1885 Velvet Evening Gown (Part III)

Part I – Undergarments

Part II – Skirt and Bustle

Part III – Mantle and Accessories

This was a very ambitious project. I’d recently fallen in love with the Late Bustle era, and was invited to be part of a group of the same, inspired by Game of Thrones. (Which I’m not a huge fan of, but hey, anything to make fancy gowns…)

I zeroed in on three Worth dresses, and decided to go for the character Melisandre, as she wears only red.


I armed myself with three Truly Victorian patterns and one Black Snail Patterns:

TV416 – 1875 Ball Gown Basque (heavily modified)
TV361 – 1880s Butterfly Detachable Train
TV292 – 1893 Bell Skirt (this was a bad decision – it’s not made to go over a bustle!)
Victorian Underwear Sewing Pattern #1115 (this includes a trained petticoat and traveling bustle)


I had aspirations for this garment. I’d been eyeing a mantle from Le Musée Arts Decoratifs for a few months. This was going to happen. (Yes, yes, it’s 1870s, whatever. 1880s version of this.)


I got my grubby little hands on Truly Victorian’s TV500 – Talma Wrap and set to work.

Cognizant of the fact that I’d be debuting this very sleeveless evening gown in January and February and might have to deal with twenty degree temperatures or lower, I decided to make it very wooly.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 12.57.50 AM

The outside was a beautiful soft charcoal coating wool, which I interlined with some scratchier dark gray wool. (Did that make the seams hard to press or what.) I used a dark, soft cotton for the lining for comfort. This is a very warm garment. (Oh, the center back piece is black cotton velveteen for subtle contrast.)

Once I’d gotten the base all done, I started to throw decorations at it. Fringe, handmade droplet beading, trim, fur, applique – you name it. I spent more on the passementerie than I did on all the fancy wool.


But most importantly: soutache. I look forward to one day sewing with the thicker stuff, because the thin cord shows all your stitches and is very finicky.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 5.37.34 PM

The design is from the Arthur’s Lady’s Home Book, Vol 20-21, from 1863.

Lastly, I put some very soft black fur trim around the collar.
The whole thing took 25 hours, and I have no regrets! I wish I could wear it around every day.
26972419_10214856179854259_1476659751_o  Harback_20180216_0423.jpg


I did some digging and managed to find a couple of vintage pieces that matched nicely and didn’t stand out to me as being too far off in style. (Who knows – maybe I’ll look back at this in a few years and make a face.)
I found a few ref pictures that would justify my use of a brooch asymmetrically…
and found myself some evening gloves and vintage bracelets. The gloves aren’t as long as I’d like, so if anyone has sources for extra-long matte evening gloves, please let me know!

Elysian Arts Photography

I also bought some random bits and bobs and made a set of earrings, hairpins, and a choker. (The necklace was one part of Melisandre’s character that I felt I couldn’t compromise, but I had a friend make it for me and it wouldn’t arrive in time for the debut of this dress – I ended up making a rather Edwardian version.)
Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 9.46.45 PM GOTwm13.jpg


Disclaimer: I am not good at styling hair. Thus, I am surprised I even approached something that looks like it might have come out of the 1880s. I did have to keep Melisandre’s long forelocks, though, so that interrupts the image a bit. Anyway, my references:
I ended up twisting remaining bits of hair (that I had left down for the first event) up at the back, but it doesn’t look very good. Sigh.

Final ensemble

Harback Photography, Feb 2018

Dancing Squirrel.jpg

Dancing Squirrel Photography, Jan 2018 (see – no bustle!)

Harback_20180216_0421 copy.jpg

Harback Photography, Feb 2018

DSC_6303 #eyebrow

Ethereous Photography, Feb 2018


Ethereous Photography, Feb 2018

Final thoughts:
I’m really proud of this costume. I see all the errors, as every seamstress must, but it’s also shown me how far I’ve come.
If I ever go back to this with a needle and thread, I’ll start by cutting the front boning shorter on the bodice to get the proper pointy late 80s look, but failing that….I did it. I made it the whole way, and that’s something to be proud of.
Now I just need to find another event to wear this to!

2 thoughts on “1885 Velvet Evening Gown (Part III)

  1. Pingback: 1872 “Rainbow” Fancy Dress (CoCo ’18) | Sewing with Kenna

  2. Pingback: It’s a Bee! It’s a Hufflepuff! It’s a Sunflower!….The 1871 Black & Yellow Gown | Sewing with Kenna

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