18th Century Petticoat (method 1)

This is a post detailing the making of the petticoats for my Schuyler Sisters project. Unlike a lot of my other petticoats these are made of cotton, not tulle! My sewing machine is grateful for this as it often moans after having to sew miles of tulle.

As displayed by the image below the Schuyler sisters have fairly full petticoats- either two layers or one with a ruffle. As the costumes are stage costumes I lean towards the latter as the less layers you wear on stage the better. This picture also tells us that the petticoats are most definitely not in an authentic 18th century style because you can see the layers of Angelica’s petticoat are made of what looks like organza- not fabric they had in the 18th century. So I decided to be historically accurate and make 1 cotton petticoat.

Look at those skirts- froofy organza goodness and Peggy’s has lace!

Additionally one petticoat is so much better for the wallet than multiple petticoats (especially since I’m making petticoats for three different people)

Only £3 with enough fabric for this petticoat and another dress!

Since I’m not getting paid for my petticoat I decided to make it as cheap as possible by using an old duvet sheet I picked up in the charity shop (above). It was a double duvet so I have enough fabric left to make a whole other petticoat if I wanted. And yes it’s polka dotted but I feel this adds some fun to the garment.

DSCN0340.JPGI also decided to colour code the three sets of clothes so I didn’t get mixed up. As I’m going as Angelica I decided pink could be my colour and bought 3 meters of pink ribbon for the waistband.

There are some great tutorials for 18th century petticoats out there, and they all basically say the same thing;

  1. You will in total need a piece of fabric at least 3 meters long, however a lot of cotton comes in 150cm wide rolls, therefore you can just buy 2 times your waist to ankle measurement (over the bumroll) plus whatever you need for a ruffle.
  2. However long your fabric is split it in half, one piece will form the back section and one the front.
  3. Find the centre of your piece of fabric and begin knife pleating inwards, towards the centre, away from the side seam until the fabric is pleated down to a half of your corseted waist measurement (+ seam allowance). It doesn’t matter if your pleats are even or messy, just make sure you pin them fully.
  4. Once you’ve pleated both sides you can sew the ribbon waistband on, make sure you sew at the top and bottom of the ribbon to keep the pleats in place.

    As you can see the pleats are really messy and uneven, but this doesn’t matter as much in a foundation garment as it would in the outer skirt
  5. Sew up the side seams, except the top 10″ so you can get to the pockets, turn the seam allowances of these under to keep it neat.
  6. Put on your mannequin or human over the bum roll and try to hem it evenly (inevitably fail at doing so, as the pictures below demonstrate).NB: My posts on Peggy and Eliza’s petticoats (which will be up this week are here) explain another method which involves taking off the extra length at the waist, rather than the hem. I found this method much more productive.
  7. Add a ruffle if you want, this can be knife pleated, box pleated or plain gathered. I would recommend the ruffle starts around your mid calf so that it can flow properly. A way to bypass this step is to buy a bed skirt– they already have the ruffle attached (this is actually what I did for my Peggy and Eliza skirts)
  8. And you’re done! Place over your bum roll and stays, then swish around to your hearts content while questioning if it really was fashionable to have a huge bum in the 18th century!



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