Inside of 1890s bodices

While I work on the pattern for my bodice, I’m also thinking about the construction. I am not an expert on 1890s clothing, so I am turning to my friends, Pictures of Extant Clothing. A million thanks to Lilyluna Standin for putting together an amazing Pinterest board of Insides of Victorian Clothing.

Alas all the vast majority 1890s bodices I can find are day bodices – seems to be hard to find extant evening bodices (which also matches up with my pinterest of 1890s dresses – significantly fewer evening gowns. Not sure what’s up with that).

So, from those, plus the construction of evening bodices from 10-20 years earlier, I’m going to extrapolate what the construction of this 1890s bodice might be like.

1890s day bodice (1)

1890s day bodice (2)


1890s black moire day bodice (3)

1890s day bodice (4)

One of the few evening bodices – an 1890s described by Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion 2.

Janet Arnold 1890s evenign bodice

Janet Arnold 1890s evening bodice (5).

Just posted on Your Wardrobe Unlockd, an 1890s evening bodice by Worth! There are phenomenal photos here, but you need to be a subscriber to see the article. You are just going to have to take my word for it.

[Worth evening bodice (6)]


  • Everything is two layers – a fashion fabric and a lining (usually cotton), treated as one layer. I don’t see any interlinings, although it’s possible they are there (especially on some of the more structured day jackets.
  • The bodices are clever with closures. They tend to have an inner layer that closes, with an outer layer that closes somewhere else. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    • The Worth bodice has two layers, each layer is boned, and they both lace up at the back. (6)

Inside seam finishes

  • Pinked (2)
  • Whipped around the edges (5, 6
  • Bias tape (3, 4)
  • No finish at all (1)
  • Cut into cool scallop patterns! (5, 6)

Top and bottom finishing

  • Matching fabric facing. The bottom facing is often wider than the top facing. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • Ribbon or tape facing

Boning channels

  • Channels sewn using a cool zig zag – maybe a catch stitch? (1, 2, 4 [but the zigzags are so big I don’t know how that could hold it down])
  • Channels sewn down with a running stitch or whip stitch. (3? [can’t really tell with the black], 6)

Waist tape

  • Has one (3, 5)
  • Doesn’t have one (1, 2, 4, 6)


  • Hooks and eyes (often multiple sets on inner and outer layers to do clever things with closures) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Lacing (6 – on two layers even!)

From that, here is my plan:

  • Silk fashion outer layer, plain cotton lining
  • Inner seam finishes – either pinked, or whipped (or nothing, if I don’t have time)
  • Top and bottom finishing – a facing of the silk
  • Boning channels – uhh, I’ll have them.
  • Waist tape – Going to try one out, since I’ve never done one before
  • Closure – I’m planning on having an inner layer that closes at the front with hooks and eyes, and an outer layer which closes with hooks and eyes or snaps under the bodice trim. Honestly, it’s more likely that an evening bodice would close in the back, but I’m trying this out so I can dress myself.
This entry was posted in 1890s, The First Lady Dress. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Inside of 1890s bodices

  1. Pingback: Wrap up – 1890s evening bodice | Avant Garbe

  2. Pingback: Weirdo zigzag boning channels | Avant Garbe

  3. annajcunningham says:

    This is mega-useful! Thank you so much for compiling this! I’m making my first 1890s evening gown for a historical dance event next May, and I’ve been chasing down as much information as I can find about the construction techniques for them. This really helps!

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