My first 18th century pocket hoops completed!

The roll of hoop steel used for the 18th century pocket hoops. I had to spend a lot of time to secure the tips on the ends of the steel.

It seemed like it took a while for me to complete the 18th century pocket hoops, but I had some other things to do first and waiting for supplies to arrive. Actually, the pocket hoops went quicker than I expected when you consider how I made them.

Pattern used

I decided to save money again and just used the Corsets and Crinolines book by Norah Waugh. The pattern went together beautifully, and I really didn’t have to do anything special.

For the bottom part of the pocket hoop, I made the piece bigger than needed and pinned it carefully to the edges for a perfect fit. I thought it would be better to pin and stitch to fit, then trim off excess fabric rather than realize I might have cut the fabric too small.

Supplies, fabrics, stitches, etc

I used the leftover cotton I’ve been using on most of my garments so far. I used something similar for my bustle, so I knew it would work out okay for my first pair.

I also used store-bought bias tape for binding a few edges, as well as the boning channels.  All edges are either finished or bound. I hope this will keep the pocket hoops sturdy and make them last for a long time.

The boning is hoop steel that I cut from a roll. It was one of the last things I added. I sewed the whole thing inside out (the boning channels are on the inside), then turned it rightside out and worked the hoop steel through the channels. I’m leaving the channel ends open so I can remove the steel if I ever need to clean the fabric.

I need to replace the temporary ribbon I’m using as the drawstring with something sturdier like twill tape.  I’m hoping it will help hold the pocket hoops in place without any sagging. I was debating for a while about how to finish the waistband section. I almost went for a different closure since there will be so many tied garments around the waist for proper layering.

The biggest thing I did differently on this garment was that I didn’t go anywhere near my sewing machine. It’s all sewn with hand stitches. I just didn’t feel like moving furniture around and having to deal with the machine.

Some thoughts on hand sewing

Except for initial things like prepping the pattern and cutting out the fabric, I found that I was more willing to just sit down and sew (and for long periods of time) since I didn’t have to set up the sewing machine.

I have all of my sewing stuff gathered in a box and can carry it around easily, and that’s helped a lot as well.  In fact, on Thanksgiving I did some work both at home and at my mother-in-law’s. I wanted to test my ability to work in a different environment, while talking with people and having distractions I’m not used to when I sew. Now I’m really looking forward to attending sewing meets, and I feel confident I’ll be able to work comfortably and easily. Not to mention, easier transport!

Again, I really felt like I had a lot of control over the stitches and where they went. There were a few sections that might have been annoying to deal with on a machine, but weren’t even an issue with hand sewing.

I also love the look of the hand sewn stitches. They really add a lot of character to the garment, and seem to be sturdy enough.

What’s next?

I’m hoping to finalize the embroidery design for my hanging pockets, transfer the pattern, and get started. I’ll have two of those to do, and I want to take my time on them.

I might make an under petticoat to wear if I have enough leftover cotton fabric. This would be the petticoat that goes over the shift and under the stays.

I’m definitely looking forward to making the layers of petticoats that go over the pocket hoops, as well as the outer petticoat and outer garment. Still not 100% sure which type of gown I’ll be making first, but it might be the original picnic/garden gown I had planned.

My first 18th century pocket hoops. All hand sewn. I need to replace the ribbon with sturdier twill tape.

I'm hoping sturdier twill tape will help keep the pocket hoops in place and not sag like they do on the dress form. This is my first fully hand sewn garment. I'm hoping it holds up over time, but so far it seems like it will do decently.

About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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9 Responses to My first 18th century pocket hoops completed!

  1. I think focusing on hand sewing made the pocket hoops even cooler. The precision along the bottom boning is really something else to see in person. It’s just so perfect along the bottom.

    And there’s a lot more character up close that is lacking with machine stitching.

    The pocket hoops are just so neat! 🙂

  2. Thanks Christopher! I love the character of the hand sewing as well. I must also admit, although it took longer than it would have with the sewing machine, I really enjoyed the freedom of not having to deal with the machine.

    It was also nice to sit on the couch together while we both worked on projects and watched TV. 🙂

  3. Diane says:

    I’ve said it before, these are gorgeous!

  4. Thanks Diane! I’m so excited — can’t wait to make the petticoats 😀 Wheeee!

  5. Mary says:

    I can’t wait for the petticoats, either! I wish there was a good way to get a close-up shot of the hand stitching because it’s amazing. Beautiful work, Cynthia!

  6. Amy McKinney says:

    Lovely! I made a covered 1860s hoop using Norah Waugh’s diagrams and it went together wonderfully. Considering the patterns are all from antique garments, it gives me an extra warm-fuzzy to know I’m wearing something as close to the original as possible, as opposed to a bought pattern. I know there are many reputable pattern companies out there selling pretty accurate stuff, but you don’t always know what’s truly accurate and what’s been modified for the ease of the modern sewer.

    They look great!
    Hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving.


  7. Mary: Thanks so much! I really wish I could get better photos that show all the detail of the work, but it’s difficult to get photos like that (I was also in a bit of a rush to get the photos for the entry). It is a shame, because like the fabric on the stays, photos really don’t show everything. I’m such a fan of fabric too… I love touching fabric to see how they feel and how thick they are, etc. Ha! 😀

    Amy: Thank you! 🙂 Yeah, it’s really been fun having the book to work from. I’m looking forward to trying some patterns from Janet Arnold in a couple months or so. With all the information available in books and on the Internet, you really can piece together your own projects. It helps save money too. The funniest part of that is I have the hardback of Corsets & Crinolines — I found it at a used book store a few years ago for maybe $25, I think it was? I’m SO glad I bought it!

  8. Cathy says:

    Hey Cynthia,
    I haven’t been to your blog in awhile and was AMAZED at all of your work. I can not believe you did that all by hand! You know what’s funny? I started out sewing by hand too. You think with mom sewing when we were little, we would be into sewing with our machines….but i love the freedom of hand sewing. Your work is beautiful!!
    Hope you and Christopher had a good Thanksgiving…talk to you soon!

  9. Thanks so much, Cat! I’m really surprised it took me as long as it did to get around to sewing. I’ve always loved costumes, and was fascinated by the process… but I guess I was just more interested in going out to play. Ha! Ah well, I’m getting there now and I did pick up a few tips from Mom that helped get me started. Also of course with the Internet, there’s so many videos and tutorials to learn so much of this. Gotta love it!

    We had a great Thanksgiving — hope you did too. Love to you all, and Best Wishes!

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