Danse libre dress – the start (dun dun dun)

Despite not having finished a main page for my De Heere dress, I’m onto the next project.

I joined a historical dance group called Danse Libre, which does historical dances in historical costumes. Sounds shockingly like my hobbies eh?

The main areas they focus on are 1850s, ragtime, and 20s. Which means I need an 1850s dress, stat.

Since this is a performance group, there is going to be an ongoing argument between Historical Accuracy Molly and her arch-nemesis Theatrical Performance Molly.

HA Molly has swiftly won round one, by insisting on a chemise and corset. (Many members do not wear a corset, and just bone the bodice). TP Molly won round two by agreeing to use the poofy tulle quinceanera petticoat, and tabling the idea of multiple tucked/corded petticoats until later. (Realist Molly also agreed to this, given that I sew really damn slowly)

Time frame: 1848 – 1852. The original founder of the group doesn’t like hoop skirts, so no hoops allowed. Which also means no aniline dye colors allowed. I was hoping to use a highly obnoxious plaid, but I suppose that will have to wait.

Because I’m a child of the internet, I made a pinterest board for research. Do you know how hard it is to find immediately pre-hoop dresses? HARD. Everyone is super into civil war reenacting, which is all hoop-based.

The only way I can do big costumes is to break it down into tiny steps. So here goes:

Buy fabric (10 yards green silk taffeta. Bought from fabricmart at 30% off. It’s more slubby than the sample I got from Renaissance Fabrics, but hey 30% off. Also first ever victorian dress, so again 30% off)


  • Cut fabric
  • Sew
  • (optional) lace on top/hem/sleeves


  • try Peling’s bodice over my corset
  • mockup1 – either from truly victorian or take a pattern off Peling’s bodice
  • mockup2
  • mockup 3 (yes, it will probably take this many mockups)
  • cut silk
  • cut interlining (silk organza?)
  • cut lining
  • sew bodice
  • boning
  • make piping and bias tape
  • sew piping
  • eyelets
  • bertha base
  • bias tape on bertha
  • attach bertha
  • figure out wtf I want for sleeves
  • sleeve mockup
  • cut sleeves
  • attach sleeves
  • tucker (optional for now)


  • Buy base fabric
  • calculate flounce length and width
  • buy lace and fringe
  • Scallop template
  • test flounces and fraying
  • Cut flounces (on the bias)
  • sew lace
  • sew fringe
  • gather flounce on cord
  • sew flounces to skirt
  • cartridge pleat (or knife pleat?)
  • sew to waistband
  • figure out skirt closure
  • hooks & eyes to attach skirt and bodice


  • Figure something out. (hey, it’s a long list already)
This entry was posted in 1850s, Danse Libre dress. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Danse libre dress – the start (dun dun dun)

  1. Kimber says:

    This is so awesome – You rock my socks, Molly!

  2. Pingback: Steel Inquisitor Vin – 1840s bodice | Avant Garbe

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