Sewing · Victorian

The Aubergine Part II

I really should have written this post last year but I found that I neither had the time or the motivation to do so. But, this is a new year and I am in a much better state of mind so here we go. If you can’t remember Part I, here it is.

Last year I made a new 1890s outfit for myself in a stunning aubergine colour and did post about the skirt here. Now, this is about the bodice, which I had a love-hate relationship during the construction process (here’s a tip: don’t try and be perfect while super stressed and an extreme deadline). I think that I put extra pressure on myself with this project because it was what I wore when presenting the fashion show that I organised. I kept getting in a panic about the idea that no one would take me seriously or think that I knew what I was talking about if I wasn’t wearing something absolutely perfect.

Funnily enough, it is definitely not perfect but nobody noticed…

I have made shirtwaists before to team with 1890s skirts (here, and here), but I really wanted to make a bodice to create a head to toe monochromatic look. I also really, really wanted one of those cute as bows at the back of the neck.

To start out, I made up a mockup from the Truly Victorian 1890s bodice pattern. That came together quickly, and rather easily but then I tried to get fancy and toyed with the idea of adding a plastron because I was concerned that the whole outfit risked looking plain. I drew on the mockup and had a couple of attempts of making up a plastron.


I wasn’t completely sure about it so decided to put it aside while I cut out and started to make up the bodice. I flatlined the taffeta with cotton broadcloth for structural support. Then I revisited the mockup.


Yeah… even though it looked okay in mock-up form, it went horribly wrong when I tried it out in my fashion fabric. No matter how stubborn I was I just couldn’t get it to look right and had to let it go. After an afternoon spent in a bad mood because of the time I had wasted (which could have been spent furthering the bodice, working on my Mum’s outfit, or putting it use on organising the fashion show), I ended up feeling a little better since I had one less thing to do.

The bodice came together quickly, and I got to start on my sleeves. My awesomely puffed sleeves.

I flatlined the sleeves with broadcloth, the same as the bodice pieces for some sturdiness. I sandwiched some cotton organdy at the very top. The puffs were flatlined with organdy, double layered at the very top.

I gathered the top and bottom of the puffs before attaching them to the sleeves. I ended up with two elephant heads. Yup, these sleeves definitely had some structure…

I added them to the bodice and added the collar which wraps around over the closure to finish at the back of the neck with hooks and eyes. I was pretty excited to add the bow onto that.


I had some difficulty stitching all of the hooks and eyes in for the bodice closure but didn’t have time to change my mind and attempt a button closure instead just in case it went terribly wrong.

I also didn’t notice that I had made a mistake attaching one of the sleeves until I was at my parents, days before heading to Oamaru. Fortunately, since I had brought a lot of sewing supplies with me, and my sewing emergency kit, I was able to fix it without too much drama.


While at Mum and Dad’s I also finished and trimmed the hat that I started before heading down.


Despite wearing my outfit on two days during the Heritage Celebrations I didn’t get many photos of it being worn. I am planning on wearing it again in the near future – probably to the Taranaki Pioneer Village War Years Day in April – so I should get some more photos of it soon.

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