Bustle cage

When I started my 1870’s corset, it was mostly as a patterning exercise. But halfway through the patterning, I decided to start a new project, namely a 1870’s bustle dress! So I decided to fully finish the corset. Of course, I now also needed a bustle cage. I already had the pattern for the Truly Victorian 101 petticoat with wire bustle. It suited very well, as it’s a wire bustle with additional ruffle overlay so you don’t really need an extra petticoat. (Although it never hurts of course)

The pattern went together really well. It’s also remarkably light to wear, and it folds up really well. No problem moving and sitting at all, definitely reccomended.

I forgot to take any in-progress pictures except of the cut fabric.So instead, some images of the finished bustle!

From the front. My only mistake was making the waistband way too long and I didn’t want to unpick it, so I just fold it over till it fits.


The back. Ruffles galore! I’m getting better at folded hems…


And of course, the most important part, from the side! Really looking forward to making a dress to go on top of this! A post about the plans is coming soon.


Edwardian Skirt & Petticoat

It’s done! My high-waist Edwardian Skirt is done, and with it the petticoat to go underneath.

Both the petticoat and skirt were made with the 10-gore skirt pattern from Truly Victorian. I made the base of the petticoat first, to test the fit. After slightly correcting the fit at the top (it was a bit too wide, otherwise it fit very well), I cut off the top part to make the petticoat sit at the waist. I added a drawstring to close it, and moved this closure to the front.

After hemming, it was time to add some trim and ruffle. I chose to add a broad strip of bobbin lace and one row of ruffles. There’s 2 meters of fabric in the ruffle alone, cut in 4 parts and sewn together, so 8 meters to gather and hem. I used a small rolled hem at the top and bottom, and gathered and sewed the ruffle to the underside of the lace.

The finished petticoat:



The hem of the ruffle.



The lace:



The cord and closure



In the mean time, I also started working on the skirt! Cutting the fabric was quite scary. I bought the wool in Edinburgh, so no possibility of getting more, and tartan wool isn’t the cheapest of fabrics. I used black cotton for the lining.


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Cutting the wool. I now know my living room is 5 meters long, it fit exactly… I spent quite some time laying out the pattern pieces, trying to get the plaid to match at the waistline.


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I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures, so a quick walk through. The first step was to flat-line the lining to the wool. After that, I made the placket for the closure and sew on all the hooks and eyes. A quick (dark) phone picture of this step:

Then it was time to sew all the panels together. Always the most fun, because it’s quickest and it now actually looked like a skirt!

Next up was making boning channels and inserting the bones and sewing the whole result to the seam allowances. Less fun, and loads of hand sewing. I used plastic boning, mainly because I’ll be wearing this over a corset anyway and it’s a lot cheaper than steel.

Next up, finishing! The top was finished with bias binding. Stitched to the right side by machine and turned over and hand-stitched down.


The last step was the hem. After trying on the length with the petticoat, I sewed hem stiffener to the bottom. Then I cut a broad bias strip from black cotton and sewed it to the hem as facing. Finally, I hand-stitched the hem-facing down. And we’re done! Technically, I finished the last hand-sewing on the 2nd of January, but as I did all the other work last year, I’ll count it as a 2015 project.

So, some more pictures!

First a comparison of with and without petticoat. I hadn’t finished the hem yet on these pictures, but you can see the difference the petticoat makes!

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The closure:




One of the bones and the facing at the top:


And at the hem. The hem-stiffener is underneath.



The whole thing! I quickly put my blouse on top for the effect. (I was lazy and didn’t do any underpinnings for the blouse, sorry!)




My only regret on the skirt is that the center-back doesn’t line up. I matched up the pattern pieces, but made the mistake on doing it on one side of folded fabric. Turned out the fabric wasn’t lying completely straight. The other panels are fine, but one of the back panels was off. Ah well, better next time.




It’s still very pretty though…








Cotton flowers

Aside from my historical projects, I also sew more modern stuff for my regular wardrobe. Mostly I make skirts and dresses, I rarely wear any pants, and I love skirts! They’re also so easy to make, which makes them really gratifying. I recently started several projects with regular printed cotton fabrics. I’ve found I really love it, even though it sometimes creases a bit, it’s lovely fabric to work with. For my skirts, I’ve found that if I line the skirt with lining-fabric it also falls really nice and doesn’t cling to my legs. All photo’s are taken with a petticoat by the way, a-line tulle for the dresses, and my cotton bell-shaped one for the skirts.

This was one of the first cotton projects. I just loved the fabric. It’s very summery, and very cute, and I couldn’t resist. The pattern was Vogue – 8701. It’s a very nice pattern, and went together well. I do have to say that it’s better for ‘special occasion’ dresses than for ‘everyday wear’ dresses. The bodice sits beautifully when standing still, but when moving my arms it shifts a bit and I have to pull it back into place again.

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I found the fabric for these next two skirts at the market. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but I couldn’t resist and the price was very good. The red skirt is a circle, the other one a pleated rectangle. The white lace I bought at a market for 2 euro, and I still have about 25 meters left… A bargain!

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The next fabric was also spotted at the market. I originally wanted to make a dress from this pattern, but with a wider skirt:

Burda, Dress with Petticoat 09/2014 #111


I didn’t think I had enough fabric to make a full dress, so I decided to make the skirt of plain black with just a flowered border. I ended up making a circle skirt with the bodice from the pattern, and omitting the collar and sleeve collars. I really love the dress, and it seems to fit me better than the model in the photo! I didn’t have to make any alterations to the bodice either, so I might use it again in future projects. I’m really starting to like dresses with sleeves as well, so you can wear them in other seasons then summer ;). I lined the skirt with lining fabric, and the bodice with black cotton because that feels nicer to the skin. The one mistake I made was that I didn’t pre-wash the fabric. The cotton shrunk more than the lining, making the skirt lining a bit baggy. I eventually sewed a seam between the black and flower border in the skirt to make sure it didn’t show.

