Posted in Christmas, Tutorial

New Undies for Christmas – Part III A Pretty Party Petticoat Perfect for Pirouetting

So far I have made Miss Wigglyhead a new pair of Yuletide Sassy Pants and a Christmas Chemise. However, she still needed something to make her new dress extra twirly. In this post, I turn once again to A Little Sewing Book for a Little Girl to make the perfect party petticoat.

After making the Yuletime Sassy Pants and Christmas Chemise, I was out of Christmas fabric.

This is all the fabric left after stitching up Miss Wigglyhead’s new underthings

I broke the news to Debbie. “No problem,” said Miss Wigglyhead, “I will go diving through your bin of scraps and find what I need.” And so she did.

Searching for petticoat fabric. I

After digging through my scraps, she found just what we needed

Red is the perfect colour for a petticoat.

“Red? Are you sure,” I asked

“Well yes. Not only is it a good Gnome colour but it is also warm and you can always use it to stop a train in an emergency – just like the Railway Children.

“Good enough reasons for me!” I responded and we started construction.

Step One – drafting the pattern and cutting out the fabric

As Annalu’s mother pointed out, a pattern isn’t really needed to make this petticoat as a few measurements are all that are needed. These measurements are shown below.

MeasurementMiss Wigglyhead’s
Waist to bottom of hem
(finished length)
Hem1 1/4″
Depth of Tuck x 21/2″

It is also important to decide how many tucks will be included in the petticoat. I used three. Using this information, the amount of fabric needed for Miss Wigglyhead’s petticoat is calculated thusly:

Width = Waist measurement X 3 (24″)

Length = Finished length + Hem + (Depth of Tuck X Number of Tucks)

The fabric for Miss Wigglyhead’s petticoat was cut 24″ wide and 8.75″ long. I left the fabric a little longer and then cut off the excess after Debbie’s first fitting.

I also cut a 1 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ long strip for the waist band and a strip 1 1/2″ wide by about 12″ for the placket binding. A Little Sewing Book for a Little Girl didn’t specify how long the binding strip should be but 12″ was more than enough.

Fabric cut out and ready for stitching.

Step Two – Sewing the body of the Petticoat

The petticoat was sewn together using a french seam – but only half way up. The unstitched bit forms the placket.

Next I hemmed the petticoat by I did this by folding up the raw edge on the bottom of the skirt by a 1/4″ and then by another 1″ before basting and hemming with a fine stitch.

Step Three – Tucks

Once the hem was in place, it was time to add the tucks. I have never sewn tucks in a garment before but I was reassured by Annalu’s mother who declared that, “tucks are just folds, stitched in the material a certain distance apart.” To determine the spacing of the tucks, A Little Sewing Book for a Little Girl has this advice:

The manual goes on to give directions on how to make a handy-dandy cardboard guide if the seamstress is to make two or three tucks. I dug through my recycling and found some cardboard to make a guide:

I placed Notch B on the hem of the petticoat and folded the fabric over the top of the marker with the wrong sides together as I wanted the tuck to be seen on the right side of the petticoat. Aligning my needle with Notch A, I start sewing with a neat running stitch all the way around the skirt. I used the tuck guide to check that my seam was 1/4″ from the folded edge.

Step Four – Binding the placket

So here’s the thing – remember how I said in the last post that one should carefully read the whole procedure outlined from beginning to end before starting the pattern drafting procedure? Well, I didn’t listen to my own advice. According to the manual, this is how a placket should bound:

“Starting from the top of the opening, lay the raw edge of the straight piece cut for the placket, against the raw edge of the opening on the wrong side and baste. At the bottom of the placket be careful not to draw the seam of the skirt”

I started on the right side of the fabric. Oh well, it did work out all right in the end, so there is that.

Inspecting the placket,

Step Five – Gathering the waist and adding the waistband

Fitting the petticoat into the waistband required more gathering. The procedure for gathering the skirt and attaching it to the waistband was pretty much the same procedure I used when I attached the body of the chemise to the hem. However, this time I stroked the gathers and, although tedious, it did make a difference. I’ve embedded a short video below that explains the procedure.

Once the waistband was stitched to the top of the petticoat, I then basted a 1/4″ hem on one long edge of the waistband, folded it over to the wrong side to cover the raw edge and then stitched it down.

Almost done. Here I’m basting a hem on the waistband.

Step Five – Finishing Touches

Once again, Annalu’s sewing manual stated that a buttonhole should be stitched into one edge of the waistband and once again I decided that my hand sewing skills had been tested enough and I added a sew on snap.

The petticoat was carefully pressed and here is it is being modeled by Miss Wigglyhead.

A new petticoat.

I am certain that this red petticoat with its three tucks will provide her new Christmas dress with superb twirling ability.

I think she is now ready to show you the complete outfit before heading out to see the Gnome side of her family for Christmas.

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