Costuming · Sewing

1860s Zelda: Garibaldi Blouse and Revere Bodice

Even though I haven’t caught up on my retrospective look at the 1860s Zelda costume enough to have documented the ballgown bodice, I’m going to skip ahead in time to talk about two pieces that I finished more recently. These are my Garibaldi blouse and Revere bodice/jacket (both from Truly Victorian patterns), which collectively make up my Zelda day bodice, thus enabling me to have the much-envied capacity to “go from day to night.”

Author sitting on grass next to Korok plushie

And yes, this is a thing! Having multiple bodices to go with the same skirt gives an outfit that much more versatility and was fairly common at the time. It was also quite the done thing to have these all made up in the same fabric—Victorians love a matchy-matchy set. I did plan on eventually making a jacket once I had finished the ballgown look, so I bought extra fabric right at the beginning so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding more.

1860s Link and Zelda standing in a garden

First let’s talk about the blouse. The Garibaldi blouse, named for an Italian folk hero named Giuseppe Garibaldi, originally caught on in women’s fashion as a red wool shirt with military-style trimmings, mirrored after the uniforms Garibaldi’s followers wore in their fight for Italian independence from the Austrians in 1860. Over time, variations appeared, including in white fabric as seen in my version. Eventually this style would lead to the shirtwaist and blouse of the later Victorian period. Before this, “separates” were not really a thing—dresses may have frequently had separate components, but worn together were meant to look like a single ensemble, rather than having a “mix-and-match” look.

Another blouse shot with gazebo

I made mine last fall out of a gorgeous cotton voile from Renaissance Fabrics. It’s lightweight and a bit sheer, so it will be nice for the summer months especially. The pattern has a lot of gathers, and the voile gathered beautifully.

I don’t have much to say about the pattern itself! I made the long version without a waistband, meant to be tucked into the skirt. It went together like any other button-down woven shirt. I had no issues with the instructions, but I’m also pretty familiar with how to put together a button-down shirt, so it’s possible it may be trickier for inexperienced sewists. I found it interesting that the cuffs and button bands were not interfaced. Interfacing wasn’t really used historically, as best I can tell, so this would be period-accurate, but modern sewists may be surprised by its lack. It does mean the cuffs and button bands are somewhat floppy in the sheer fabric, but I haven’t found this to be an issue.

Author wearing blouse, back side

I did discover the voile is sheer enough that I need to wear a corset cover underneath it to prevent my corset from showing through. So I had to make one. My corset cover is a quick and dirty project; I took a lot of shortcuts, like serging the seams instead of using nicer seam finishes like a flat-fell. I didn’t want to buy a pattern, so I used a suggestion I found on Youtube, which was to use an existing bodice pattern and adapt it. Basically what I did was took my ballgown bodice pattern, cut it off at the waist, added button bands and a waistband, and ran a ribbon through the top binding. I would have liked to add lace to the top, but I didn’t have any in my stash that I liked for that application, so I didn’t.

Corset cover worn over corset and tshirt
It does the job. The job is “covering my corset.”

On to the jacket! I wasn’t planning on getting around to this right away—I was planning on focusing my spring/summer on 1890s Umbreon—but two things changed my plans. The first was a friend pointing out that, with the new Zelda game coming out May 12th, more Zelda content would probably be very well-received by fellow Zelda fans. The second was my plan to attend my first-ever historical costuming meetup, where I decided I’d really love to have my full day look completed.

Back view of dress with jacket, author standing in garden
You know what’s fun? Walking through crowded Washington D.C. streets and confusing people by dressing like, well, this.

The pattern is the Revere bodice/jacket from Truly Victorian. “Revere” in this case is the term for those folded-back corners. In some examples, Victorians would sew faux folded-back sections directly on top of the garment, but in this case, they are actually sewn on as facings and folded back.

I made a quick mockup before cutting out my fabric, and made two adjustments. The first is that I shortened the sleeves an inch so that my poofy blouse sleeves would show more. The second was letting out one of the darts to give myself a bit more ease. This turned out to be insufficient—with the additional underlining layer in the real thing, the jacket was still really tight, and I ended up letting out the other dart too. Fortunately this was really easy to do even after everything was assembled, because the jacket is underlined (fabrics treated as one) rather than lined (two separate layers.)

Jacket muslin with one sleeve
I probably was too generous thinking this would have enough ease.

I found the construction mostly straightforward. There were a few places the instructions could have been better. The sleeve was too large to be eased as per the directions, so I did had to gather it instead, but only after I’d futzed with it long enough to get frustrated. (I skipped the armscye piping, which is not shown in the illustration anyway.)

Additionally, the instructions on attaching the hem piping were unclear; it has you “match” the hem and tail facings, then sew the piping, then sew the facings, but you need to attach the piping before the facings come into play at all. Also, I’m not sure I like that the boning in the darts stops at the waist. When wearing the jacket, I found that created a distinct wrinkle and a possible pressure point where the boning might try to poke through.

I skipped making real buttonholes on the sleeve and tail reveres and just sewed the buttons directly in place instead, but I did make buttonholes for the lapels (because I thought I might need them unbuttoned at some point???). I also used my serger to finish seams instead of doing a period-correct finish, because it was faster and the taffeta really wanted to fray if I so much as breathed on it.

I did add a waist tape for support, which turned out to be less necessary after I let the darts out for ease.

Inside of jacket, showing boning and waist tape
The waist tape is tacked down at the side back seams and hangs loose otherwise. It fastens in the front with hooks and eyes and helps take the strain off a tight bodice.

Overall I LOVE the results. The look is really cute and feels very tailored—I might like it even better than the ballgown bodice! And it has a lot of versatility, too. One of the bonuses is that I can almost entirely get dressed by myself in this look—I do need a little help with the skirt hooks and eyes—whereas the evening bodice definitely requires some assistance.

Still to come—posts about the underskirt, overskirt, and evening bodice!


Pattern: TV441 1861 Garibaldi blouse

Fabric: Antoinette cotton dotted voile from Renaissance Fabrics

Notions: buttons from my stash

Time: didn’t track

Corset cover

Pattern: bodice from Simplicity 5724

Fabric: 118″ Kona premium cotton from Dharma Trading Co. (leftover from petticoats)

Notions: buttons from my stash

Time: 3 hours


Pattern: TV449 1861 Revere bodice

Fabric: polyester taffeta from Mood Fabrics, cotton sateen from Renaissance Fabrics

Notions: gold buttons from Joanns

Time: 14 hours

Author sitting on grass next to Korok plushie

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