Tag Archives: garment intro posts

1950s style petticoat of stiff white netting trimmed with bows

This petticoat came about as a result of my 1950s style petticoat of soft ivory netting being insufficiently fluffy. I used a great deal of a very stiff white nylon netting that I bought for $1 a yard at one of the shops in the Fashion District in Los Angeles a couple years ago. The fabric was originally intended to be used for a faux bustle similar to the 1870s inspired bustle with lavender sateen pillow and pansy net ruffles, but I didn’t go through with the Steampunk costume I was planning to make it for, so the fabric was duly requisitioned.

Not only is the netting much stiffer this time around, I also made the petticoat longer and much fuller, using most of the material I had in order to achieve maximum floofiness. I cut strips of the netting so that each of the three tiers was double the width of the tier above it. The bottom tier is 13½ yards around! The middle tier is 6¾ yards, and the top tier is about 3½ yards around, gathered into a waistband of white polished cotton. I hand-stitched the entire petticoat, using the selvage of the material for a pre-finished hem. The waistband is top-stitched to look nice and tidy.

And then, after finishing the waistband, I came to a conundrum. How to close the waistband? I didn’t want anything lumpy or uncomfortable, and I wanted some flexibility in the circumference of the waistband. So I decided to use ribbons or tapes, stitched to each end of the waistband, to tie together. But alas! I had no simple white ribbons or tapes of an appropriate size in my stash, and I didn’t know when I’d have a chance to go to the store.

But then I ran across a bag of pre-finished turquoise satin ribbon bows. I’d bought them some time back at the Michael Levine’s Loft store in the Fashion District in Los Angeles, for a dollar or two, without any particular plan. After untying two bows and stitching them on as ties, I decided that the turquoise ties needed company – in the form of the application of many more bows to the petticoat. It makes for a slightly silly petticoat, but there’s something inherently silly about Really Fluffy Petticoats, so I just ran with it. Now my excellent petticoat is delightfully covered in turquoise bows!

This petticoat is satisfactorily fluffy for many things, though I still dream of going even fluffier, especially for evening wear. The netting I used here is excellent for the purpose, and I’m planning to go on the hunt for more like it at some point. I also want to try making a similar petticoat (possibly even wider?!) out of synthetic organza. Of course, silk organza would make a truly delicious petticoat, but I think that’s probably out of my price range for a while.

For more information about 1950s style petticoats, see my intro post about my 1950s style net petticoats.


1950s style petticoat of soft ivory netting

I made this petticoat of standard JoAnn’s nylon netting in an ivory color, using a hybrid of several different petticoat tutorials I found online. It’s pretty basic – three tiers of netting, each double the fullness of the one above, and gathered to it. I sewed it by hand, because I didn’t want to do battle with that much machine-gathering (I don’t trust machine gathering), especially using something as fussy as synthetic netting. Unfortunately, the petticoat really didn’t end up sufficiently fluffy, because the netting was fairly soft, and probably needed more yardage anyway. Clearly, my petticoat efforts needed to be far less modest in future if I was going to get the oomph I wanted.

Nevertheless, I did complete the petticoat, even after I discovered that it wouldn’t have as much floof as I wanted. I finished it with an ivory synthetic satin enclosed waistband. And it does have some floof, but in order to really manage proper 1950s style poofiness, I need several other petticoats with it. Still, it was a good learning experience. And it led me onward to my next floofy adventure: the 1950s style petticoat of stiff white netting trimmed with bows.

For more information about 1950s style petticoats, see my intro post about my 1950s style net petticoats.

1870s inspired butterfly masquerade costume of turquoise and purple


1870s inspired faux bustle of pansy synthetic netting

The 1870s inspired butterfly masquerade costume that I made Sarah for Halloween last fall is made from historically accurate Truly Victorian patterns, with an accurate corset which I draped using duct tape, but it isn’t made to be historically accurate; it’s made to be a fun, pretty, historically inspired Halloween/masquerade costume. But because it’s made from historically accurate bustle era patterns, it needs a skirt support. For Halloween, Sarah wore the costume over a borrowed bustle of not-quite-the-right shape, and an old cotton Civil War era skirt of mine, which I puffed and pinned to keep it from dragging on the floor (she is not as tall as I am), and to help smooth the lines of the bustle and create a softer, early 1870s shape. It worked shockingly well.

But in order to make the costume wearable on its own, without major borrowed components, she needed a bustle of her very own. I finally made just such a bustle…in April. Oh well! I used eight yards of 70″ wide pansy purple nylon net from Fabric.com, a piece of scrap ribbon, some upholstery thread, and a bit of regular thread. It took me about an hour, all told.

