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Antique Victorian Bustle Dress Hem Pleats to study by Lisa Schnapp on 02-02-2009

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Victorian Bustle Dress Hem Pleats

Many Victorian costumers have concerns regarding the stability of their pleats to hold a permanent crease and ironed in shape of their pleats- well, just thought I'd offer two cents worth of suggestions (via photos of authentic gown pleats from different eras). Just thought some of you might like to see how some Victorian dressmakers solved these concerns in the good ole' days...also just wanted to add, I didn't iron these skirt hems, so you can see that the old ways did work- they really do hold their shape, even after 100 plus years later.
Photo 1:
Pleats from a very fancy 1883 Victorian dinner gown- I'm not showing this, but it also had a lined hemline that these pleats are attached to.Victorian Fashion bustle dress pleatsThe pleated lining is a 'hair' canvas of stiffened woven cotton, with a slightly stiffened body, but thin, soft and flexible. Not as firm as a cotton buckram, and the outer fabric is never attached directly to it- just at seams. Hair canvas is still available I believe, but you can also can take soft hair canvas out of a seldom used source-- used ties! The canvas taken from a tie will be uneven from end to end (and cut on the bias) but, the inner canvas can be recut and reshaped and used for many different tailored projects.
Photo 2:
1884 Wool Visiting Bustle Dress: These pleats are much longer, and inside tapes are used to control fullness before being sewn to the skirt. The pleats are basted closed 1/2" along the bottom edge to control 'flapping' of the 1st or top pleat layer. A drape hides most of the top pleats and ruched trim. Moderate weight hem of glazed cotton.Victorian Fashion bustle dress pleats
Photo 3:
1886 Silk Satin Bustle Dress wedding gown- the pleated silk here is unlined and added to the skirt separately, and does not show the hem with pleated dust ruffle. The fine, but strong inside tapes are added at long intervals of approx. 8" apart, and the bottom hem is allowed to float freely so it has movement. This silk has much body so it is not flimsy or 'floaty.'Victorian Fashion bustle dress pleats
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