The bodice pattern came from Fashions of the Gilded Age I by Frances Grimble, page 391. I made a mock-up of the pattern and so far it looks good. I still need to try it on with the corset and the skirts to adjust the darts at the front, but the back seems to be fitting nicely. A wonder really, because usually I always need to shorten the back on ready-made patterns.
However, there are some things I'm not quite sure about with the pattern. If and when the bodice is flatlined, what would be the neatest and non-fraying/non-ripping way to sew the side back seams? The pattern description (Harper's Bazaar, May 1880) states that the bodice has a postilion back, which evidently means that the back piece has a tail which is pleated from both edges.
|This is my bodice and overskirt pattern. Of course I need to modify the neckline, add the shirred piece in front, and shorten the sleeves but the shape and style are close to the dress in the painting.|
|The bodice pieces, before I enlarged them; I left out the strange skirt piece, because I don't really want to have it and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how a piece like that would fit in with these pieces.|
|Like this. The pins are holding the pleats in place.|
|I'm worried that it will not look neat and that it will rip when I wear the actual bodice.|
|The seams are just basted here. The pleats are on right and you can see the back piece seam in 2 parts (not very clear, sorry!).|
|A bit better picture, I hope|
The sewing instructions for this gown provided by the Harper's Bazaar are vague, to say the least:
"For the basque cut of foulard and lining two pieces each from the front, side piece, skirt piece, back upper sleeve and under sleeve. Join all the parts according to the corresponding figures. Furnish the basque with buttons and buttonholes. Trim as illustrated. "
A lot more is said about how to sew the overskirt and about the fabric choices and trimmings than about the bodice. As said, I omitted the skirt piece, but I don't think it makes a difference when my sewing conundrum is considered. I suppose Victorian seamstresses knew exactly how to sew a neat postilion back bodice but I would really need a little help.