Petticoat - Finished!
Before I get to the details and pictures, I'd like to share a comment I received from Patricia regarding petticoats. I'm not sure how many of you saw it, but I really appreciated her taking the time and sharing her memories with me!
"In the 50's, I was in Junior High and early High School. My sister and I had lots of "can-cans" to make our gathered skirts as full as possible. Penny would wear 3 or 4 at once. It is difficult to recall the details of those net petticoats, but I believe the seaming of one tier to the next was bound with something akin to ribbon. Some had a shorter gathered slip under the netting for comfort, other times we wore a full slip. We loved those "can-cans" and they were always hung on hangers, never folded which would have ruined the netting. I believe washing (as infrequently as possible) would require cold water, drip dry, and possible no fabric softener which would soften the netting. "
I'd also like to explain (to the best of my knowledge - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!) the difference between petticoats and crinolines. At this point in history, we use the words interchangeably. In the past, a petticoat was sort of what we think of as a half slip - an undergarment that is worn under clothing, that provides opacity or a bit of shaping. (A chemise would be more like our "full slip".) A petticoat could be made of many fabrics from cottons to silks to the famous red taffeta one in Gone With the Wind. A crinoline was what we now call "hoops", "hoopskirt" and/or "bustle". These garments really provide a distinct shape to clothing via boning and strapping. Crinoline is actually a fabric, too, a stiffened cotton that was part of these garment's structure to make the garment shape and provide channels for the bones/steels. I can actually purchase crinoline locally at my Jo-ann's, although I doubt that too many people know what it is or what it's used for. I found it by poking around in a bin (with buckram, too!) of odd rolls of stuff near the canvas, felt and burlap. Petticoats (and sometimes many petticoats) were worn over hoops and bustles to disguise the bands of boning or steel that gives them their distinct bell shape.
Now, here it is:
Notice the back seam is ribbon covered, just like the hem. If you wear it with a slip or make a underlining of some sort, it won't matter, but it's nice to cover anything with a potential to scratch!
After sewing many fancy dresses for my daughter, I've come up with a few construction techniques as a way to cope with gathering and sewing large amounts of netting. I already mentioned in a previous post that thread tracing really is the only way to mark tulle/netting. To specifically mark certain points, such center fronts and backs, side seams, I use safety pins. Unlike pins, they stay in the fabric until you take them out and are very easy to see. I can match them up easily and tighten up the gathering stitches in between.
When I'm gathering large amounts of netting, I work on it one quadrant at a time. There's no way to gather anywhere from 150" to 400"+ of netting easily unless you divide it up and work on smaller sections. I break the stitching when putting in the original basting stitching according to the safety pins and work on the gathers accordingly.
Many patterns, like the Vogue, rather than having tiers of ruffles one larger than the next, have a large skirt with the ruffles attached directly to the skirt. The stitching line of the Vogue pattern is 10" from the bottom. Considering the difficulty in marking net - it has to be thread traced - it doesn't make sense to thread trace the seam line. You'd be stitching right over the top of it, trapping your tracing thread! What I do to avoid that and make it so much easier to align the ruffle correctly is to thread trace where the *top* edge of the ruffle should be in this case, 10 5/8"). You can then place the edge right at the line, and stitch whatever seam allowance suits you, knowing that the ruffle is where it should be. Here's an example of the thread tracing, and the ruffle stitched in place (note the red nails - I had them done for the fashion show on Friday):
Finally, note the difference in the Easter dress without and with the petticoat:
Volume will depend on three things - how big the petticoat is to begin with, how many you wear at one time, and how heavy the skirt is that the petticoat must support. Obviously, you're going to get more loft out of lighter fabrics than heavier ones. This skirt is fairly substantial, so it weighs the petticoat down a bit. It should be interesting to see how American Beauty looks with the petticoat on Friday - remember, it already has a net ruffle attached to the lining!
Parting Shot: Because it was a nice spring day, after homework and piano lessons were done, my children went out to play. I turned from the cutting table and looked out the window to see the following scene. She's actually on her way down, she was two branches higher to start with!