August 10, 2016

The Lotta Bustle: Running Around In My Underwear


The tragedy of making period appropriate undergarments is that no one ever gets to see them. All that hard work, and they're always hidden under layers of fabric! Unless you're me, in which case you take every possible opportunity to flaunt your historical skivvies in public. Rather than make a new frock for Friday night at Costume College, I decided to give my "Lotta" bustle its first wearing outside of the sewing room.

Extant "Lotta" bustle from a defunct Ebay sale.

Last year I happened to find a photo of the weirdest, most wonderful extant bustle. I figured it was a strange custom one-off, until I stumbled across a photo of a second surviving example. It had a different number of bones, so it couldn't be the exact same one. Then I noticed the same design hiding in a period print advertisement among several of the more familiar types of bustles. The ad called it the "Lotta" bustle. Intrigued, I dug further and found several patents that described similar contrivances.

Attempting to mock up the Lotta bustle.

This spring I wrote an article for Your Wardrobe Unlocked that involved reproducing and comparing 6 different bustles. (Psst, use my affiliate link to sign up for access!) Of course, one of the six had to be the Lotta bustle, because I am insane.

This is the strangest bustle I have ever made.

Twelve yards of hoop boning, some seventy plus rivets, much frustration, and a pair of very sore hands later- success! I had my New Favorite Bustle. Now if only I had a bustle dress...

Marsh corset worn at Maker Faire, steampunk style.

A fabulous bustle needs some fabulous undies to go along with it, so I paired it with the Marsh Patent Challenge Corset that I made for Foundations Revealed (here's my affiliate link for that site too) and my reproduction of a pair of drawers in my collection. The leather used in the Marsh corset is the same leather I used for the sides of the Lotta bustle, so they match!

That scalloped foxing. That swooping top line. That contrast stitching. YES.

Even better, I got my AMAZEBALLS Balmoral boots from American Duchess just in time to pack them for Coco! (Not an affiliate link; I just really love AD shoes.) What's super comfy all night long, beautiful, and has curves that don't quit? These boots, y'all.
 
Why yes, it is all my hair. I paid for it.


To top it all off, I threw together a Bustle Era updo from a donut, two thick braids, two twists, a few clip in barrel curls, and one of the curly bang clip ins from my crazy Romantic Era hair. If there's interest, I might be able to do a how-to post or video of the process.

Taking it down at the end of the night was... interesting.

I had a blast rocking my undies and hair! I'll be sad to cover them up once I get around to making that dress. Bonus: we discovered that the Lotta bustle has a high carrying capacity, resulting in fits of giggles all night.

A whole "Lotta" junk in that trunk, and absolutely no apologies for that pun.
Photo courtesy of Lauren from American Duchess.

Hey, at least all those snacks were handy when we got hungry.

17 comments:

  1. It was awesome! And you should totally teach a bustle class at CoCo.

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    1. I totally want to! I could do a lecture on various types, and I could do a limited where you make one. I'm thinking the springy-wire one like this, as it can be done in an hour or two with cheap materials, and gives a suprisingly nice shape for such a little thing.

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    2. That one is cool! And I love that the name of your board is Dat Ass.

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    3. I just mentioned the idea of you (The Laced Angel) teaching a lecture class on various types of bustles to the Assistant Dean. She loved it as it would totally fit with the Costume College 2017 bonus learning track on "Understructures". :) Definitely submit it a teaching form on it!

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  2. Loved the junk in the trunk!

    As a mechanical engineer, I am so in love that you're experimenting in this arena. Nowhere does historical costuming meet mechanical design meet up in quite the same way. :)

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    1. I think that's why I'm one of the weirdos that actually like making undergarments. It strays more into mechanical/engineering than many other types of clothing.

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  3. What a hilarious bustle! It's awesome and definitive worth to show. If I'm ever going to do the steampunk survival bustle with extra storage space now I know which design to use. :-D
    By the way: I would love to see an how to for the hair updo.
    Greetings!
    Zedena

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    1. Thanks! It's the perfect design for a steampunk bustle, you should totally make one!

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  4. This was awesome! I love the unusual structure. When I was cleaning up after the Friday social, I wondered where some of the centerpiece items went! They couldn't have gone to a better place :)

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    1. Haha, I thought we returned them all, but we might have missed a few along the way! :P Thanks!

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  5. I saw you Friday night, it was a sensation! I was trying to unravel it as you walked by. Brilliant! Also, just purchased the clip-on bangs because I needs the curly. Did you use the boiling water method to curl it?

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    1. Why thank you! Yes, I used small diameter foam curlers and dipped them in boiling water. Afterward there was a bit of work involved in separating and fluffing the curls just enough to hide the mesh underneath. I'm thinking of getting one more, as I have them perfect for the 1830s crazy side curls, but want one that's a bit more frizzled for the 1890s bangs.

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  6. Could you contact me for your info on teaching at CoCo next year? I'm the Asst Dean. cinnamonhrts AT yahoo dot com.
    Val

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  7. Always with the crazy experiments, lady! I love it when someone dives down a rabbit hole on behalf of us all. And thank you for the references to Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and Foundations Revealed!

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    1. Thanks and you're welcome! I think that was one of my favorite weird projects ever. I need to make another one...

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  8. As for the hair, wonderful, and of course there's an interest in a how to!

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