Whilst awaiting delivery of the front-fastening busk and some other notions for completing the corset I have begun work on the first of my petticoats.
Throughout the early Victorian period skirts became gradually more voluminous. However, it was not until 1856 that the steel cage crinoline was patented as a means of supporting these ever expanding skirts. Up until this point layers of petticoats had to be used to create the fashionable bell-shape of the 1840s and early 1850s. Various means were used to stiffen these petticoats including starch, petticoats made of fabric woven with horsehair (known as "crin", French for horsehair, hence the origins of the word crinoline) and cording. The photograph below of an 1830s petticoat from the Met Museum's collections show how closely spaced rows of cord sewn into a cotton petticoat created a structured undergarment that supported the shape of the skirts.
|The Met, 1992.635, 1830s corded petticoat|
For my petticoat, I am sewing rows of 6mm cotton cord between an outer layer of white cotton twill and a inner layer of thinner cotton sheeting. So far I have completed 12 rows at the hem. It's slow going but the effect is already apparent - the hem is stiff and padded, more than able to support multiple layers of fabric. I have a feeling that this is going to be somewhat heavy to wear though!