What? There's a kitty getting a ride? Where?
And no, this is clearly not an 1890s outfit,
but a first, unfinished experiment in the 1870s.
Darling kitten courtesy
Leijurv - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Back to mid-1890s petticoats. Back I went into available literature and pictures of extant petticoats. Therefore, in this post we look at two period petticoat patterns for hem circumference and design information, then mine 1895 newspaper articles for more ideas on how to make petticoats stand out. In between we talk fabrics. Then let's be done; I just want to make the petticoats already!
Two 1895 Petticoat Patterns Address the Problem of Flaring the Skirt Bottom
|Front of 1890s brocade skirt and-petticoat, from Liveauctioneers|
|Side view. Such back amplitude!|
The petticoat, from what appears to be a side-back angle.
Notice that it's cut more narrowly. I wonder if they
stuffed it to make it look so stiff...or if part of it
Other writers appear to say something quite different. Here is the Ladies Home Journal writer Isobel Mallon's advice:
Except for a greater fullness the petticoats are cut almost exactly like the dress skirt. Lawn or cambric is used for them, although when thin white dresses are worn petticoats of dotted muslin are chosen, and being light tend to make the whole costume very cool and pleasant. The skirt of lawn with three ruffles, having upon them a group of tucks on each side of the lace insertion, and then below that a lace edge, is one that can endure much soap and water, and, not being over-trimmed, is good form. The fancy for setting lace in the skirt itself no longer obtains, and if anything, the trimming, which is all put on by hand, is simpler than ever before. A ribbon belt is usually drawn through a casing at the top, so that one may have one's skirt belt as loose or as tight as may be agreeable, and then, too, the doing away with the old close belt, to which the skirt was gathered, makes it much easier to iron the petticoat itself. ("Dainty Styles in Lingerie", by Isobel Mallon, Ladies Home Journal, August, 1894, p. 23.)
A Haircloth or Moreen or Sateen, Etc. Godet Petticoat
Here's the first pattern, dating to January, 1895. Do you see the pencil marking 3 1/4 yards? Whomever owned this Delineator issue was concerned about petticoat circumference too, for that's the actual circumference of the petticoat. It's actually not a super-flaring petticoat. Not surprising: fashion would decree much more flare later in 1895 and 1896.
|The Delineator, Jan 1895 pp. 58-59|
First part of the description
The Delineator, Jan 1895, text pp. 58-59
Second part of the description
The Delineator, Jan 1895, text pp. 58-59
A Lighter Petticoat in Taffeta, Muslin, Etc.
|The Delineator, Mar 1895, p.337|
|The Delineator, Mar 1895, p.336|
Aside: New Information About Skirt Fullness and Flare In Unlined Outer Skirts -- Not Every Skirt Flared
Yet Another Look at a Widely Flared Petticoat: No Godets This Time
Ladies' Gored Petticoat-Skirt, With Ruffle-Bordered, Bias Spanish Flounce Forming the Lower Part
No. 8392. Taffeta silk was chosen for making this dressy petticoat-skirt, which, because of its deep flounce, retains the stylish flare at the foot without unnecessary width at the waist. The skirt consists of a front-gore, two gores at each side and a back-breadth. It is fitted smoothly at the top of the front and sides by darts and the skirt is lengthened by a bias flounce, the upper edge of which is turned under and shirred on a cord. To the lower edge of the flounce is sewed a narrow, bias ruffle that holds the skirt out well from the figure and forms a dainty finish. The flounce is ornamented by a deep, bias trimming flounce that is turned under at the top to form a self-heading and shirred on cords at the top and hemmed narrowly at the bottom; the trimming flounce is decorated with two silk ruchings, the whole arrangement increasing the flaring effect and making quite an elaborate foot-trimming. The top of the petticoat is finished with an under-facing, which forms a casing for tapes that are tacked back of the darts in the side-gores and drawn out through openings made at the center of the back, thus regulating the fullness about the waist and avoiding the need of a placket. The lower edge of the petticoat-skirt measures three yards and a fourth round in the medium sizes.
Silk, sateen, mohair and alpaca will be appropriate for petticoats of this style, and ribbon, beading, insertion and lace edging may be chosen for decoration.
