I finally hit on one of the reason's I've been procrastinating on the new early 1870s dress: I'm dissatisfied with the shape of my skirt foundations.
There's a skirt shape look in the early 70s where the woman looks as though she's just been dumped out of a pudding mold.
It's wide and round but very straight; there's an almost dome-shape at the hips and back, but the skirts fall straight down; no angles. It's not a bad look, I like it in the right context, but it's just not what I'm going for right now.
Another early 70s shape you see a lot is more of an A-line. The bustle might be softer just behind the waist, but there's more fullness behind the knees and more of an angle from waist to hem in back.
That angled back line is most obvious when there's a train, but even here in these dresses without trains you can see more of that A-line shape, less pudding-mold look.
This is more like what I am going for with this dress. A-line with either a very small train or none at all.
Yesterday I got out all my early bustle undies and tried them on to see which combination I liked best. First I tightened my lobster bustle's lacings to poof it out more, then decided the shape was too abrupt and loosened them again, then I tried my Truly Victorian bustle last. I wore two petticoats - a plain one with a single flounce and a very full one with 3 rows of ruffles all around - and used an old linen 1870 skirt on top; the waist is now too small so I had to hold it closed with my hand. I also layered my horsehair ruffle in there somehwere. I put all the photos together to compare.
Of these I like the shape of the center one best, but it's still too pudding-y. Not enough A-line shape; not enough fullness behind the knees. Part of it is volume; some starch in my petticoats and a good stiff hem facing on my skirt could improve that, but it's also just the shape.
So, what to do?
1.) Make a new lobster bustle. The one I have now is pretty dainty. I made it a while ago, back when I was still cautious about things being too big. I could make a new one which is pretty much the same dimensions up top but widens lower down.
2.) Make a new petticoat bustle. Like this.
Or the top left one here:
3.) Add another petticoat. Particularly with more fullness concentrated in back. Perhaps even with a tie-back and/or some netting. Like so:
I realize that plate (and the tie-back generally) are veering into "natural form," but if it gives me the right shape, it goes. I could also try achieving this shape with more ruffles/flounces:
(Again, this is an 80s example but you get the idea.)
I'm not sure what I'll do yet, but I'd better decide soon. The event this dress is supposed to be for is in just over a month.