An Early Bustle Ballgown

from 1870 or 1874

For the Time Traveller's Gala at Costume College 2005 I decided that I wanted an over the top pink ballgown. I looked through my fashion plates and found the perfect one, a sleeveless pink ballgown with a huge skirt and miles of ruffles. Definitely over the top! It was published in Godeys in 1874, but is a copy of a French fashion plate illustrated in The Cut of Women's Clothes from 1870. Rather a long time lag in styles!

I'm wearing the dress over the Mantua Maker combinations, Laughing Moon Silverado corset with a spoon busk, the 1872 bustle from Corsets and Crinolines, two petticoats made from the 1870-1871 bustle dress in Patterns of Fashion 2. The ruffled skirt and overskirt are from the same pattern as the petticoats. The bodice pattern is the early 1870s bodice from Period Costume for Stage and Screen. The train is just two widths of 60" silk taffeta. I split one length down the middle and sewed it to the edges of the other to avoid a center seam, then rounded the edges of the train.

The fashion plate that inspired the dress, and a slightly side view of the dress.

The view from behind, with and without the train. The train fastens on over the underskirt, so is rather easy to remove. I put the flounces all around the skirt so I wouldn't have to worry about the plain skirt showing below if the train moved, or I'd be fine if I wanted to take the train off.

The effect of the ruffles when seated was rather fun. Very fluffy! I wore wrist length kid gloves with matching rose quartz bracelets (which I made in the hotel room the day before). I also wore the rose quartz necklace and earrings that I wear with my 18c costumes.

And last, but definitely not least, the shoes. A teacher I work with gave them to me. They were her wedding shoes and no longer fit. She asked if I might have a use for them. Definitely! They were perfect with the dress :)

My Costumes
Bustle Era

I'd like to go home!