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La BellaDonna left a really helpful comment about slips and crinolines and petticoats on the post the other day, and on the off-chance some of you missed it, I thought I should elevate it to Full Post Status. (You should really read the comments if you can, they're always awesome, because you all rock!)
So, LBD writes:
For the ladies who are dubious about wearing a complete crinoline under their full skirts, I would point out there is an Easy Cheat™:
Use the skirt part of the pattern you're making up to draft a petticoat. It's not as scary as "draft" makes it sound: just make sure the finished "petticoat" is a couple of inches shorter than the finished dress will be, and experiment with putting ruffles on the "petticoat" until you reach your desired degree of "pouf." You don't even have to make yourself crazy with shortening the petticoat and then sewing the ruffle onto the hem; just topstitch the ruffle onto the finished "petticoat" so that the bottom of the ruffle is even with the "petticoat" hem. If you want more fullness higher up, put another ruffle higher up on the "petticoat;" it should overlap the lower ruffle, but not cover it completely. For a gathered skirt pattern being made into a petticoat, you can make a casing and run the elastic through at the waist; for a gored skirt, or something fitted, you can put in a placket and a hook and eye (or just overlap it a bit and put on the hook and eye!). Let the petticoat sit a little BELOW the waist of your skirt, to cut down on bulk at your waistline (this means the petticoat skirt waist will actually be BIGGER than the waist of the dress, so that the petticoat sits lower down on your torso than the dress waist does.) You can experiment with making ruffles out of the "petticoat" fabric; you can try ruffling up some good stiff nylon net (about 7-9" wide for a good finished ruffle), in which case you WILL want that petticoat fabric between you and the nylon of the ruffle; maybe another layer of fabric over that, to protect the skirt from the nylon. Dubious about nylon? Stitch a band of horsehair (woven nylon strip, made from nylon horses, designed to Stiffen Stuff) behind the hem of the ruffle. Horsehair is washable and is easy to work with; just top stitch it on the underside of the ruffle. If the dress fabric is lightweight, and you have enough, you could even make one ruffle out of the dress fabric! For instance, a yellow print dress might have a plain yellow "petticoat," with: a plain yellow ruffle; or a nylon net ruffle; or a white eyelet ruffle; or a lace ruffle; or a yellow print ruffle. Or all of them, if you want a Really Full Petticoat (with a Really Mixed Look). A print corduroy dress might have the petticoat in one color of the print, and the edge of the ruffle could be bound in the corduroy. (You might want to bind it using corduroy cut on the weft, since corduroy cut on the bias can get weird.) (N.B.: A Really Full Ruffle is generally considered to be the finished width times 3; if your skirt hem is 100 inches, that means a 300-inch strip of fabric gathered back down to 100 inches. A ruffle two and a half times the finished width, or 250 inches, is OK for a not-too-full ruffle that's been backed with horsehair. But I'd recommend the Three Times suggestion. My own preference for a finished ruffle length is 7-9"; your mileage, and your height, may vary. But it's a size to start with. And I completely agree with the zigzag-over-dental floss-or-buttonhole thread-method of gathering chunks of fabric. Mark your ruffle in quarters (that is, half-way, and half-way again) BEFORE gathering; mark your "petticoat" in quarters; match up the quarters to make sure you haven't gathered too much petticoat ruffle in one spot and not another. Don't take out the gathering thread! Leave it in! Topstitch the ruffle on a couple of times so it's nice and secure. DO remember to preshrink your petticoat fabric!!
Remember: YOU'RE IN CHARGE. You can do it ANY WAY YOU WANT. Red silk taffeta petticoat with black lace ruffles? Check. Plaid flannel petticoat with eyelet ruffles? Check. Pink gingham petticoat with dotted swiss ruffles? Check. It is a GREAT way to use up some of those weird chunks of fabric that find their way into every stash. Nobody needs to know that you have a gold damask petticoat under that grey wool shirtdress. On the other hand, how cool if you do?