attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

Petticoat Junction (warning: High-rez image heavy)

Important Note:  All pictures in this entry are not open for anyone else to use, as they are scanned from my books for purposes specific to this post.  I could not find them anywhere on-line, and I need them to illustrate my wordy and overly-syllabic thoughts.  Please do not copy them, or use them on your web sites or diaries.  If you simply must have a copy of them, follow the notes to the end of the entry and locate the books so that the authors can make more money and write more wonderful books.

Thank you.

As my regular readers know, I am currently researching petticoats and points (thanks to

kass_rants), and trying to find plausible, defensible methods of fastening petticoats in such a way that they look like the originals when worn.  As part of this, and thanks to lizapalooza's comments about petticoat waistbands, I have been looking at how I make my petticoats.  For the current petticoat project, I will be experimenting with a (new to me) way of making the waistband that more closely resembles the very few examples of waistbands that I can find.

It started with this picture:  



This is a detail from Jan Steen's Couple in a Bedroom, 1668 (1).  The petticoat on the chair has some detail to it, but not the thing I was originally looking for, which was a fastening of some kind.  However, it does, very clearly, show the waistband, and the contrasting colour on the inside seems to suggest it is also lined.

The waistband is very narrow, and the fabric of the petticoat (probably silk, with a light wool lining - QEI's wardrobe accounts mention petticoats lined with wool flannel) is gathered into the band, rather than cartridge pleated to it.  How is it possible to tell?  Steen's paintings are very detailed, and the effect of cartridge pleating is different from the gathered pleating, not least in that the pleating in the painting is very slightly flattened at the waistband, as it would be if the pleats were contained within the band.  Cartridge pleating would be sharp and round all the way to the band, and would sit out more.

The material is a lovely doubleshot (changeable) silk, and a closer examination of the petticoat shows a fairly substantial hem that looks like it is edged with a guarding trim.  This is the basic model (I have not decided whether I want to line it or not) for the iridescent periwinkle Dupioni petticoat (and, later, the iridescent pink one).

Waistbands fascinate me - partly because so few are visible.  This is the only one of Steen's paintings where the band can even be seen.  Even in two of his paintings where the skirt is pretty clearly not attached to the bodies (because it can be seen under the lacing of the bodies, set higher than an attached petticoat would be), the band of the petticoat cannot be seen - giving the impression of a drawstring petticoat, which I don't think they did (because it shifts too much, and the pleats don't stay even):


Detail; both pictures are by Steen, both are called Twelfth Night.  The first one was painted in 1666, the second in 1668. (2)

The black and white picture shows the top of the petticoat quite clearly, the second less so -but it is there (the light and colour make it difficult to see, but there is a line where the top of the petticoat sits, and it is above the bottom edge of the bodies).  In both these cases, a waist band cannot be seen, but it is not unreasonable, I think, to surmise that the waistband treatment from Couple in a Bedroom is used here.

A 17th century picture of a Tailor's shop (3) shows at least one, and maybe two petticoats hanging on a wall, ready for sale:

Though some people have argued with me that the long garments are cloaks, the one on the end clearly has no opening, and the jacket/doublet hanging in the middle is hung with the opening forward, suggesting that a cloak would be drawn the same way.  The guarding at the bottom of the garment also seems to suggest petticoat.  The waistband here is larger, but not much so.  Regretfully, no fastening detail can be seen here, either.

Interestingly, another petticoat can be seen on the Countess of Southampton (4):


Here she is wearing a pointed front sheer petticoat over her bodies - the band lies along the line of the bodies.  The sheer silk is gathered into a very narrow band.  This is the only 16th century English picture of the waistband of a woman's petticoat I have ever found.  This also supports the idea of the English liking separate petticoats and bodies, since the petticoat under the sheer one appears to be pointed into the bodies (though the upper one is not, and because of the way it is shaped, may not need the support) - otherwise, there is no need for the points on the bodies.  ETA:  Never mind, it's an apron (thanks,

gwacie).  A pointed-front, freaky, sheer apron (with a gathered band, for anyone still wondering whether they used gathered bands for aprons).  Still, the stuff about the petticoat under the bodies stands.  It will go with the other points research.  :)

Finally, I found a 17th century extant petticoat from 1660 that is at the Museum of Costume in Bath (5).  Because of the way the bodice and petticoat are mounted (and I think they might be mounted incorrectly - and I'm wrong about that; see Kass' comment below), you can clearly see the waistband:

(This petticoat is fastened with tapes, I believe.)

As you can see here, the band is tiny - the fabric is silk tissue, very light and fine, and the gathers are very small.  

I am now pretty sure that the bands I should be putting on my petticoats need to be considerably smaller than I have previously made.  Changing them is actually not difficult at all - most of the bands can be remade with minimum fuss (would that all my re-modeling projects were this simple!).  A band this small does not discount the lacing theory I have already played with - a lacing hole is small, and the way the petticoats lie without gapping when laced into points looks more correct.

I still haven't decided whether to line my petticoats or not.  Putting in a lining is not difficult, and I can always do it retroactively.

The look of the finished skirt as worn is terribly important to me - I tend to favour the softer, more informal look of the very late 16th century middle classes, as seen in this detail of shoppers in Leadenhall Market in 1598 (6), who appear to be wearing petticoats and maybe a small roll to support their dress, but no farthingale:

And in this one, women working on domestic arts from Fabricius' Album Amicorum of 1613 (7):




This last is one of my favourite pictures, and shows my favoured fashion style.  In fact, see the woman on the far left (ETA:  Bob has just called me and pointed out that the woman is only on the far left from her point of view; I of course mean the woman on the far right) playing the virginals?  When my periwinkle petticoat is finished, I can wear it with my embroidered jacket and look exactly like her.

Awesome, non?

Book Sources:

(1) Jan Steen: Painter and Storyteller, H. Perry Chapman, Wouter Th. Kloek, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Yale University Press, 1996.

(2) Ibid.

(3) The Oxford Illustarted History of Tudor & Stuart Britain, John Morril (ed.), Oxford University Press, 1996.

(4) Fashion and Fiction, Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England, Aileen Ribeiro, 2005 (Highly Recommended).

(5) Ibid.

(6)  Fooles and Fricassees:  Food in Shakespeare's England, Mary Anne Caton (ed.), Folger Shakespeare Library, 1999.

(7)  Gardening With Silk And Gold, Thomasina Beck, David & Charles, 1997

Tags: costume, pretty things, research, sca
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