A Bustle Bodice

c. 1880


(Click for larger image)

The side seam.

The side seam is not original to the bodice. Initially, the bodice had a two piece back, for a total of three pieces on each side. Later, a three piece back, or four piece on each side, became fashionable. A dart was taken in the bodice to simulate a side seam. I discovered this when patterning the bodice. About 1/2" of the dart has not been cut open at the bottom.

The side seam from the inside. 

The seam allowance is very narrow since the alteration was made for fashion and not fitting purposes, so the seamstress would have wanted to take up as little fabric as possible.

The underarm staining suggests this bodice received a lot of wear, and was quite possibly worn with a sleeveless chemise or combinations. 

The center front extention.

A 1" strip of velvet has been sewn down the center front placket.  This velvet matches the rest of the bodice, suggesting that the same seamstress made the alterations with leftover fabric.  The buttons have been moved over about half an inch and are sewn directly on what used to be the edge of the bodice. This move is of course nicely hidden when the bodice is buttoned.  You can see the marks where the buttons used to  be sewn.

This would have been necessary to add room that was taken up by the new side seam.

The center front extention from the inside.

A detail of what the placket extention looks like.  The original finished placket, faced in polished cotton, was left in place.  The extention was simply sewn on and hemmed.  The buttons are still sewn to the original placket, so the only purpose of the extention is to keep the bodice from gaping. 

Page One, The Outside (with bustle and petticoat)
Page Two, The Outside (without bustle and petticoat)
Page Three, The Inside

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