So to have a new costume for April, I need to start this now, because I get approximately zero hours per day to sew with a baby around. (And now is actually a month ago, when I started with accessories).
I admit it, I’m still a wee bit salty about never coming in first in the Jordan Con costume contest. I did best with my Lady Moiraine sacque (second place) and my frooftastic Kaylee dress (after hemming 40 yards of silk chiffon; third), and Steel Inquisitor Vin (Best Workmanship the equivalent of second since the judging format changed) I did not expect to place with Sevanna (and I didn’t) and was unsure whether or not Rey had the necessary impact (it did not, but also not surprising).
So what does have impact when you are presenting to a group of judges who are generally not seamstresses? Size. Often props. That indescribable wow factor. (Also, doing something from the author-judges’ books. But I honestly don’t think there is anything left to costume in Wheel of Time [at least until the TV show comes out]. There is still a bit of scope in Sanderson’s work, but nothing that has caught my interest yet).
I thought about doing Margaery’s wedding gown, but that’s more about lots of extravagant detail work (hundreds of small ribbon and leather roses), and if I’m going to put that much effort into a gown, it’s going to be a beaded and embroidered Worth gown extravaganza.
So, going back to my historical costume roots, which is obviously my one true love (If this is surprising to you, hello and welcome to my blog!) Three years ago, I read this article on Your Wardrobe Unlock’d on an Ironman bustle dress cosplay (Apologies, you need to be a member to access it) by the wonderful Costuming Drama. I thought this was a super fun idea, and ran down the list in my head of how you could make other Avengers into bustle gowns. The obvious one was Captain America, where the shield design would be replicated on the parasol. This needed to marinate in my head for a few years, and now it is finally time!
What is more wow factor than a giant bustle gown, covered with ruffles and trim? Conveniently, t also fills the rather large hole in my costume repertoire – right now I have 1850s and 1890s, but skipped right over the bustle era in my wardrobe.
I knew this had to be second bustle era – mid 1880s – because there was a very popular look at the time for a plastron/vest/center panel thingy to be a different fabric than the rest of the bodice. This will allow me to easily swap out the Captain America plastron (complete with red and white stripes and a star) for a historical one, depending on the event.
And now here we proclaim the importance of research:
It turns out that the festoons-of-ruffles skirt of my dreams were more a thing during the first bustle era and natural form era. This was when sewing machines became popular and affordable enough that everyone decided to Trim! All! The! Things! The correct answer to “is there enough trim on this dress” was a definite “no”. Alas, things like “good taste”, and “restraint” were not equally popular.
(Yes, people in
ruffled glass houses shouldn’t throw more ruffles on top of it stones, since I do have the fabric to make this plaid dress one day. I never claimed to have good taste myself.)
But by 1885 with these popular vest-bodices, skirts were all about the asymmetrical drapery, and a more tailored look.
Compare these early bustle / natural form skirts:
To these late bustle skirts:
Interestingly, the vast majority of the dresses I found with buttons up both sides of the vest (instead of the center) all seemed to be seaside/nautical.
And the one I kept coming back to, which is going to form the basis of my dress:
For the actual dress styling, while there is a wide spectrum of Caps to pick from, I’m drawn to the classic and campy bright colors of the original. Victorians did love them some eye blinding color combinations!
My dress will be bright blue with white stripes replacing the red. The vest portion will have the red and white vertical stripes with a star above. I’ll have red leather gloves and boots, a Victorian flower-pot hat with feathers to match his helmet, and of course, a parasol with the shield design.
Now for the most fun part of costume planning, buying fabric and materials!