Sunday, 1 December 2013

1860s Ballgown Bodice

So I have been a bit lazy with my blog posts lately and there are lots of things I haven't written about. One of my favourite pieces of clothing I own is my 1860s Ballgown bodice ... I put some serious effort into it and it really payed off (at least in my opinion :-P )

I should appologise in advance, I have no pictures from the "making of", my mind was so imerged in the sew sew sew of getting things finished that I didn't remember till it was finished.


Truly Victorian 1860s Ballgown Bodice TV442

Another of Truly Victorians fabulous patterns and I really like that they take the width of the back as a central measurement for their pattern ... everything else just seems to fall into place so much easier!


2.5m burgundy and cream herringbone twill suiting
1m each cotton lining and herringbone coutil (interlining)
6 metal bones (there should be 8 but I only had 6 lying around that fit)
3m trim
24 hooks and eyes
threat etc
old sheet (material for mock up)


How to:

As always accurate measurement is the first step (no, don't try and lie about your measurements), you might need a 2nd person to measure your back and don't forget you need to wear the correct undergarments.

~ Afternoon Tea with other fabulous people ~

Note: With most corsets it's easy to change the waist measurement an inch or 2 one way or the other, especially if you have the famous 'squish' factor. Make sure you note the cm / inch of your waist and use this measurement for future fittings and ultimate wearing of the bodice so you don't try and adjust your project to a different silhouette every time.

Due to a lack of my personal chamber maid I decided to change the pattern and place the closure in the front, following that I made a quick mock up. The back fitted perfectly and the front and sides were easily adjusted with the 4 darts in the front. After reading many horror stories of  gaping necklines I was determined to take extra care in fitting this part and avoid the dreaded 'tucker' option. With a bit of to and fro along the shoulder seams I was quite happy and I moved on to the real deal.

Following the instructions sewing the 3 layers, including the boning, proved not very difficult if a little tedious. The 'problems' started when it came to the Bertha ... I pinned the the recommended version and really wasn't happy with the look ... it just looked sloppy! That's when I decided I wanted pleats, sometimes I just seem to want make my life hell.

Pleating will mean doubling the length of the material for the bertha outlined in the pattern (at least for the larger sizes, perhaps 1.5x for the smaller). Not only, of course, did I want pleats they had to follow the neckline, wider in the front and narrowing over the shoulders. I have pleated material before but mostly the accuracy of the pleats was of no great importance e.g. skirt waistbands. However this time I wanted every pleat to be the same width and I found a little cardboard stick at the correct width really useful as I just inserted it, folded the material around it and pinned it in place (the fabric, remove the cardbord!) ... still it took ages to get it right! Just a note, I started in the centre back and worked myself around each side.

Sewing through fashion fabric, coutil, 2 more layers of pleated fashion fabric (bertha) and the trim all at once was a bit of a struggle ... my poor sewing machine struggled on valiantly but I would advice to go very slowly!

The bertha alone was a days work! So you have been warned but oh I love it so much!

The rest wasn't a big deal the puffy sleeves are easy to make if you follow the instruction only the sewing in was a bit of a struggle mainly because of the bertha but I wouldn't have been able to but the bertha in as I did if I had sewn in the sleeves first as instructed.

After securing the lining I decided to sew 2 straight lines 1cm of the centre front to stabilise the hooks and eyes and avoid gaping. Then it was just a manner of inserting 24 hooks and eyes (wipe sweaty brow) .... and it was finished! ... wait ... no.... there is something missing ... perhaps I need these bows on top of the sleeves after all!

Generally I followed the instructions but I made the individual strips a little shorter and when placing them together I had one side a little longer, forming a cross shape rather then equal length ... a little black velvet to bind the middle ... tacked to the sleeves and finally finally done !

I would love to hear from you ... thoughts, tips etc so please feel free to leave a comment!
~ Victorian Field Day, Enniskerry, 2013 ~

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