After sorting out the foundation garments for this project (which you can read about here) I moved onto what became one of my favourite parts of it – the petticoat!
You may think, petticoat? How is that exciting? Oh friends I tell you, petticoats of this period are where it’s at!
For several years I’ve been very curious about late 17th century mantua gowns as the progenitors of so much of 18th century women’s fashion. I wondered how the process of making and wearing one would compare with what they later evolved into. I also wondered how they would look on a real body compared with the often-considered unattractive period images of them.
In 2018 I decided to take the plunge and try making one for myself, using Costume College 2018 as my excuse to finally do so – and boy am I glad I did because I LOVE this ensemble!
The style of the petticoat is based off the original one that goes with my primary dress inspiration/pattern in Patterns of Fashion:
Although to make it I simply cut 2 panels of my fabric, with the back slightly longer than the front to help accommodate the false rump that’s going under there. I also pleated mine differently from the original since it appears to have been done according to an older style where the pleats all face towards the side/pocket openings – another clue that the ensemble *may* have been an earlier one altered in the late 1770s/early 1780s. During the later period petticoat pleats tend to all face towards the centre back similarly to dress skirts, although the pleats themselves tend to be larger than on dress skirts.
For the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly interested in the Natural Form period of fashion. If you’re unfamiliar with this transitional style of Victorian fashion you can check out my hodge-podge pinterest board on it to get an idea. I’ve been getting more interested in various transitional fashions, really, such 1790s and 1820s. With Natural Form I feel really drawn to the sumptuous use and cleverness of the fabric trims, the svelte contours of the figure, the sweeping trains. The more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve noticed that Natural Form can actually be divided into two phases of approx. 1876-1879 and 1880-1882/3.
Just for fun, here’s an example of 1876 Natural Form:
Today is Part 2 of a virtual tour through the V&A’s “permanent” costume exhibition, Romantic to Mid-Victorian.
And away we go!