18th Century, Tutorial

The Panier-Along: Materials List

With the Under-it-All challenge coming up on the Historical Sew Fortnightly  I offered to write a tutorial on how to make paniers, and the idea was met with much enthusiasm.  So, from Jan 30th to Feb 8th I’ll be leading a Panier-Along, providing a simple pattern and walking you through the steps of making your own set of paniers.

1770s basket paniers

1770s basket paniers

My panier pattern is based on information in Norah Waugh’s Corsets & Crinolines, and on the panier pattern at Tidens Tøj.  It creates a set of separate basket hoops that give a modestly wide silhouette, suitable for informal dress (e.g. not court wear) in the 1760s and 70s.

The tutorial will focus on being easy and simple (I’ll probably be sewing by machine), with an accurate silhouette, rather than strictly historical accurate, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt to be perfectly accurate if you would prefer.

The challenge doesn’t start until the 29th, but we need time to assemble our materials.  If you want to participate you will need:

  • 1 yard/95cm  of mid to heavyweight fabric at least 112cm wide.  The historically accurate option would be a tightly woven mid-weight linen, or a polished cotton canvas, but they are also fun to make out of lighter weight upholstery brocades and other fashion fabrics.  Just pick something that doesn’t fray or warp too badly.
  • 4 yards/3.7 metres of metal hoop boning or basket cane.  Other things that can be used are fibreglass curtain rods (for making Roman blinds), the metal tapes that hold crates together (though these rust badly) and narrow black plastic garden piping.
  • 4 yards/3.7 metres of strong twill tape for your boning/hoop channels  wide enough that it can be sewn down to a piece of fabric and your boning can slip through and fit relatively snugly.   Alternatively, you can make your own tape by cutting strips of your fabric and folding the edges under, or you can create channels with two full layers of fabric for the sides of the paniers.  You will need an extra 20″/50cm of fabric (it need not match your outer fabric) for either of these two options.
  • 2x your waist measurement (I use 150cm/60″) of  1/2″ / 1.5cm twill tape for your waist tie.  This twill tape does not need to be as strong as that for your hoop channels.
  • Optional: 26 feet  (312″)  /8 metres of  1/2″ / 1.5cm twill tape  cut into 12 26″ lengths for your front and back ties
Strong twill tape

Strong twill tape

I’ll be making mine out of a midweight linen with the twill tape you see above, and cane boning.

1770s basket paniers

1770s basket paniers

Are you planing to Panier-Along?  What will you be making yours out of?  Here is a little button for you to put on your blog if you wish:

The Panier-Along

For now, happy shopping/stash tossing!


  1. Yay, panniers! A much better form of hip padding than symmetricals.

    I might do the pannier along but I can’t make any promises, having school work to do, plus being distracted by lots of other sewing projects. Are these the kind that double as enormous pockets? I have been planning to make a pair of those for a while, in a caramel coloured cotton drapery fabric.
    I have a blog now, I typed it into the box that says “website” so my name probably appears as a pale purple link. Also, I found another Demented Seamstress who was already on the internet, so my name is now Mouse Borg.

  2. I went to see Semele Walk, Handel’s opera restyled by Vivian Westwood last Saturday night as part of the Sydney Festival and the costumes were astounding. I want to replicate Semele’s gown in the second half, which is based on an 18th c gown but made with sheer printed fabrics so the underpinings are seen, I loved it, so hope to use these panniers for that sometime this year.

  3. I’m hoping I get to this because out of the few historical silhouettes I would like to dress myself for, this is one of them. So fingers crossed I finish my regency stays this week. If not I can always do them for a later challenge I suppose.

  4. I’d like to participate! I really need paniers for an outfit for WGT and my first trial didn’t work right… Maybe I didn’t stick close to the instructions (I mostly don’t read them at all)!

    I do have some baby pink linen lyig around which I think would make the perfect paniers! ^^

  5. I’d like to participate! I really need paniers for an outfit for WGT and my first trial didn’t work right… Maybe I didn’t stick close to the instructions (I mostly don’t read them at all)!

    I do have some baby pink linen lying around which I think would make the perfect paniers! ^^

  6. Natalie says

    OMG I want to do this! I haven’t sewn in ages because I’m so busy with my two babies under two and learning photography but to do a lesson with you is too tempting to resist!

    • It depends on what you are using as boning. It needs to be wide enough that you can sew it down on both edges and slip your boning through and have it be snug. You could use wider twill tape, and have it sewn further from the edges. My twill tape is 5/8″ wide.

  7. Excellent instructions! Unfortunately I don’t have the time to participate in the challenges, but I’ll save your panier how-to for later.

    In case anyone is trying to figure out how the Tidens Tøj pattern goes together, be aware that it’s for a different set of paniers than the one shown in their photo. The pattern doesn’t have ties across the front and back, but rather a piece of fabric the full height of the paniers joining the paniers front and back. The piece in the back is split down the CB. The paniers are stiffened with bamboo, and so is lower edge of the back. The paniers in the pattern don’t double as pockets; they just have a small slit for inserting stuffing into the paniers.

  8. lesley says

    Thank you. I am dressing the cast for the play Amadeus and was in despair regarding the ‘underpinnings’. Your easy to follow class has been a godsend.

  9. Sandra Trenwith Hancock Martin says

    When I was a hostess/guide for Colonial Williamsburg in the 1960’s we wore formal gowns with farthingales that folded up when we went through narrow doors. Now I am a educator/guide at The Hermitage in Ho-ho-kus .N.J. I made my own colonial gown from a Simplicity pattern two years ago, but the side panels I made out of pillows are not working. Last week I was at Tryon Palace in New Bern, N.C. where I learned about paniers. I will be using your intructions. Thanks.!

  10. Juliette says

    I have 3.4 m of cable ties,, but they are not quite heavy duty. Would they all right to use for the boning? I am unable to get my hands on any other materials, so I am kind of relying on them!
    I love your website and this tutorial is so helpful! Thank you

    • Unfortunately my guess is that they are going to warp and collapse under the weight of any skirts at all 🙁

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