1840s Day Dress, Part II: Bodice Mockup


So I had my fabric– red calico– and my pattern– Laughing Moon 114. It was time to get to work!

As usual, before trying to make the actual bodice I made a mockup from the pattern, to ensure that it fit properly. Luckily for me, the measurements and proportions of my dress form are pretty darned close to my corseted measurements, so I can do most of the fitting work on the form rather than having to put on the mockup every time.

The bodice is constructed out of a fitted lining and a gathered overlay, so I figured that I really only needed to mock up the lining to make sure it would fit. I cut out the entire bodice lining (View B, size 14) and tried it on.

It was just the right length, and seemed to fit pretty well all around. If I didn’t have the overlay I’d have been more careful about precisely fitting the bodice, but I figured it didn’t have to be perfect.

Many other bloggers have written about how the shoulder seam on this pattern is too low on the arm, making it binding and uncomfortable– I agree, plus the fact that it’s just visually unattractive. I feel like the low shoulder makes my whole body look droopy (sloped shoulders were in fashion back then, but I don’t like them), so I raised the armscye about 2.5″ up on the shoulder, tapering it off to the original armpit point. It’s still clearly a dropped shoulder, but it’s a more flattering look this way.


I sewed up a mockup of the View A sleeve and attached it to the altered armscye, expecting that I would need to lengthen the sleeve cap at the shoulder to make up for the lost length at the shoulder; however, the sleeve seemed to fit just fine in the shoulder and upper arm as it was. I did end up cutting the sleeve about an inch longer at the wrist to ensure that I’d have enough length to do a nice blind-stitched hem.

Even with the raised shoulder, the mancheron piece fell a bit too low on the arm for my taste– it looked like a short-sleeved T-shirt. I decided to shorten it by about an inch to make it more of a sleeve cap, rather than a short sleeve. You can see the finished sleeve on the right below:


It looks a little weird on my armless dress form, but it works fine when worn. Now that I know it fits, it’s on to the actual sewing!

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