Friday, September 18, 2009

My first petticoat

I tried my wedding dress on last night to determine how much to cinch it up in the center back seam for the zipper. As I was looking in the mirror, I noticed that the skirt just didn't have the dramatic look that a ball gown should. I'm referring to the big 'ol skirt, of course. The organza underlining did help dramatically (compared to my previous attempt) and the fashion fabric (or satin, in this case) was hanging beautifully. Despite all this, the bottom of the gown was most definitely lacking something. I hate the idea of adding still more layers to my skirt but it is needed.

My search for petticoats, how to wear them, and how to make one yielded many different results. Running out of time and not knowing what kind of petticoat I wanted, I talked to a co-worker who participates in western (cowboys) reenactments. She mentioned that a hoop skirt requires that you kick the hoop forward as you walk so that you don't trip on it. I suffer from severe clumsiness. I don't think a hoop skirt is right for me. In the interest of adding as few additional layers as possible to my 3-layer skirt, I am opting for a ruffled petticoat made from netting.

Example of the petticoat I will make:

Source: Bridal Petticoat

My plan for making the petticoat is below. I will scan my drawing of it later.

  • Length of the petticoat should match the outer skirt (fashion fabric) length unless you want some of the ruffled netting to show for decoration.

  • Divide total length of skirt into 4 tiers for a floor-length skirt. (My skirt will be 40 inches long, excluding the waistband, so 4 x 10-inch tiers.)

  • Upper tier of skirt and waistband will be made from cotton but you can also use a nylon taffeta.

  • Add 1-3/4 inches to upper tier for waistband and casing for drawstring closure. (Drawstring for quick and easy waistband but a snap or zipper closing could work too.)

  • Add 1 inch to top 3 tiers for 1/2-inch seam allowances.

  • Add 1/2 inch to bottom tier for upper seam allowance.

  • Calculate widith of fabric for each tier as follows: topmost tier width=your hip measurement + 10 inches, 2nd tier width=2 times the top tier width (hip + 10 inches), 3rd tier width=4 times the top tier width, and bottom tier width=6 times the top tier width.

  • Netting on bottom tier does not need to be hemmed so the length can be adjusted easily. If you wish to add a decorative trim to the bottom, it would be easier to do that before sewing all the tiers together.

  • Each tier of netting is gathered at the top and sewn to the bottom length of previous tier. It might be easier to gather each width in 10-12 inch sections instead of trying to handle the full width at once.

  • I'm adding a slight A-line cotton skirt underneath the netting to keep the scratchy netting off my skin. Add this simple drawstring skirt to the waistband of the petticoat before sewing the waistband and casing for the drawstring.

This type of petticoat sells for $30-40 USD by most online wedding accessories retailers. I calculated my cost as less than $10 USD.

  • 72 inch wide netting runs $0.50-$0.99 USD/yard. The width of the netting allows you to buy 3-1/4 yards and cut it lengthwise in six 11-inch wide strips for the tiers. It won't alter the function of the petticoat to piece the tier widths together.

  • 45 inch wide cotton broadcloth runs $2 USD/yard at my local stores. I will need approximately 3 yards for the uppermost tier, waistband, and four 18-inch wide by 40-inch long panels to piece together for the petticoat lining.

  • Drawstring--I already have this.

If you want to use a pattern for petticoats or corsets, McCalls 4109 has several styles. McCalls 3609 is out of print but has the hoop skirt pattern.

If you want a quick and easy petticoat with ruffles along the bottom edge only, here is a link to read: Petticoat 1-hour project. Great way to use mismatch bedskirts.

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