bustle front

A few weeks ago, Calliopunk over at Gone Catawampus asked if I could help her friend with a bustle skirt for steampunk Alice in Wonderland. The pattern she had in mind was Simplicity 1819, which was a happy coincidence for me, since I’m thinking about using this pattern for NoFlutter’s Sailor Jupiter.

The Basics: 

Pattern: Simplicity 1819

Total Hours: 10ish

Fabric: 5 yds. of 60″ poly satin in blue and app. 4 yds. of 60″ black haubute for lining

Alterations: Made the bustle and skirt separate pieces.

Notions: Thread, 9″ zipper, twill tape, ribbon, velcro.

Did it look like the pattern illustration?: Pretty much, though I think I should have gathered the bustle more.

Make it again?: Probably. I’m still leaning toward the bustle piece this pattern with a few alterations if I make NoFlutter Jupiter.

bustle back

Other Notes: Okay, so there were a couple of tricky spots on this project which prompted this post. Starting from the beginning of the pattern instructions. Yes, you do have to hem the apron front piece prior to attaching it to anything. The instructions call for a slipstitch, but I’m a lazy mofo and would recommend a blind hem on your machine instead. I’m still not great at this, but it’s much faster than doing it by hand. Plus, with the way the apron drapes, you’re not really going to see the hem anyway.

Next up: the side cascades. I ignored the fold lines here. I initially tried to follow them, but it just didn’t work for me. I was able to eyeball them pretty well without the lines. Also, you might consider hand tacking the edges of the drapes if you want them to retain their shape. Mine wanted to flop around a bit, but the bustle covered the wost of it.

bustle side

One of the biggest issues I had with this project was the overall thickness. There are a TON of layers, and my machine HATED sewing through all the pleats on the apron. I ultimately wound up using a leather needle, but I still had to hand crank through those damn pleats.

A note about the zipper: It’s covered by the bustle, so I have no clue why they insist on a lapped zipper. You could easily do this with an invisible zipper or even with velcro or snaps.

I had zero desire to repeat the pleat fiasco, so when it came time to attach the bustle, I created a separate piece. I created another waistband piece just for the bustle and added velcro to the back so the two pieces would still line up.

Speaking of the bustle, the instructions are terrible when it comes to draping the skirt. The basic idea is to draw the bustle casing up to the loops with ribbon, much like Roman blinds. The instructions say to leave the ends of the casing free, but to stitch the rest of it down. Dafuq? How is that supposed to work, Simplicity? I ignored that instruction and stitched the edges of the twill tape, but left free gaps to thread my ribbon through.

bustle casing 3

Final verdict: I would definitely label this pattern intermediate. There’s a lot of tricky bits in it, so I’d hesitate to take it on without at least a few projects under your belt. Still, if you can power through it, the result is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see this client in her full costume.

Have you tried making this pattern? What were your thoughts?

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27 thoughts on “Pattern Review: Simplicity 1819

  1. The final outcome looks beautiful though! But I can see how it would be frustrating! There’s nothing worse then bad instructions!

  2. My head is spinning just reading the description haha! But then again, I consider myself less than novice when it comes to sewing! I can rock a straight stitch and a zig zag – yeah! 😀

    This looks great though – I imagine her whole costume will be excellent!

    1. I noticed that misprint as well and had to double check the instructions and both side flap pieces to be sure that they were wrong and I wasn’t just confused. Simplicity’s usually better than that. Love your final product! Gorgeous wings and I love all your Tink odds and ends.

  3. Bless you for posting this! I am a costumer with upper-intermediate skills, and I got dizzy reading the instructions. I like to read them first so I can budget my time in advance. I’ve procrastinated starting this one because I can’t for the life of me figure out where the pleats go and what ties up to what. Your modifications make a lot of sense.

  4. Thanks so much for the tips! I’m using the pattern for Steampunk Ariel and working on a mockup before I dive in with expensive fabric and mine isn’t quite turning out like the pictures (not that the ones on the package show very much), so it helped to see how yours turned out. I had the exact same thoughts on the machine blind hem for the apron and the invisible zipper for the back. Right now my biggest concern is that the pleats aren’t draping right in the front and the stitching is very visible on the sides, but it looks like on yours, the pleats fall better with a heavier fabric (which I will use for the final product) and the bustle and cascades cover up the stitching on the sides.

