For the last six months I've been working on three different 1837 gowns. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll remember them. The skirts on these are very full, and both corded petticoats along with multiple petticoats, were used to achieve that fullness.
As the date to Costume College is quickly approaching and I’m trying to finish those and another dress, I’m running out of time to make a few things I need for them; one being big fluffy petticoats to get the period correct look. What’s a girl to do? I remembered a theatre trick that someone had told me a couple years ago after another costumer I know made her own wonderful version of an 1830s dress and shared her “cheater” petticoat.
This is the look we’re going for, a full skirt kind of high on the hips. Of course this is a fashion print so take that into account.
I bought a corded petticoat that was pretty stiff but even that along with a silk taffeta ruffled petticoat still didn’t give me that much lift. In comes the theatre “trick”. I was told to buy some quilted fabric and just gather it into a waistband. Piece of cake! So I bought some in white. And it sat for two years until I forgot what it was for and during a spring cleaning binge, I gave it away.
So the other day I was reminded about doing this and needed some more quilted fabric. I tried looking through a couple thrift shops for a quilted mattress pad to use but had no luck and I didn’t have a lot of time. So I forked over another $10 for two yards with my coupon at JoAnn’s, and this time I bought pink.
The fabric was 36” wide and since that’s about the length I wanted, I used that as my length and would gather the 2 yards into the waist.
Originally I was told the fabric was gathered around the waistband but I didn’t think my thread would be strong enough to gather it, nor did I want the bulk. So I made two inch wide pleats instead. I first considered making a waistband but thought of a quicker way, since this was supposed to be a quickie petticoat. I used a length of one inch wide grosgrain I had left from some packaging, folded it in half and pinned it onto the top, then topstitched through both layers. *I would recommend using a heavy duty needle in your sewing machine. This is pretty bulky.*
I left the back open so it was like a big apron. I just turned the edges under on the ends, and turned up an inch along the bottom for my hem. It took me about two hours to make this.
It’s got a nice stiffness to it, and yes, it’s already been washed. I actually like this better than my corded petticoat now. It’s not something I’d like to show off as it’s a rough finish but will you just look at it! It’s awesome!
EDITED TO ADD: When I put my skirt over the top of this, the petticoat is kind of wavy and was showing through. So I put my cotton tiered petticoat over it, and it smoothed it out very nice.
Update on my little girl, Chloe: She’s getting a good appetite back and even though I have to fill her dish a couple times a day, I will do it. We need to get her weight back up. She lost 2 of her 8 lbs. Her eyes are clear, and starting to get into her old patterns again. Still sleeps a lot but then she always did.