October was the month I spent making 18th century foundation garments. These foundation garments are made up from a pair of stays, chemise and the pocket hoops which I’ll talk about now!
The pattern I’m using to make the pocket hoops is from Norah Waugh’s ‘Corsets and Crinolines’, this was my first time using a Waugh pattern and also my first time scaling a pattern up successfully!
The materials I used for this project are as follows,
•2 meters of a medium weight fabric. I used 100% cotton in white
•5 meters of 1/4 inch boning. I used plastic covered flat steel as I didn’t have enough synthetic whalebone.
Rigilene boning is not suitable for this project.
•5 meters of 1/2 inch twill tape
•Heat removal fabric pen ‘friction pen’ in contrasting colour
•2 meters of white inch wide bias binding
•General sewing notions, scissors, pins, ruler etc…
I started off by scaling the pattern up to the size referenced in Corsets and Crinolines, which luckily didn’t take as long as I had imagined it would.
I then pinned these patterns onto my cotton, as you need two of each pattern make sure to fold your fabric and save time cutting out.
I decided to add an inch onto each pattern piece, this is optional but I did it for a few reasons. As it was my first time scaling a pattern like this I wanted room for error so I could fix mistakes, adding the inch would also enlarge the pattern slightly which was a plus for historical reasons.
While doing research I found that pocket hoops were made larger for women with broader shoulders as to keep proportions in check. And as I was a competitive swimmer during my childhood I consequently have broad shoulders so the size adjustment (though it may only be tiny) seamed to be a good idea.
This is all circumstantial and is something to be considered in your personal project.
Next I used my heat removal fabric pen and marked out the boning channels on the TOP fabric side. I marked these on my pattern so it was easy to mark the end of the channel and then draw a line connecting these marks. Alternatively you can iron your fabric first and then draw the channels, just remember that ironing over the ink will cause it to disappear and if your iron is on steam nowhere is safe.
I’m lazy so I drew my channels and then ironed but left an awkward channel down the middle un-ironed. This will get ironed eventually after the next step!
Next is to sew the boning channels! I aligned the twill tape it so the top edge meets with the boning channel line. Pin it in place and then sew the top an bottom edge of the tape. Remember do NOT sew the ends off and this is where boning will be inserted. It’s also important to note when sewing the top and bottom edges of the tape to get as close to the edge as possible, this keeps the channel as wide as possible making it easier to pass boning through it.
I then ironed everything over making sure to press where the twill tape was sewn just to make sure all of this ink would disappear.
Next I got the square pattern piece and sewd one side to the main piece, sewing over the boning channels (this will close them off on one side). Repeat this process on the other side just this time stop and start sewing making sure to miss sewing over the channels (this will leave them open).
If done right there should be small holes in the seams that open to the channels allowing for you to inset boning.
Next I prepared the boning I was using and cut it into the lengths fit for the boning channels. As I had to use flat steel instead of the synthetic whalebone like I had planned I ‘capped’ both ends of the boning with electric tape so the sharp ends would not pierce through the cotton. If you’re unsure of how to do this or want visuals check out my Crinoline Post where I explain my technique.
Once the boning is inserted you can sew over the opening and seal the boning in. I suggest doing this straight after inserting each piece of boning, rather than doing it all at the end. Specifically if your working with steel, the boning will move around and be a pain so it’s better to do it as you go.
It’s not called ‘spring steel’ for nothing and will take out your eye(s) if given the chance.
Once the boning is in it should have some structure to the pocket hoops. This is what mine looked like after sewing the boning in.
They were just crudely pinned to my hoodie at this stage so they’re quite uneven! But this gave me a good idea of how they’ll look when finished!
Next is to sew the bottom onto the pocket hoops, this is the curved pattern piece.
YES! Pocket hoops actually serve as pockets when the correct garments are layered on top of them.
I simply pinned this on and then whip stitched it into place. It is a lot larger because of the additional inch on the pattern but it’s nice to have that extra room to work with. I suggest lining the strait edges up and then working around the curves. I didn’t want the bottom to be loose and have a baggy look to it so I kept the fabric quite taunt when pinning and sewing it into place.
Once those are sewn on it’s time to clean up those edges. I turned over the raw edges on the inside of the pocket hoops or you could sew bias tape on them. I used both techniques but I suggest using bias tape around the ‘pocket’ opening as it’ll look more professional.
Next is to make the waistband, this length should be your waist measurement plus 20 inches. Mine was pretty easy! I have a 30inch waist so the waistband measurement was 50inches. You can just about see where Ive drawn my waistband in the below picture!
Turn the edges in by a half inch and then sew them down. When complete my waistband was about an inch and a half wide. I wouldn’t suggest going too wide with your waistband as your going to have to tie it and the thicker it is the harder it will be to tie off
Fold the waistband in half and on the WRONG side mark this point with your fabric pen. Then on either side of this mark measure 4 inches and mark these points. Gather the tops of your pocket hoops down to 3 inches and even out the gathering. Then pin the gathered top edges to the waistband on the other side of your 4inches mark. Sew this down.
I realise this bit is confusing but you want to get the top gathered edges of one individual pocket hoop and pin them down side by side with no gap and sew them down on the other side of your 4 inch mark.
I highly recommend pinning them on first and having a fitting to see if they sit right or need to be moved around first before sewing them in place.
Here’s another picture of mine sewn down to help make sense of this part.
If you’re still having trouble with this part I suggest checking out Angela Claytons’ Youtube video on making pocket hoops. I’m not 100% sure she used the Norah Waugh pattern but watching her attach the pockets to the waistband helped me make sense of it!
And then the pocket hoops are done! Here are mine on my dress form and stays!
And here they are being worn with my stays and chemise!
I’m really pleased with how these turned out! And as far as working without instructions I think I did pretty well! When I come back from my Christmas holidays I plan on bringing the petticoat I made for my ballgown with my and putting that over the pocket hoops to see how they hold. I don’t think there will be any issues with them holding a garment but I feel the petticoat is missing when I look at these pictures!
I plan on making a walking ensemble or redingote to be worn over these foundation garments next year and I’m still occupied with my 1860’s ballgown at this stage!
I will fave following posts about the stays and the chemise soon!
Thank you for reading