Victorian Project and Research

This term we would be working on making a Victorian bodice. The focus is on making a costume that is historically accurate, working on lots of different samples, and understanding the importance and use of research when creating a costume.

The first step was to begin researching Victorian fashion, with a focus on fashion between 1870-1890’s, and from this research we would choose a Victorian bodice that we would like to recreate.

In the beginning of the 1860’s skirts continued to be bell shaped, and bodices had sloping shoulders that continued in to wide flared sleeves. However in 1865 skirts suddenly began to loose their shape and the volume was focused more towards the back of the skirt.

The 1870’s saw long trains on the back of skirts, with lots of fabric loaded up around the bustle giving volume and emphasis to the back of the skirt. At this time skirts were fashionably flat at the front. The 1870’s also saw a lower waist line, with longer corsets than that seen through the 1860’s.

Unlike the square neckline of the 1870’s the 1880’s saw a very high neckline, with narrow sleeve, both often trimmed with lace. With an established emphasis on the back of the skirts the middle of the 1880’s saw a brief revival of the exaggerated bustle; to the point that the back of the skirt sat at a 90 degree angle from the waist. This love affair with the bustle was only brief and soon died away.

The 1890’s began by following on from the fashion of the 80’s, however the biggest evolution was the changing shape in the sleeved that began to take of a leg of mutton shape, with sleeved tight around the wrist and forearm, but wide and exaggerated around the top of the arm and shoulder. Skirts also lost their volume at the back and took on a more masculine a line shape.

The evolution of fashion was very interesting, amazing how during such a short period of time fashion opinions can vary so widely.

From this research we had to choose Victorian bodice that we would like to recreate.


I choose an image from Janet Arnold’s patterns of fashion. I wanted to make this bodice, but edit the sleeved a little so that i could understand how to draft and make a mutton leg sleeve.

To help me with my drafting later on i also did a bit more research to find some more images that I could cross reference with to give myself more inspiration when drafting and editing my pattern.

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So with the Research done I could start work on the pattern drafting and construction of a mock up for my bodice.




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