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.
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.
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.
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.