I know fancy dress opportunities fill a lot of people with dread but I’m one of those people that absolutely love them. The opportunity to get creative and craft something is one I really enjoy, and that is how the story of how this jacket came to pass starts.
I’m part of a dinner party crew that throw themed dinner parties every few months, alternating hosting between us. It’s really fun trying to figure out themes that work for the food as well as the costume and it always makes for a hilarious evening. Through the years we’ve covered a lot of themes; baseball, pirate, Australian and the theme behind this… Victorian.
My brain always goes through a whole stream of ideas before I land on something, this time it went from children dressing up as chimney sweeps and maids for Victorian day at school to Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” with the ladies wearing bustles to steam punk. I like to think that the final outcome is a combination of the last two.
My trick with fancy dress is to create pieces that can be used for more than one thing. As I couldn’t see how I would be able to style out a bustled skirt I decided on a jacket with a bustle back (figuring it’d be great for a circus ring master… if that ever comes up)
Now I started this jacket from a basic pattern cutting block but it would be easy to adapt any jacket pattern really as the only adaptation was to the lower edge of the jacket. I extended the front but curved up from there with it coming to a semi circle in the back. I then made the jacket up leaving the lower edge at the back open.
I created a piece of fabric that was the right shape to fit in the back and then the bustle is just straight strips of fabric gathered and sewn onto that in rows, curved to fit. It would have worked just as well to create the different bustle layers in different lengths and just attaching at the top but frankly I was being skant with fabric (something I’m sure won’t surprise you) and worried it would add a lot of bulk with them all gathering at the same point.
For the full Victorian look I styled the jacket with a long black skirt, frilly white shirt (that I already had from pirate night) and put my hair up in braided bun.
I’ve styled it here with a pair of black jeans and I think it actually looks quite wearable. I refer to it as a mullet though because…
Its all business in the front…
… and definitely a party in the back.