1880s Calico Dress

October 2013 – September 2014

An 1880s bustle day dress in cotton calico. The selvage conveniently reads, “1883-1889 from the American Textile History Museum.” I seem to be drawn to busy brown prints (especially when they’re half-price). This fabric has a good weight – it’s lighter than the standard reproduction quilting cottons.
The outfit is all Truly Victorian: 1883 Four Gore Skirt, 1883 August Overskirt, and 1885 Cuirass Bodice. It’s very lightly constructed. Katherine’s tutorial on an 1880s cotton dress was a great reference (plus I liked her hat). My skirts are unlined and the bodice is underlined in muslin. A couple of short cable ties bone the darts. The internal seams are pressed open and overcast, and I added a waist stay. The bodice closes up center front with yellow-tinted shell buttons. Underneath I’m wearing a Dore corset, long bustle, bustle petticoat, and bum pad.

Hat (July – August 2014)
This hat was made with Miller’s Millinery “Bebe Bonnet” pattern. There are a few early 1880s bonnets in English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century with similar shapes. It’s covered and lined in silk shantung. A surprisingly well-matched cotton sateen ribbon is pleated around the brim, and it ties with a black silk satin ribbon.
Early in the construction process I discovered that the pattern doesn’t include wire in the crown’s tip. So I pulled out a Lynn McMasters’s bonnet pattern as a reference and ended up redrafting nearly all the seam allowances. I’m very glad I did. The bonnet is structurally more stable and will fare better in storage as well. As an experiment, I skipped the flannel padding but did add bias tape. (Mulling and tape are also not a part of the pattern’s instructions). As a result, there’s some show-through of the seam allowances. If I make the bonnet again I might mull a couple of key areas.

no bangs in 1880s
hairstyle variations

Incidentally, I take a little liberty by being bang-less for 1880s. But there are, of course, always variations and exceptions to fashion rules. I trimmed the hat in fall colors. The dress fabric is brown leaves on a black ground with a little yellow and orange mixed in.
I also stumbled upon an affordable antique parasol which happened to work with this dress. It’s the folding type, a carriage parasol, and it’s hard to date. It may be as late as Edwardian but it’s certainly Victorian in style. The brown silk is in very good shape. I didn’t risk opening it for these pictures since it was windy, but hopefully it will get paired with other costumes down the line. Incidentally, these photos were taken on a perfect Spring-like day in December after some rain. The hills were in rare green form.