18th century, 18th century court dress, court dress, projects

Draping & Making the Bodice

Howdy! I haven’t forgotten about this here dress diary, I’ve just been so busy SEWING that it’s hard to pause to blog! The bulk of the base dress is done, and I’m now in the hemming yards of organza and fiddling with things stage. But today I want to talk about the bodice!

And… I wrote that like a week or two ago. I’m clearly never going to get around to posting if I wait to make the post exactly what I want! So here’s the abbreviated version:


Most French court bodices were fully boned, with fashion fabric mounted on top:

Interior of Sofia Magdalena's corps de robe, showing the boned foundation | image via

Interior of Sofia Magdalena’s corps de robe, showing the boned foundation | image via


But there are two late, 1780s sources that lead me to believe that an unboned bodice was an OPTION:

This court bodice that probably belonged to Marie Antoinette dated 1780-7 at the Musee Galliera. It’s unboned, although it has a front busk pocket. This was my primary reference for draping.

This fashion plate from the Cabinet des Modes, 1786, showing a court ensemble, where the bodice is called a “corset,” which at the time meant an unboned, soft bodice — NOT a “grand corps,” which was the term for a boned court bodice.


Me haz no time, so I went with an unboned version!

Draping it:

I’m using the very-18th-century approach of faking the over/underbodice effect. So the back is in purple, the front in white, and then there’s an overlayer of purple in front.

Here it is without the front overlayer:


And with:


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  • Reply Anna-Carin July 24, 2015 at 5:36 am

    Very pretty – I really look forward to see your completed gown, ribbon embroidery and all!

    If you’d like a reference for the pics of Sofia Magdalena’s court bodice, they’re found on page 28 of this booklet:
    Dahlberg, AnneMarie. Sofia Magdalenas brudklänning i tidens smak. Stockholm: Livrustkammaren, 2003.

  • Reply Molly July 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

    That blue-purple silk color is beautiful! /swoon

  • Reply Caitlin December 1, 2015 at 8:42 am


  • Reply Abigail June 6, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Did you ever complete the gown?

  • Reply femmes1900 February 28, 2018 at 6:16 am


    I have put on my site, a lot off old french sewing patterns and magazines.


  • Leave a Reply to Abigail Cancel Reply