Monday, January 17, 2011

The Victorian Bustle Coat

Well, I had a blast with last weeks "A Flower in Your Hair" challenge on Project Toddler Runway.  I had this beautiful flower accessory as my inspiration piece.

Isn't it gorgeous?  You can find it and
lots of other pretty hair accessories at Addison Renee

But to tell you the truth I was pretty bummed when I first saw it.

All I could think was wedding and I didn't really want to design anything inspired by a wedding for a toddler.  It just seemed a bit predictable and boring.

So I started thinking outside the box.

I realized the flower was elegant and classy and sophisticated but then there was this handful of rhinestones that were poured inside screaming diva and super glam!

I went shopping with my little girl for some inspiration and right before I left the house I reached into the back of my closet to pull out my old coat.  It was a bit heavier and it was so cold that day!  This coat was a Christmas present from my husband.  A pretty winter white trench coat.  Over the course of a couple of years, I wore that poor coat out.  It was starting to look dingy and I lost a button and wore it thin in a couple of places but somehow while running around that day I still felt so classy and even a bit glamorous.

Nothing like a white coat... every woman should have one.

And so I started dreaming of a coat I could make for Olivia.

I had never made a coat before and I was feeling very intimidated.  They seemed so structured and it made sense to leave the pattern making to the professionals on this one.  So I started pattern shopping.  I found some that I almost liked on Etsy but the cheapskate in me wouldn't allow me to spend even $5 on a pattern that I knew I was only going to use as a starting point for my own design.

So I grabbed a coat of hers and my winter white coat and got to work.

I used some crummy old fabric that I've been hanging onto just for pattern making and cut pieces that matched the size of Olivia's coat and the general shapes in my coat.

I sewed my pattern pieces together and adjusted where needed and then cut the entire coat apart again.  Now I had a perfect pattern!

I traced my pattern onto a simple winter white fleece I found at Hancocks for only $2.99 a yard!  I doubled it all up so it would look a bit stiff and look more like wool then fleece.

And when I finished it I was happy.

Until I looked my inspiration flower again.

It looked like that beautiful simple white flower 
but it was missing the handful of rhinestones dumped in the center.

And so I cut the back of my dress apart and decided to do something drastic.  Something I have never seen done before.  I decided to bustle the back of that little coat!

I searched high and low for a bustle tutorial I understood and finally found something I thought I could work with here.

I basically ended up cutting out a long rectangle from the back of my coat.  Then I cut a new rectangle to replace it... but the new rectangle was 2x as big.  It was double the width and double the height of the old rectangle!  Then I pleated the rectangle and sewed it back in.

 Really it was that simple!!

I had so much fun making this coat and figuring it all out on my own.  That would have been enough for me even if it didn't turn out looking as good as it did.

So when I showed it to my 18 month old, Olivia and she dropped every one of her princess dolls and the sippy cup so she could run to me and back herself into the coat, it was the icing on the cake.  She seriously loves this coat and it just makes me grin.

Every girl should have a white coat... with a bustle of course.

NOTE:  Want to make your own Victorian Bustle Coat?  I'm in the process of writing a pattern and tutorial (FOR FREE!!) for this but the process looks super lengthy so it could be a while.  But if you've got your heart set on making one for your little girl let me know and as soon as I finish it I can shoot you an email and let you know I've finished it... or I guess you could just become a follower!  Or better yet do both!


  1. Umm yes please! I love this- I wasn't sure whose it was but it is so awesome to see a coat (and the fleece is so practical for a tot!) Good to know where I'll be finding the tutorial. ;) I'll be back for it!

  2. OH. MY. GOSH. that is the cutest stinking thing!!!!! my girls would totally die over this coat... i want one!!!!


  3. Great work! I loved this when I saw it on PTR:) Thanks for auditioning for American Crafter!

  4. OMG! I totally fell in love with this coat when I saw it last week on the Shwin & Shwin blog! I then voted for you, and tonight I went searching to find who made it. Totally want to make one of these for my 2.5 year old, she would love it! Going to start following your blog now :)

  5. I have to have this ADORABLE coat!!!! i would love to have the details ;)

  6. I HAVE GOT to get the pattern for this! Cutest lil thing EVER!!!!!

    Shoot me and email when it's ready!

  7. I'm dying to see this tutorial!!!! I'm so exciting!!! But I bought 3 coats for spring for my sweetheart. I'm think about jacket now :)

  8. Super cute! Stopping by to say hi from the American Crafter Auditions! AND I am a new follower =)!

  9. Ok, LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! You did an amazing job! the bustle is perfect! Great pics too :)
    happy crafting!
    PS i'm your newest follower!

  10. Super Cute! Excited for American Crafter.
    Jessica-Mommy Creations

  11. OH-MY-GOD! You're such a sweet heart for willing to do a tutorial for free! I would love to make this coat for my niece & baby sister! My e-mail is Here is my blog

    Thank You!

  12. Oh & I'm a new follower as well :D

  13. I want the tutorial sooo soo bad this is by far the cutest coat i've ever seen

    come stop by my blog some times i have tons of little girl tutorials you might be interested in :)


  14. I think it strange that one would sexualize a child's coat in this manner. The bustle form is the by product of high victorian fashion. Bosom out, waist cinched, posterior out. Serpentine and sexual, how can one impose this sense of dress on a child. you should be ashamed!

    1. Your an Idiot!!

    2. I am not an idiot. You clearly don't know your fashion history or the symbology of the power of dress.

  15. Are pattern and tutorial available?
    I would love to make this coat for my little girl.
    Please let me know:
    Thank you so much.

  16. Also interested in the pattern.


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