When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sterling Silver Rose Bustle Gown

 I love Sterling Silver roses. They are the true and original lavender rose, being nearly thornless and having a sweet and citrusy fragrance. It is the parent or ancestor of nearly every single modern lavender variety today. This classic, heirloom rose has silver undertones, giving it an almost bluish cast.

I have been wanting a lavender bustle gown, so when Val said she was off to the fabric district, I asked her to pick me up some lavender taffeta. She brought home some beautiful fabric, a grey based lavender that changes to periwinkle, just like the rose, depending on the lighting.  I really wanted to play up the lavender tones, by using a deep purple.  I found a vintage flower pin at an antique show, along with gloves and necklace. A trip to Joann Fabrics gave me a floral print with both lavender and purple.
On Amazon, I found 9 yards of dark purple ball fringe for $9.99, so I added it to my want list.  I few days later, I saw an ad on Facebook that said "fill out our survey and we will send you a $10 Amazon card". I did the survey and 4 days later I received an email with a $10 credit code. I bought that trim and had a penny credit left over. Yay for free trim!   However, when I received it, it wasn't dark, it was a bright grape color! Boooooo.
I decided to dye it. Never having dyed anything before, I did a bit of research on the Rit Dye website. I chose to use their line of polyester dyes rather than the regular fabric dye. Of course it was twice as expensive as the regular dye. I spent about $10 on two bottles....there went my free trim!!!

I bought Royal Purple and to darken it a bit, Graphite.   I did several test pieces, with different amounts of the graphite added to the purple. The first test came out too dark. I used 3 teaspoons purple and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons graphite in 3 cups of water. Second test was 3 teaspoons purple to 1/2 teaspoon graphite.  The third and fourth tests were straight purple, at different soaking times.  I left them to dry overnight so I could see them in daylight.

In the morning I eliminated the last two strips that were straight purple, as they still had pinkish undertones and were too light.  The first strip was too dark, so the second test was the winner.

I did the math to increase the portions from 3 cups to 1 and 1/2 gallons.  I heated to 180-190 degrees, just under boiling.  I added 1/2 cup vinegar to help set it. After about 25 minutes, I pulled out the end and rinsed it off. It was too pinky purple. I added in another teaspoon of graphite.  Tested again in another 10 minutes, and it was almost there.  Another splash of graphite and 10 minutes more it was ready!

Right, icky grape trim ready to go in the pot.

Left, looks like blueberries boiling!  
While that is drying, lets talk about patterns.  I really love the Parisian Trained Skirt, which I have made several times.  I had 5 yards of lavender and 5 yards of floral.  I really had to get creative and stretch out the fabric.   My plan was to make this for the Dickens Fest fashion show.  I had all my fabric before Christmas.  Then I got hit with the nasty flu, followed by a bad double ear infection.  I lost 4 weeks of sewing time.  I almost backed out of the show, but I couldn't do that.   I finally felt better enough to give it a go.  I did have to change my fancy bodice to a regular day bodice I am familiar with making, as there was not enough time to do what I wanted.

I had to cheat on the skirt front, as I ran out of lavender.  Under the front double aprons  I used plain cotton for the entire front sections, and attached a strip of lavender at the bottom where it might show. You can see the cotton under the front apron, before I added the strip.  I pleated a five yard strip of lavender, and a second, smaller strip of the floral and attached to the hem.  Then I added the newly dyed ball trim.

I added ball trim to the bottom of the top apron.  Next, I cut out the bodice pieces, flat lined them with a heavy cotton, and sewed the sections together.   After attaching the peplum, I added the ball fringe.

  Below are progress shots.  The bodice is not sewed together, just kind of draped and pinned over the dress form.  I have enough fringe left to go across the bottom of  the bodice.

I still have to pick out buttons.  I'm not sure yet what kind to use.  I want to put a giant bow on the train peplum, and a smaller one on the bodice peplum.  Then I need to decorate the sides of the skirt.

Next, fitting the bodice!  I have no shoulders, so I will be cutting off at least an inch of the shoulder seam.  Also, the sleeves on Truly Victorian patterns are way too big for me.  I cut the sleeves 2 sizes smaller than the bodice size, and they were still to big.   I took full inch seams on them before they were right.  I prefer 3/4 sleeves when possible.
I bought some white trim for the side panels and around the neckline.  I used the same dye formula for this as well.  I didn't dye a test piece, which was a mistake.  It came out a little darker than I wanted.  That's ok.  I just added tiny while flower trim on top of it.   I also bought white pearl buttons in a silver setting, and some dark plum taffeta to make bows.

I am now about 95% finished here.  The back is just scrunched up, not officially bustled yet. the bows are just pinned on and not straight.  I can't button the bodice on my dummy, her bust is too big :)

I wore the dress to the Riverside Dickens Fest fashion show.   Its still not quite done in these photos.   I discovered the flower bunch for the front bodice is too heavy, and it kept pulling the bodice front down.  At the last minute, I moved it to the side for the show, but will need to put a bow or something else there.  I needed to pin it closed at the top, but forgot.  Also, I did not get the boning in yet.   Will edit this post later when completely done.


Here are a few photos from the show, taken by different guests.  As you can see, the color changes with the lighting.

Cost breakdown:

5 yards taffeta  $15.00
5 yards floral cotton  $20.00
Ball fringe - free with Amazon gift certificate
Dye for ball fringe $10.00
Buttons free with part of Joanns gift certificate
Lace for dust ruffle and purple taffeta for bows  $5.00
4 yards tiny white flower trim - free with part of Joanns gift certificate
1 yard heavy cotton for bodice lining  $4.00

TOTAL COST   about $54.00         
Gloves, flower pin and necklace - free!  I won a $20 gift certificate from the Del Mar antique show.


  1. WOW! This is so pretty and fun! It's so neat to read about your process of a) getting just what you want and b) getting that at such a great overall cost!


  2. Looked great in the show, and if you hadn't pointed out the omissions, no one would have ever known. ;)

  3. Cindy,

    Your posts are always an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your process. I think the results are splendid! - Liza