Vintage Sewing

Adjustable Length Petticoat How To

September 13, 2010

A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about my Grandma’s dress. I found an old photograph of my Grandma from the 1950’s and it inspired me to recreate her dress. Afriend of mine, Celeste, and I were talking about vintageclothing around the same time, and she said the key to making vintage clothing look authentic is foundation wear. (Celeste wrotea great guest blog entry for my blog about the importance of the proper foundation wear, i.e. “undies,” or as I like to call them, “fancies.”) So I took Celeste’s advice and I decided to figure out how tomake a petticoat. I wanted to make the petticoat length adjustable so that I could wear it with dresses of different lengths. A couple of you asked me how I made an adjustable length petticoat, and I promised that I would write an entry with the instructions. So here is how I made it.

I had no idea what I wasdoing when it came to making a petticoat so I went to the fabric store and just bought as much tulle and white cotton fabric as I could afford. My design is not necessarily authentic to 1950’s petticoat designs, but I was going for maximum volume with minimal fabric. I wanted as much fullness as possible in the petticoat so I used an authentic vintage pattern from the 1950’s with a four-sided full skirt as my base.

I wanted to make it look like I was wearing several layers of skirting so the ruffle making began. I used eight strips of twelve-inch tulle folded in half and gathered at the top to make ruffles.

I then created eight six-and-a-half inch ruffles out of the cotton fabric to lay over the tulle. I like edges that are finished without any raw edges showing,so I flipped up the hem of each ruffle a quarter of an inch and then flipped it up again a quarter of an inch so that no raw edges were exposed. This also gave the ruffle extra body.

I sewed two layers of ruffles on each of the four sides ofthe petticoat. If I had more fabric, I probably would have done more layers.

To make the petticoat adjustable, I created vertical gathers using beaded lace, which has holes to thread ribbon through. I cut eight nine-inch pieces of lace and threaded ribbon through each one. I then attached two strips of lace to each of the four panels. I reinforced the bottom of the strip of lace by folding it under and sewing across both the ribbon and the lace. The point where the bottom of the ribbon attaches to the petticoat is a stress point since it holds up the gather and needs to be reinforced properly. Do not sew across the ribbon at the top of the lace so that it can be pulled to a gather. I also sewed a piece of ribbon at the top of the lace to create a tie for the first piece of ribbon.

Then, I sewed up all four sides, added a waistband, and I was done! Now I have a petticoat that can be worn with vintage dresses of different lengths.

Let me know if you happen to make a petticoat like this. I would love to see it! Also, feel free to stop by my blog and say hello: I’d love to hear from you!

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