Captain America Bustle bodice – construction

Usually construction is the easy part, but this bodice had finicky steps where order mattered.

Everything is made out of the blue Joann cotton sateen, flatlined with polished cotton.

First, the sleeve needed the white decorative cuff added. I thought about making it go all the way around the sleeve instead of the weird half-cuff the original had going on, but then I would have had to make seams line up and that sounded like too much work, so I went with half:

Looking at both sleeves you can see the red doesn’t go all the way around. I left off the bow on top because I thought that looked silly.

I remembered to sew the white triangles onto the peplum before sewing the back pieces together!

Bones inside the darts had to go in before the binding was on (because that is what holds them in the bottom). I serged off the excess dart to reduce bulk.

For the other bones, I followed the instructions of an 1881 garment book which instructed to bone every seam except the ones right next to center back. I suspect this is because those are the most curvy seams on a bodice and even baleen didn’t curve that much?


Bottom binding also partially on

I tried doing sprung bones for the first time. This is a technique where the casing is slightly too big and gathered a little bit. This allows the outside of the garment to still be flat when it is tight against the concave curve from your bust to waist. If the bones were perfectly tight in the casing, the outside of the garment wrinkles because it forms a smaller curve than the curve of the bone behind it.

Possibly gathered too much? I’ve never seen a casing look quite this wrinkly in a picture before.

As an aside, I use cheapo cotton twill tape from Joann for my bones, but this doesn’t look at all like extant garments – anyone know of a better material to better mimic them?

This bodice has a buttoning-in center plastron, so how do you deal with a full mandarin collar? Janet Arnold to the rescue! The collar goes the full way around, hooks in front, and just sits independently on top of the plastron.

Last, the buttoning-in-plastron, aka what makes this Captain America and not just a nice seaside bustle gown.

First, getting that dratted star on. I figured the best way to get it on was applique. And since I didn’t trust myself to be able to maneuver around the points of a star by machine, that meant my first ever applique-by-hand. And of course, a star is literally the most difficult shape to applique on.

First a test version to try out interfacing vs not, and different thread types:


From left to right we have:

  1. green buttonhole silk twist (if I liked it I would have bought white, but I didn’t like it enough to be worth purchasing new thread)
  2. DMC cotton with two strands
  3. DMC cotton with three strands

I ended up going with the 3 strand cotton.

After going around a couple points I figured that was enough practice, and went for the real one. By this point I was working from home full time, and would do the applique during group video chat meetings. Embroidery – it’s better than a fidget spinner!


The points are not all the same and this drives me bonkers. In retrospect I shouldn’t have folded the edges under, I should have left them raw and the satin stitch would have covered it.

And with the bottom half attached, and just pinned onto my dress form:


This is the only place on the dress that uses red fabric. I’ll also have red gloves and red boots.

At this point, the pandemic was in full swing, and Jordan Con was cancelled. This only needs buttons and lace to be complete, but buttons are a pain in the ass, so this is on hold for the forseeable future (especially because I’m not confident Jordan Con is going to happen in April 2021 either…) Right now it just sits on my dress form, because it still makes me happy to look at from my work desk. Stay safe y’all.

This entry was posted in 1880s, Captain America Bustle, Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.