The 1912 Petticoat is Underway

c. 1912-1914

c. 1912-1914

After looking through the many styles of petticoats available for the woman of 1912, this extant example inspired me to go with a high waist and front closing. The first will let the shape of the petticoat echo the shape of the dress, the second will make dressing easier for me (and I’m all for that).

This project marks a first for me: I’m not using a pattern. I’m designing the petticoat as I go, draping fabric and fiddling with the fit. I figure it’s going to be hidden, so I may as well take advantage of that fact and learn a thing or two about getting the concept in my head translated into what’s on the dress-form.

I’ve also decided that, unless I end up with a flaming nightmare, I’m going to use it as my loooong overdue project for HSM #1 (Foundations) that should have been finished at the end of January. At this late date it won’t officially count. No matter…I’ll have a petticoat.

Here’s where I am so far. I decided to use the remainder of the lightweight cotton I’d used for a chemise last year. It’s probably not historically correct because it has a faint herringbone weave to it. But it’s semi-sheer, breathes like crazy and washes like a dream.

I want a square neck, sleeveless petticoat that opens in the front, so I started with the bodice pieces: one back and two fronts. My long-ish Victorian corset is on the dress form, still padded out to my (current) dimensions. I left my old chemise underneath it to mimic the layer of fabric from combination suit that will be replacing it. I don’t think it will make much difference because I don’t have to worry about fit around the natural waistline. To be absolutely accurate, I should be making the combination suit first, but I wanted to do the petticoat. So I did. Am. Whatever.

I was so pleased about starting on the petticoat that I neglected to take any photos of the plain bodice pieces on the dress-form after they’d been cut, pinned and sewn. My bad. I finished off the seams, which is when I remembered taking pictures would be useful.

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Wrong side – finished seam

I want a wider neckline, so I marked and cut an additional inch all the way around.

Widening the neckline

Widening the neckline

I have some old beading lace that I want to use around the neck, so I marked 1/4 inch around the neck, folded 1/8 inch then 1/8 inch again, and turned the edge down toward the right side (i.e., outside). Yes, the outside. I cheated with a drop of FrayCheck at each corner…just in case (small sin, big comfort).

clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

Clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

And this is why the raw edge gets turned toward the outside of the petticoat – when the beading lace is sewn on it covers the tiny hem. Now I have my lace sewn onto a clean edge while the inside edge had been finished at (almost) the same time.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

I sewed the beading lace across the back and up over the shoulders. Then I stopped to play around with some different looks.

Playtime!

Playtime!

You may notice the odd, kinda bubbly-looking dart on the left side at the waist. The reason it’s there is because I’m going to start taking a medicine and it’s number one side effect is weight gain. (Yeah, the fun never stops.) Anyway, I want to build in some easy latitude…again, just in case. So I put a dart in but did not sew it closed; it’s only folded and stitched as the base. The petticoat will have a drawstring-gathered waist so altering, if needed, shouldn’t be too difficult.

Here’s what the open dart looks like and my attempt at making it not too crazy obvious by hiding it under the edge of the beading lace.

I decided I like the “hidden dart” approach, so I’m going with it.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

I need some 1/4-inch ribbon before I can sew down the rest of the beading lace, so I that’s on tomorrow’s To Do list. I’ll also decide exactly where I want the high waist to hit, then cut the panel for the petticoat skirt. I’ve got a ton of vintage embroidered cotton lace – enough for a layered-look hem. Might throw in a tuck or two for the body of the skirt. Maybe more beading lace with ribbon for a dash of extra color.

This designing is great fun. As always, I play with options and make changes as I go. Can’t wait to see what I end up with!

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