We have pattern No. 8392 in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure. To make the petticoat-skirt with the trimming flounce for a lady of medium size, will need twelve yards of material twenty inches side, or eight yards and an eighth twenty-seven inches wide, or seven yards and a fourth thirty-six inches wide. The petticoat-skirt without the rimming flounce requires seven yards and five-eights twenty inches wide, or five yards and three-fourths twenty-seven inches wide, or four yards and three-fourths thirty-six inches wide. Price of pattern, 1s. or 25 cents.
|Delineator 8392, June 1896, front|
|Delineator 8392, June 1896, back, and showing|
alternative, highly decorative fabric
|Delineator 8392, June 1896, plain version|
N.B. Source: Internet Archive Wayback Machine copy of defunct Dressmaking Research site: https://web.archive.org/web/20160614084019/http:/dressmakingresearch.com/1890s_under_dress.htm. Ordinarily I would not pull such a large section of text and images straight from another site, but this HTML page was defunct, and was itself a direct copy of the original Delineator content.
Newspaper Evidence: More Ideas for Designing a Petticoat That Stands OutLast go-round I dug around in women's magazines, but left the newspapers alone. I shouldn't have. The then-called women's pages (!) tended to cover all things fashion, as well as housekeeping and society doings. There is actually a good deal of petticoat talk, stashed among the doings of society women and beauty secrets and calisthenics, and advertisements for Dr. Price's Cream Baking Powder.
I've gathered for you a nice collection of newspaper clippings from January through October, 1895. There are tons of them, and it's common to see the same article and photos syndicated in multiple newspapers, while content from other magazines and newspapers is quoted or referenced in the texts.
Springy Alpaca Petticoats Are Compelled to Stand Out...and So Are Their Corded RufflesThe Salt Lake Herald reported that for warmer weather, alpaca "skirting" fabric had a stiffness that made it stand out to hold "expansive dress skirts".
|The Salt Lake Herald, May 24,1895, p. 5|
Petticoats Made Stiff With EmbroideryThe Evening Star reported in June that petticoats can be stiffened with large amounts of embroidery.
|Evening Star, July 13, 1895, p. 15|
The article talks at length of how ornate petticoats tend to be, with lace, ruffles, flounces, embroidery, and ribbons, especially in comparison to dress skirts themselves, which in this year frequently were entirely plain.
Pragmatic: Removable Flounces Make One Petticoat Good For Two Purposes
|The Norfolk Virginian, May 26, 1895, p. 13|
Petticoats Themselves Stiffened Partway Up
|The Stark County Democrat, July 18, 1895, Part Two, p. 9|
The Ballet Skirt
Quinn, if you happen to read this post, the next clipping is for you. It tells women about the fashion for especially "fussy" frilly petticoats that they can create to make a divided skirt for dancing.
|Evening Dispatch, June 3,1895|
Newspaper Articles That Confirm What We Learned Last Fall
Brocaded Silk Petticoats With Generous Flounce, Featherbone Hidden Beneath -- and Perfumed
The Moreen Petticoat With Hair-Cloth Frillings, Again
Moreen is used for one of my favorite summer petticoat designs, the LHJ model, the one with the triple haircloth box-pleated frills, in the picture below. Moreen at the turn of the 20th century turns out to be a midweight or heavy wool or wool-cotton fabric, usually ribbed, that's treated with heat and moisture to give it a watered silk effect. (This makes sense to me: when pressed under heat, wool will take on a sheen, and the tendency to felt will be controlled by the cotton content.)
Petticoat with haircloth box pleatings.
Ladies Home Journal, July 1895, p.25
Alas, when real moreen is available at all, it seems to be a heavy type, sold expensively for upholstery, and finding enough of it vintage would be a real coup. Still, it's clear that the petticoat with the box-pleated haircloth is made of a thickish material, that already has some body. A cotton faille, which is ribbed, might work, a woven pique, or even a cotton ticking. Too thin a fabric and those pretty hair-cloth box pleats would have a hard time doing much.
I wouldn't recommend using synthetic moire fabric to imitate the moreen. It's going to be hot as blazes, unless your summers are usually cool.
The article also rather makes me feel better about my limited petticoat budget. Elaborate petticoats were always expensive, and we knew that. Still, it's nice to be told again that our plain costumer's petticoats are perfectly fine, and that confections still come at a price.
The Salt Lake Herald, June 9, 1895, p. 5
If you look carefully, you can see that the newspaper has adapted
the LHJ drawing f
The Salt Lake Herald, June 9, 1895, p. 5
The above image goes with the article above.
You never know, though. This blog is full of side trips. I have a half written post showing two 1880s wire bustles from my collection in fine detail and with measurements.