1911 Petticoat Drafting

Continuing (or just plain reminiscing) on the 1911 trend… I wanted to share some of the details of drafting a petticoat a la 1911 based on a contemporary sewing textbook. Once again it’s Google Books to the rescue and this is one I found a few years ago when I was first exploring early 20th century pattern drafting.

1911 textbook cover

I’m sure I was partially drawn to it because the author’s name is also Carrie, but more importantly, it was published in 1911 and that was the year I was most particularly interested in. I would have made a poor student because of course I skipped right over all the excellent basic sewing instructions that make up the first section of the book and jumped right into the garment drafting!

The instructions are fantastic although I recommend a bit of patience, a really big table, extra tracing paper, a yardstick or two, and plenty of erasers for your pencil markings. I can’t remember which garment I started with but the petticoat, or 5 Gored Underskirt, is definitely a great place to start. It’s almost all straight lines and the measurements are very easy to take on yourself. I’ve also made a corset cover, chemise, and drawers from this book but those will have to wait until later posts. And while the book does use a mix of photos and illustrations, there’s not a great deal provided for this garment. In my downloaded copy the instructions start on page 74, and what follows are the adapted instructions in the hopes that I could simplify the process for others.

5-goredI probably don’t need to point out that I do not fit the model measurements! So here’s what I did based on those original steps and filling in my measurements along the way:

Drafting the Petticoat Pattern

For this petticoat/underskirt, I drafted the pattern directly on the fabric. That being said, if you plan to make several at the same time, a paper pattern is probably a good idea! Take the following measurements over your corset.

  • Waist
  • Hip
  • Front Length
  • Side Length
  • Back Length

Place fabric (or drafting/tracing paper) on cutting table as illustrated below:

underskirt-side-front

Draw lines as illustrated in the diagrams, starting with Front Gore.

FRONT GORE

  1. Starting 6” from left, mark the center front line (= ________ ) of the front gore.
  2.  Next draw in the perpendicular line measuring waist divided by 8. (= ________ ) Redraw that line so that the further end is 1/4” to the left. This will be your front waistline.
  3.  Six inches to the right of the line you just drew, add a parallel line measuring waist divided by 8 plus 1”. (= ________ ) This will be your front hip.
  4.  At the right hand side of your center front line, draw a perpendicular line. This is your front hem.
  5.  Using a yardstick, draw a line from the end of your front waist line to the front hem, being sure to pass through the end of your hip line. This is your side front seam.
  6.  Add ¼” seam allowance to waist and hem edges, and add ¾” seam allowance to side edge.

SIDE GORE

Note: The side gore will be drawn 3/4” away from the selvage. This will allow you to use the selvage as part of the seam allowance.

  1. Measure the side front seam on the front gore. (= ________ ) Draw a line equal to the length 3/4” away from the selvage.
  2. Next draw in the perpendicular line measuring waist divided by 6. (= ________ ) Redraw that line so that the further end is 1/2” to the right. This will be your side waistline.
  3. Six inches to the left of the line you just drew, add a parallel line measuring waist divided by 6 and then multiplied by 1.5. (= ________ )This will be your side hip.
  4. Using a yardstick, draw a line from the end of your front waist line to the end of your hip line and continuing for the distance of your side length measurement minus 8”. (= ________ ) This is your side back seam. Draw a gentle curve to create hem line.
  5. Add ¼” seam allowance to waist and hem edges, and add ¾” seam allowance to side edges.

BACK GORE

Note: The back gore will be drawn 3/4” away from the selvage. This will allow you to use the selvage as part of the seam allowance.

back gore

  1. Measure the side back seam on the side gore. (= ________ ) Draw a line equal to that length ¾” away from the selvage.
  2. Next draw in the perpendicular line measuring ½ total waist minus front and side waist measurements. (= ________ ) Extend the line 3.”
  3. Redraw that line so that the further end is ¾” to the right. This will be your back waistline.
  4. Six inches to the left of the line you just drew, add a parallel line measuring ½ total hip measurement minus front and side hip measurements. (= ________ ) This will be your back hip.
  5. Using a yardstick, draw a line from the end of your original back waist line (minus the 3” you added) to the end of your hip line and continuing for the distance of your back length measurement minus 8”. (= ________ )
  6. To create your back seam line, draw a line from the end of the back waist to 3” past the leftmost point on the line you last drew. This is your back seam. Curve the left edge for the back hem. Starting from waist, make a mark at 10½” on the center back. This is for the placket.
  7. Add ¼” seam allowance to waist and hem edges, and add ¾” seam allowance to side edges.

