This method only works with polyester fabric, as you need to melt the edges. Not historical, but polyester lining fabric (which is what I used) is a lot easier to source than silk anyway. It also gives such a pretty result that I wanted to try it out.

The first step is to cut strips of fabric. The original tutorial advised 45″ strips of 2″ to 3″ wide. My strips were therefore 110cm long and 7cm wide at the widest part. I cut the fabric in ‘waves’, making smaller waves in the last 15 to 20cm for the center of the rose. After cutting, I melted the edges. The bottom edge was molten just slightly to prevent fraying. The top was molten more to also shape the petals a bit more.

The strips are then gathered at the bottom and rolled around themselves while stitching it together at the bottom. I finished them by sewing a circle of felt to the bottom. I attached all roses to a clip so I can remove them from the dress if I want, and I made a couple extra to put in my hair.

Because I was planning to just refer to the original tutorial I didn’t take too many pictures, but here you can see the stages. Far left is cut and molten strip, middle is gathered strip, right finished roses.

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Pink roses – Lolita skirt

This skirt was a birthday gift, inspired mostly when I saw the fabric. The girl it was for wears a lot of Lolita clothing, a Japanese fashion style inspired by Victorian and Roccoco fashions. The one of the main characteristics of lolita is the knee-length (sometimes calf-length) skirts, alwasy worn with a petticoat. The fabric I found was perfect for the style, so I decided to make her a skirt!

The base of the skirt is similar to most of my own cotton skirts, a pleated rectangle with a waistband and lace at the bottom. I wanted to make it a bit customizable as well though. Loads of lolita skirts have high waists decorated with bows and lace, so I decided to make a ‘belt’ thing to wear with the skirt. This way it seems high-waisted, but can be worn without the belt for more casual wear as well. Finally, I also made a big fabric bow which can be worn with the skirt or as corsage. (I just attached a safety-pin to put it on or off). The fabric is cotton I found in Edinburgh, the lace I already had but was pure white, so I tea-deyed it.

So, pictures:

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The whole ensemble. Skirt, belt and bow

 

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The side of the skirt with belt.

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And the back. The belt laces in the back. The laces are still quite long, so she can cut them to the length she prefers.

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The front of the belt, with lace and 2 little bows.

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The lacing in the back.

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The skirt without the belt, as a more casual look.

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The zipper.

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And with the bow-corsage-thing to the waistband. Here it’s on the front/side.

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The bow.

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It can also be worn at the back.