This took me two semesters to make, working on it on the side in the theater's costume shop. It was a doozy for me.
It is a replica from a dress in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I dont know if it is on display now, but I would love to go see the original.
If my memory serves me, it is from 1888 specifically, at least the late 1880s..
One of the reasons it took so long and was so difficult was because all I had to go on was two pages in a book-one with a brief description and line drawing, and one with to-scale shapes of the pieces (I wouldnt call them pattern pieces as there was no seam allowance, few markings, barely any instruction)
Here is the photocopied page which I blew up to the correct scale by hand along with all the pattern pieces I made.
Heres the first piece which gets covered by the sewn on pleated skirt later. It has those wire bits that you tie so they bend and maked a framed bustle.
ahh the pleating, so much pressing and in such a specific pattern. It probably didnt help that the fabric I chose was quite heavy and resistant to the iron. It's a really dark blue, since its hard to tell. In the background you can kind of see the reddish fabric draped around a dress form as I tried to decide what color combo and placement I liked best. I think the original was like that burnt orange color..
Here's a detail of the front. Yes, those buttons each have real buttonholes and the middle thing is insert. So you can change up your looks without buying a whole new dress yo. There are 17 buttons on each side!
unfortunately, no one I knew would actually fit into the dress as it was made to the size of whatever woman received way back when. And boy was she tiny! This is how short she would be next to me supposing she was missing her head. Im around 5'6"
The squishy foam mannequin luckily fit into the dress (barely), showing the real shape.
And here it is on display in the theater, where it remains until they switch it out.
I sure respect the old dressmakers after this.
Thanks for looking! If you have done any similar such projects, I'd love to hear what you found a struggle and what you learned.