The Dimity Bustle

Thanks to this most inspiring book, which has arrived in my life.

“Fashions of the Gilded Age” by Frances Grimble.

   “The Dimity Bustle” 



The drafting for this book uses a special scale system, which I admit took a while to get my head around, but for this particular pattern its at a 1/4 scale. So using Abobe Illustrator I drafted this out by measuring the book and then x4, I printed out onto A3 and joined together. This would be easily drafted by hand by drawing the downward measurement at 1st: book=189mm x 4=759mm. Parallel at the top 2nd: Waist book=31.5mm x 4=126mm. Then parallel at the bottom 3rd: bottom Hem book= 67mm x 4=268mm. So by joining up these the slopping back angel is achieved. Measure down for the bone channels and mark horizontally. Then you just apply this technique to the side panel.


Looking closely at the drawing, inside there is another 2 panels with ties and buckles, these must help keep the shape of the bustle, laying onto your behind, helping with the elevation. With this in mind I decided to cut x4 of the Side Gore panels to make these Inside Gore panels.


The pattern in the book does not include the Frill or the Waist-band. My back waist corseted measurement is 380mm so take this add on 100mm (50mm each side) and then 30mm deep x2. The frill, I took the Back bottom hem measurement x3 then added 30mm to each section so to achieve a good ruffle, this will need a small band for the buttons, to attach to the Bustle. I decided to keep this Frill plain and not add Lace, I am thinking Pleats.

Now to the choice of fabric… I was very tempted to go down the route of some of the glorious examples I had found,  brightly coloured or striped but the beauty of this choice of bustle, it has the removable frill which I can at a later date can change, make the same fabric to match the dress.

Bustle3 Bustle2 Bustle1

I already have some good sturdy crisp cotton but its very pure white and feel that the excuse is there to try Tea Dying, I really want a natural antique colour, just off white. Also its always good to use up fabric which you have already, AND I have already put this through a quick wash in the washing machine which saves me another job.

Materials which I need are:

  • 1.5m Cotton – Bustle
  • Boning channel = 2.1m
  • Plastic Whale bone = 2.1m
  • Tipping fluid
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • D Rings = x12
  • Cotton Tread (natural cotton)
  • Buttons for the detachable frill x5


I have a couple of websites I use for supplies,
also a couple of shops here in London Town.

Vena Cava Design
Great website for Corset and Lingerie supplies but also a fantastic source for Historical Costume Patterns.
I love this website and I have to be very careful when shopping here, far too tempting. Great service and delivery.

Sewing Chest
UK Mailorder of Sewing Supplies for Bra & Corset Making, Period Costume, Dance Leotards and general sewing.
I have been using this Company for a long time and they have never let me down.

Cloth House
I love the Fabric from these two branches of this wonderful shop. The range and quality is absolutely fantastic.
The cotton fabric I used for this project was purchased from the No.47 shop and the buttons from the No.98.

MacCulloch & Wallis
A trusted and extremely amazing place for such a wide range of things, its so worth a very good look.
This is where a I found the D Rings.

“Tea Dying”

There were plenty of good clear instructions to be found on-line, all which varied from the amount of water to tea bag ratio. One thing I did pick up was to use budget tea bags (my better half would not be happy if I used the good tea bags, I can imagine the look on his face), so this also ends up being very cheap.

The tea bag to water ratio obviously depends on the colour you want to achieve. I did some tests is a smaller saucepan with some swatches of my fabric. If colour is too dark, add in some more water one cup at a time, and reheat. If the colour too light, increase the amount of tea bags to water ratio. I started with 1x bag : 3x cups, then added more water, 1x bag : 4 cups. As i only want a very subtle colour, I kept going and ended up with 1x bag : 16x cups = 4 Litres. This volume will be made bigger once I get dying.


