Thursday, February 17, 2011

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Late 18th Century Skirt Supports - The Unorthodox Edition

I have received some questions from you guys asking what I wear under my petticoats to give that super-poof shape.  Well...it ain't pretty.  I don't have picture-perfect panniers, or layers and layers of ruffled, pintucked, or embroidered petticoats.  While I would like to, in the end i'm kindof lazy when it comes to the under things - I go for the overall look and tend to use whatever means possible to achieve that.  Here we go:

Layer 1 - Bumpad.
This goes on first (over chemise, stays, anything else closest to the skin).  It's a crescent shape with three partitions, and ties around the waist.

Bumpad (this is showing the side back)
Layer 2 - The Puffer.  (technical term)
This ugly thing works wonders.  Seriously, it makes all the difference.  It's cheap pre-quilted fabric gathered into a waistband and tied around the waist.  It's a short length for no particular reason (could be longer, could have a massive ruffle attached), and it *really* adds the volume to the upper part of the skirt, to give that nice full shape.  I also wear this over my hoop skirt for mid-Victorian, to help achieve the bell shape of that period.

The Ugly Puffer, but this thing WORKS
Layer 3 - Petticoat.
This is a basic muslin petticoat, made just like the one in this tutorial.  It's floor-length, although I do pin it up sometimes if I'm wearing a walking-length skirt.  I wear this petticoat with pretty much everything, including over my mid-Victorian hoop skirts.

Pretty basic - ties on front and back with shoe laces
Layer 4, 5, 6, 7 - More Petticoats, if I had them.
I love the massively puffy skirts of the 18th c., so when I get off my lazy bum and make another petticoat, I will pile that one on as well.  Stack on the the ruffles, the cording, the pleats!

Top Layer - Your Skirt(s).
The last layer is what shows on the outside.  I almost always wear taffeta for 18th c. (or cotton), and this material also adds fullness to the overall look.  If you are wearing heavier materials, I recommend more petticoats or underlayer supports so that heavier skirt doesn't smoosh down your poof.

The taffeta skirt - might be a petticoat itself, for an open-front gown, or might pair it with a jacket.
And that's it.  It's about as paired down as it can be, and even when I look at photos now I think "I need to make more petticoats!"  Don't be afraid of the super-poof, ladies, it only makes your waists look smaller!  I hope this has been of some help, and as always, comments are welcome :-)
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17 comments:

  1. OK, yours look better than mine! My false rump is...an old towel. Really. Folded and stitched into shape. I should be ashamed...but...it does work! Someday I'll make proper underthings :)

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  2. Hmm. You make me think I ought to start making petticoats for lazy costumers like you (and myself, if I ever get off my butt and, you know, costume). I sometimes enjoy the loooooong seams and pinning and pressing.

    I know, I'm a little psycho that way.

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  3. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for posting this! I am always mightily perplexed about that poufy quality that some folks manage to preserve. I am definitely making myself an ugly puffer.

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  4. hey, whatever works! Rolled up towel ... old socks stuffed in a knee-high stocking...(been there).

    Abigael, ugly puffer wins! Although don't make yours as ugly as mine, hahaha. I didn't even hem that thing.

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  5. I love your quilted puffer skirt idea. I'm going to give that a try.
    Val

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  6. I also am not always 'period' in my underthings...So I will often use your layer and one and two combined and then layer three. However, I tend to make 1780's on up. I am not a pannier kind of gal. But, if I needed more side action, I love your solution! Thanks

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  7. Thanks for posting about this. It's reassuring to know not everyone has period accurate underthings.

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  8. In what few things I've seen in textile collections and museums, women made their supports out of just about everything. There's a wonderful little bustle in the costume museum here that is made out of bed springs :-)

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  9. Y'know I wondered about things like that. I know well-to-do people could afford well constructed clothing etc but I imagine the average woman wouldn't have had much money for things that they could, with a bit of thought make for themselves with whatever they had handy. I love people's ingenuity!

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  10. Hi!

    Is the puffer only attached ad the Back, where the Bumpad is, or is it like short round skirt?
    Its a nice Idea, and i want to give it a chance, because my new gown is made from a heavy material, wich kills all fullness... *sigh*

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  11. My bum pad is a slightly de-stuffed pillow with ribbon sewn on...

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  12. I love this article and its thanks to you Lauren that I now have pooch skirts, although pre quilted fabric in the uk tends to be rather expensive, i did find a cheap quilted matress protector which I cut up and turned into a skirt floofer. The difference is amazing. So yay, thankies hun.

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  13. This is so helpful, thank you! I just used an old sheet to make the petticoat and pillowcase fabric for the 'bumpad.' Your tutorials are always very helpful and straightforward. I really want to try with a quilted puffer as well!

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  14. If anyone is still following this... my bum pad is a crescent-shaped fanny pack!

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  15. Hey, thanks for this article!
    I'd like to know: What are the measurements of the ugly puffers (unhemmed) seam???

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  16. I love your blog, and this ugly puffer is very helpful! I just made my own cage crinoline, which was a ton of work, then put it on and I'm disappointed by the lack of floof at the top. I remembered reading this page a long time ago, and so I googled it, though a little bit wrong (note to all, do NOT search for "ugly fluffer"!!) So, I need to make one of these...but I'm new enough to this that I'd love to ask sort of how much quilted material I want to gather into that waistband for a puffer skirt? Thanks

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  17. What a great idea for hot summer days.

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