  5. I’m in a jam right now doing this costume for a friend. For the Apron front, how did you match up the sides? I’m so confused by the instructions and lack of visual aid. I’ve tried matching it up but it doesn’t work/ look nice when I drape it on the mannequin. Help a seamstress in need lol!

    1. Gah, so sorry for the belated response! I honestly just eyeballed it and pinned until I was happy with my draping. The fabric I used was pretty thick, so I couldn’t really go off of the pattern markings. Sorry I can’t be of more help 😦

  6. Hey I’m stuck on the hole draping thing, I’ve got all the rest , now with the draping do you fold the pleats in Ward on the back bustle to make it look that way?

    1. Do you mean the draping on the apron or the bustle? For the apron, I followed the pattern lines. I should have taken a better photo of the bustle. Basically, I stitched my twill tape where it was indicated on the pattern pieces, but I created looping areas for stability (see the final photo). I threaded extra ribbon through those loops to the corresponding loops on the skirt piece. Once you thread ribbon through both and tie them together, you should be able to fluff the bustle as needed to get the shape you want. Depending on the material you’re using and the weight of your fabric, you may also need a bustle pillow. My client didn’t want one, but with periodic fluffing, it all held up pretty well.

    2. I probably should mention that my big “AHA!” moment with the bustle came after reading reviews of this pattern on patternreviews.com. One user compared the bustle to Roman Shades, and after looking up a few tutorials, it finally clicked. Hope that helps!

  7. I hated this pattern. First, there were instruction on the pattern to only only cut one piece, and when I started sewing I realized I needed two (the contrast fabric for one of the swags, for example). Secondly, WHY DID I NEED TO CUT 8 PIECES for the bustle (including the contrast and lining)? Seriously, this could have been done with 2 pieces, but a minimum of 4 pieces. That was just ridiculous. I would have happily lined the entire bustle with my contrast fabric instead of lining the top part with lining fabric and the bottom with contrast fabric. The price was about the same per yard. ALSO, it didn’t really go together right. You did have to hem the front apron piece before you attached it, but the hem allowance went into one of the cuts for the pleats, and it didn’t really make sense to me. And the swags, and attaching the swags, was onerous and it could have been done much more easily. And the twill tape…. I just sewed on plastic rings (JoAnn’s: $1.99 for 12) and it was so much easier than twill tape. I ended up adding another row of them as well so the bustle was more bustley. The waist band really didn’t work. I ended up cutting two waistband pieces and making it wider. There were too many layers of fabric (some of them gathered) to use a fold-over thin waistband — even with the interfacing. I felt like the pattern was just not well thought out at all. It made a simple design WAY more complicated than it needed to be.

  8. Thank goodness! I’m glad it’s not just me. I’m currently making this bustle and apron for my steampunk outfit. I have a skirt and I’m making the bustle and apron and pillow as separate tie on pieces. Is it my imagination or does it not actually give instructions as to where to fit the back cascade?!

    I’m lining the front as well as the back. Decided I’m going to put the gathers in the front and then lay the lining over it (rights sides together) to give a flat back. I’ll insert the front cascades when I do this too – plus some ribbons to tie it on.

    The back though, I’m gonna wing it with the vertical gathers. I might just stitch it in place – no one’s going to see it.

    I used Chinese satin for mine. Totally misjudged the amount of fabric I needed. Five metres of that in the end because it’s not wide to start and to allow for pattern matching etc. A while since I originally looked but I don’t think it was clear about how much fabric you’d need for individual pieces – so I just guessed wrong first time.

    I may also just add a bit of sew in interfacing at the top of the bustle and apron, rather than adding a waistband. Might be a mistake (any thoughts?) but thought it will cut down the bulk bearing in mind there’s a skirt too – and hopefully my corset will hide the whole lot!

    Some fabulous outfits you’ve made. Very inspired. Thanks.

    1. Hey Lis! Sorry for the belated response. If memory serves, I don’t think there’s really instructions on where to fit the back cascade. I had to wing a lot of that. IMO, you really do need a waistband. The whole thing is suuuuuper heavy. Curious to see your results if you went without!

  9. I was doing well with this pattern, right up until the bustle gathering. Thanks for your post on this, it was very helpful! I’m glad to hear that everyone else seems to feel the same way I do.

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