Sunday, July 1, 2012

Red Wool Petticoat

As per the post yesterday, I am now in possession of another red petticoat (a girl can never have enough!), but this one differs a bit from the first, both in material and construction.

Both petticoats are just under 120" in bottom circumference (after seam allowances), however while the original linen petticoat (left) is made up of square panels --and so has the same 120" pleated onto a waist band-- the wool version (right) has a shaped front panel (following the Kirtle pattern from the Tudor Tailor) and is just under 100" pleated to a waistband.  However, as you can see the silhouette at the waist is much more pronounced, despite containing 20" less fabric. Partly this is due to the material, but mostly it's because of the wonders of cartridge pleating!

Now,  I've never attempted cartridge pleats before...and while we'll get to my many failed attempts in a second I want to touch on other parts of the construction first.

Like the first petticoat this one is put together using various combinations of whip and running stitches, but instead of sewing down the seam allowances of each piece and whip stitching the finished edges together I skipped a step and just ironed down the seam allowances without stitching them down.
I then whip stitched the pieces together along the ironed crease (right sides facing) and then flat felled the  seam allowances on the inside of the garment.

I think this is called a tatbeet seam, except in the diagram I found (by Peter Beatson, shown right)  the pieces are whip stitched together with wrong sides facing.  I also trimed down the inside seam allowance to reduce the bulk.

I'm a bit on the fence with this method.  On the one hand it's a lot less work and it creates only one turned down edge as opposed to two (one on each side of the seam), but it's bulkier and because the interior seam is covered you have to tear out a lot more to make adjustments or repairs.

Felled seams (outside and inside).  Please excuse the cat hair!

The only place where I did use the method of stitching down the seam allowance was on either side of the side opening.  It didn't occur to me until I was mostly done sewing up the side seam that I was going to have to graduate to a different method to sew the opening (since a felled seam obviously wasn't going to work!) and I think I fudged an okay transition into a rolled seam.

Okay, on to the pleating!

This was a little bit of a disaster...but first things first.
The fabric is a heavy wool/camel hair blend from Mood Fabrics, which became even thicker after I threw it in the wash and it felted a bit.  I'm always a bit iffy in washing wool, but it was a no-brainer in this case (both because I knew that --as my bottom level of clothing-- this would likely need to get washed quite a bit and so needed to be be pre-shrunk and because my cat peed on it almost immediately).

This means I probably didn't need to add an additional band of wool to bulk up the pleats...but it certainly helped them stay upright!

But I'm getting ahead of myself...
To start off, I sewed the aforemetioned 6" black band of wool to the top edge of the petticoat and then folded the whole thing down 3", so I now had two layers of top fabric and two layers of band all sandwiched together, with an additional 3" of the band fabric hanging down.
Because the whole thing was now ridiculously bulky I found pins to be almost completely useless, if not instead let me sing the praises of tiny bulldog clips!

Bulldog/Butterfly clips are seriously the best things ever!
Now, you might be thinking, "Um...Those are pretty big pleats there, Jenn." And you'd be right.

For some reason it took me a while to figure out that if you have 3" pleats then you're skirt it going to be pushed up at least 3 inches (if your fabric is sturdy enough...which mine certainly was), which means it's not going to sitting at your actual waist anymore, which means it's going to be way too small on top of being way too high.

It took me three or four tries and some seriously misshapen petticoats (left) to figure this out.
So the final petticoat starts with 1/4" pleats, graduating to just over 1" pleats through the back with about a 10"-12" section without pleats at the front (depending on the amount of overlap at the side closure).

As a guideline for the pleats themselves I followed the excellent instructions at The Renaissance Tailor, Extreme Costuming, and Reconstructing History.

Tuque examines and approves the new pleating pattern

Final pleats...and even more cat hair!

Back and side views...still not sure about closures, so it's just pinned for now 

Finally, I finished off the bottom with a one inch band of self fabric attached using a prick stick, so that it looks like a running or stab stitch on top and a whip stitch underneath. 
Not for any reason in particular, I just wanted to try it.

Okay, that's it for petticoats...on to some actual outerwear!