1870's Bustle Dress 18" Doll Clothes Pattern

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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 PDF sewing pattern 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 26 page sewing pattern that you digitally download as a PDF file so you can start your project immediately! The PDF sewing pattern provides digitally drawn 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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Judith J.
United States

1870s Bustle Dress

I love this pattern. The outfit fits perfectly and the instructions are very clear. The one thing I like the most is that it is lined.

Diana A.
United States

1870's bustle doll dress

while there were a couple of places where instructions were too vague, overall the pattern was easy to follow. I don't recommend for beginners though.

Diana A. verified customer review of 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes PatternDiana A. verified customer review of 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes PatternDiana A. verified customer review of 1870's Bustle Dress 18 Doll Clothes Pattern
Pamela W.

It's a beautiful pattern

It's a beautiful pattern


1870's Bustle Dress - Part of a series

This is the main part of a pattern series which Thimbles and Acorns has designed. This outfit provides the basic jacket and bustle skirt. The bustle which you see in the photo is just one of the styles offered in this series. Thimbles offers several more patterns which are add-ons to this pattern. Make this outfit in your favorite fabric. You'll be using it a lot. The other overskirts are snapped on at the waistband to give other bustle looks. This pattern offers lots of opportunities for embellishments. I added a pleated ruffle to the bottom. I used soutache braid and Venice Lace for trims. I also added some extra length to the back for a train. The pattern calls for lightweight fabrics, but I made the jacket with black velveteen and it sewed very well. Very elegant. Buy enough extra fabric to make the other bustle options to match.

Judy T.

A Real Winner!

I recently made Thimbles and Acorns 1870's Bustle Dress. Pattern was interesting and I did have to reread a few times but not really hard to follow. I entered it into the Frederick County Fair in Maryland and came away with a first place blue ribbon! Thank you for the pattern.