Victorian, Steampunk, and Bustle Era Sewing Patterns

Title: Bustle Fashions 1885-1887

41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation


Book Cover Showing Mid-1880s Women's Dresses
Bustle Fashions 1885–1887: 41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation contains a wide selection of high-quality women’s clothing patterns from the height of the bustle era. During these years, the waist was flattered by a closely fitted bodice, considerable fullness below the waist in back, and ample skirt draperies. Dresses worn outside the home consisted of either two main garments (a long polonaise worn over a skirt) or of three (a bodice and an overskirt or draperies worn over a skirt). The waist was further emphasized by long bodices, often pointed in front and back; vest and plastron bodice fronts; overskirts showing much of the skirt front; and skirts with vertical applied panels.
This book contains practical patterns for undergarments and nightgowns; wrappers and tea gowns; bodices, skirts, and overskirts; complete ensembles for street and house wear; and outer jackets, coats, dolmans, and cloaks. The patterns are drawn from rare original issues of the magazine The Voice of Fashion and 1885 to 1887 editions of the pattern book The National Garment Cutter. They were used by both amateur and professional dressmakers to make up the mainstream styles of the day, and are very similar to patterns published by Butterick. These patterns are enlarged with apportioning scales, printed versions of which are provided in this book, along with step-by-step instructions. Apportioning scales are special rulers that enable you to draft custom sizes, from queen size to doll size, without doing arithmetic.
Most patterns in this book are accompanied by supplementary illustrations with detailed descriptions, drawn from Butterick’s Delineator magazine. Each of these supplements shows optional style variations that can be produced by using flat pattern alteration techniques, or merely by substituting a garment section from a different pattern in this book or draping an overskirt pattern differently. The descriptions include information on construction and fabrics. Edited selections from fashion columns in The Delineator, Harper’s Bazar, and other publications add information on style trends. Also drawn from The Delineator are instructions and illustrations for 208 trimmings and 91 accessories. In addition, a substantial chapter on dressmaking, assembled from articles in Godey’s Lady’s Book, gives detailed information on making garments for the second half of the 1880s. The book’s glossary explains period fabric names and dressmaking terms.
Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 is a rich pattern source for readers who recreate period clothing for theater and film; living history; Old West and single-action shooting events; steampunk and goth outfits; bridal parties; or dolls. It’s a valuable identification and dating tool for costume historians and vintage clothing collectors. And it will spark ideas for fashion designers.


“These books [Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889] open up the world of the 1880s dressmaker and the practicalities of her work. As always with works from [Lavolta Press], they are well produced with clear text and diagrams.”
—— Naomi Tarrant, Costume (Journal of the Costume Society, United Kingdom)
“Drapers and patternmakers will find these books [Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889] most useful in productions of costumes from the periods covered. Designers may also find them inspiring as easily perused sources of period imagery.”
—— Theatre Design & Technology
“[Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889] are two exquisitely detailed and superbly illustrated resources. . . . Both of these seminal editions are valuable and practical guides to detailed costume creation for the era, making them truly exceptional and highly recommended additions to personal, professional, academic, and community library History of Fashion instructional reference collections.”
—— Midwest Book Review
“This entire series from Frances Grimble is the most astounding amount of compiled research we’ve ever seen! A valuable resource for costumers, re-enactors, history aficionados, or anyone wanting a comprehensive look at these fashions and the culture surrounding them. I purchased the entire set for my wife (costumer, historian . . .) and we were completely impressed with both the quality of the contents as well as the layout and organization of the series.” “Very inspiring for the classic Victorian and Victorian Steampunk clothing I make.” “They [Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889] are chock full of cool stuff.”
—— Reader comments


Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 contains patterns, instructions, fashion plates, and adaptation suggestions for:

Only $1.19 per pattern! Far more economical than buying separate patterns for each garment in an outfit (consisting of an ensemble, undergarments, and outerwear)

This 446-page book also includes:

Table of Contents (readable with Adobe Acrobat)
Index (readable with Adobe Acrobat)

Author Biography

Frances Grimble is the author of After a Fashion: How to Reproduce, Restore, and Wear Vintage Styles, The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette, Reconstruction Era Fashions: 350 Sewing, Needlework, and Millinery Patterns 1867–1868, Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1: Undergarments, Bodices, Skirts, Overskirts, Polonaises, and Day Dresses 1877–1882, Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 2: Evening, Bridal, Sports, Outerwear, Accessories, and Dressmaking 1877–1882, Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889: 57 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation, The Voice of Fashion: 79 Turn-of-the-Century Patterns with Instructions and Fashion Plates, and The Edwardian Modiste: 85 Authentic Patterns with Instructions, Fashion Plates, and Period Sewing Techniques. Over 60 of her articles on sewing and vintage clothes have appeared in national magazines, such as Threads, Sew News, and Antique Trader Weekly. Frances Grimble has been a how-to writer and editor since 1983. She has worked for book publishers, magazine publishers, and software companies; she has written a number of user manuals and coauthored a computer book.
      Frances Grimble has substantial formal education in researching social history and in clothing design. In 1974 she began making historical reproductions for periods from the Renaissance into the 1920s; she tries to schedule regular sewing time in addition to that required by her writing projects. Since 1972, she has collected vintage clothing and accessories from the late 18th century into the mid 20th.

Publication Data

8 1/2” x 11” quality paperback
446 pages
439 illustrations
Glossary, bibliography, index, metric conversion table
ISBN: 978-0-9636517-8-5
PCN: 201012345
Cover price: $49

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Web page text and book cover copyright © 2010–2024 by Frances Grimble