When I originally planned the ‘Accessorise’ challenge for the Historical Sew-Fortnightly I envisioned all the things that qualified for it as being things worn on the outside of an outfit: shoes, gloves, parasols, jewellery, headgear.
Then, when I planned a photoshoot with one fully accessorised outfit, I realised that sometimes an outfit doesn’t look right without an un-seen accessory.
Silk stockings, a bergere hat, a parasol and the right shoes all brought my pet-en-l’aire outfit together, but the ensemble just looked a little flat and deflated without one last accessory.
Enter my bum-rump.
Yep. Without it my ass just wouldn’t look big in this.
I based my bum-rump on Kendra’s excellent research into skirt supports in the late 18th century and this caricature of the ‘Bum Shop’:
I went for the shape shown on the lady in the far right, only I assumed (this being a cartoon) that the original it was based on would be a bit more…restrained.
I liked the shape of this bum-rump best of all the ones that Kendra trialled, and felt it worked best for the early 1780s silhouette I was going for, with fullness over the bum and hips.
My bum-rump is two layers of fabric cut in a crescent, and quilted together over two layers of wool batting (the only sort of batting I ever have in the house), with extra batting stuffed into each channel.
When the bum rump was all stuffed I bound the edges with bias tape.
To give the bum rump a bit more ‘poof’ and to help shape it to my body more effectively I took two tuck pleats in the back of the bum rump. They really help with the shaping.
The bum-rump ended up doing an interesting and unexpected thing. The front ends of the bum rump curve down, and the front ties want to tie quite low, which makes it ideal for tucking the fastening knot under the front of my stays, avoiding a lump at the centre front. The dipping ends of the bum rump also eliminates fullness in the waist and stomach which you don’t want. It’s so perfect, and such a naturally occurring thing, I almost wonder if period bum-rumps might have done the same thing.
To show how effective the bum-rump is, here is flat-bottomed Isabelle in stays:
And with a bum-rump added:
And with the petticoat over:
I’m happy to add that the bum rump was also extremely light and comfortable to wear. I drove in it, and sat on the ground in it, and pranced around in it and three layers of petticoats for a couple of hours, and it was fantastic. The bum rump actually helped to keep the petticoats away from my legs, so I wasn’t too hot and didn’t get tangled in my skirts.
The Challenge: Accessorise
Fabric: 1/2 metre of thin but strong floral patterned upholstery cotton (the same fabric I used for my mistletoe panniers, so now I have coordinating 18th century skirt supports).
Pattern: none, based on historical depictions and Kendra’s research
Year: ca. 1780
Notions: cotton thread, cotton twill tape, wool batting, cotton bias binding.
How historically accurate is it? Not particularly. I made this as a quick and dirty prototype of an idea, so I wasn’t aiming for perfect historical accuracy. Now that I know it works, I’ll refine the construction techniques to match period items, and work on an accurate hand-sewn linen version.
Hours to complete: 35 minutes! Best project ever!
First worn: for a photoshoot with my 1780s pet-en-l’aire
Total cost: I paid less than $4 for the mistletoe fabric, and made the panniers out of it, so we’ll say $1 for this project. All the other bits were left over from other projects, so really $2 at the most in total. Did I say best project ever?