1887 evening outfit

It seemed I’d never finish this outfit since I missed the deadline in February 2009 (historical ball; the other ladies looked fantastic).

Well, I’ve invested some additional work, changed/omitted some details and declare the project a medium success. But let’s take it from the beginning:

In Victorian Fashions I’ve seen a wonderful evening outfit described as velvet and lace, with a particularly nice overskirt: pouffed in the back and two separate gores in the front (here is a picture I took from p.188 of Victorian Fashions by Stella Blum, Taschen Verlag).

The underskirt was made using TV261, with red silk instead of lace because it’s cheaper. After the ordered silk finally arrived it was finished rather quickly, and I added box pleats to the hem.

The overskirt‘s pattern is self-made – the picture does not show the backside, so I was free to use my imagination. The particular velvet I used seems to be not too bad – it has “Niedieck” printed on the seams, and after 10 minutes of googling I concluded that this is not the worst of brands. Anyway, on the original picture it looks like the back is not draped overly elaborated. I’ve cut two rectangular pieces (40x120cm) for the skirt front and one rectangular piece (120x150cm) for the back. After some calculations and lacing of the corset I made the front pieces smaller (24cm, without seam allowance), lined the pieces, gathered the 120cm of the back piece and made about 5 meters of silk piping. I’ve cut a 25” waistband and sew three silk bands with which to drape the back. And I’ve bricked my sewing machine with all the layers of velvet so I had to resume to hand sewing some parts.

I used TV416 for the bodice. It’s the wrong period, but some of the outfits shown in Victorian Fashions have the same low neckline, so I’m going to use it, period. And it’s all about the waistline anyway, isn’t it? Early bustle had a higher waist than late bustle, if I am not mistaken. I’ve added box pleats and piping made of the remaining red silk used for the underskirt..

Dress decoration: the original dress shows elaborate flower decoration. I planned to make red silk roses, but I never found myself in the right mood for roses (2009 turned out to be a rather strange year after all). So this dress stays devoid of roses.

Jewellery: I totally fell in love with bohemian garnet jewellery and started looking around at several places. Until now without any success, but I’ll keep looking.

All in all I’ve learned a lot in terms of sewing (for example that velvet is a diva, unstitched seams show, and it requires a lot of hand sewing) and in general, in particular to go through with a project.


It might not have turned out to be perfect, but hey, that’s just how life is.


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