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In the end, I did have quite a lot of fabric left, enough for another skirt! I really love the fabric, so I was very happy with this. The skirt is again a simple rectangle pleated to a waistband, but this time with a ruffle attached at the bottom. It gives a nice touch.

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This last skirt was made from cotton bought in a quilt-fabric store. I love quilting cottons, they’re such good quality and gorgeous prints, but not the cheapest. I decided to treat myself with this fabric. The lace at the bottom is made in a lace-museum, with the original cotton bobbin-lace making machines.

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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


Cotton knee-length petticoat (&pattern)

I’ve been wanting to make a cotton petticoat for under my knee-length skirts for a while. My good petticoat is an A-line, but I have some skirts for which a bell-shape is more appropriate and I like the idea of cotton for petticoats. I’d been looking out for a pattern for a while, because I wanted to get the shape and volume right. Recently, I had a performance with my dance group doing an hungarian piece and got to have a look at the petticoats worn with the costume. I’m not certain if these petticoats are also the traditional type worn, but they certainly give the bell shape.

Not quite as huge as this though (but it is pretty)

Voivodina Hungarians (Kupusina and Doroslovo) women’s national costume.


I figured I’d share my pattern with you. The petticoat consist of 3 layers, a top layer and two under-layers. These layers, together with pleats and gathers give the volume.

For this pattern you need to decide on 2 things on your own, namely your waist circumference and the length you want the petticoat to be.

Start with making a waistband for yourself, fitting at the natural waist. Decide on whatever closure you want in the waistband, can be hooks, a button, or another type of clasp (sew this on at the end). My pattern closes only at  the waistband, leaving a slit open in the skirt. This doesn’t matter as it’s a petticoat and therefore always worn under another skirt. If you wish to wear it as an over-skirt, make sure that the slit fully closes or insert a zipper.

The top layer will have the following pattern:



So the width will be your waist measurement times 3, the height will be the length you want the petticoat to be. Beware that if the petticoat is very full, the actual length might fall a bit shorter because the skirt stands out from the body. In this case, add a little to your desired length to get the height measure.

This top layer is pleated onto a waistband at the top. Make sure your pleats meet, in that you have 3 layers of fabric everywhere.

I used 1,5 cm pleats, but you can look at what you like visually. I’d recommend smaller pleats though. Sew the sides together, leaving a slit at the top which your hips fit through. Hem the slit.

The bottom two layers of the petticoat only have fullness at the bottom.

This is the pattern for the top part of the lower layers. You’ll need to cut this out 4 times. I recommend making a mock-up first, as this part is more close fitted. The lower measurement is your hip circumference at a point Length/2 below your waist. If your petticoat length is 40 cm, measure at 20 cm below your waist, if it’s 70 cm, measure at 35 below your waist. Be careful if you measure below the widest part of your hips, in this case just take the full hip measure at the widest part. You can add a little ease to the bottom part of this pattern to make sure it’s not too snug. How much can be up to you, but I’d say that 10 to 20 cm is safe.

Petticoat 2


Once this is cut, sew 2 of the pieces together at one side. Sew the other side close at the bottom leaving a slit at the top. Make sure you can fit it over your hips when deciding how deep the slit is. Hem the edges of fabric at the slit.

The bottom part of the under-layers is the following (so cut 2, one for each under layer):

Petticoat 3


In other words, the height is again half the length you want, so your bottom layers will be the same length as your top layer. The width is based on the bottom length of the top part of the under layer (Hip/2 + ease measurement). For this, take your hip measurement + ease as a base. (Not divided by 2, as now you’re looking at the full hip measurement and not half of it). You can take this measurement and multiply it by a number somewhere between 2 and 3. This decides how full the bottom of your petticoat will be. For a very full one at the bottom, pick a higher number. If you go above 3, it might be a bit hard to gather everything. Gather the top of this piece of fabric, and sew it onto the bottom of the top part of the under-layer.

Final step: hem everything (it’s prettiest if the under-layers don’t show, so make the hem of the upper layer slightly narrower). Trim if you want.

Because I always prefer looking at a garment when figuring out how to make it, here are some pictures of mine (bad phone quality, sorry for that):

The top layer:


The bottom layer (the weird stuff at the top is the top layer being held up):



After I finished sewing the layers together and was looking at hemming, I noticed that I’d cut the petticoat a bit longer than I needed. I fitted it with a skirt I had and the bottom peeked out. This could be nice, as the lace at the hem is pretty, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. Instead of taking the hem up, I chose to make pintucks above the hem. So I hemmed the skirt as usual, and then marked and folded my fabric so the entire skirt would be a little shorter. I chose this method because it’s pretty, but it’s also something I saw in the existing petticoats. It makes sense, as clothing was shared by people (or inherited from others), so the length wouldn’t always be right. Having pintucks is an easy way of shortening a skirt so that it can be let out again later. So some more pictures of the finished petticoat:



Done! You can barely see the pintucks in this photo, but you can see that ik gives even more of a bell-shape with the skirt a bit shorter.



The closure.



The hem. I trimmed it with cotton lace. It’s not antique, but made with a still operating antique cotton machine. The two pintucks are 1 cm each and placed 4,5 and 8 cm above the hem.



The first bottom layer. There is one more like this beneath. These layers also have 2 pintucks in the same way as the top layer, but no lace.



This looks a bit weird, but I just pinned the top two layers up so you can see there’s a 3rd one.



And the petticoat with a skirt on top, to show the volume.



And for reference, the same skirt without petticoat.