Godey’s Fashions, February 1877Godey’s Fashions, January 19771876 Traveling Dress rendering1876 Traveling DressTraveling Dress, back1876 Traveling Dress, Front

Inspiration

This dress comes, fairly intact, from a Godey’s fashion plate. I needed an outfit for the seasonal opening of the Durango (Colo.) Narrow Guage Train, where my historical costume group would act as hostesses at the reception. 1876 was the train’s reenactment date, so the style of the dress was pretty much decided. I found I loved the quirky pockets that were a fad that year, so I researched until I found one I thought I could copy in a fairly short time–since I’m always waiting until nearly too late.

Pattern

Drafted by moi. I used Past Patterns’ 1901 Eton jacket for sizing the waist, but made so many modifications I think I can claim my own original design. I’m especially fond of the swallow tail back pleating. The under and overskirts were pretty much draped until I was happy.

Materials

The waist and overskirt front are a brown striped cotton muslin in a vintage pattern from, I think, the quilting store my Mom used to work for, Quilting in the Country. The underskirt and back bustle overskirt are a silk noil from Thai Silks. Trims are a royal blue cotton velveteen (pockets), a home-dyed to blue china silk shawl (fringe), and a chocolate brown vintage velvet ribbon( waist and bustle binding).

Construction
The entire outfit was sewn using a handcrank sewing machine. I find the handcrank’s rhythm oddly soothing compared to the rushing clatter of a modern machine. It also seems to work far better on the curved bodice pieces, allowing plenty of time to match up the edges. The bodice and the ruffle down back of the bustle are bound in velvet ribbon, applied by hand with tiny whip stitches. The linings and fashion fabrics are sewn as single pieces and the raw edges hand overcast.