My 1860s elliptical crinoline dress.
My projects,  Sewing

My Elliptical Crinoline Dress

It took me a while to get this post out, so sorry about that. But finally, you can see the 1860s dress that goes over the elliptical crinoline I made some weeks ago. I took my inspiration from the painting Women in the Garden by Claude Monet. He has been one of my favorite artists since I was a child and I have always loved those dresses in the pictures. I was particularly fascinated by the green striped dress on the left-hand side and decided to use it as my inspiration.

Women in the Garden.
Women in the Garden, Claude Monet, 1866.

I spend a lot of time looking for fabric that would match the striped fabric in the painting. However, it seems that green stripes on white are not in vogue. Finally, I found this cotton fabric in Karnaluks, Estonia. The stripes were a bit pale but the fabric was the best I could get and it wasn’t expensive:

My fabric.

I used the Truly Victorian 1860s Elliptical Skirt pattern for the skirt. It was a good base pattern that can be then decorated with trims and ruffles. I then enlarged the 1860s bodice pattern from the book Victorian Dressmaker by Izabela Pitcher. For it, I needed to add some length but otherwise, it fitted pretty well.

This is how the dress looked before any decorations. And yes, it took most of the free space in our living room!

The ruffles make the dress

The dress needed some extra color and decoration and the ruffles were a good way to accomplish that. For the ruffles, I used almost a whole green polyester sari that I thrifted. I first cut about 10-11 cm wide strips that I sewed into long tubes and turned out. (Turning out tens of metres of narrow tube was… interesting… Luckily the fabric was slippery!) Then, I tried a trick I found on Pinterest. I sewed my gathering stitches in a zig-zag pattern rather than straight. When I pulled the bobbin thread, I got a very different-looking ruffle:

The ruffle for the crinoline dress.

Actually, if I pulled the gathering thread tight I got this thingy that looked like an ear of grain!

Very tight gathers.

A hat to top it all!

I made a small bonnet to finish the outfit. The base is buckram and I sewed a wire to the edge to be able to shape the bonnet. I then covered the bonnet with white silk. To finish the bonnet, I added lace, ruffles, a bow, and flowers. There aren’t really any rules but some things just look good and others… not so good. So it was lots of trial and error to get the look just right.

The bonnet from the side.
The bonnet at the back.

To keep this bonnet firmly in my pretty fine and slippery hair, I added a comb on the inside. That keeps the bonnet very firmly in place which the hatpins can’t do. Still, I had to add just a couple of extra curls to get the hair-do right. I had this old hair-piece that I have taken apart. It was straight but I managed to get really nice curls when I rolled the hairpiece onto rollers and steamed it with my iron (being careful not to touch the curls with the actual iron).

Curling the fake hair.

I actually didn’t need all that hair I curled. Finally, three curls were enough to add to my own locks. And if the hair doesn’t look perfect – the bonnet covers everything!

Here is the link to my YouTube video where you can see the finished crinoline dress. Enjoy!

Some photos of the finished dress

I wore this dress at the Träskända Manor Spring Festival. In the 1860s the Manor was owned by Aurora Karamzin, the richest woman in the whole of Europe, after having 1836 married the richest man in Russia, Paul Demidov, who then passed just four years later. The wealth of the family is hard to imagine. Her husband gifted her the famous le Grand Sancy diamond that used to be part of the French crown jewels and now resides in Louvre. Also, the huge 4-strand pearls she wears in the portrait below were a wedding present from her husband. She is more known as Karamzin which is her second husband Andrei’s name. However, the second marriage didn’t last very long as he died only 8 years after the marriage in the Krim war in 1854.

Aurora Karamzin

In 1863 the tzar Alexander visited the manor which still proudly has an outhouse built specifically for the emperor! Unfortunately, the fancy toilet is one of the few things that survived when the manor burned to the ground in 1888 – well the toilet and the beautiful manor park that is one of my favorite places in my hometown. But I must tell you more about Aurora later, now let’s go back to the dress.

Here is the whole outfit. I wear my elliptical crinoline and a single petticoat that luckily was enough to hide the bumps of the hoops.

My finished elliptical crinoline dress.

Here is the dress from the back. I really like the big green bow.

My 1860s elliptical crinoline dress from the back view.

I left the skirt short enough so that I could easily walk on the grass. This way I could even go a bit off from the walkways without tripping.

On a bridge.

This bridge is one of my favorite spots in the park. I must go and visit it now in the summer when everything is green. At this time, in early May, the trees were sporting small dogears (btw. we call them mouse-ears in Finnish!) and there were wood anemones everywhere!

Me and my 1860s elliptical crinoline dress in a field of wood anemones.

Thank you for reading and watching! See you soon! Bye!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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