A few months ago I made a new 1870s dress for my 8-year-old for our Victorian summer picnic.
First, The Foundation Garments. I made her a new very plain and simple chemise and drawers. I made up the chemise with a small cut-on sleeve. The drawers I made following Elizabeth Stuart Clark's instructions, but I sewed the crotch seam completely closed and also added a little elastic in back so they wouldn't slide down. She wore white, knee-high modern stockings with this.
Next I made the foundation bodice. I made it from cotton twill, stiffened with cords and a little boning. It has adjustable straps and laces closed in back. There are buttons along the lower edge to attach the petticoats and skirts.
Here are a couple examples I used for reference. I omitted the front buttons on mine because it was a little quicker and I was on a deadline!
To make the pattern, I wrapped her up in tape, over an old t-shirt, then (carefully!) cut the tape away at CB, marked my desired seamlines, and cut on each to make pattern pieces. I removed a little from the CB for a lacing gap, traced them onto paper, and added seam allowances.
Here's another, with short cap sleeves instead of a sleeveless overdress.
One more, hiding between these two ladies. Similar blouse/bodice look.
This catalog page from 1873 specifically calls these sleeveless, low-neck dresses "overdresses," implying they go over something else, like one of the waists on the previous page, or another dress.
The dress has buttons all the way down the front, white on top and grey mother-of-pearl on the purple part. The bottom 5 or 6 buttons are non-functional.
The sides of the overskirt are pleated up a bit to make it more bustle-y. I tied a dark purple petersham ribbon around the waist at the last minute.
The purple linen fabric has a small white stripe. The faux-neckline and hem are trimmed with pleats made of bias strips of the linen. The neckline and wrists are trimmed with lace and there is a little white ribbon around the faux-neckline also.
The underskirt is white muslin trimmed with wide knife pleats. A little of the pleats stick up above a trimming of white petersham. This underskirt came out far too long initially, so I sewed a tuck to the inside to take up a little length, The tuck is hidden behind the upper part of the pleats.