Monday, February 20, 2012

Cutwork and Soutache Bodice, circa ? (date this bodice!) Part 2

Ok, now it's time to help me date this bodice!

My first inclination is that it's from the 1870s. I'm looking at the shoulders, primarily: the sleeve heads are very fitted, and have no hint of puff that makes me think of the 1880s. But is it meant to sit over a bustle? Here are some comparison shots. Tell me what you think.

Mid-1870s bustle.

Over a mid-1870s bustle, side view.
Over a mid-1870s bustle, front view.
Over a mid-1870s bustle, back view.
My conclusion: this bustle really shows off the tail, but the bodice bunches up at the front waist.

Small back pad.

Over a small pad, side view.
Over a small pad, front view.
Over a small pad, back view.

My conclusion: the back waist is starting to creep away from the mannequin's back. That will probably be mostly fixed when I've relined the whole thing. The front still bunches a bit at the waist.

No padding.

No padding, side view.
No padding, front view.
No padding, back view.
My conclusion: the back waist really stands away from the mannequin now (though I really think that will be fixed when the whole thing is lined). The front waist hangs naturally and with little wrinkling, while the tail has acquired a fold on each side.

The final word: I think I'm going to have to repair the lining before I can really get an idea how this bodice is supposed to sit. The mesh that makes up the exterior stretches, even though it's so heavily covered. In the meantime, though, all you Victorian mavens out there, drop me comment and tell me what you think!


  1. I love how the jacket looks over a bustle!
    I'm not sure about the bodice part, though. I agree, it's kind of a funny shape. Is there any way it could have been worn by someone with a different figure than your dress form? That's all I can think of, if it is 1870s.
    Thanks for sharing these pictures!

  2. Hi Julia, and sorry for the belated response! Busy week. For sure the bodice was meant for someone with a different figure than I. Something like this would've been made-to-fit the person. On me it's a bit large, and my dummy doesn't approximate my corseted body very well (in fact, I didn't even slap a corset on it for these photos!)

  3. Oh, I am green with envy! Nice find.
    I am no expert, but my first reaction was actually 1900s. Although there are many leg-o-mutton sleeves from the 1990s, I've also seen fitted, bell shaped, and various other shapes of sleeves from that era, at least if I trust the Metropolitan museum / Costume Institute to date their things right. It's the shape of the chest, with the low bosom, looks a bi pigeon-breast-y to me, or am I wrong?

  4. I'm no expert either, but it lloks very 1900s to me. Not only the shape and lentgh, bu the type of embellishment as well.

  5. Sorry for the VERY delay reply! I just get so busy....

    I haven't ruled out 1900 as the date for this either. I haven't done any more research yet either, or started taking apart the shredding interior. More pics soon!