Friday, May 25, 2012

My Sally Pettticoat - L

Robin and I have decided to make Victorian summer day dresses.  We also decided we don't want to wear hoops with these dresses, so off to the interwebs we go to find a solution!  We each saw a blog where someone has made a yoke and then added 2 or 3 layers of petticoat to the yoke.  The purpose is to get all the fluff without all the separate waistbands (and the associated bulk).  There are 3 steps to creating this beast.

1 - design a yoke that fits over your corset
2 - figure out how many layers to attach to the yoke
3 - figure out how to create optimum volume with the layers.

I started with the yoke, and assumed that I would want the waist about an inch bigger than my corseted measurements but with a couple of different bars on my hook and bar closure.  That accounts for size variation.  Which, you know, sometimes happens.  Then I added 2 inches to my corseted hip measurement.  That's what my finished size should be.  I planned on two front and two back pieces, with the bulk (but not all) of the 'spread' occurring in the sides and back. I dug out some canvas scraps to make the yoke.  I had enough to cut the two backs but had to piece the two front sections.

From now on, this petticoat is named Sally, after the heroine of Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's a Frankenstein of pieces.   It's also going to be worn UNDER a dress.  We all save scraps for a future use.  I've finally found one.  In addition, I found some muslin to use on the other side (that will be against my corset)  and wrapped it around to finish the edges.  Then I used twill tape as a waistband.  Here's the nearly finished yoke (yes, yes, it's not so easy to see and I'm lazy).

After an active discussion, we decided to go with two layers.  The under layer will be corded and the top layer flounced with a lot of tulle.  I got some hemp twine that is pretty fine, but also pretty stiff.  I'm going to try a couple rows with it and see how it holds up.  Robin is thinking of heavier cord and fewer rows.  Which, I have to say, is mighty tempting.  I'm going to use the same pattern as I'm using for my skirt, but with fewer panels.  The corded petticoat, at least right now, will be about 84 inches at the bottom and only come down to about mid calf.  It should be roughly bell shaped.

Now that I have a yoke, I need to start cording.  My original plan was to have 4 panels that tapered from the bottom up to the top but after a lot of internet searching, I've decided to use a big rectangle.  Cording on an angle sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.

Full of  optimism I measured down 5 inches and started to cord. I actual want my cording to start down about 8 to 10 inches but I need to take into account that I'm attaching this to a yoke.  And my yoke is about 6 inches wide.  I marked the first row carefully and stitched in my 1/16 inch hemp twine.  Even with marking and pinning and sewing on grain, the fabric wants to squirrel around.

I had hoped to be able to each each row as a guideline for the next, but (as you can see in the picture) my rows start to go wrong.  Not a lot, but wrong.  I realized that I needed to stop guesstimating and mark my fabric before the rows got so crooked that I had to re-do them.

It took a long time and the lines managed to get crooked too!

Still, they're better than nothing at all.  Then follows the long and tedious task of sewing in the cords.  All 35 of them.

Here's what it looks like nearly done.  It's happily full!  Recall that I plan to add another layer on top with tulle supported ruffles.  This layer serves to hold out the ruffled layer and keep it from tangling between my legs.  And I only plan for it to be mid-calf in length.   I've left fabric at the bottom in case I want to add more cording.  Here's the finished product:

Tulle and ruffles next!
And here I am.  Buried under a mountain of netted ruffles.  Pinning away.  I pre-cut about 60 yards of heavy nylon netting into 7 inch strips.  I didn't bother to sew them end to end since it really doesn't matter.  I split them into piles for each tier (this layer of the petticoat gets wider toward the bottom) with five tiers total..  Then I gathered each piece, pinned each layer and sewed it down.  Boring.  And more boring.  And even MORE boring.  BUT it looks like two layers will make my petticoat pretty darn full.  Now I just need to add a muslin ruffle over the tulle.  It won't be as full as the tulle layer since the purpose is to smooth the surface of the petticoat.  With just the tulle, the skirt would look bumpy.  How do I know?  I held my fabric up like a skirt...and it looked bumpy.
I can see the light at the end of the tulle tunnel!  The muslin ruffles are cut and need to be hemmed.  Then I'll sew a cord thru the top and use that to gather them to the petticoat.  I plan to have the muslin overlap to help with the smoothing.
Once I'm done with this layer I'm going to sew it to the yoke, over the corded layer.  I'm waiting to hem the cored layer until everything else is done.  Then, if I want even more body, I can add stiff interfacing or horsehair canvas to the hem of the corded layer.

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