1870's Bustle Dress 18" Doll Clothes Pattern

17 reviews   |  

Fashion is where expression meets practicality and lures it into the realm of the extreme. Though fashion trends have a tendency to push the limits, practicality always manages to bring them back into balance... at least for a time. Full skirts were the hallmark of the early Victorian era and by the 1860s they had expanded to as wide as six feet in diameter. However, as railroads began forging paths around the world, women began to travel more and more. Full skirts and crinolines made for poor traveling companions and the boundary for this fashion trend had been reached. Still, it would be a gallant exit. The 1870s saw a great boom in the textile industry. Hand looms were replaced by more efficient steam driven power looms which resulted in a larger supply of cloth and fancy trims at greatly reduced prices. The great cage crinolines were shed and the surplus fabric from the full skirts was draped in elaborately decorated layers and pulled toward the back in large bustles that were reminiscent of those worn a century earlier. The fashionable silhouette had become smaller and more mobile, but what was lost in size was more than made up for with the elaborate trimming which would become the hallmark of the later Victorian Era.
This dress pattern features a basque bodice that closes in in the front with five buttons or snaps and 3/4 length sleeves finished with two piece turned cuffs. The simple five paneled bustle skirt has a slight flair and extra fullness in the back giving it ample room to be worn over a bustle. A draped overskirt gives this dress a quintessential Early Bustle Period look. The overskirt can be attached directly to the underskirt or mounted on a separate waistband to allow for mixing and matching pieces.

This dress can be worn by itself, but for the full effect it is recommended that it is worn over our Primrose Chemise and Lobster Tail Bustle.

This PDF sewing pattern by Thimbles and Acorns is designed to fit 18-inch dolls such as American Girl®.

Recommended Fabrics: Dress and Lining in lightweight woven fabric such as cotton, cotton blends gingham, lawn, linen, or silk. Not suitable for knits.


Supplies Needed:
Dress ~ 2/3 yard (2/3 m)
Lining ~ 1/4 yard (1/4 m) Scrap pieces or fat quarters work well

Note: Fabric amounts are generous; most items can be cut from leftover pieces of fabric.

Thread; three yards lace, ribbon, or bias tape; nine 3/8-inch (9 mm) decorative buttons; 5 small snaps; one medium snap


Skill Level: Intermediate


What You Get: One 29 page sewing pattern that you digitally download as a PDF file so you can start your project immediately! The PDF sewing pattern provides full color step-by-step illustrated instructions and full-size pattern pieces. A PDF reader is required to view and print the files (example: Adobe Reader or Preview for MAC). The download link is received immediately after the transaction is complete. Print copies are NOT available.

Download, Print, Sew!

*Creating a customer account will ensure that you have the ability to access your purchased (and free) files at any time.

For detailed information and answers to the most common questions, be sure to read the Terms of Use and FAQ's related to the doll clothes patterns sold at Pixie Faire.

Pixie Faire and the designers featured are not affiliated with American Girl®.

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Canada Canada

1870's Bustle Dress

I'm hooked! Now that I've made this pattern, I change it a bit to make new outfits of the same era. I also hacked the "Hannah Top Hat from Bonjour Teaspoon" made with the same material as the trimmings even tough it's not genuine ERA...it looked great! Thanks you for this very nice pattern

Pixie Faire 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern ReviewPixie Faire 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern Review
Michele G.
Canada Canada

1870 Bustle Dress

This was my first experience making this type of dress and it was a lot easier than I anticipated. The fit and the instructions are just great. Even though the dress can be worn as is, t is well worth the extra time and effort to make the Lobster Tail Bustle and Petticoat from the same designer to wear under it

Pixie Faire 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern ReviewPixie Faire 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern Review
Sandra M.
United States United States


Loved it

United States United States

1870s bustle dress

Beautiful pattern very easy once you get the hang of it I just have one question. Can this garment be warn over the 1870s lobster tail bustle to be even more accurate ? I love all of the pixie Faire patterns ❤️


Pixie Faire

Hi there! The 1870s Bustle Dress is designed to be worn over the Lobster Tail Bustle... it can also be worn without. Lovely design! Team Pixie Faire

Carole S.
United States United States

1870 Bustle Dress

I thought the directions were very well written and in a sensible order. The amount of fabric suggested was the correct amount so that not so much was left over. I love the details in the design especially the cuffs and draping. It did seem that the back bodice upper lining piece was a little narrow in the upper shoulder area. There was more fullness in the outer fabric than there should have been and I was sure I used proper seam allowances. It would have been less confusing if the term swag had been used for the front overskirt. My granddaughter enjoys learning about the historic fashions so I always include the information about the dresses that is included. I have made a number of these patterns and she likes dressing her dolls and displaying them even though she is nearly a teenager. Hope you come up with some new designs so I can make more dresses.

Pixie Faire 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern Review