Week-long 18th century petticoat sewing spree

After the tea event, I decided I had enough fabric — not to mention the drive — to get cranking and start sewing like a madwoman.

I decided to start working on the 18th century petticoats.  I used Koshka’s instructions, and they were very clear and easy.  The petticoats went together quickly, and were fun to make.

First 18th century petticoat.

My first 18th century petticoat

The first petticoat

I started with the red and white striped petticoat, which will be the first petticoat worn over the pocket hoops to help add fullness to the outer gown.

This was one of the fabrics my friend gave me.  I took a little more time on it, and I finished the seam allowances by hand.  I considered top-stitching the bottom hem by hand, but decided to just use the sewing machine.  I also used the sewing machine to sew the side seams together, along with attaching the store-bought bias binding (although I did the second side of binding by hand).

I didn’t pay enough attention when I was hemming, and it turned out longer than I’d intended.  I’m going to shorten it, which will be easy and quick.  I also wasn’t fully pleased with the pleats, and hoped my next petticoat would come out better.

Second 18th century petticoat

My quick second 18th century petticoat.

My second petticoat

The second petticoat, which I’ll wear over the red and white striped one, was made from the rest of my never-ending bolt of white cotton fabric.  I’ve made several of our garments (shift, shirt, cap, etc) from this fabric.  I decided to use the cotton to finish it up as well as have a different petticoat to add to the layers.

I am trying to speed things up instead of focusing on more authentic construction techniques.  Our private group would really like to start doing events, and I would just be happy to have a couple outfits finished before I focus too much on details.

I decided to pull the serger out and skip hand finishing seams.  It was also used to finish the edges after I cut, just in case the edges unraveled and drove me crazy.  I used sewing machine on the side seams and hem, as well as attaching the first side of the binding.  Hand sewing was used to finish the binding.

The length turned out fine (although I may shorten it slightly), but I’m still not completely happy with the pleats, especially on the back side.  I was determined not to have the same problem with the final petticoat.

18th century petticoat

The third, and outer, 18th century petticoat. I'll use this with a couple different tops for variety.

The third petticoat

This was made from another fabric from my friend. I’m very pleased with how this petticoat turned out.

I considered putting more time into it and doing some hand finishes, but decided again to focus more on finishing it quicker.

I used serger on all edges after cutting it out, since I wasn’t sure how the fabric would unravel on the edges.  I used sewing machine on the side seams, bottom hem, and attaching the first side of binding.  The second side of binding was finished by hand.

I took more time with the pleats, and this time I’m very happy with them.  I did have a little trouble with the length for some reason, but I’m hoping the differences aren’t too obvious.  I’m just going to shorten the red and white striped petticoat and keep an eye on them.  In some ways, I’m glad this petticoat turned out as short as it did.  This will be an outdoors outfit, and I don’t want the hem touching the ground or getting stepped on.

Trying them on, and concerns

We hurriedly put on my shift and stays so we could get photos and see how the petticoats fit.  I should have made sure everything was even, but I was more interested in seeing how much the under petticoats needed to be shortened.  It was interesting, wearing it all together.  I’m looking forward to seeing how a full outfit will be to wear.  I need to get used to walking around and wearing pocket hoops, not to mention trusting my sewing more.  I’m the same way with my bustle — I’m nervous it will fall apart, so I treat them as if they were fragile.

The under petticoats are definitely too long with the green petticoat length error, but that will be a simple fix.  The one thing I don’t like — and it may be the way I pleated the middle sections — but the front and back, right in the middle of the petticoat, tends to curve in.  I may just have to find a way to smooth things out.  It’s difficult to know what needs to be where since I didn’t have a mirror handy, and in fact I ended up tugging too much here and there and pulling sections a bit out of place for the photographs.

I’m a little concerned with all the ties that are piled up around my waist.  The hanging pockets are tied on.  The pocket hoops are tied on.  Each petticoat has two sets of ties (front and back).  A side of me is half considering using hooks for the petticoats, but I’ll see how things go over time.  If the bottom petticoat or two slide too much, that’s a big possibility to help fix them, aside from hemming them shorter.  I still need to replace the temporary ribbons with better twill tape.

Hoping to keep sewing

I’m very pleased with my progress so far.  I’m hoping to keep sewing and continue finishing my costumes and accessories — both for myself, and my husband.  We also have some things we’ll need to purchase, like shoes.

