Round Peg In a Square Hole-crafts

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hooped Petticoats

This was a reply to someone asking a question about making a hooped Victorian petticoat, but the construction information is useful for other periods, as well.

If you're looking to make a Victorian period hooped petticoat, poly boning will not be stiff enough. What you need is called hooping or hoop wire: two strips of spring steel wrapped in buckram. You need pretty heavy clippers to cut it, or you can do what I do: just bend it until it fatigues and breaks..... I don't know where you are, but there are several catalog/online sources for it: Amazon Drygoods, probably Greenberg and Hammer as well. (Check out Civil War recreation groups/sites for other links.) I _have_ seen coat hanger wire used, but the hooping is more flexible and makes it easier to get through doors, in and out of cars, in and out of bathroom stalls.....(I recommend using the handicapped stall....)

As far as fabric goes, I made my first one out of some cheap, ugly upholstry lining (it was actually quite nice when I washed all the sizing out of it) and it has seen quite a lot of wear. Any sturdy, mid-weight fabric (cotton, poly cotton, rayon) will do. I usually use twill tape to make the casings. To secure the hoop, thread it through the casing, poke two holes (about 3 inches apart) in each end of the strip of hooping, overlap the ends of the hooping so that the sets of holes line up, thread a short piece of shoe lace through the holes, and tie in a square knot. (This allows you to take the hoops out when you need to wash the fabric, but you need to allow for the overlap when measuring the hooping lengths.)

I would recommend a drawstring, rather than a waistband at the top, both for ease in loaning it out to others, and because you often want it to ride a little lower on your hips so that not EVERYTHING is around your waist.

And, PLEASE! put a petticoat over the hoop. It is quite sad when someone has obviously worked very hard on their gown and VHL (Visible Hoop Line) ruins the whole shape of the gown. A quick and dirty non-period solution is a net petticoat. A more historically accurate petticoat would have anywhere from two to eight fabric ruffles (and is consequently a LOT heavier).