BELT

Belt pattern is 2” wide by the waist measurement plus 1” (=_________ ) This extra 1” is for lap. Add ½” seam allowance to short ends and ¼” seam allowance to long edges.

PLACKET

Placket pattern is 2½” wide by 21½”

DUST RUFFLE

Finished dust ruffle should measure 4” deep when finished. To achieve this, cut or tear enough 5” wide strips of cloth to measure 1.5 times the hem width. (=_________ )

FLOUNCE

Finished flounce should measure 12” deep or more when finished. To achieve this, cut or tear enough 13” (or wider) strips of cloth to measure 1.5 times the hem width. (=_________ ) If you wish to add tucks, cut dust ruffle long enough to accommodate the additional length.

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS

Skirt

  1. To join skirt together, start on right side with front gore. Match right side gore with front gore at waist, hip, and hem, pinning at these places so as not to stretch the bias edge beyond the straight edge. Sew wrong sides together with ¼” seam allowance, keeping bias edge on top.

  2. Join left side gore to front gore in the same manner, and the back gores to each side gore. Join back gore pieces, sewing center back seam from hem to placket marking only.

  3. Trim and press seams and sew right sides together, resulting in French seams along each long edge. Lightly press all seams toward center back.

Placket

  1. To insert placket, press under ¼” on one long edge of placket. With right sides of placket against wrong side of skirt, sew unpressed long edge to back gore at center back from left waist to placket marking and back to right waist. Fold pressed edge over seam and handstitch or topstitch closed. The placket should be 1” wide when finished.

  2. Gather back gores at waistline within one inch of side back seams, and right side, turning lap or fly underneath.

Waist Belt

  1. For waist belt, turn under raw edges ¼” on long edges and ½” on short edges. Find center, not counting extra inch for lap to be extended on left side, and cut small notch. Also notch the middle of the front gore at waist. (88 min)

  2. Join belt to skirt, matching center fronts, and easing remaining waistline into the band with puckering. Baste close to folded edge of belt. Fold the opposite long edge of belt over the waist and baste. Stitch one or two rows through all layers to keep in place.

  3. Cut horizontal buttonhole on right ½” from end, and sew button firmly on left end of belt, so lap will not be seen.

Dust Ruffle

  1. To make dust ruffle, join all 5” strips along short edges using a French seam when two selvages do not come together. Hem one long edge of dust ruffle with a 3/8” narrow hem.

  2. Run two rows of gathering threads along raw edge of dust ruffle.

  3. Divide long raw edge into halves and quarters before pulling up gathering threads, marking the points with pins, notches or disappearing ink. Divide the bottom edge of the skirt in the same manner.

  4. With wrong sides together, join dust ruffle to skirt, matching markings, making sure no seam is placed at center front. Pull up gathering threads on dust ruffle until it matches skirt edge. Pin edges regularly to evenly distribute gathers. Baste and stitch ¼” from edge.

  5. Turn on wrong side, fold cloth the depth of seam and stitch on edge of gathers to hide first stitching – basically a French seam. Turn this seam up towards waist, baste flat, and stitch on right side on upper edge.

Flounce

  1. To make flounce, join all 13” strips along short edges using a French seam when two selvages do not come together. Hem one long edge of flounce with a 3/8” narrow hem. Optional: If tucks are desired, sew them at this time.

  2. Run two rows of gathering threads along raw edge of flounce.

  3. Divide long raw edge into halves and quarters before pulling up gathering threads, marking the points with pins, notches or disappearing ink. Divide the skirt in the same manner.

  4. With right sides together, join flounce to skirt, matching markings, making sure no seam is placed at center front. Hem of flounce should be even with hem of dust ruffle. Pull up gathering threads on dust ruffle until it matches skirt edge. Pin edges regularly to evenly distribute gathers. Baste and stitch ¼” from edge.

  5. Finish raw edges with binding or braiding trim.

Oh… and then wear it and enjoy compliments on your underwear!!

Horrible flat picture... but the petticoat itself is pretty! It's been worn many a time under both an evening gown and day dress. And it's made up in a a pink cotton sateen, in case you were wondering! Later petticoats have been white, but I'm eying some striped fabric in the future!

Horrible flat picture… but the petticoat itself is pretty! Only the dust ruffle has been attached in this photo but the flounce looks similar – just deeper and placed higher. It’s been worn many a time under both an evening gown and day dress. And it’s made up in a a pink cotton sateen, in case you were wondering. Later petticoats have been white, but I’m eying some striped fabric in the future!

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