We finally had time to take photos of my handmade Edwardian lace petticoat. I love how the petticoat turned out! Besides my Edwardian silk corset, it’s my favorite historical piece so far!
Related: Edwardian Silk Corset
‘No lingerie is half so nice as that made especially for one. With a good sewing woman – she need be no more than that – to carry out your ideas, one can have the loveliest of things made out of the finest of nainsook or Persian lawn, and trimmed with the prettiest of laces, at a far less expenditure than the same extravagant-looking affairs from the costliest of shops.’ (Sacramento Union, 1907)
In the photos I’m wearing the Edwardian lace petticoat over two other Edwardian petticoats – I love all these petticoat ruffles!
Edwardian Lace Petticoat
Special Occasion Edwardian Lace Petticoat
‘While plain petticoats are necessary for everyday wear, the summer dress, party dress, or silk gown calls for a trimmed underskirt.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problem, 1916)
My Edwardian lace petticoats would’ve been worn for special occasions in the Edwardian era, such as afternoon garden parties. Because lace is and always was expensive, lace trimmed petticoats often cost more than the dress! Therefore they were saved for special occasion, while everyday Edwardian petticoats were much plainer.
Related: 2 Plain Edwardian Petticoats
‘Unless one is having several petticoats, it is wiser to keep to simple decoration on the few, with perhaps additional touches on a very best one, for “dress up” use […] a petticoat designed for occasional wear. It has more decoration, but this is simply applied and the lace is of good quality.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1915)
Is The Edwardian Petticoat Historically Accurate?
My Edwardian petticoat is inspired by early Edwardian lace petticoats. And it’s very historically accurate because I used fabric, lace and techniques that were already used in the Edwardian era.
My main inspirations were these two antique Edwardian lace petticoats with pintucks: petticoat with three rows of lace insertions and petticoat with five rows of lace insertions. And also this 1902 advertisement for cambric skirts with lawn ruffles, lace insertions, tucks and dust ruffles: ‘Umbrella style, deep ruffle on a ruffle, three rows of […] Valenciennes insertion in top ruffle; […] also dust ruffle.’
And here’s another 1904 Edwardian lace petticoat ad: ‘Fine cotton, umbrella frill of lawn, four clusters of fine tucks, three rows of lace insertion and frill of lace, dust frill’. And another 1902 ad for a lace petticoat (in the middle of the page) which ‘measures about 3 yards at the bottom in the medium sizes if the gores extend to the foot.’
Edwardian Petticoat Pattern
As usual, I drafted my own pattern. But the pattern is based on this 1901 skirt pattern ‘Skirt Astarté’. However, I adapted the pattern because my petticoat has straight-gathered ruffles instead of the circular flounce.
For Sewing Beginners
In the Edwardian era, making their own lingerie was recommended for sewing beginners to practice their sewing skills.
‘For those who have the time and are fond of sewing, the making of fine underwear is really a most delightful and fascinating employment.
Unlike making frocks, blouses and such “outside” garments, which are apt to present a good many difficulties in the way of fitting and the adjustment of the trimmings, fine underwear merely requires dainty workmanship and neat sewing, as the fitting is of the simplest’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1907).
And making Edwardian petticoats is really easy, they just take time!
Hand Sewing Or Machine Sewing?
‘In recommending much hand work it is supposed that the girls and women wishing to do this work on their garments can do it evenly and well, else they would better confine themselves to good machine sewing and not attempt this hand work on fine garments until they have practiced sufficiently to do it well.’ (San Francisco Call, 1908)
I used a combination of machine and hand sewing which is historically accurate.
I used the same fabric for my Edwardian lace petticoat which I often use for Edwardian lingerie and blouses: a sheer white cotton batiste.
‘If the outer-garment with which the petticoat is to be worn is of sheer material, unless there is to be a slip worn over the petticoat, consideration must be given to the location and number of seams in the petticoat, and also to the manner of its decoration, that there may be no danger of marring the effect of the dress.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1915)
I plan to wear the petticoat with my sheer Edwardian lingerie dress which is not yet finished. Therefore I finished all seams with flat felled seams because they’re flat and easy to iron. Besides French seams, flat felled seams were the preferred seams for underwear in the Edwardian era.
‘Seams should be flat in finish, either a stitched fell or a plain seam overcast, if the material does not fray badly.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1915) ‘Join the strips […] over-handing selvedges, or fell, on cut edges. […] The fells should be quite narrow, however.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1915)
The Lace Ruffle
‘The ruffle on the skirt may be made of rows of lace and insertion sewed together by hand, or lapped slightly and stitched on the machine’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problem, 1916).
I finished each cotton strip of the ruffle with a tiny hem before I attached the lace, similar to this antique 1900s petticoat.
Where a new ruffle begins, I gathered the fabric by hand with rolled whipped gathers.
‘Whipping is forming gathers by overcasting a rolled edge of fine material, and drawing up the thread. […] Ruffles should be cut by a thread, which can be done by tearing, and then trimming the edges.’ (School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools, 1893)
‘The whipped hem is […] an economical as well as strong way of neatly trimming underclothing.’ (A Sewing Course For Teachers, 1893)
Edwardian Petticoat Closure
I used a special Edwardian petticoat drawstring closure again which I use for all my Edwardian petticoats.
‘While a band or fitted top is preferable in a petticoat, a draw string is sometimes used to make a skirt adjustable to different sized waists.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problem, 1916)
‘This petticoat is finished with an under ruffle edged with lace. The top ruffle of the skirt is made by joining rows of lace insertion with strips of lawn.’ (School Sewing Based On Home Problem, 1916)
I used white cotton Mechlin lace and Valenciennes lace to trim my petticoat. Both types of lace, especially Valenciennes lace, were very popular in the Edwardian era to trim lingerie and dresses. I was lucky to find this 100% cotton Valenciennes lace on ebay because it’s difficult to find 100% cotton Valenciennes lace nowadays.
How To Join Lace
Where necessary, I joined the lace by hand with overhand stitches.
‘When joining fine lace, for the neck of corset covers, night-dresses, lingerie waists, lay one end of the lace on top of the other, so that one pattern covers the other, matching exactly, and baste; sew around one side of pattern, and through mesh in an irregular line, with fine hemming and an occasional buttonhole stitch […]
Trim the ends of the lace away close to the buttonhole stitches; the join will look like an irregularity in the weave.’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1916)
Edwardian lace petticoats were often decorated with pintucks, like this antique Edwardian lace petticoat.
The Dust Ruffle
Edwardian petticoats usually had a dust ruffle, like this antique Edwardian petticoat. The dust ruffle is basically a ruffle under the outer ruffle of the petticoat. The main function was to make the petticoat fuller at the hem and to catch the dust because petticoats often swept the floor.
‘Dust ruffles, gathered or plaited, are used on some petticoats, in addition to the outer flounce’ (Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction, 1915).
‘A dust ruffle having a border ruffle applied lengthens the mode and is overlapped by a gathered flounce in knee depth’ (Delineator, 1903).
‘The flounce is held out well by a bias ruffle of the goods joined to the lower edge of the petticoat-skirt’ (Delineator, 1896)
This funny Edwardian postcard “Youth doesn’t and old man can’t” was my inspiration to take a photo of all the petticoat ruffles because they’re so pretty. In the photo I’m wearing three Edwardian petticoats.
More Edwardian Lingerie
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