Edwardian · Historical Sew Monthly Projects · Padding and Structures · Undergarments · Victorian

Completed: Black Snail Bustle Pad/HSM March ’22

As one who is not much endowed around the hips and in back, I decided to supplement my figure in my 1890s outfit with a bustle pad. Bustle pads were the last vestige of bustles. They built up the rear and hips to fill out the skirt more, giving the illusion that one’s waist was smaller. They can also give you a little warmth in the winter months!

Photo by author.

There are a lot of bustle pad patterns out there nowadays, many of which are free. I chose this one because it came in sizes and was designed to use batting instead of stuffing, which I had on hand already. It also didn’t require cording like some, and you can omit the grommets by just tacking the layers together. It does, however, have many darts, which I don’t know that it needed as it makes it follow the curve of your body down instead of flaring out to continue to support the skirt. I may make one of the more pillow-shaped ones just to see if it makes a difference. You can see, in the photos below, the difference this one makes. I apparently don’t take a lot of photos of my lower half, so I had to make do with these photos from trying on different petticoats with a bridesmaid dress.

Side by side comparison of my own silhouette with the bustle pad+petticoat silhouette.

Photo by author.

Side by side comparison of my dress form silhouette with the bustle pad+petticoat and with just the petticoat.

Photo by author.

Front view, with padding and without. The shaping of the sweater at the hip and the flare of the skirt also add to the illusion of extra fullness below.

Back view, with padding and without.

Pattern: Black Snail Bustle Pad (free!)
Size: 14
Time Frame: October 19-Nov 5
Fabric: Leftover plain-weave white cottons from stash, polyester batting leftover from padding my dress form
Notions: Thread, 3/8 cotton twill tape from JoAnn ($4 but I only used half of it), homemade bias tape
Needle: Size 12 universal, stitch length 3
Total Cost: ~$2


  • I used more layers then recommended, 4 or 5, as my batting was on the thin side and I personally wanted more “oomph.”
Photo by author.
  • I did not do grommets as I don’t have any at the moment, so I just tacked all the layers together where the grommets would go.


  • The downside to this pattern is that you tailor tack, by hand, all the layers of batting together. So if you’re an impatient sewer this may not be the pattern for you. You could probably fake this with some machine sewing, but I liked being able to shape and round the layers as I went. The photo below shows it completely shaped with the darts and the tailors tacks.
Photo by author.
  • The channels at the bottom of the pad that you can see in the first photo are not corded, as I originally thought. They are just quilted.
  • The top edge is bound, and then you add tape ties to the corners. When I originally read the instructions I misunderstood and thought you used the tape also as binding.

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