Wow… what I had hoped would be another week or two of work on this bodice has turned into months. To be fair, not all of that was working on the bodice, since the bodice work ran into prep time for the Fort Frederick Market Fair, and I had to take a break from the Victorian Era to spend some time in the 18th Century. I hope you’ll all agree that it was worth the wait!
Truly Victorian’s 1871 Day Bodice made the perfect blank canvas for me to play with. I modified the back pieces in order to create the peplum I wanted, but otherwise I used the pattern as-is.
Truly Victorian includes a system in the pattern booklet to help you get a fit as much like a custom garment as possible. Using certain measurements, you decide which pattern size to cut each different piece of your bodice. My back pieces were one size, my front and side another, and my sleeves a third. It seems weird at first, but it worked great. The mock-up fit well right out of the gate!
The bodice, like the skirts, is made of silk taffeta, flat-lined with cotton organdy, apart from the sleeves, which are lined with cotton lawn for less stiffness. It has flat steel boning along the seams and darts.
The peplum also has a ruffle of feather-like shapes. You can see the gown that this was based on in my research post. I originally cut this with the shapes all one even length, then trimmed it down to a shape that I liked while it was draped over the bustle.
Before I could attach the ruffle though, lots of details had to fall into place!
Firstly, I made a triple row of piping in alternating colors to go around the bottom edge of the bodice.
Testing things out on the dress form:
The front edge of the bodice is faced with some of the blue taffeta:
And the neckline and sleeves are bias bound with more taffeta. It’s the easiest way to finish off the raw edges, and since they will be completely covered with trim, the binding will not be visible.
The feather peplum also has quite a few layers of decorative elements that needed to get done before it could be attached to the bodice.
The top, connected part of the peplum is covered with a layer of velvet, which extends partway down each of the feathers in a triangle shape that mimics the velvet appliqués on the skirts. Each of these triangles (of course), has its very own piece of bronze piping.
Using cord or braid to create a design on a garment was a popular embellishment technique throughout the 19th century. I used brown crochet thread to create more detail on each of the feathers.
When that was finished, I backed the feathers with another piece of taffeta to hide the stitches and complete the piping.
Ok, one section of embellishment finished, on to cuffs and collar!
There are rows of small knife pleats along the neckline and wrists, bound at the edge to match the pleats on the skirts.
The cuffs also have a band of feathers similar to the peplum, but in this case the chevron shapes are only at the feather tips, and since there is no velvet, I put a Fleur-de-lys in between each feather to fill in the empty space.
They are also backed with blue taffeta. There is a layer of organdy backing on the embroidered piece in order to help it keep its shape, since it will be defying gravity a bit.
Those raw edges were covered with a band of velveteen, piped with bronze taffeta.
The neckline didn’t get any feathers. They’re all done, thank goodness! But it does get a velveteen appliqué. This starts at the back as a reflection of the same shapes I used on the skirts, and the ends extend up over the shoulders and cross in the front, where they will be closed with a brooch.
I used pins to smooth out a piece of velveteen and sketch out the shape I was looking for.
I then piped the edges in bronze, and backed the parts that will not be sewn down with blue taffeta.
And then I stitched it down:
The final result:
For a fun contrast with the taffeta bodice, I covered the buttons with the velveteen, and embroidered a small feather on each with bronze silk thread.
The buttons, however, aren’t functioning. I was afraid that a velvet covering on such a small button would be too delicate to withstand a lot of use without shredding, so the bodice actually closes with hooks and eyes.
There we have it! It hasn’t quite hit me yet that this enormous, months long part of the project is finished.
All that’s left now is a hat!
Once that’s done, I’ll be doing a big photoshoot of the whole outfit with Ben Marcum Photography. I’m just showing the bodice for now because I want to do all the starching, and pressing, and adjustments, and get all the bits together with a beautiful backdrop and wig and everything before I spoil the effect!
Eep! I can’t wait!