  1. Put your material into a large pot and fill with warm water, enough that the material is submerged.
  2. Soak the material in the pot for a few minutes, then remove from the water and set aside.
  3. Measure the water as to your tea bag to water ratio and bring to the boil on the stove, then turn off the heat.
  4. Steep black tea bags in the hot water for about 15 minutes. I used ‘1x’ tea bags to ’16x’ cups of water, my tried and tested formula.
  5. Remove the tea bags and stir your dye with a wooden spoon to make sure the water in the pot is a consistent colour. I would double check and test the colour & darkness of your tea dye again, with a small piece of your material (pre-soaked) and immerse it in the dye for about 10 minutes. Remove the test piece, dry off and then iron it so that it’s completely dry and you can see its true colour, as it will look darker when wet.
  6. If the dye makes the fabric your desired colour, place the soaked material back in the pot. Make sure that the fabric is immersed, and allow it to dye for about 10 Mins (stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for a more consistent colour and to prevent the tea from settling in the folds of the fabric). Also from my experience with any sort of dying its better to dye each part on a small scale rather then trying to fit the meters of fabric in a pot. Yes I have a big pot but you can gently fold the fabric in rather the squashing it and so to avoid getting patchy, uneven cover and crease marks. I also discovered that the water should be put through a water filter. As a cup of tea the hard water film on the top collects a stronger colour which as you pull the fabric out makes a stronger patch.
  7. Rinse out the fabric with cold water.
  8. Put on a spin cycle in the washing machine.
  9. Iron all pieces to dry, believe me its so much easier to iron when damp.

The tea dying took most evenings of my week as i am also making a Victorian Chemise using a Simplicity pattern#9769, and a set of open drawers using Simplicity pattern#2890, which I want the same colour, but hey all good practice.

What I also found, was to put the water through a drinking water filter. The same happened as when you make a cup of tea, you get a residue which floats on the surface. This then, when you pull the fabric out, makes darker patches, which you don’t want.


The instructions in the book are very good, but I thought all the help I can get is always invaluable. I have a couple of fail safe resources which I trust two which I look at daily and another which I knew had a bustle on-line lesson.

“Daily visited”

Both of these websites have the most wonderful wealth of information that I know of.

Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and Foundations Revealed ran by Cathy Hay.
Please, please have a look, the resource at your fingertips is AMAZING and
worth every penny!!!!
“and then not forgetting…..”

A self paced, subscribed lesson, again there are things which other people can teach you which you can never teach your self…

       “I believe there is no one way of doing all things, and sometimes another way could be better suited to you, there is always more to learn”

With the use of all of the direction above…… I compiled these instructions:

  1. Join together Back Panels with a French seam, Press.
  2. Sew on Boning Tape Channels.
    Make sure not to sew to the edge on one side, within seam allowance for the boning insertion. Back stitch and reinforce.
  3. Hem edges: Top, Long edge and bottom on Inside Gore panels (I used my roll hemming foot.. am in love)
  4. Hem edges: Long Edge of Side Gore Panels.
  5. Join together and french seam Outside & Inside Gores to Back (french seam), making sure to keep the boning channel open at one end.
  6. Hem bottom edge.
  7. Gather top into waist band.
  8. Finish Waist band and add ties set of D rings.
  9. Add internal ties with D rings.
  10. Make up detachable frill with pleats and button loops (my preference), then add buttons to Bustle.“Note to Self” To make life easier next time….


A couple of pictures to help the above….

BustleConstuction3 BustleConstuction2 Bustle_Construction1

Ta-daaaah!!! This bustle has turned out rather on the petite side but I am extremely happy with the finished result and I feel is very close to the illustration. It would be very easy to make the shape more extreme using the same techniques. The Chemise (Simplicity Pattern#9769) has turned out extremely full, involves a lot of volume of fabric, so being rather small build and frame it feels rather on the large size. It very flattering around the shoulders. The Drawers (Simplicity Pattern#2890) definitely are a winner.

Most of all…. Yippee!!! Victorian Underwear is complete!!!!! 😀


Finished_Bustle2 Finished_Bustle1


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