June 13, 2022

Go Bustle, or Go Home: Making an 1880s "Lobster Tail" Bustle

There comes a time in every historical costumer's life when they decide to leave comfort behind and dive into a new era's clothing...which means building the look from the undergarments, out.  That's right - it's BUSTLE time!  And to start, I made an 1880s "lobster tail" style bustle:

Making an 1880s "Lobster Tail" Bustle. 
MET Museum Original on the left, my reproduction on the right.

Historical Inspiration

When the bustle came back in 1883 for what is referred to as the Late Bustle or Second Bustle Era (1883-1889), it was bigger and better than before.  Fundamental to the fashionable silhouette, a structural undergarment, called a "bustle," was worn to create a shelf-like protrusion at the rear.  While bustles were made in a variety of shapes and from various materials, one of the most iconic styles from the 1880s was the "lobster tail."  Named for its resemblance to the coastal crustacean, these bustles featured cascading rigid hoops, often mounted to fabric and decorated with a flounce, for a shell-like appearance.

I was drawn to a particular example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically because of the double-tiered, detachable flounce.  Its purpose was two-fold: to soften the line from the hoops, and to allow for easy removal for laundering.

Bustle, 1880s.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, (C.I.43.22a–c)

Bustle, 1880s, side.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, (C.I.43.22a–c)

I did my best to source a similar whitework trim for the flounces on my reproduction, though I mounted them lower than the original, which was in line with what I saw on other extant examples.

Construction Details

To make my reproduction, I used Truly Victorian's Imperial Tournure, pattern TV163 for the base.  Since I don't like to cut the original, multi-sized patterns, I traced the pieces in my size onto pattern paper, and cut them from a sturdy cotton twill.  There was an option to order precut and tipped boning from the company a while back - and I totally recommend the shortcut, if it's still available.  

The instructions were clear and easy to follow, so I mostly followed them...here's a few pictures of the construction process: 

I used a frixon (heat-erasable) pen to mark the boning channels

Pining single-fold bias tape to create the channels

Boning channels all stitched!

I did use the same bias tape to face the sides and inner pieces to finish the edges, which I thought looked nice.  Rather than use the provided flounce from TV163, I encased the lower edge into the final boning channel.  To finish the waistband, I added a vintage mother-of-pearl button and button hole.  

Here's what the finished bustle looks like without the detachable flounce:

Next step was to create the double-layered flounce.  For the ruffles, I ripped two, long rectangles from cotton sateen, added the whitework trim, and top-stitched through the layers to ensure the edges stay upward and out of sight.  Then, I pleated and gathered each layer individually, and mounted them to a single band.

Here's the finished, removable flounce:

Detail shot!

Detachable flounce, front and back.
The longer ruffle was pleated, and the shorter ruffle was gathered onto a single band.

The flounce buttons onto the bustle with 5 vintage, mother-of-pearl buttons and button holes to complete the "lobster tail" look! 

Completed Project Pictures

Here's the side-by-side comparison - original 1880s bustle from the MET Museum on the left, my reproduction on the right:

1880s Lobster Tail Bustle

Now onto the next layer...a Bustle Era petticoat! 

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March 19, 2022

The Sweetest Event of the Year - Maple Sugar Festival!

March means maple sugaring season, and the return of the Genesee Country Village & Museum's sweetest event - the annual Maple Sugar Festival!  Celebrated over two weekends - this year: March 19th & 20th; and March 26th & 27th - there's fun for the whole family!  From the ever-popular pancake breakfast (tickets sold separately); to sap collecting on the Maple History Trail; syrup making at the Sugarhouse; Haudenosaunee storytelling (with ASL interpretation on select dates); and historical trades & cooking demonstrations throughout the Historic Village - both new and favorite traditions abound. 

In fact, my first memories of the event were from a stroller...which gives you an idea of just how long I've been attending the festival!  Since 2014, however, I've been behind-the-scenes, pouring beverages and plating food as part of the historic dining team.  Fast forward to this year, 2022, I'm now running the Hosmer's Inn Luncheon, and overseeing the amazing historic dining team (seriously grateful for the entire team who make the history happen!).  Some of the members were working today, and are picture below as they take a break to enjoy their lunch: 

Hosmer's Inn Luncheon at the Maple Sugar Festival
Historic Dining team members sitting down to enjoy lunch themselves! 

Maple Sugar Fest also happens to be personally significant as it marks my 1-year workiversary in my current role as Manager of Community Lifeways, and 8 years (9 museum seasons) with GCV&M.  (If you're interested in reading more about what I do, in addition to overseeing the Historic Dining programs, find all the details in this blogpost: Going, Going, Gone: A Recap of Season #8!)

Back to the Hosmer's Inn Luncheon...have you ever wanted to dine in a historic inn?  During each day of the Maple Festival, we're serving a selection of savory, cold weather favorites from 11am-2pm, with dine-in and (limited) to-go options! 

Murie carrying a tray into the front parlor.

After you step into the cozy inn, which has been transformed to seat up to 45 guests at a time, our costumed servers are ready to take your order and serve up some lunch or midday beverages (which would pair perfectly with any of the sweet treats available from the Confectionery across the Village Square).  Escape the cold (and rain or snow) and warm up by any of the four fireplaces we keep blazing - sit back, relax, and chat about your favorite activities so far!

Here's a look at your four dining room choices; and yes, you are more than welcome to seat yourselves, or our servers will be happy to guide:

Front parlor

Private dining room

Family dining room

Tap room

Which room is your favorite?

As for the menu options: enjoy a bowl of homemade chili with a generous slice of cornbread and butter, which is a new offering this year.  Top a baked potato with sour cream, cheese, and maybe even chili, or keep it simple with salted butter.  Hot beverage options include the historic American Heritage Chocolate, as well as modern hot chocolate, tea (regular and decaf), and coffee; ice cold bottled water is also available.

Luncheon menu offers a selection of savory, cold weather favorites like homemade chili, cornbread, baked potatoes, and warm beverages, including the historic American Heritage chocolate drink.
Hosmer's Inn is open for dining each day of the festival, from 11am-2pm. 

Backroom Baked Potato Break!

And finally, the obligatory OOTD (Outfit of the Day) picture for Maple Sugar Festival, Day One!  Kelly & I both rocked our Maple browns!  I'm literally SO obsessed with her new dress (which she made just in time for the event) - whereas I threw together some work clothes from my closet this morning: 

The obligatory OOTD (Outfit of the Day) picture for Maple Sugar Festival, Day One!
Kelly & I both rocked our Maple browns!

There are three more dates to catch the event, so don't miss your chance to dine with us at Hosmer's Inn by purchasing your tickets at: Maple Sugar Festival & Pancake BreakfastHope to serve you then! 

That's a wrap for Day One of the Maple Sugar Festival!
See you out there tomorrow and next weekend!

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