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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Becoming Laura ~ Prairie Patchwork Petticoat

Sometimes it’s ok to talk about underwear. Particularly when we’re talking petticoats.

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Does the colorful petticoat that I made for the “Becoming Laura Costume Challenge” surprise you?

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We most often think of ladies undergarments made in the 1860’s/70’s as primarily being all white.  The fact of the matter is a large portion of the petticoats were made from colored fabrics so they wouldn’t show the dirt as much. Undergarments, just like today, came in all colors of the rainbow.

Printed & Quilted Petticoat, France, 1830-1860:

There were lightweight petticoats for warmer weather…

Petticoat    1860s    Manchester City Galleries:

…and heavier quilted petticoats for cooler seasons.

silk petticoat, 1860s quilted for winter warmth:

Undergarments could be made from cotton, linen, wool or silk. Many women simply repurposed fabric that they already had.

“Petticoat.  Calico prints.  c. 1880.”:

Of course the fashions of the day may have required that you wear a cage under your petticoat.

1862-1870 English Woman's Bustle Cage Crinoline:

Let us not forget the glorious hoop skirt.

Dressing Southern style with a huge hoop petticoat!:

Women also took the fabric of their undergarments as an opportunity to perfect their needlework skills.

Abiti Antichi- busto 39:

Underpants (Pantalets)  Date: mid-19th century Culture: American or European…:

Treasured bits of lace might also enhance their unmentionables.

Yellow silk satin corset, 1890-1905, back view:

So yes, I am all about color!

1860s blue silk corset. Steel bones and busk, brass hardware, cream cotton…:

For the petticoat Andover Fabrics graciously sent me 5 1/8 yards of their Little House on the Prairie Prairie Flowers” A-7948-Y fabric.

yellow fabric

I used the Butterick B5831 pattern to create the petticoat.

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The pattern called for 12 1/2 yards of 5/8” ribbon, 6 1/4 yards of 8” pre-gathered eyelet, and 6 1/4 yards of 1 inch trim. Whew. For a budget costumer, who also wants to be era appropriate, the trim alone could break the bank.

For the 12 1/2 yards of ribbon I thankfully had some antique all cotton crocheted trim given to me a few years ago by Grandma Ingalls (Jingles) who would have absolutely approved its use in this project.

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The 8” wide pre-gathered eyelet was a bit more difficult. Modern day options are primarily a cotton polyester blend. This will not do for creating a petticoat worn in the 1860’s/70’s. Polyester wasn’t invented until 1941 for use in WWII.

So I went old school. I had some vintage cotton eyelet fabric that I had gotten from my mother Nadine. I think she too would have loved this project so I ripped it into 10” wide strips and sewed them together until I had enough yardage. It was an extra time consuming step to be sure but worth it in the end.

Sewing Projects 009-001

The 6 1/4 yards of 1 inch trim was even more difficult. I had nothing in my stash. I already knew that the two lace elements mentioned above were going to be hand dyed.

My inspiration for this petticoat was Caroline “Ma” Quiner Ingalls. The Quiners originally came from a region in Bavaria (Austria/Germany) then later immigrated to England and finally the U.S. I wanted the petticoat to have a Tyrolean feel to it.

Thankfully Leslie Pruett of Ribbonworks Design had exactly what I had in mind for the price I needed ~ $1.00 a yard.

RESERVE FOR LAURA Jacquard Ribbon Trim, Floral,  Cotton, 5/8" Wide, White Background, Red/Yellow Flowers, Blue Tulips, Green Leaves

The eyelet was hand dyed in a light solution of Rit liquid dye in navy. The crocheted ribbon was hand dyed using Rit liquid dye in cheery red. The finished look was exactly what I had in mind.

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The pattern went together fairly smoothly. I did opt to do French seaming (enclosed seams) as this garment will probably get a lot of wearing and washing and therefore hold up better.

This pattern was also my first attempt at cartridge pleating which can draw a tremendous amount of fabric together. I got an “F” for failure. My cartridge pleating ended up looking like gathers. Perhaps I should have spaced the two rows of pleating further apart. ??? If this had been an exterior garment I would have persevered until I got it right. But in the end I was pressed for time and accepted the gathered look which doesn’t lay as nicely but isn’t altogether horrible.

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For the most part a women would never show her petticoats in public.

Princess Alice of Hesse:

But today we will make an exception.

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I hope you have enjoyed the process to produce the Prairie Patchwork Petticoat.

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Total cost for this project:

Pattern ~ 99 cents, 1” ribbon $6. 25 + $2.60 shipping = $9.85

All other supplies I had on hand or were graciously donated.

Here’s to a petticoat junction paradise,



Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Oh wow, the petticoat is as pretty as a dress. I love it and such detail.

Christine said...

The anticipation is increasing and I can't wait to see you in the finished outfit.
But in the mean time, I love the history (I know I've said this before, but it's so true!). Seeing how you have created each element of the outfit to represent the era is so fun.
Great job!

Lisa said...

It's so pretty Laura! I love the beautiful colors you used and your make-do spirit!

Hena Tayeb said...

beautifully done..
can you imagine.. just walking in one of those wide skirts.. knocking everything over with every swish.. lol

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Laura, it looks GREAT~!

Well done, ma'am!

Lynn Bean said...

Beautiful! The colors are perfect. What fun to create such a lovely costume.

Katie Mansfield said...

This is just amazing. Just gorgeous. I love how all the trim came together. The dyed eyelet looks fantastic.

Dana Sebastian said...

Oh I love it..the details and the colors so yay! <3


Daniela said...

What a moving post, dearie, my heart is overflowing with joy, you know that I really think I'm living in the wrong century, don't you, so this stunning post of yours has truly touched my soul, thank you from the bottom of my heart, my wonderful Laura, blessed be !

May the remainder of your week be as beautiful as you

Xx Dany said...

Laura, I don't think anyone in the history of blogdom has ever read and reread and reread your blogs on historic clothing. I haven't been leaving comments. I am just so appreciative, I guess I could say, because it would sound odd to say I'm enraptured with the colors, fabrics, patterns. I just love this.

Jeanie said...

Totally fabulous. I love every single photo, every historical tidbit. The petti you have done is just marvelous in every way -- I love the colors and this series has made me smile. The photo of your feet in the boots and socks and skirt... wow! I'm thinking you should use this as one of your art history class projects because really, fashion IS art history!