I measured out a length of net a couple inches shorter than the skirt, folded it evenly, and measured out the same length again. Leaving it folded in half, I cut off the doubled length from my yardage. Then I measured out another length of net, a couple inches shorter than a single side of the previous piece (so, probably  6 or 7 inches shorter than the skirt). Same as before, I folded that evenly, measured out the same length again, and cut off my new doubled length, leaving it folded. Now I had two big pieces of netting, folded in half. I laid them together along the folds, matching up the long (remember, this is wide netting!) folds. Then I pinned one end of the pair of folds to the arm of the couch, and the other end to a pair which I put in the middle of the room, basically stretching the netting out across the room. This made it very easy to run a gathering thread through both doubled pieces at once (by hand), using a length of upholstery thread.

After I ran all 70″ of gathering, I scrunched it up and used a quick whipstitch to secure all of it to the piece of ribbon, gathering all 70″ of all four layers into a space of about 15 inches. I didn’t want to make a full petticoat, only, well, a nice big butt fluff. After the base “skirt” layers of the bustle were secured, I basically bundled up the rest of the netting into one big bouf with a bit of a tail, and hand-stitched the whole mass, rather haphazardly, to the center of the “skirt” section. Because the netting is very lightweight, and the costume is very lightweight overall, the support doesn’t need to be very sturdy, or very determinedly poufy – just fluffy. And it succeeds in being fluffy!

Once it was finished, I persuaded Lyndie to try it on so I could see how it looked, and I was quite satisfied. Very purple, and very fluffy. On its own, it actually looks rather charmingly burlesque. It has yet to be worn with the rest of the costume, because I want to put some finishing touches on the costume first…and also sleeves…but I think it will do nicely. At some point, I think I’ll have to make one of these for myself (because a faux bustle is a good thing to have), and when I do, I’ll take photos along the way and make a more comprehensible tutorial. I didn’t try to take pictures this time around, because I was making it up as I went along and wasn’t sure what I was doing. But I like how it turned out! It makes for a charming and very inexpensive fluffy shape to fill out the skirt of a pretty Halloween masquerade costume with nice historical lines.

1870s inspired corset of lavender cotton sateen with black flossing


1870s Silverado corset of lavender sateen with white flossing


1860s Marie Stewart bonnet of scarlet silk

Last updated April 21, 2011.

Inspiration: The availability of an inexpensive bonnet form with that darling downturned point at the top of the crown! I love the “Marie Stewart” shape. I am particularly fond of this extant cream silk fanchon bonnet with blue ribbon and fringe, accession number 47.1519, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
  Purchased reproduction buckram form from Timely Tresses, their “Wilhelmina Elizabeth” in the “Marie Stewart” shape appropriate for 1863-1867. It was not a terribly common style historically, but I’ve always loved it, and it isn’t inappropriate, just a trifle unusual.
  White or ivory (or maybe very pale pink) silk taffeta or habotai
Ties and Ribbon Trim:
  Probably black silk, either taffeta or habotai, but possibly brocade if I find something promising.
Outer Trimmings:
  Probably a black ostrich feather or two, possibly some black silk satin ribbon, possibly a red artificial flower. I’ll revisit this later.
Trimmings Inside Brim:
A frill of white or ivory silk organza
  Linings and trimmings will be entirely hand-sewn, though I believe that the form itself is machine-stitched.
Current Status:
  This bonnet will not be included with my Div III. There’s simply too much to do, so I’ve been scaling back the 1860s pieces. But I plan on going forward with this particular project soon, quite possibly this summer.

Print resources for 1860s bonnets of this style:

A September 1864 plate shows four new styles of bonnets, at least one of which appears to be of the Marie Stewart shape, on page 66. A full scene plate of August 1865 has only one bonnet, but it is of a similar style to mine, on page 69. Two ensemble plates from October 1865 include bonnets of a similar style to mine, on page 70. (See below for more general bonnet references in this book.)

The early 1860s photograph (image 67) at the upper left of page 27 depicts a mother and small daughter, both of whom wear bonnets. The mother’s bonnet is a spoon shape with a slight dip at the top, while the daughter’s little bonnet has a very pronounced dip. The book’s text describes it as “heart-shaped,” but it is quite close to the Marie Stewart dipping point shape. The brim appears to be filled with a small frill.

Grayscale fashion plates of full ensembles: Figure 89, dated 1863, on page 127; Figure 90, dated July 1864, on page 127.

Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 2, 1867, on page 8: “The ‘airy fairy’ fanchon, so long popular, is gradually being deposed by the much more stately Marie Antoinette bonnet, more in keeping with the picturesque costumes now worn.” Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 2, 1867, on page 8: “The fanchon still lingers with us in a slightly changed form. It used to be a matter of some doubt which was the front and which the rear of this bonnet. But as now worn with the Marie Stuart point still remains in front, while the back is shorn of its points, being entirely straight on the chignon.” Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 23, 1867, on page 29: “The fanchon is so universally becoming that all efforts to displace it have failed.”

There is also a very useful section of the book that pulls information on “Making Bonnet Frames and Bonnets” directly from Harper’s Bazar of May 9, 1868, on pages 210-220.

Terminology: Although the source for the assertion is not cited, page 80 states that “After the Civil War, milliners conceived smaller [than spoon bonnets], curtainless Empire and Fanchon bonnets as larger and more elaborate chignons were worn high on the head.”

Extant: There are four photographs on page 82 of an extant spoon bonnet of moderate size which is fully trimmed with the original decorations. The inside of the brim retains “the original fine ruched silk tulle,” which goes around the entire inside edge of the brim. There are also artificial flowers at the top of the inside of the brim.

The lower left period photograph on page 76 shows a woman in an early 1860s bonnet of a slightly different shape, with a dense frill of what appears to be a crisp, sheer silk all around the inside of the brim. The earlier, wider bonnet in the left photograph on page 78 also has a frill on the inside of the brim, but it also appears to have flowers at the sides. The tall spoon bonnet in the second photograph down on page 79 has a dense frill inside the brim, as well as a spray of flowers. The lower right photograph on page 91 has a tall spoon bonnet which dips in the middle, though not quite to the full point of the Marie Stewart style; inside the brim there are frills at the sides and large flowers at the top.

Introduction, pages 4-5. Spoon Bonnet, 1855-60, with “A frill of silk net and cream silk lace…inside the brim,” on pages 58-59. Fanchon Bonnet, 1865-70, of a slighter later variety than mine (smaller), but of a similar variety, with a slight Marie Stewart style dip at the front, on pages 64-65. Mourning Bonnet, 1865-70, a similar fanchon to the previous example, again with a slightly pointed dip at the front, on pages 74-75. Information on trimmings, specifically ribbons, with photographs, pages 34-35. Glossary, page 94.

Grayscale fashion plates images, with descriptive text, from May-December 1865 of a selection of bonnets of this style, including some of the Marie Stewart variety, pages 144-149. See entry below for information on this this book as a general bonnet resource.

The figure at left in Plate 31, of June 1864, wears a bonnet of the Marie Stewart shape. It is described (on page viii) as a “White crepe bonnet, with a fall of point lace over the brim à la Marie Stewart.” Other plates which show bonnets of a style similar to mine: January 1865, Plate 32; April 1865, Plate 33; March 1865, Plate 34; November 1865, Plate 35; May 1865, Plate 37. See below for more general bonnet references in this book.

An April 1864 fashion plate from Peterson’s Magazine includes a bonnet of the Marie Stewart shape, which appears to have fringe hanging across the top of the brim, on page 267.

Print resources for 1860s bonnets in general:

A July 1861 plate offers the latest styles in millinery (three bonnets and one hat) with descriptions, on page 44. An August 1862 plate shows, among other things, two new spoon bonnet styles, with trimmings, on page 48. A full scene fashion plate of January 1864 includes two spoon bonnets, on page 57. A January 1864 plate depicting the back of a cape also shows the back of a bonnet, on page 59. A December 1864 full scene plate shows three spoon bonnets, two in side view and one back view, on page 64. A September 1864 plate shows four new styles of bonnets, at least one of which appears to be of the Marie Stewart shape, on page 66. A full scene plate of August 1865 has only one bonnet, but it is of a similar style to mine, on page 69. Two ensemble plates from October 1865 include bonnets of a similar style to mine, on page 70.

Schematic drawings, with notes, of extant bonnets: pages 191-193.

The photographs of dressed and posed mannequins sometimes have bonnets, but their details are not always readily discernible. However, several from around the early 1860s make appearances throughout pages 220-236.

While rather disorganized, this book pulls fashion and vast quantities of fashion information, including instructional articles, from original 1850s-60s ladies’ magazines; in this volume, all is about headwear. In addition to the section of 1865 bonnets in a style similar to mine, listed in the entry for this book above, there is a great deal of general useful information, and an immense array of images to look at for trimming and style inspiration. The section devoted to bonnets specifically is on pages 107-160

Full color fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets: September 1862, Plate 28; November 1864, Plate 29; April 1864, Plate 30. See above entry for further references, to bonnets of a style specifically like mine.

Online resources: