1790s petticoat

Because time is wibbly wobbly (especially in whatever year this is), in March 2020 I posted about planning a 1790s outfit all based on an amazing fabric I was gifted for an open robe.

Apparently the only thing I posted about this outfit since was painting shoes, in June.

While I’m approaching the end of finishing the whole ensemble (uh I have literally 1 week to finish the open robe before having a baby, plz baby don’t come early so I can finish it), let’s see what can be blogged about in the meantime?

I bought a regency shift from Willoughby and Rose because as I’ve said, I’m totally over making shifts (although the neckline ended up a bit high for this dress and I’ll probably cut it down).

I was going to buy custom 1790s transitional stays from Red Threaded, but by the time they came back in stock I was too pregnant to take reasonable measurements. This balconette bra is actually a shockingly good approximation of the regency figure, with the square neckline and wide straps so that’s what I’m going with!

And then I needed a petticoat. Turns out, there isn’t a ton of evidence out there for what a 1790s petticoat should look like. Rather than doing my own research I relied on this blog post by The Dreamstress who actually Did The Research on regency petticoats (reminder, I’m not a historian or academic. I just like to play dressup).

I went spelunking in my stash to find white cotton (thinking I must have some of my favorite combed cotton lawn since I buy it in 5-10 yard increments these days [omg looking for it just now it’s discontinued!!]), and ran into the problem that apparently I used up the last for a bustle petticoat.

All I found in the stash was around one yard of lawn (left) and one yard of organdy (right).

Alrighty, I guess we are going to have a mix and match petticoat, as I’m trying to be more thrifty in my fabric purchasing and usage!

My lawn turned out to be a wonky shape (see again bustle petticoat) in a couple pieces. In order to maximize the width, I pieced in a big square (which is itself two pieces of fabric).

After that it was fairly straightforward. I had two rectangles which I french seamed together. They got gathered up and attached to a piece of twill tape which acted as a waistband (although the waistband is right at my underbust). Two more pieces of twill tape are straps (which angle very steeply towards the center of my back in order to keep them on my narrow shoulders). I cut a slit in the back and very narrowly hemmed the slit in order to get this on. The back closes with one hook and eye.

I added tucks because 1) I’m extra like that and 2) tucks are pretty and 3) tucks really do help to hold a skirt out from that bit of stiffness.

Ok fine initially I done goofed my math and measured wrong and had to take out a tuck after it overlapped the one below it instead of being spaced apart. That was a lot of seam ripping.

Can barely see the pieced square!
Usual disclaimer of “fits me better than the form” (as this was apparently before I got my beloved Beatrice Form)
stealth piecing

I would have preferred to have the piecing in back of the petticoat (on the off chance that it shows through my sheer gown), but I wanted the heavier organdy in back and the lighter floofier lawn in front since I figured it’s always better to aim on the side of having more volume in back.

And for the silliest part – a wee little pad to help hold out the pleats on the back of the dress! I got this from the American Duchess 18th Century Guide to Dressmaking book, which does have a 1790s ensemble (although I elected to make this strapped petticoat rather than their bodiced petticoat).

Seriously, look how small this thing is!

I filled it with some cabbage, aka tiny scraps left from cutting my petticoat fabric into rectangles, and also some polyfill.

After making this, I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sure whether a petticoat with straps (rather than a bodiced petticoat) is a reenactorism. I found that straps still wanted to fall down (these will definitely get pinned to my bra) and the sides droop between the straps. Maybe one of these days one of the academics who do Real Research will turn up a more definitive answer.

Then onto the dress!

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