18th Century Undergarments

Date Started:February 18, 2012
Date Finished:
Patterns Used: Simplicity 3635 and self drafted
Materials Used: bleached muslin and pre-quilted cotton
Notions: bias tape and twill tape




February 27, 2012 – Finally doing it right!

When I made my 18th c. costume last year, the only undergarments I bothered to make were my stays and a small bum roll. This year, I decided that I wanted to do it right. lol. As my stays from last year fit just fine, I won’t be making another set. I have decided that I must make a proper shift (I wore my Regency chemise last year), a set of pockets, a petal bum pad, a “Puffer” (copied what The American Duchess did), and a proper under petticoat. My underpetticoat is a simple one. Just 4 pieces of bleached muslin, sewn together, leaving pocket slits on the sides and pleated to 2 pieces of twill tape so that it will tie in the front and the back, in the period correct manner. I have not hemmed it yet. I want to make sure Jane is at the correct height before taking that measurements.

Next, we have “The Puffer”. lol. This is a great little costumer cheat, and I found it on The American Duchess’ site. I was going to make mine from some natural colored pre-quilted cotton, but am apparently out. So, I used what I had on hand, black pre-quilted, as I didn’t want to make a trip out for it. I cut about a yard and a half, cutting that along the fold to make the front and back panels, as I didn’t want a long puffer. Now, The Duchess gaterhed her’s to her waistband. I hate to gather, don’t know why. So, I pleated mine to a narrow twill tape, leaving the front flat for about 4″ to either side of center front. After that it was just a matter of hemming and finishing the pocket slits I left on the sides. Done!

For my shift and pockets, I used Simplicity 3635. The pockets are a breeze, and took about an hour to machine sew. Yes, I cheated. Mine are completely machine sewn. lol. I used bias tape to finish the edges. But, they came out very nice. I just forgot to take pics of them. As for my shift, I had traced the pattern out several years ago, in the size that is suggested for my bust measurements, as size 22. When I pulled the pattern pieces out, I could see right away that they were too big. I down sized to a size 18, and started cutting. I made this on 2/19/12, didn’t bother to try it on, and just draped it over a hanger. When I put it on Saturday to try on my stays, I discovered several things. #1 – a size 18 was still too large, #2 – the sleeves were about 4″ too long and #3 – the placement for the sleeves caused them to be way too tight, almost painfully too tight. This past Saturday, I ripped off the sleeves and sleeve gussets, I cut 4″ off the top of the sleeves (as I didn’t want to have to re-hem the bottom of the sleeves), placed the sleeves back on where I wanted them, and then commenced to taking in the center front and center back of the shift until it was the correct size. I do believe I took this in about 3-4″ total. Basically, I should’ve just cut a size 14. I still need to find a thin white lace for the neckline.

For my petal bum pad, I quickly drafted a pattern and cut it from some bleached muslin. I made this all one piece, sewing in the seperation once I turned it right side out. I used a thin twill tape for the ties, and poly-fil for the stuffing. I would normally hand sew this closed, but I was feeling a tad on the lazy side and ran it under the machine. lol. It came out pretty nice, and will give my already sizable bum a bigger look. lol. After I get my dress and petticoat put together (but not hemmed), I will decided if it is the right shape and size. If I don’t like it, it’ll be back to the drawing board. 😉

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Dudley says:

    Hello Jane,
    I don’t know what point you are at with your attire as your above post just has the start date. You may well be all done with your chemise and gown.

    “When” in the 18thC will affect your chemise neckline and sleeves. As fashions changed the desired gown silhouettes and necklines, stays and chemises changed. This is a link to a blog about chemises (and a few other items) that is the result of many years of research. Each highlighted section on the main page takes you to more details but you can’t get to the others from within a section.

    As to hemming your gown, I thought petticotes were draped to the bodice with adjustments being made at the waist – similar to “balancing” ACW dresses.

    1. Tonia says:

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for stopping by. Nice to meet you. My name is Tonia. Jane is my sidekick/dressmaker’s form. Thank you for the link and information. This info will come in handy when I finally decided to start getting into the historically correct construction. At this point, I still do things for fun and personal use, so I just go for the historically correct silhouette. If you have any other links that may help me, please feel free to email them to me at justblamejane at gmail.com.

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