Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part II: Initial Petticoat Details

Petticoat. 1828-1835. Manchester City Galleries.

This bodiced petticoat is the inspiration for the first piece of my 1822-1824 ensemble that I need for December events. You can read more about the overview of the ensemble by viewing my last post: here. Despite the slightly later date given for this garment (later than my target of 1822-1824), the shape and construction are consistent with garments from the earlier 1820s, so I have no qualms about using this for my purposes in this case.

The description from Manchester City Galleries:

White cotton with high waist. Low, wide, round neck edged with embroidery and lace frill; piped armholes; front in one bias-cut section, back in two shaped sections, centre back fastening with drawstring at top and bottom of neck edging and at high waistband and two buttons; skirt front in one slightly flared section, two sections each side flared towards back, slit at hip in right back seam, centre back in two straight sections, closely gathered at centre waist; sixteen lines of piping at hem; edging of finer cotton scalloped and with openwork embroidery.


I used this description in combination with the 1820s patterns in Janet Arnold to create the bodice and skirt patterns. My petticoat is constructed out of plain white cotton. It is entirely hand sewn and has 16 rows of cording in the skirt. There is a edging of white cotton openwork embroidery at the hem. The seams are all flat felled in the skirt. The bodice seams are turned twice and stitched on each side of the seam. The petticoat closes in the back with ties.

Bodice of the petticoat with unfinished neckline.
Near the hem: 16 rows of cording and embroidery edging.
Super close up of a flat felled skirt seam, narrow hem, and whip stitches attaching the embroidery. The embroidery is whip stitched to the hem at the very bottom, and the top edge is whipped again on the inside (that’s the top horizontal row of stitches).
Back of the bodice.

The only remaining work to be done is to add another tie between the current two since the back wants to gap open just below my shoulder blades, to finish the neckline, and to adjust the gathers across the back (secret tip I’ve learned through building these garments: to get that great 1820s triangle shape, your gathers have to be super concentrated at the center back area, not spread out across the entire back, as these currently are). I plan to finish the neckline with narrow white lace, but I want to determine the neckline of my ball gown before finishing the neck of the petticoat. You understand that desire, I’m sure!

Differences from the original include: that I have a seam up center front of the bodice (no particular reason, it’s just that’s how it turned out), my cording is spaced closer together (which I’m not sure I like as much as the original, but I’m not taking it out now!), my armholes are narrow hemmed rather than piped, and my skirt closes right in the middle of the gathers rather than off center at the side back seam.

Pictures of the entire petticoat will have to wait. It looks pretty foolish on hanger, doesn’t fit a dress form (because the bust is so high), and it’s super awkward to get a full length picture of oneself… so we’ll just have to wait until I’m wearing it!

6 thoughts on “Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part II: Initial Petticoat Details

      1. I quite like that kind of big handsewing job though, its good sometimes to spend a weekend with a dvd boxset and something relatively brainless – and cording wouldn’t come out nearly as nicely if you did it by machine

  1. Dear Quinn,
    it turned out lovely! This is a wonderful way to practice hand-sewing, isn’t it?
    I have two questions about the petticoat, please.
    First, how have you calculated the additional length of fabric needed for the cording? (Is this version more appropriate/recommendable, than adding a second layer of fabric and quilt in the cords?! )
    Second, what material have you chosen for cording.
    Thank you 🙂
    Now I may sound like a broken record, but I’m so looking forward to following this project – the 1820s are just too gorgeous 🙂

    1. To calculate the fabric needed for the cording: I measured the circumference of my cord (by rolling it over a ruler), then I multiplied that measurement by the number of rows of cording (16, in this case), and added that final amount to my hem. It worked out well, as the petticoat is just the right length.

      I’ve never tried cording a petticoat by adding a 2nd layer of fabric. I’ve used that method on corsets, and it certainly produces a stiffer finished product that is good for corsets, but I think for a petticoat I prefer using the skirt fabric for the cording, since you don’t have to worry about the cut edges of extra fabric and the look is more 3D and less quilted.

      The cording in this petticoat is 1/8″ polyester cording (but it looks and feels very cotton-like!).

      You don’t sound like a broken record! I get excited when I know others are excited with me! 🙂 Thanks!

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