An Easy, Authentic Eighteenth Century Petticoat

A linen striped petticoat, made to go over pocket hoops. The hem is in the straight of grain and it's leveled at the waist, using only measurements.

First, sew the side seams of the petticoat. If you're using fabric 55 or 60 inches wide, just make two side seams and leave the last 9 or 10 inches open. If you're using narrower fabric, you'll need to use three panels and make slits that length at the sides. Hem the petticoat.

Next, mark for length. If your petticoat is going to be the same length all around, you can skip right to pleating. My example is a petticoat meant to go over pocket hoops.

To determine length, measure center front to floor, then measure over your skirt support to the floor. The difference between these two numbers is the difference you need in length. It will probably be a smaller difference than you expect! My waist to floor measurement was 38 inches in the center front, 42 inches over my side hoop. So I know I need to add 4 inches to compensate for the pocket hoops.

Then decide how long you want the petticoat to be in the center front. I want it to be rather short, so it's going to be 32 inches in front and then add 4 inches to the sides, so 36 inches at the sides.

Place a pin 32 inches up from the center front hem, and 36 inches up from the sides. Substituting your numbers, of course!

A petticoat over a bumroll is done the same way, only of course you measure the back as well as the hips, since your back length will be different as well. Just measure that distance at the center back of the petticoat.

Now, cut or fold the excess. I prefer folding to cutting as it leaves more room for error. And in the 18th century, it would make it easier to rework into something new if the styles changed.

If you have a large difference, you might need to cut a slit at center front to make the fold easier.

Iron the top fold in place so you don't have to worry about pins while pleating.

The ironed top edge.

Pleat the petticoat. The front and back should each be a little larger than half your waist measurement, maybe two or three inches. You should have a box pleat at center front, the rest of the pleats are knife pleats facing toward the back with an inverted box pleat at center back.

The opening next to the pleats. I like to fold the front under and leave the back flat so when you put the front over the back, it forms a pleat in the same manner as the others.

Then bind the top of the petticoat and put ties on the back and front. I like to make them long enough so the back tie in front and the front ties wrap around back and come back to the front to tie. I usually use wide linen tape for this, but didn't have any when making this petticoat.

Putting the petticoat on. First, tie the back. Notice how it comes a little past the sides to the front.

Next tie the front. I'm lifting it to waist level.

Last, actually tie the front! I find it stays better when wrapped around back and brought to the front.

My Costumes
The Eighteenth Century

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