Thursday, January 31, 2013

1883 Bustle Gown Sewing Project

2013 Sewing Project:  1883 Bustle Gown Ensemble

Well, while many things have changed recently for me and my family, sewing has remained my one constant.  I craved the comfort and familiarity of the efforts of sewing.  How my first sewing project of 2013 created a sense of normalcy in a world that had greatly shifted, I will never forget.  The touching of the fabric, knowing what it could become with careful efforts.  The slowness of time to get something exactly correct.  That tiny sense of accomplishment in the perfectly sewn rolled hem.  These small measures brought peace and solace to my troubled heart and mind.  Where with my own two hands and creative spirit, I would create something tangible of beauty where none had existed prior.  Such is the love of sewing that it can heal a heart. 

Just prior to the Christmas season, I had been able to make a trip up to the LA Textile market and found this lovely sheer floral cotton fabric for ninety-nine cents per yard.  I purchased fifteen yards!  On the same trip, I came across a bolt of cotton organdy for the same price and purchased five yards.  Lastly, I selected a basic white cotton fabric for the lining fabric, also at the ninety-nine cents per yard.  The days journey further yielded up buttons, ribbons, silk flowers, and some wonderfully droopy ostrich feathers.  It was a good day of shopping!

Later that same night, somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered ear-marking a gown that had a similar floral look.  I was lucky in that the first book I pulled out, the “Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898”, had the ensemble I was trying to find on page 153, note the gown on the RIGHT side. 

The description reads:  “Spring Styles 1883 Figure C:  This gay dress of cotton sateen has an ecru ground strewn with clusters of pink carnations.  The Marie Antoinette over-skirt is very bouffant, and is caught back in points on the sides.  Two rows of the open Irish point embroidery are the trimmings.  English straw bonnet, with pink roses and an ecru ostrich plume”.  Perfection!

This is the gown I am going to use as my inspiration gown!  I very much love the print on the fabric, so different from what we normally see for the Victorians, but perfect for a Spring or Summer ensemble.  Can you just picture an off-white background with beautiful pink carnations all over it?!  Trimmed with white lace?  I also very much like the long unusual pleated trim at the hem of the foundation skirt, the clever placement of the bows, and I have just the right vintage lace jabot for the neckline!!  Plus, the year 1883 is noted as the first year of the “Return of the Bustle”.  The bustle backs are poofy, drapey, and oh so feminine!  The bigger the bustle the better for these gowns, and my ensemble will be no exception!  

The fabric that I selected is a sheer white cotton with an understated plaid that is brightly offset with coral colored roses and forest green leaves throughout.  While not exactly an “ecru with pink carnations”, I think my “white with coral roses” fabric will do a wonderful job in bringing this fashion plate gown to life!