Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Friday, January 13, 2012

Victorian Bodice Thrift Store Find

Late this summer I stopped by a local thrift store, one which I have not been into for years, to shop for vintage sewing items.  Upon walking into the dust and gloom( very grandma's attic like) I spotted this brown silk taffeta Victorian bodice!!
Warning! This post is very photo laden, so it may take time to load, but if you are a fan of Historical dress I hope you will find it well worth the wait :)

 Simple and so lovely.
It measures 34" at the bust and 25" at the waist, 12" across the back

All of the latest fashion with it's origami folds has nothing on these Victorian forerunners.
After doing some research I would place this Cuiraisse style bodice from about 1880.  
The fan detail here on the back suggests that the skirt that originally went with this bodice had a slim front with back bustle. 
 Similar to the picture below of Lumina Garnier

Photo courtesy of  Garnier Family Photo collection
Are you ready for the detail shots?

The bodice has 18 shell and metal button.  Very difficult to photograph I might add.  
The cut silver disc sits on top of what appears to be black mother of pearl which has a fluted edge.
3 of the buttons are missing :(

Sleeve cuff detail  on the 3/4 length sleeve.

The pleating/folds which would lay over the bustle.

The hand worked buttonholes which are more then half covered by the front tucks.

The interior is flat lined with brown twill and has one bone along the center back seam which extends past the waist. The inside placket piece closes with hooks and eyes at the waist.
you can see the selvage edge of the fabric along both center fronts. 

The seams appear to be machine sewn and hand overcast.
This shows a the intricacies of the back pleats/folds

I picked out a few stitches at the top of the bone casing to reveal the type of boning used. 
I believe its reed but have not confirmed this.

A final shot of the interior with the price tag still attached.  
The inside of the collar shows some loose threads which suggest that lace was sewn in at one time or perhaps a velvet ribbon?  Nothing similar at the sleeve cuff which could have been a possibility there.

This bodice still needs to be cleaned which I am still doing research on but I am thinking of making a skirt to go with it, so that it can be properly displayed.

For all my blogging friends who have a passion for historical clothing I would welcome any suggestions and information you would be willing to provide on its proper restoration.

If there are any other pictures or info you would be interested in, in regards to this bodice please feel free to ask.
 I will be happy to oblige:)


  1. WOW! AMAZING find!!! IT is so beautiful! Thanks for the interior shots!

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing! It looks amazing!

  3. Such beautifully intricate piecing and folding! Thank you for sharing the details here (so often you don't get to see the nitty gritty in a museum display) I wish I could help with restoration advice, but maybe a museum curating department might know more?

  4. Wow, it looks like it is in near perfect condition!

  5. Very nice find! It's quite rare to find a bodice from the 1880s with the beautiful buttons still attached. Those were usually the first thing to be plundered over the years. The boning is most likely whalebone/baleen. It's hard to tell because it looks like it is wrapped in thread. Reed had pretty much fallen out of use by the late 18th century and was replaced with baleen and steel. I love how close this jacket is to the Truly Victorian patterns!


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