The fourth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a bodiced petticoat. This was usually a sleeveless garment, reaching to the ankle, worn over the stays. It made the light cotton garments less see-through and provided a little more body to the bottom of the skirt (rather than having it clinging to the legs).
The cotton dresses of the Regency period were sometimes so thin that the legs were visible through them, as the satire print below shows. In this picture, the Regency woman’s shoes, stockings and garter are clearly visible beneath her skirt. As women in the early Regency era did not often wear drawers, it is possible that their “bum” might have been seen without the aid of a petticoat! This new style of fashion was in sharp contrast to the previous era, where thick, stiff, multi-layered skirts created a very different silhouette.
A bodiced petticoat could also be boned and be used instead of a corset, as it provided the necessary support to the bust in order to achieve the correct silhouette.
My Regency Bodiced Petticoat
There are several good websites with instructions on how to make a bodiced petticoat. I roughly copied the design of the bodiced petticoat used at Sense and Sensibility Patterns, and then followed her instructions.
My petticoat will go over a corset, so there was no need to put in any boning to support the bust. I decided to do a petticoat mainly as a substitute for dress lining and to ensure that the bottom of the dress stood out a little.
The waistline is a little low on this garment, but the darts around the bust still support the correct silhouette. Once again, I used felled seams. The petticoat skirt is made up of 5 panels: a front (cut on the fold), 2 side front, 2 side back, and 2 back panels. The top third of the centre back skirt is open to enable to wearer to put it on. The bodice is made up of a front (cut on the fold), 2 side back and 2 back panels. The bodice front has three curved darts under each bust which serve to push the bust upwards. The finished width of the waistband is 1 and 1/2 inches.
I added a ruffle at the bottom of the petticoat to help it stand out a little. In order to avoid hemming a long length of ruffle, I folded a piece of material in half lengthwise and then gathered the two layers of raw edges as one.
In terms of ruffle length, use at least 3 times the circumference of the bottom of the petticoat, as a ruffle that is only 2 times the circumference will be a little flattish. I used roughly 9 metres of ruffle to fit around a 2.5 metre bottom. I also made a casing to cover the raw edges of the ruffle on the inside, and then threaded some cording through the casing to help the bottom stand out a bit.
During construction, I forgot all about allowing enough room in the bodice for the back panels to overlap so it could be done up with buttons. To fix this, I added a small rectangular flap to one side for the buttonholes, and sewed some clear buttons on the other side.
The next step of my Regency Journey is to make a dress for daywear.
You can read all of these posts in order at My Regency Journey.
How to make a Bodiced Petticoat – Sense and Sensibility Patterns
Patterns for Regency Underthings – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion
Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion
Jane Austen Festival – website