It only took me 1 1/2 years to sew and 1 1/2 years to blog about, but here is my quilted wool petticoat! In 2013 I met a lovely lady named Judy at the Genesee Country Village Civil War reenactment. During a rainstorm I ducked into George Eastman’s (the founder of Kodak) boyhood home where Judy was demonstrating hand quilting. She kindly offered me both shelter and a lesson in her craft! I had a most enjoyable time and decided to start my own quilting project after the reenactment.
I determined on making a quilted petticoat because: 1.) I already had the wool flannel fabric I needed, 2.) I always get cold at events, and 3.) A petticoat is hidden under your skirts so no one would see my beginner stitches 😀 I was inspired by the quilting design on this original silk quilted petticoat from thegracefullady.com:
I decided on 3 horizontal quilting lines at the bottom of the petticoat, a chunk of shell design, 3 more horizontal lines, then the diagonal lines. The main body on my petticoat is three layers: red wool flannel from fabricmartfabrics.com, wool batting, and a cotton sateen lining. I almost wish I had used polished cotton and silk taffeta. It would have been more expensive, but for the amount of work that went into the petticoat it would have been worth it.
I couldn’t really tell from the photos how high the diagonal quilting lines went on the original petticoat, but I had decided to make my petti with a cotton yoke (to reduce bulk) so I made the lines extend all the way up the main body. The wool batting only goes up 2/3 of the body and is a sheet of batting peeled apart to make a thinner layer (I think separated once, and then separated once again to make the batting 1/4 of its original thickness). The yoke is a straight yoke, meaning it is the same circumference as the body of the petticoat (90″).
Before I could begin quilting I partially assembled the petticoat. I sewed 1.5 panels of the 60″ wide red wool flannel together to make a tube 90″ in circumference. I then sewed the cotton sateen on the bottom edge of the petticoat, right sides together, lapping the edges and sewing the last side seam when I reached the end (just like sewing on a faced hem). I laid the red flannel on my ironing board, right side down, and spread my thin layer of batting over it. Then I smoothed up the sateen lining on the wrong side, sandwiching the batting between the two layers of fabric. Using large, sloppy stitches I basted all over the petticoat to hold the three layers in place while I quilted.
To mark the quilting design I used an air and water dissolving marking pencil. I cut the shell pattern out of a sheet of plastic quilting template and just used a ruler for the horizontal and diagonal lines. Since my pencil lines would dissolve after being exposed to the air for awhile I only marked out the section of quilting as I was working on it. I used a large embroidery hoop to hold the petticoat as I was quilting. I chose to go with a contrasting colored thread and used black hand quilting cotton thread that I lightly waxed with bee’s wax. I found a thimble most indispensable!
Since this was my first hand quilted project you can actually see the progression of how my stitches got smaller and neater as I went on.
After the quilting was finally done, I attached the straight yoke, hand gathered the waist, attached and hand finished the waistband, and put in a buttonhole and china button.
I might still add some wool hem tape to protect the bottom edge and also reset the waistband since I made it (as usual) too large. Overall though I’m quite pleased with the finished results! The wool does a beautiful job insulating and blocking the wind, but since it’s a natural fiber the petticoat is still comfort to wear up to the mid 60s. The three layers and the quilting give the petticoat a nice fullness and when worn under a dress your skirts have that lovely “boof” of the period. Thank you again to Judy for teaching me this practical and beautiful skill!
Fabric: wool flannel, wool batting, cotton sateen, pima cotton
Notions: black cotton quilting thread, 1 china button
Pattern: drafted my own
Notions: white cotton thread, black cotton quilting thread, white china button
How historically accurate is it?: The petticoat is constructed using period techniques and the quilting design is taken from an original petticoat. It might have been a tiny bit more accurate to use polished cotton instead of cotton sateen, but I’m satisfied with the authenticity.
Hours to complete: I did the quilting over a period of 1 1/2 years so I have no idea. It’s probably in the 150-200 hour range.
Total cost: about $50
First worn: Snowshoeing in my Civil War garb, and then at the 150th Appomattox reenactment
-Michaela, “The Farming Daughter”
12 thoughts on “Quilted Petticoat”
The stitching is beautiful and the whole petticoat is lovely!
Thank you! I love having very functional garments still be pretty and the petticoat works great!
Your quilted petti came out great. If you lived closer, I would recommend entering it in the Agricultural Society Fair at the museum.
Thank you Mrs. Bauersmith! I actually go to Ag Fair every year, so I would consider entering it, but I thought it was ineligible since I completed it last year. Perhaps I’ll enter my quilted hood instead.
Very nice! Who cares about the time it took? The result is absolutely fabulous and fits like a glove.
The only reason I cared about the time was shivering at reenactments before I had the petticoat finished 😀 Now I don’t mind at all 😉 Thank you for your kind words!
Hi there Michaela, I am forwarding this on to my quilting friends. (I use that word loosely when referring to myself) Emily also sent me pictures of Evie at the fair, darling. How are the boys doing, and of course your sister. We are planning on coming back the end of Sept. Hope we can meet again. I loved seeing the farm and having all your siblings explain about the cows etc. Between you in the Civil War era and Emily World War ll I and John’s black powder, I have no idea where I am?? Love to all, Aunt Carole
It was lovely having you for even a short visit, so you should definitely come visit again in September! We are all doing well, thank you. I hope you and Uncle Pooge are as well!
Thanks Aunt Tammy!
YOU’RE SO TALENTED. This is amazing, Mike! =)
Beautifully done! I admire your patience and perseverance- the result is a period appropriate petticoat that will keep you warm for years!