Pretty much all of them were/are necessary, and I'm *still* not through it with this petticoat yet, but it's getting there. Here's where I am today:
What I've learned about mid-18th c. petticoats thus far:
- The top curves control fullness over the sides, but if there is too much, it will cause sagging in the skirt, and the hem will fall under (this is part of what was happening with mine)
- Stiffness at the hem is a good idea - taffeta, horsehair, etc.
- The panier shape for the late 1760s and 1770s is high at the hip, but with a narrow body. Control tapes to create the kidney shape are *very* important. A ruffle at the hem of the panier helps, too. Not all panier shapes will just "work" !!
- Pleating the front of the petticoat on the dress form helps.
- A 120" hem may be period correct, but perhaps just not full enough - I've had this experience with round silhouette petticoats too...
- A little shortness at the sides of the petticoat help draw it up into the A-line shape.
- A flat front is important for decorations - some decorations will add stiffness, others won't.
I still have work to do with my silhouette. In the photo, I have my desiccated panier, but when I shrunk it so significantly, it lowered the hip hoops, so I actually have my small pocket hoops stacked on top, just to see what an effect it would have (and it looks good, so this tells me I need to mess with the understructures more, or just make some damned pocket hoops already). Basically, this project is like this:
My hem also needs to be lowered, but lucky me, it's faced about 3 inches, so there's wiggle room. It just means more work. Yay.
All this for something that is going to be 75% covered!