V58: The Tim Gunn Petticoat of Suck

I thought I’d experiment with matelesse fabric, a recommendation from a couple lovely readers, to get the whitework/quilted look.  Unfortunately I bought too little, because I clearly had my dunce cap on yesterday at the fabric store.

I bought 1.25 yards of 60″ wide, thinking that a 1:2 ratio for gathering into the waist would be enough, but it really should be a 1:3 ratio, otherwise you end up with a fabric tube, not a nice flaring skirt.

Makin’ it work – slicin’ and dicin’.

So in the spirit of Tim Gunn, I had to “make it work,” and cut the bottom off the matelesse, added those panels into the upper part of the skirt, to make a 6 panels skirt (like it always should have been!), which created enough length all around, but left me short, very short, in the hem.

Bring on the rufflage, in this case a 13″ deep ruffle of cotton muslin, same unbleached color as the matelesse, again 1:3 ratio to get plenty of gathering.  Now it is a working, but I kindof hate it.

I mean…it kindof sucks!

There is at least one example of a quilted petticoat with a ruffle here:

I like that lovely red color, and perhaps I’d like my Petticoat of Suck more if I dyed it.

Or maybe it’s just one to chock up to experience?  What do you think?

Sometimes trying a “suck” item on, or pairing it with more costume pieces will help put it in context, but I’m still kindof “meh” about this….


  • Unknown

    February 27, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    I think it still looks lovely. You could try and add in another pannel if you have the money and the time? Or you could try and re ruffle it by adding more bulk on the sides? Its helped me a little before.

  • Fanny Temps d'élégance

    February 27, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    It's a pleat problem I think : no pleats for the front part, only start at the side. Let 10 centimeters pleat-free on the front and I think it will totally change the shape of the skirt…

  • Unknown

    February 27, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    I think it looks very nice. The change between the top fabric and ruffle looks somewhat drastic in the picture. Maybe if you add something to sort of graduate the change somehow, maybe a pleated strip of the muslin? It just needs… something. Still lovely, though!

  • Gail Kellogg Hope

    February 27, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    I actually kinda hate it too. I think you need a heavier fabric for the ruffles… or maybe a horizontal line of rushing? IDK, it's not quite working in terms of textures & weights. The proportions are OK though.

    But maybe what's bothering me is that your pleats are too much in the CF… maybe if you spaced the deeper pleats more to the sides it would hang better?

  • Mackin-Art

    February 27, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Just my opinion (but you did ask!) – either an underpetticoat or deconstructed and the matelesse repurposed into something else; I just can't envision any way to join two such different fabrics in a pleasing manner.

  • Anna

    February 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Well that wasn't really what I had in mind when I mentioned matelasse, rofl. I'm pretty impressed that you were able to dig up an example with a ruffle at the bottom but that definitely wasn't what I envisioned! Was there just not any fabric left to go back and get? Those people who mentioned not pleating it in the CF are so very right. I bought pre-quilted material for a 'puffer' under-petticoat and learned the hard way that thick fabric just looks nasty all bunched up at that spot.

    • American Duchess

      February 27, 2012 at 11:36 PM

      It's not what I had in mind either! I was kindof "meh" about all the options at the store, but decided to get some and try it out anyway. It was intended to be just as a normal quilted petticoat would be, with the binding at the bottom, not a ruffle. This is either destined to be a support/structural petticoat, or deconstructed and used for something else, although I admit it's kindof growing on me in a weird way.

      The pleating – YES, you guys were SO right about that, and it looks much better re-pleated straight in front.

  • Anonymous

    February 27, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Hrm. That is a quandary. I'm planning on cutting up a well used Williamsburg matelesse coverlet for an underskirt petticoat for added warmth in the winter months. I had not considered using it as an outer petticoat until I saw your pictures so thank you!
    Could you possibly quilt a diamond pattern ( cream thread on cream fabric – or white on white- sorry, I can't tell from your pics) and slightly gather and use this as your ruffle to attach to the skirt?I think the diamond pattern with the floral would be a nice contrast and a quilted might give you the fabric body to compliment the body in the matelesse.

  • Quinn

    February 28, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    Unfortunately, I have to agree that the two fabrics just don't complement each other in their weights. I think it would have the heft to be a great under-petticoat though!

  • Katie Jo

    February 28, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    Dying it sounds like a good idea to me. Perhaps covering the transition from the matelesse to the ruffle might improve it. The sample picture does have a wide flatish band at the top of the ruffle. Like the stripe idea for the bottom as well, perhaps two different shades of the same color particularly if you dye the whole. It definitely has potential.

  • Carly

    February 28, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I'm glad you re-pleated the front as I think that's the biggest problem. Second though, I usually point my pleats to the back/outside, meaning the "knife" is on the other side from what it is in these pictures. So a large inverted box pleat in the center (nice and flat) and then knife pleats out from there facing the back. Maybe that's not how they did things? Was there are reason for your pleating?

    • Rowenna

      February 29, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      I do the same thing, Carly–it avoid tummy poofing, because who wants that? Plus it focuses the pleating/fullness closer to the hips. I also always do the same front and back, so that I can wear either side as the front…because I inevitably spill something on myself. Which I'm not sure is correct to the period, but I know I would have been an 18th century or 21st century klutz, so…it works 🙂

  • The Dreamstress

    February 29, 2012 at 3:07 AM

    Ah-hah! That's what all those pins were about! I think re-pleating it (as others have suggested) will help. I also think that the bottom ruffle is too full – if you look at the extent example it is barely ruffled. Finally, make sure the hem is really, really, really straight. (I know such a headache). I bet that will help too. It's not nearly as bad as you think though – really quite cute.

    • Lauren R

      February 29, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      Hi Dreamstress – I agree about the ruffle at the bottom. I think I need to give this thing a good wash and let that ruffle settle down. I did finish the thing last night and I actually kind of like it, but it's not really my style. I don't feel good about it, y'know? I think I will put it on Etsy to sell.

  • KittyKatt

    March 5, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    I was going to suggest Etsy…then you get paid for your precious seamstress experience points! For your next try, why not cruise around the internet and see if you can find a white quilt to cut up? I know that they were pumping them out from China a few years ago for a song…hand quilted, too!

  • Gina

    May 27, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Oh how fun! I really like your use of Matelesse fabric!!! I have seen it at my fabric store and thought, "that is quite lovely"…now I have a "excuse" to purchase some!

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