Sophie Hatter Dress- Part 3

Part 1: Research and Mockups

Part 2: Foundation Garments

Part 3: The Dress

This is the third installment of my Sophie Hatter dress progress! If you want to read about the initial pattern choices and making of the 1880’s foundation garments go and check those posts out first.


For the 1880’s skirt, overskirt, and bodice I used patterns from Truly Victorian. These were all done with a sage-green Kona cotton.

Skirt Review:

I started with the skirt, which was very straightforward and simple. I did the most basic version without a ruffle or a polonaise-style skirt. Then I moved on to the waterfall overskirt- which turned out to be the real heavy piece of this whole thing because it’s partially lined. In retrospect, I wish I had lined the overskirt with something lighter. The double layers of kona cotton made it very tricky to iron and it added a lot of weight.

This is the look of the finished skirt!

This is the look of the finished skirt!

Bodice Review:

For the TV460 1885 Cuirass Bodice I used the same Kona cotton as with the rest of the gown. I also decided that I wanted to do covered buttons that matched.

The bodice is the only part that I really deviated from. Right from the start I lengthened it about an inch because my torso is longer. This may have messed with the silhouette a bit and I’m going to consider that for future projects- I think a half an inch would have sufficed

I decided that I wanted to flat-line it for accuracy, but that ended up causing more conflict with the pattern than I bargained for. I used bias tape around the edges in an attempt to smooth over the flat-lining. The color was slightly off and I actually ended up liking that because it broke up the homogeneity of the gown.

As far as the fit goes it was good- and it was so tight that I kept losing buttons in my bust. I ended up adding more buttons to deal with some of the gaping and to diffuse the strain.

The sleeves fit great and I felt like I had plenty of range to my movements. In fact, so much that I was able to pick up my dog:

Sophie Hatter Dress- Part 2

Part 1: Research and Mockups

Part 2: Foundation Garments

Part 3: The Dress

This post will be a review about construction and my experience with the foundation patterns I used for the Sophie dress!

This is the look of the dress from a few months ago to give you an idea of where we’re going. I’ve since added boning to the bodice (which fixes any wrinkling you see in the photos above).


I started with the TV101 “Petticoat with Wire Bustle” pattern. Constructing this part was probably the most frustrating because sewing hubris got the better of me and I assumed that I knew how things fit together. (Spoiler: I did not)

TV 101

For the foundations I used mid-weight linen for the bustle and striped cotton lawn for the petticoat. I bought these from Renaissance Fabrics. I also bought pre-measured and capped wire from Truly Victorian to keep things as simple as possible.

Bustle Review:

The bustle was fairly straightforward to construct. I really liked the way the back was structured because you can untie the hoops to collapse or adjust it. I’ve included a graphic of this because it’s where I got confused (mostly because I skimmed the pattern). On that same diagram I’ve used a red circle to indicate the place where the bones end and I would suggest reinforcing this area when you sew the bones in. My bones kept worming their way out!

All things said and done, it came together nicely once I got the bones tied. Below are the pictures of the finished bustle, and also an image of how the bustle looks when the bones are NOT tied. Don’t let your bustle be sad and flat- tie your bones!!

(NOTE: I didn’t include the ruffled petticoat portion that came with this pattern. This was because I didn’t have enough fabric at the time and I knew I’d be doing a separate petticoat. After wearing it I think I want to go back and include this portion.)

Petticoat Review:

Bustle Review:

This was created with TV170 (Victorian Petticoats). I used a beautiful striped cotton lawn from Renaissance Fabrics. I loved working with this fabric because it was so delicate.

The construction of the petti was fairly straightforward. The waistband ended up being too large so I brought it in a few inches. (I did this with all the components that fastened around my waist)

The trickiest part of this pattern was definitely the tucks- which I had never done before. I would definitely recommend watching a video of someone else doing them before attempting.

They were certainly time consuming, but I can’t argue with the results because they add such a lovely touch.


After wearing this around I think I should have made my petticoat in a slightly sturdier fabric. I chose a kona quilting cotton for the rest of the dress and I found that the cotton lawn provided less volume when it was weighed down by a heavier fabric.

Onward to part 3- the dress itself!

Sophie Hatter Dress- Part 1

Part 1: Research and Mockups

Part 2: Foundation Garments

Part 3: The Dress

I’m working backwards since this blog is new and I’m going to bring you the process of creating my historical Sophie Hatter dress!

I started by studying the dress she has in the movie. The high neck, long sleeves, and boots all seemed to point to a very basic 1880’s look.

The silhouette is very simple and even the detail of the lace at her collar seemed to mesh with primary sources.

It’s interesting to note that most of the supporting female cast are dressed in gowns that seem more modern. Our girl Sophie is dressed in a way that deliberately contrasts with the 1890’s look of puff sleeves and bright colors. She’s branded an “old maid” just by virtue of the fact that she has visually aligned herself with the past decade.

Once I decided on a decade I moved on to visualizing my idea and choosing patterns. I did a rough mockup from a photograph of an extant garment.

This is my first Victorian dress and I wanted to use a set of patterns I could work from without having to do too much alteration. I chose a selection from Truly Victorian’s late bustle patterns- TV101 (the wire bustle), TV170 (Victorian petticoats), TV261 (the four gore underskirt), TV368 (1887 waterfall overskirt), and TV460 (1885 cuirass bodice).

Continued in Part 2!

Planning an 1880’s Gown

After the completion of my green 1880’s gown I thought it would be fun (and efficient) to make a formal gown that can use the same foundation garments.

I had vampires on the brain this past summer and it has been fueling my desire to wear this dress. Mina’s red gown in the 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as the one worn by Kate Beckinsale in the 2004 Van Helsing are both inspirations.

I posted some quick concepts on twitter to get a feel for what I was looking for. I really like the romantic feel of lace paired with a warm “blush” color.

After this I spent some time picking out fabric options that I really liked. I thought the satin would drape well and I already know that I love Renaissance Fabric’s taffeta from a previous project.

Doing this really helps me get a feel for what I do and don’t like. At this point I’m really favoring the 12 & 13 options because I like the subtlety of the black lace over another color fabric.

I already have my patterns picked out- Truly Victorian’s 261, 382, and (very modified) 416. The next step is to order my fabric!