White cotton – Underwear

I had a productive weekend, and made 2 new (under) garments. One is a new petticoat for over my 1860’s hoop, the other an Edwardian shift.

I started with the petticoat. My old one was quite heavy and seemed to do some weird things with my hoop dimensions, compressing it. As it was also not very period correct, being made of black polyester, I decided to make a new one. The new one isn’t quite as full, as I only had 3 meters of fabric, but it should do the job.

It consists of 2 rectangles, the first gathered to the waistband and the second gathered to the first. I started with the first rectangle, and put it on my hoop to measure for length.


I then drew a line along the 2nd full hoop (so not the half-circle ones). I sewed the bottom strip along this line, and actually ended up with a petticoat which is pretty even along the hem! It’s just a bit short, due to lack of fabric, but with a velvet over-skirt (which is quite heavy), that shouldn’t be a problem. If I’ll ever make a new skirt for over this hoop with less volume, I might need to make another petticoat as well though.





The second thing I made was an Edwardian shift. I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern (top left is the shift):

Edwardian Underwear



I ended up skipping the lace along the arm holes, and just made a small seam there. It has lace along the neckline, and 4 pin-tucks in the front and 2 in the back. I pieced the back, because I was using left-over fabric and couldn’t fit the whole thing without a seam. I quite like it, there’s just something about white cotton, lacy underwear.












Back detail


5 thoughts on “White cotton – Underwear

  1. I am enjoying your blog – lots of lovely things!

    For future reference, if you do make another petticoat, the usual mid-century way to handle the hem was to make up the skirt as a tube of fabric and hem it on the straight grain without adding a waistband. Then set it over your hoop on the mannequin and adjust the length at the top, which is easy if you put a ribbon or elastic around the waist of your mannequin. Just pull the fabric up through the band until the petticoat sets evenly over the hoop. Mark your new waistline, remove from the mannequin, and gather into a band.

    Once you’ve done this once, you can do subsequent petticoats and skirts by measurement alone; but whether petticoat or skirt, the hem stays on the straight grain unless you have a train. It makes them hang better, keeps patterns such as plaids parallel to the floor, and also makes the hemming and facing much easier.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

    • Thanks for the tip! I actually did keep the hem on-grain, because I used the selvage of the fabric. Only I gathered it to a top part which was on-grain at the waistband ;). It’s good to know the ‘proper’ way of doing it though! Do you know if any ruffles would be added on top of that first layer of fabric? Or wouldn’t there be any ruffles…

  2. Ruffles were relatively unusual in mid-century petticoats. There were a few ’50s pettis with large tiered ruffles, in an effort to create more volume, and occasionally in the ’60s a small (couple of inches) decorative ruffle at the bottom of a petti, but generally the best way to make volume (and hide hoop lines) was very thorough starching. Let’s put it this way – when it’s starched properly, a petticoat can literally stand up by itself!

    There were certainly decorated petticoats, especially the ones meant to be seen under the wrappers of the period that open down the front (rather like the Elizabethan forepart style). These decorations tend to take the form of groups of tucks, sometimes puffings (strips gathered on each side), waved braid (the early version of rickrack), tatting, and most of all, broderie Anglaise, the whitework embroidery that employs large decorative holes in the work.

    This Pinterest page of mine is pretty scattershot, but there are some nice examples in it:

  3. Pingback: 1860’s Balgown – photos | Atelier Nostalgia

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