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Just getting around to finally posting about the first challenge now that it’s, oh gee, the end of May. Woops!!

In preparation for some 1830s/1840s events I will be attending in the next year, I made my own corded petticoat. I hemmed (no pun intended. ha) and hawed about whether I should just buy one, but I already had fabric and the cording and I figured, how hard can this really be? It was time time consuming (like I had read on several blogs), but mine required more hand sewing because the fabric I used was a heavier duty muslin that once folded, is very difficult to push a needle through with bare fingers, thus requiring me to wear my leather quilter’s thimble (no I don’t quilt). This made it bearable. I used this information to guide me.

If I can (read: have the time), I usually prefer to hand sew everything for the time periods where a sewing machine was not around. But with school and coaching responsibilities, winter sew projects have a bit less time dedicated to them and I needed to wear the item Memorial Day weekend (the day I’m writing this), so I did what I needed to do to get it done on time and that meant hand sewing all the channels and the waist band, but machine sewing the side seam.

Also because of my time restraints, I have very few construction process photos and so this is not a tutorial. But here are some “making of” photos:

Sewing the cords with Twiggy's help

Sewing the cords with Twiggy’s help

(I don’t know if anyone else experienced this when using cording, but my cat LOVED the smell/texture of the rope. She could not stop rolling all over it. I had to open up a separate package of cording and put it off to the side for her so she would not roll around on my fabric. However, white fabric and white cat works well…).

Just a few notes about my construction process:

1. All cords are sewn with a basic running stitch.

2. Fabric is 80 inches wide.

3. I sewed on the “right side” of the fabric and constantly folded my fabric over on itself to get the cording in nice and tight.

4. Not sure if this is period correct, but I had the fabric out flat while I was sewing in the cording. This actually lead to a boo boo. I left a few centimeters at each edge free of cording because I knew I would machine sew the side seam. I didn’t think my older machine could handle going through the thicker fabric plus the rope and the last thing I needed was for the needle to break because it’s my last one. So……really nice stiff cording all the way around except right along the side seam resulted in a collapsing side seam area. When I have it under my dress, it’s not super noticeable but when I first put on the finished petticoat and noticed this it was like a “awwwww oh no! (but too late now!)” moment. *sigh*. Redo.

5. The other thing I “messed up” was measuring my waist. I have wide hips which keeps things from sliding down. However, my waist is significantly smaller than my hips. I swear I measured the fit of the final waist size before I attached the waist band. However, it was at least 5 inches too big!!!! How did this hapen? NO IDEA! Grrrrr. When I recently wore it, it worked just fine and was in no danger of falling off. Now I’m debating whether to re-do part of the waist band or just add hooks and eyes and call it good.

Overall, I’m SUPER excited to have this kind of petticoat now!!! I can’t wait to make more 1830s/40s dresses to wear over it. I want one in ever color!



(Ignore the top thing on the dress form, it’s the mock-up for the 1830s dress).


Challenge #1 – Foundations

What the item is: corded petticoat

The challenge: foundations

Fabric: creamy off white muslin

Pattern: none, a rectangle, but based on these.

Year: 1830s/40s

Historical Accuracy: 80% – all materials are cotton. Most of it is hand sewn. I’m not sure if laying it out flat and folding it up as I laid in the cording is historically accurate though. I machine sewed the double running stitch for gathering the waist band because I was not going to hand sew 80 inches twice.

Hours to complete: several weekends. One of those weekends resulted in two days of 8 hours of sewing (minimal half hour breaks in between to feed myself and change the load of wash).

First worn: Memorial Day Weekend at Apple River Fort

Total cost: aprox $10.00 for the cording; all other materials I had on hand

And just a few more photos!

One seam. It opens all the way to 10 inches down from top of waist band. The waist band is actually at the bottom of the picture.

One seam. It opens all the way to 10 inches down from top of waist band. The waist band is actually at the bottom of the picture.

Up close cording at the very bottom.

Up close cording at the very bottom.