Butterick B5696 - 1883 Bustle Skirt Pattern
I wanted to leave a quick pattern review for this bustle skirt for everyone’s perusal. I had some lovely printed cotton voile that I wanted to make into an 1883 Bustle gown based on an inspiration gown of a similar fabric style. I looked at what I had in my pattern stash and came across the Butterick B5696. It had the requisite poofy bustle back that I was looking for, and I had never made it prior, so I thought to give it a try. I will say upfront that I truly like the way it turned out.
The pattern itself, while it states “historical”, is not historically accurate, in that the foundation skirt does not have the needed 3-4 longer back length or drop yoke to accommodate a bustle cage or pad. The foundation skirt is a mere 3.5yrds without trimmings. The train is a separate piece and is four feet wide and nine feet long, so ‘another 3yrds for the train. Then I went with a 12” fancy pleated ruffle, plus a 4” tight pleated trim on the train. Between these two trims I used up another 2.5 yds. Lastly both the skirt and the train were fully lined. So, another 3.5 for the skirt of a basic white cotton, but then I opted for a lining of medium weight organdy for the train to give the fabric some body as the voile was very lightweight. So, all told approximately nine yards of fashion fabric plus another 6.5 yds for lining for a grand total of fifteen yards for just the skirt.
The pattern was rated “Advanced”, but I would rate it an “intermediate”. As long as you go slow and carefully follow the instructions, it should be an easy project. As a caveat, be prepared for working with a
LOT of fabric at all times. Sometimes it felt like “me vs the skirt” and the skirt was winning! LOL
The foundation skirt went together quickly as expected. Things get tricky with the way they set the waistband. The foundation skirt opening is back center, but the train, once attached, is offside to the left. The train also goes together quickly. The tricky spots are the strategic placement of nine “gathering” spots that are needed to give the train its “poofy” look. The instructions call for “gathering” then “sewing directly” to the foundation skirt, but I opted for ribbons and loops for a more authentic feel. Plus, it allows me a little more leeway for how I want the poofs and puffs to look. Also, as the foundation skirt lacks the extra bustle length, the actual bustle pillow (included in pattern) seems to work best directly under the train. The pattern calls for the pillow to be sewn into the skirt, so you get to decide if you want to attach it or go a more traditional way.
Overall, the pattern uses some longer or slower techniques to achieve a familiar look. Sometimes I thought about a shortcut here or there, but as I had never made this pattern, and with so much fabric at stake with a mistake, I simply went along with the original directions. Start to finish was approx seven days; I would pick it up and put it down when I got frustrated. I like the look and fit of the finished product, and will probably make it again. For a “cheat” in the future I might consider my regular TV foundation skirt pattern and just use the train portion of this pattern for a “marriage” of convenience! LOL
(PS: Please see my prior blog posts for a pattern review of the bodice (Flirting with Civil War Fashions) as well as more information on the inspiration gown (1883 Bustle Gown Project) Enjoy!)