An 1855 Ball Gown

based on a dress from Winterhalter's The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by her Maids of Honor

The Bertha

The completed front of the bertha. I used a layer of Swiss organdy as the base as it's very lightweight and very stiff. I then covered it in bias strips to give it a pleated look. I found this to be much easier than pleating and really liked the defined look of the resulting mock pleats. This technique can be found on the 1839-1845 day dress on pages 65 and 66 of Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold.

To start, I first bound the bottom edge with a bias strip.

Next, I sewed a bias strip above that. I sewed inside the fold so no stitching would show on the outside. I don't have proof that this is a period way of doing it, but it was the easiest way I could think of to be sure stitching didn't show on the outside. I continued layering in this manner.

When the bertha was filled, I bound the top edge.

I then sewed the front and back together and added strips of fabric to cover the join and at the center front and back. The bertha closes over the left shoulder with hooks and thread loops.

The view of the wrong side of the bertha.

The back is slightly shorter than the front.

Now from the front.

I then basted the lace to the top edge of the bertha.

The finished bertha from the front.

The Dress
The Underthings
My Costumes
Mid-Nineteenth Century

I'd like to go home!