This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
Use either a drafted-to-measure or commercial pattern. If using the latter, buy pattern according to the hip measure, because it is easier to fit from the hip to the waist than to fit at the hip line.
To demonstrate the constructive principles of petticoat making, a petticoat of longcloth cut in five gores, with dust ruffle of longcloth, and tucked flounce of nainsook, upper edge finished with embroidered beading, has been chosen. A drafted-to-measure pattern will be used.
1. Placing Pattern. - Fold back lower edge of the pattern far enough to give finished length of petticoat, and three-eighth-inch tuck, one-quarter-inch seam and three-quarter inch for shrinkage, minus the depth of the dust ruffle (three inches). Place the pattern on the material in an economical way. If the quantity of material does not admit of this cutting, plan another, being sure that the straight edge of the front gore is on a lengthwise fold of the material and the straight edge of the side and back gores are on the warp threads, allowing one-inch seams on all lengthwise edges, one-half-inch at waist, nothing at lower edge. Pin to place, or weight. Use tape measure to mark seam allowance, and cut along end of measure.
2. Tracing Seams. - Trace waist line, also hip line, from edge of pattern to one-half inch beyond seam lines only; trace seams from hip line up and down; trace marks for joining gores; trace darts, if any.
3. Basting Seams. - Before basting seams, decide on the kind to be used on this garment, and baste accordingly, for French seam or stitched fells. 'Lay straight edge of gore on the table, with bias edge of next gore on top, to prevent stretching the bias edge. Where there are two bias edges, lay the less bias on table, the greater bias on top. Pin seam lines together, having waist and hip lines meet
(hem line also when used) ; having pins at right angles to seams.
Prepare Waist Band: Take a lengthwise strip of material two inches wide and four inches longer than the waist measure, turn in both lengthwise edges of band one-quarter inch, crease very hard. Find the center of the length and mark with thread; measure one-half the waist measure on each side from the center of band; mark with thread. Turn one end of band on the mark and crease; measure three-quarter inch outside the mark on the other end, turn and crease; then fold through the center lengthwise, crease and baste near fold.
4. Fitting. - (a) Place petticoat on figure for which it is being made, (b) Pin back seam together on tracings, (c) Pin petticoat to figure at hip in center front, sides and center back (see that seams turn toward front), (d) Pin to figure at waist line, laying plait in back if desired, arranging fulness ready for gathers, or fitting smoothly for plain back, (e) Look petticoat over and note the following:
1. Does it set easily, or is it tight?
2. Do seam lines carry straight up and down, or do they slant sharply toward the front or back?
3. Is the width at the lower edge satisfactory?
4. Does the lower edge hang away an even distance from the floor?
To Alter: 1. If the petticoat fits well, but is tight, this can be corrected when stitching the seams. It must always fit-easily, so as to allow for shrinkage.
2. Should the seam lines slant too much to the front, rip the seam, and repin it, letting out on the one side, and taking up on the other until the seam falls in proper line. This can sometimes be pinned without ripping the seam. The seams may slant a trifle toward the front, above the hip line without causing a bad line. Fit one side only. To alter a seam that has been pinned in position, trace along the line of pins, remove pins, open seam; also the corresponding seam on other side. Place corresponding pieces together, trace new lines, rebaste seams.
3. If the petticoat is wider than desired, the extra width can be taken out in the seams, being careful if there is much to take out, not to remove it all from one seam.
4. To correct the line at the lower edge, use a drafting square, a yard stick, or skirt marker (preferably the latter), and measure from the floor the height desired; mark with pins, remove, turn back on line of pins and haste.
When corrections have been made, pin belt around waist, letting outside edge fold back, so under side can be seen; try petticoat on again, pin to under side of belt, so that, if necessary, a new waist line can be marked on petticoat; pin back seam together. Approve alterations, see that the line at lower edge is even, and waist line correct. Remove petticoat. Trace along lower edge of band to mark new waist line in petticoat; also mark with colored thread, where seams or darts touch band. Remove band.
5. Seams. - Stitch seams, making French seams or stitched fells as planned.
6. Placket Facings. - (a) Continuous Facing: Cut a lengthwise strip of material twice the length of the placket and two inches wide. Place facing according to directions on p. 244.
(b) Continuous Facing: Cut a lengthwise strip of material twice the length of the placket and two inches wide. Proceed according to directions on p. 245.
(c) Invisible Closing: Cut a lengthwise strip of material twice the length of the placket and two and one-half inches wide. Follow directions given on p. 245.
