Part of the reason I sought an 1880s doll was to fill in the fashion void American Girl left between Addy and Samantha. The more tailored Belle Epoque styles are striking in adults and, likewise, pretty mesmerizing in the smaller, shorter sizes that little girls wore. And especially since Ellen and Tinuviel’s wardrobes are getting a bit out of control, and Vivienne’s dresses are mostly pretty simple in construction, I welcomed a challenge.
And boy did I get it.
This 1880s bustle pattern from Thimbles and Acorns has so many pieces that I really felt like a real-deal dress maker piecing it together. I used an off-white floral fabric I got in a fabric swap on AGPlaythings, and that damned blue fabric that I HATE sewing with (it frays super easily) and yet somewhere doesn’t seem like it’ll ever get used up. I actually really like the way the fabric looked in the end though; it suits the tailored suit look.
While the pattern has the underskirt go all the way to the floor, I shorted it to suit a little girl Cordelia’s age. I used sew-on snap closures for the first time in my life and am LOVE with them. I may never go back to velcro or hooks. Speaking of hooks…
My only real issue is that when it came time to bustle the bustle, the pattern didn’t have a picture for the kind of confusing step. I looked on etsy to see other people had done, and everyone has done this step differently, which made me feel WAY better for not being able to figure out…
So I just kind of winged it. I did stitch two anchor points to the twill ribbon, and then I also added a hook and eye to the bustle and jacket as a way to cheat the bustle. I’m thrilled with my little cheat. 🙂
And finally I finished off the look with two little cameo buttons. Maybe fudging the historical accuracy a bit but they were just too cute not to use.
So here she is, Cordelia Swayne with her first official outfit!