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!


Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part I: Overview

Well, as you recently read, I have a 9 month sewing plan to get me through May of 2013. It’s not set in stone (which means that mostly I keep adding to it, not taking things away…), but it gives me a great overview of what I need to accomplish and by what month. Deadlines really help in getting things completed!

The first major portion of the sewing plan is an ensemble of clothing from about the year 1823. I’ve been doing lots of looking at fashion plates and extant clothing from the early 1820s, in books and online. Here’s a link to my pinterest board: 1820-1824. I had so many pins in the 1820-1829 board that I had to separate the decade, so I also have a separate pin board of 1825-1829.

The 9 month plan includes the following pieces: petticoat, ball gown, walking dress, muff, bonnet, and chemisette. I’ve added one more thing since the plan was created: a tippet to match the muff! Before I explain why I want these items (ie, where I plan to wear them!), let’s look at my inspiration for the items themselves!

Petticoat. Manchester City Galleries. (I’m making a petticoat out of white cotton. It is entirely hand sewn.)
Actually a Dinner Dress (but I’ll use it as a ball gown). Ackerman’s Repository. May 1824. (I guess I lied about the year… I’ve been looking at the images so much I haven’t even glanced at the date in ages! Anyway… I’m making this in apple green silk with hand sewn silk organza appliqués.)
Promenade Dress. Ackerman’s Repository. December 1822. (I am making this out of deep, rich pinkish burgundy wool with hand sewn lavender silk trim.) This is also my inspiration for the tippet. (I’m making the tippet out of white faux fur.)
Walking Dress. Ackerman’s Repository. March 1823. (I think this is where I got the year 1823 from… This is another influence on my walking dress design, especially at the collar.) This is also my inspiration for my muff. (The muff will be the same fur as the tippet, lined with pale blue silk shantung.)
Bonnet. C. 1820. The Met. (I plan to make this in lavender to match the walking dress.)
Chemisette. c. 1810-1825. Snowshill Collection. (Yes, this is one of the ones in Janet Arnold. I plan to make this out of lightweight cotton and use my fluting iron! However, I have to say that if one thing in my December-to-do doesn’t make the cut, this would be it. I really want to take my time on this and play with my fluting iron, and I’m not sure I’ll have the time on this one…)

What is all of this for, you ask? I plan to wear the whole ensemble in December when I attend Fezziwig’s Ball, a 19th century ball hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers in Salem, MA. Since it’s a ball, I’m sure you understand why the petticoat and ball gown are required! But why the outerwear? Before the ball begins, ball-goers have the opportunity to go caroling around the streets! It’s really fun, and usually pretty cold. I need to stay warm, hence the wool walking dress, tippet, and muff. The chemisette is to fill in the collar of the walking dress, and the bonnet is really icing on the cake to help pull the whole ensemble together! As an added bonus, later this winter my friends and I hope to go ice skating in 19th century dress, so this will also be my ice skating outfit!