18th Century Undergarments: pt II

Wednesday’s Project
18th Century Undergarments—Part II

Last week we began to examine the set of 18th century undergarments I’d made to go with my Robe à l’Anglaise. I made a shift, a pair of stays, a set of pocket hoops, a petticoat, a cap, and a neckerchief. We’ve already looked at the shift and stays; now lets see the pocket hoops and petticoat.

Pocket Hoops
For the pattern, I used the book Period Costume for Screen and Stage (1500-1800) by Jean Hunnisett. It includes a simple pocket hoops pattern that’s easy to use.

Pocket Hoops

Pocket Hoops ~ After Hunnisett

For fabric, I used a non-historical white-on-white cotton print. For the boning, I used the same plastic duct ties that I used for my stays. They ended up being rather flimsy for the job, but in the end it worked perfectly, because they collapse slightly under the weight of my gown, giving just the smaller silhouette I wanted. If I decide I want a larger silhouette, I can always add a second set of duct ties to reinforce the current ones.

I decided to add a bum roll to the pocket hoops, to hold the skirt out a little in the back, using my own pattern for an extended crescent shape.

Pocket Hoops

Pocket Hoops With Bum Roll

I self-drafted my petticoats, using Katherine’s web page: An Easy, Authentic, Eighteenth Century Petticoat and Rhonda McConnon’s web page 18c New England Life: The Petticoat as guides. For the fabric, I used a white flat sheet torn into a rectangle for the body and a narrow strip for the ruffle.

It was easy to follow the directions for getting the hem the right length. It has to be longer on the sides in order to fit over the pocket hoops. The best way to do this is not at the hem, but at the waist. Don’t cut the excess fabric, but leave it folded under at the waist, as they did in the 18th century, in case adjustments are needed to the petticoat at a later date.


Hemming From the Waist

In the end, I didn’t add the ruffle to the petticoat. I used my new ruffling attachment foot, but it went wrong somehow and the ruffle wasn’t quite long enough for the petticoat. I didn’t feel like picking all the stitches out and redoing it, so I simply left the ruffle off. (For more information on how I made the petticoats, please see the Sewing Diary: 18th Century Petticoats)


Finished Petticoat

Next week, we’ll look at two pieces that aren’t strictly underwear, but which are vital nonetheless to the appearance of a well-dressed 18th century lady: the cap and handkerchief.


Have you made either pocket hoops or petticoats? What snags did you run into? Was the finished product everything you’d hoped?

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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