Thursday, March 31, 2016

Steampunk How-to - Bustlin'

For most Victorian costuming, the top is the tricky bit. Getting a fit that is both true to your body, and true to the style can be daunting. For this project I did a mummy draft in corset to work from for making the pattern - see this post for more!

The bustle, however, while less technically difficult is still an important element! The most important factor, is to have enough of it... I had no shortage of fabric, and made generous cuts to ensure adequate yardage. 
The mannequin is a bit busty,
and does not respond to corseting.
First, if you are lining the skirt, cut and sew your lining to fit. That is, the lining should seem like just a large straight skirt. If you are not lining (or your lining fabric is a bit weak,) you will need some strips of sturdy fabric or ticking ribbon for holding up the folds.
Next, you will want to be sure that your fabric is plentiful. For example, I had 20" of waistband to be this part of the skirt, so the top of my skirt was 24". The lining (and distance from waist to just above floor) was 40", so my outer layer was 52" long.
Soooooo much sewing!
Thirdly, it is best to hang the skirt up while you create the pleats and ruffs. If you have a helper, wear it while they work. If you have a dress form or mannequin, be sure it is at the right height, and if you plan to have a cage or bustle pillow, put it on! (On the form, not on you.) If all else fails, clip it to a hanger and dangle it above the floor at the right height. You will have trouble getting good folds if you lay the skirt flat.
Then, start pinning. I start with the seams, pinning my folds through to the lining below. I try to place the folds at fairly steady intervals, working down. It may take some guesswork and re-pinning to get the right amount of lift. Don't forget to leave enough to fold over and hem! After pinning at seams, if you want more folds, mark a line straight down the fabric and pin along it.

After trying it on, hand stitch each fold. It only takes a few stitches with button or quilting cord to be reasonably sturdy. If you do, in fact, plan to be running from angry mobs of MRAs you may wish to sew a bit extra...
Votes for Women, Tools for All!

The finished skirt should have volume and swish! Note that stiffer fabrics will give the best results, particularly if Madam does not wish to wear bustle prosthetics. 

 The finished product, in front of the organ, at Anomaly Con 2016. I'll do another post in the future about some of the finishing details. E'ry day I'm Bustlin'!

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