The 1898 Ensemble – 3 days to go: Petticoat Junction

TV170 - Victorian pettticoats - I'm making the one on the right.

TV170 – Victorian petticoats – I’m making the one on the right.

Progress continues on the 1898 ensemble. The petticoat is coming together, with a few assorted changes (of course).

2014-01-23 12.10.04I had originally planned to use some pretty blue fabric I’ve had for a long time. However, when I started laying it out I discovered that the fabric is narrower than the pattern pieces for the flounce and the ruffles. Not a huge problem, but working around it was going to slow me down. The larger issue for me is that in order to support the skirt I’ll be wearing I need to make a petticoat that is really full at the bottom and not cut for a bustle. I really wanted to use my “pretty” fabric for a late bustle period petticoat, so that gave me two excuses good reasons to save it and go hunting through the stash.

2014-03-19 13.08.54Fortunately, I ran across some pretty banal red printed check cotton that I am happy to sacrifice to the cause and is sturdy enough to hold the skirt up and out. I don’t have enough to make the petticoat according to the exact pattern, so that meant entering the Twilight Zone of Victorian Undergarment Mathematics. Oh, yippy skippy.

There is enough to cut the body of the petticoat and the four full-fabric-width panels of the flounce. There is not enough for the ruffle, but I still have some Goodwill ruffled bed skirts. So it was back to the stash for some more quality excavation. Sure enough, I have two twin bed skirts with ginormous ruffles that will do. I cut the still-gathered ruffle off of the fabric platform, measured and found that I have 172.5 inches to play with. The total circumference of the flounce is 174 inches, after seaming. That gave me an easy-peasy fix: I took a 1-inch tuck in the center back of the flounce, narrowing the circumference to 172 inches so the ruffle will fit.

Mathematical triumph #1 in the bag.

The next bit of math involved the ruffle itself. The entire ruffle is 14.5 inches deep. The ruffle for the pattern is 7.5 inches deep. I am not going to cut up the pre-gathered ruffle and defeat the whole reason for using it in the first place, so that means I have to take seven inches off the flounce. The flounce also has five half-inch tucks to give the petticoat more supporting oomph and I was afraid that taking that much off the flounce would have the tucks basically starting at the upper gathered edge and that’s no good. Another set of measurements assured me that I can indeed put in the five tucks, take seven inches off the top of the flounce, and still have the whole shebang hang correctly and do the job I want it to do. There is no way the skirt is going to sag – not with this tucked and ruffled behemoth underneath it.

Mathematical triumph #2 nailed.

Because math and I have a casual, occasionally caustic and at times downright catastrophic relationship (I still bear the scars from “New Math“), I re-calculated everything twice just to make sure I was on track and not cajoling myself into skipping down the proverbial garden path. I kept getting the same results, so either I am calculating correctly or I am erring consistently.

We’ll know soon enough.