7. Placing Band. - (a) Gather back of petticoat if fulness is to be placed in this way; (b) lay plait as fitted; or (c) have plain and smooth. Place front folded edge of band to the wrong side of the petticoat, fold directly on waist line and on gathers (if any) in back, letting center of band come to center of skirt, and seams meet marks on band, extension of placket facing to extension of band. Baste with small stitches, turn to right of skirt; lay folded edge of upper side of band to skirt, being sure that the ends of the bands meet. Baste carefully. Stitch all round band, directly on edge and again one-sixteenth inch inside first stitching if desired.
8. Fastenings. - Make one buttonhole in the band, and three or four as need be in the length of the placket facing, buttonholes with a bar at each end for strength. Sometimes snap fasteners are used on the placket facing, and button and buttonhole on the band. There can be little objection to the snap fasteners as there is to be had a non-rusting type, which is very flat. It is not to be advised for petticoats of thin materials.
9. Dust Ruffles. - (a) Join the strips for the dust ruffle, over-handing selvedges, or fell, on cut edges. Baste a hem three-eighth inch deep or, if preferred, use machine attachments. Gather this ruffle on the machine, first marking it off into quarters, and the skirt also, beginning at the center front, using colored thread with running stitches (Fig. 133).
(b) Receiving Tuck: This is one of the most satisfactory finishes for ruffles and flounces, making them seem to be a part of the material itself. Cut the petticoat off on the line which was turned and approved. Measure up from this edge twice the depth of the tuck, plus one-quarter-inch seam (one inch) and crease firmly, and baste (using card gauge for measuring). Then measure from the fold the depth of the tuck, set gauge on machine and stitch three-eighth-inch tuck. Remove bastings, fold tuck into place, crease flat; trace along lower edge of tuck to mark line to which gathers of dust ruffles are to be placed. Pin ruffle to petticoat, wrong sides together, keeping gathers on traced line, the divisions of the ruffle meeting the divisions of the skirt; avoid a seam of the ruffle in the center front. Baste ruffle to place; stitch; remove bastings. Lay edge of tuck down to gathers, baste to place and stitch (Fig. 133).
10. Flounce. - (a) Join the strips of material that have been cut for the flounce, overhanding edges if possible, because they are to pass through a tucker. The fells should be quite narrow, however. The flounce is to have a hem, one-inch deep finished, and three groups of one-eighth-inch tucks (five in each group), with space of three-eighth inch between the top of the hem and the lower edge of the first tuck; also between the groups of tucks, and one-eighth-inch space between the tucks. This will make a good problem in measuring and spacing before practice with tucker is begun. Lay, baste and stitch the hem. Follow the directions for tucking in laying the first tuck. Gather the flounce at the top, one-quarter inch from the edge, when the tucking is completed, first dividing the flounce into quarters and marking the same.
Placing Flounce: Fold the skirt through the center front; measure up from the bottom, the depth of the flounce to the gathering thread; place pins at intervals, and trace along the line of pins. Set flounce on skirt, being careful not to have join come in center front. Place marks of divisions on flounce to divisions on skirt, gathering thread on traced line; arrange gathers evenly, baste to skirt, with small stitches. Trim plain material of beading away to one-quarter inch. Turn edge, leaving just enough of the material to take the machine stitching; crease. Pin and baste beading to place. Join with plain seam toward back of garment. Stitch both edges by machine. If the beading is intended for ribbon, run this through, using a wide ribbon runner, keeping the ribbon untwisted and smooth.
The problem which has just been explained was chosen because it embodied construction principles, which serve as the basis for making any type of petticoat. Many variations of the methods set forth might be made. Petticoats need not always have dust ruffles, nor need they always be made with the body of the petticoat extending to the foot. They are frequently cut the full length, less the depth of the flounce, setting this to the bottom of the skirt. This makes the petticoat less weighty, but necessitates an under-petticoat when worn with sheer dresses. Plain skirts of cambric and long-cloth, and those with flounces, are sometimes cut with the front gore of double thickness in order to make them shadowproof and avoid the necessity of an extra garment. Utility skirts of firm material trimmed with shaped or bias bands, or scalloped edges are attractive and durable.
Silk, satin or brilliantine, petticoats are made on the same principle as the one just described.
Seams should be flat in finish, either a stitched fell or a plain seam overcast, if the material does not fray badly. Taffeta can be pinked. A stitched fell makes a better finish for brilliantine, because of its wiry, fraying qualities.