The Spring Garden Dress

An 1880s Bustle Ball Gown based on the designs of Charles Frederick Worth

The base of the skirt. You can see the basic skirt shape and how the damask overskirt is attached. I didn't attach it at waist level, both to avoid bulk and to avoid using fabric where it wasn't needed. This meant that when I draped the overskirt, I had to be sure to cover any areas that the damask didn't cover.

Since the entire back of the skirt was covered, there's only a strip of velveteen around the hem. I accidentially put it on upside down as can be seen in the picture, but since this was going to be covered with pleats and was just there in case the pleats fixed up, it wasn't a problem.

To shape the damask hem, I cut slits down the middle of each triangle and folded the fabric back and sewed it into place. This makes a nice clean edge without much fiddling.

The hem is faced with a layer of stiff crinoline to help the heavy skirt keep its shape.

Now, the pleats. Usually when pleating something like this I just pleat it until it's the right length, but I was working with limited fabric this time, so I pleated the satin to the bottom of the skirt, then ironed the pleats into place.

The pleats put into place on the skirt. The top edge is folded over and they're machine sewn on since it doesn't show due to the damask layer.

More views of the layers. The skirt closes at center back with hooks at the waist. The opening does gape, but it doesn't matter because the train covers it. I considered putting hooks and eyes in, but found they weren't needed.

To get the shape of the overskirt, I just draped fabric until I was happy with it. The pleats come up in back to the edge of the opening.

The attatched train. The train is pleated to a separate waistband which is sewn to the right side of the main waistband and then closes on the right side with hooks and eyes.

The bodice with the skirt, and the petals in back. Each petal is faced with silk satin.

The dust ruffle is made of Swiss organdy, voile and lace. The base layer is of organdy. There's a seam in the middle because I decided after starting it that I wanted to make it cover more of the skirt.

For the ruffle, I just pleated organdy until it was the right length.

I added a second row of pleats because I made the whole thing a little too narrow. The effect of two rows of pleats made me happy I made the mistake!

I used two slightly different sized pieces of voile to make the inside part of the ruffle.

Then I gathered and bound the voile pieces.

Next, they were whipstitched to the organdy. The finished dust ruffle was basted all around to the inside of the train.

The finished dust ruffle, with the layers like they sit when it's being worn, and with them pulled up to show the ribbon. The ribbon is mainly decorative, but provides a convenient place to lift the train.

My Costumes
The Bustle Era

I'd like to go home!