September 23, 2013

Natural Form Petticoat

The "Natural Form" period ranged in the few years from 1877-1882 where the fashionable silhouette shrank from the voluminous early bustle era to something more resembling the natural figure. This was short lived as soon the bustle came back, and then some, with shelf-like structures with elaborate drapery and poufs ballooning behind women.

May 1880 Journal des Demoiselle

As the bustle frame shrank, the new style revealed more of the sinuous shapes of a woman's hips and legs than had been seen in decades. Princess lines and cuirass bodices which were long and smooth- fitting were all the rage The term "natural form" was a bit of a misnomer of course, the skirts were restrictive, tied around the legs to maintain the narrow look, and frequently still had some form of support particularly behind the knees, where the skirt was allowed to billow out, and to help the train keep it's shape.

My inspiration fashion plate

I wanted to make an outfit that fell in the earlier part of the Natural Form era, where the skirts were not quite so narrow and the bustled effect of some fullness behind hadn't quite disappeared while also having a slim, narrow front.

 To get this effect I needed to make a petticoat to support my skirt in this way. I used the Truly Victorian petticoat pattern TV125.

This, like all Truly Victorian patterns, is a very easy to follow and successful pattern. It includes two ruffles on the hem and an optional button-on train.

 I used some cotton lace to cover the raw edge of the ruffles.

To get the required pouf in the back there is a layer of netting sandwiched between an inner and an outer back piece. I say a layer, I mean tiers of gathered netting all sewn together. Netting is not my favourite thing to sew!

Struggling to get this through the sewing machine can be a little like trying to put on a pair of jodphurs in a moving car (incredibly awkward)! Plus I kept on adding in extra pieces, as for some reason I would run out of the piece I was adding to the bottom of the last one before reaching the end.
 The end result is then sandwiched in between the inner and outer back pieces and it's all sewn down the edges.

I wasn't sure how happy I was with the poufiness of the result. I had added in extra to the bottom two tiers so they looked aright but the rest of it looked a little sad and forlorn so I decided to go back and add in a few more layers to the top and middle region.

Much better!

The end result! The button-on train is still to be done but I'm very happy with the shape of the petticoat. I'm glad I put in the extra tulle as my skirt is likely to squash it down a little bit more.

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