Caroline: Petticoat tutorial (Part 1)

I love a good petticoat, but at £30 a pop can’t afford to buy them in the varied colours I’d like. So, when I found a hideous 80s net wedding veil in a charity shop for pennies, I saw the opportunity for a project…

I googled tutorials for the petticoat, and found a few that I could just about get my head around. Then I watched a couple of video tutorials, to get a better grasp of what was going on under all those layers! Martha Stewart and Threadbanger proved most useful in this matter, and gave me a stronger idea of where to start.

And then I decided that before hacking into the net, I’d make up a test run in an easier fabric. I pulled some pink satin from my stash, and got started.

For the simple frilled petticoat I made here, you need four basic rectangles of fabric to start. One makes up the main body of the skirt: for this I took my hip measurements from an existing slip, in my case 44 inches. Your three frills will each need to be double this length, so, for my 44 inch hips the frills each needed to be 88 inches long. The width of your rectangles will depend entirely on the overall length you’re hoping to achieve.

Start by double hemming the top of the main body to create a tube. The elastic will run through this to make your waistband, so do leave the ends open. Then fold up about 1/2 inch at the bottom of the skirt and run a stitch across, just to create an edge on which to start building up your layers.

Next, take your three frill pieces and hem the bottom edge of each.

Now for the tricky bit: we’re going to create the frills that give the petticoat its volume. The idea here it for each frill to end up half it’s original length, to match up to that of the main body. I did this in 20 inch sections, using a running stitch to 20 inches, then gathering it against a tape measure until it measured 10 inches. I then ran a back stitch through before starting on the next 20 inch section. This ensures that you get equal gathering around the cirumference of the skirt.

Now you simply need to attach the gathered frills onto the hem of the main body. Pin the first in place facing up, with the raw edge of the frill matched up to the raw edge of the skirt’s hem. Machine in place (you should really zig-zag stitch this one, but my ancient Singer doesn’t zig-zag!).

Place the second frill on top of the first, very slightly higher this time. Machine in place.

Place the third frill over the main body right sides together and upside down*.  Machine in place.

*This isn’t necessary if you’re going to add a ribbon trimming, but gives extra volume if not.

Sew closed the back seam of the petticoat, being careful not to sew over the waistband. Feed elastic or ribbon through the waistband using a safety pin, and alter to desired fit. If you’re using a ribbon tie, hem the edges and leave open. If using elastic, trim to fit, sew closed, and hem the edges closed over the elastic.

And voila, one frilled petticoat, ideal for adding a little extra ooomph to this summer’s 50s inspired sundresses!

Making the petticoat was not a difficult task, but it was time consuming.
There’s a lot of sewing long, straight lines, which makes it a great practice piece for those new to machine sewing.


4 responses to “Caroline: Petticoat tutorial (Part 1)

  1. Like that you are using an old hand-crank Singer sewing machine how old is yours? I have three!!

    • I think mine’s from the first half of the 20th century – I saw one recently almost identical in an antique store labelled 1910. But mine was converted in the 50s to electric, so it has a marvellous – if tiny – foot pedal attachment too. It works a dream still – has the original booklet, so if I ever have any problems I just check that out for advice! It’s heavy as heck, but I love it!

  2. Pingback: Net Petticoat «·

  3. Pingback: Victorian Trim | Trim:: Window:: Moulding·

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