Knowing that I have a fun group of friends waiting for me to finish, so we can have fun really helps keep me going!

Be sure to check out the costume gallery which has been updated with the 18th century petticoat page (it has a lot more photos of the petticoats on there), and new photos added to the pocket hoop page.

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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11 Responses to Week-long 18th century petticoat sewing spree

  1. Mary says:

    I don’t think I can say often enough how in awe I am of your talent, both sewing and everything else you undertake. These are amazing and I look forward to seeing them under a dress, soon! 🙂


  2. Mary says:

    Whoa! I spoke too soon. I went to the petticoat page and saw all those wonderful shots. Woohoo. Now I’m off to the pocket hoop page. 🙂 LOVE the last shot on the PCP!

  3. Thanks Mary! I thought about including some of them on the main page, but there were so many! Each petticoat turned out slightly different, so I just left them for the main costume gallery page 😀 I’ll see what works best for me over time with making the link stand out a little more.

  4. It’s been fun seeing you cranking out stuff this week. I go to work, come home, and BOOM! something new on the dress form.

    It was fun taking the photos today. You did a lot last week, and I can’t wait to see you keep moving on projects!

  5. It’s as much fun having something new for you to see when you come home, Christopher 😀 Also, the photo session just had me wanting to hurry up and finish a couple costumes. While I can’t imagine having to wear stuff like this all the time, every day, it’s fun to play dress up for a little while. I’m really looking forward to it — hanging out with friends, finishing and wearing several outfits, and I definitely can’t wait until I have a few for you so you can join in the fun as well!

    Sounds like I have a month or just over to try to see what I can crank out. Wanna see if it’s possible to attend the next event in costume (for both of us)? 😀

  6. Don’t mind me — I’m just testing to see if my new avatar loaded correctly.

  7. Amy says:

    This is so exciting! I wish I had more time to sew on big projects like that. I miss it. Can’t wait to see your finished product!

  8. Pingback: CFGriffith.com » Blog Archive » A quick update: Blogger, Downton Abbey, Sewing, etc.

  9. Thanks Amy! I feel like I’m slowing down a little again, but I’m going to try my best not to lose momentum! I want to have fun and start whipping out costumes so I have a variety to wear, then I can start trying to focus a little more on being a bit more accurate (although I’ll probably never be 100% accurate, especially since there isn’t any chance of re-enacting 18th century in this area).

  10. Christina says:

    I just stumbled across your site on my break from sewing today (it’s delightful), and read this post. I have the same issue with ties at the waist. I’ve found that if I tie each item in a different place (off to the left, off to the right, etc.) it help from all of them making a big bulking mess. If you haven’t tried that, it’s a possibility =)

    This next bit is tricky to put into words as it sounds rather odd, but if the pocket hoops are deeper than your body (they stick out in front of your legs in the front or bum in the back) that might be causing the problem with the curving in (if I’m understanding it correctly!). Smaller pleats might help, also, because it will give each pleat more individual movement, if that makes sense. The fabric won’t have to go all in the same direction since it will be pleated in smaller sections.

    Anywho, I’ve got to get back to my machine, but had a lovely time visiting for a bit. =)

  11. Hi Christina! Thanks so much for your reply — I really appreciate it. It’s the biggest reason I decided to start this blog. I already know some very talented folk who are willing to help me, but sometimes they’re not familiar with the era I’m working on or live too far away to help me when I am trying to figure something out. It’s great to meet more people, even if it’s online. I love chatting with fellow costumers and seamstresses, and learning. It’s a HUGE help! 🙂

    My husband helps me get into all the layers, and we’ve been working on where to tie things. We’ve also found spreading them out here and there does help some. I think it’s just mainly getting used to suddenly having all these ties. It can be a little overwhelming! We’ll keep working on shifting things around here and there and figure out what works best for us. My husband commented today that he’s already getting quicker at lacing up my stays when he was helping me into them so I could check the fit of something.

    About the pocket hoops… I had to check a photo of me wearing them, and it looks like they don’t sit out further than my body in the front and back. I think it’ll just be a matter of paying attention to how I do the pleats, as you mentioned (the green petticoat was the last I did, and I did a lot more smaller pleats — I really like it the most out of the three pettis I made).

    Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to comment and help me out. I really appreciate it! Best wishes and happy sewing!

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