Remember this petticoat?
I’ve posted it as inspiration for pretty much every HSF challenge it would qualify for: Under it All, White, Eastern Influence, Embellishment…
Clearly I’m madly in love with it, and I’ve always wanted to recreate it, but the dream seemed impossible. I simply don’t have the time to do the amazing handiwork, and what were the chances of finding a similar fabric?
And then this arrived at The Fabric Store (yes, that’s actually it’s name):
Naturally, I had to have it. But it wasn’t exactly cheap…
I restrained myself for two days, and then had to go back to TFS for a necessity, and I saw that half the bolt was already gone. So I bit the bullet and forked out (brace yourself when you see the price below) and bought four metres of it – which may have been slightly overkill.
I didn’t regret it, because I was in the shop again a week later and it was all gone.
I’ve been desperate to make it up ever since I found it a year ago, but there were other commitments for every challenge, and it just never happened.
Then, after I’d already finished my Smooth Sewing trousers for Innovations, I came across the fabric again, and got ambitious and attempted to make the petticoat up as a second Innovations entry (my innovation would have been bleach, and decorated underthings). I quickly realised it was going to be much more complicated than I had planned.
The first problem was sorting the rows of paisley embroidery. My inspiration petticoat only has the one border, and 6 rows of tucks. My fabric had a wider border, and then three further rows of paisley embroidery.
To best match the aesthetic of ca. 1860 originals, I cut out the two middle rows of paisley embroidery (I’ll use them to trim a matching set of chemise and drawers, or to create a faux paisley muslin shawl) and then hid the join seam in a tuck. I’m pleased with the paisley border, double tuck, row of paisley embroidery, double tuck pattern that is my end result.
My other big problem with the weight of the fabric. My fabric is a very light cotton voile – much finer than the fabric my inspiration petticoat would have been made out of. So in order to get it to sit right around the waistband and to hang correctly over a hoopskit I had to add another layer of fabric with a similar hand to an 1860s original. I ended up using a vintage cotton sheet, as none of the other white fabrics I had on hand were the right weight. And, of course, working with two layers of fabric instead of one makes everything infinitely more difficult.
So instead of being a one-day project, it turned out to be a one-hour-a-day-for-four-weeks project! This is what happens when you quarter-inch cartridge pleat three metres of fabric…
Annoying, yes, but the teeny cartridge pleats do look beautiful on the finished skirt:
Not getting it done for Innovations turned out to be a blessing in disguise when The Project arose – I had only a couple of hours of work to do the last of the pleating and hand-work the buttonhole to have it finished for Under it All. Not quite the corset I’d planned, but so wonderful to have fulfilled my dream of a paisley petticoat!
Seeing it on the hoopskirt reminds me that it really is time for me to make a new, proper, and slightly smaller, set of bell hoops.
The Challenge: #4 – Under it All
Fabric: 3m of paisley border-print cotton voile ($25 per metre, but I’m counting it as $15pm, because the rows of paisley embroidery I cut out would easily by $5pm as trim – that’s fair, right?), plus a vintage sheet ($4 at an op-shop)
Year: ca. 1860, just like the original it is based on. I wanted it to fit in with the most extreme hoopskirt silhouette, and to come from a time when a mix of hand and machine sewing would have been plausible.
Notions: Thread, a fabric lingerie button ($2 for 50 at an op-shop, so 4¢ a piece – score!)
How historically accurate is it? The aesthetic is spot on, but the fabric is far too lightweight to be period accurate, and I know of no examples of double-layer petticoats from this period, so 60%. Getting your fabric right in hand, as well as fibre content, is so important…
Hours to complete: 21. I’m a very slow cartridge pleater!
First worn: Not yet, but I’m enjoying admiring it on Isabelle!
Total cost: $49.04