Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Rockabilly petticoats need to be a half circle.

This is a little bit of a random thought, but as I have started down the road to full petticoat "last word" ness, it has its place. :)
Joy asked me the other day if we should make the white version of the full petticoat as described in this tutorial as a full circle and not a half. After all, these petts go under full circle skirts.
There are several technical reasons why, and also why we don't gather the petticoat heavily at the waist either.
If you look at the way a full circle skirt falls, part of its charm is all of the folds that gracefully fall along its length.
See all those lovely rippling folds at the hemline? They are GOOD! And they look so lovely sitting out on the support of a full pett.
Now imagine if all those folds had frills sewn to them. The frills would also fold in and out and in and out, and these folds would be all ridgy and uneven. Lovely on the skirt, but lumpy when underneath.
So, a half circle, slightly gathered at the waist, is ideal. It will give you a nice cone of fullness to support your skirt. Too much gathering at the waist and we're back to the folds problem again.
Now FULL, gathered skirts, they are a different story, and one I am not telling here :)
Full gathered skirts have slightly different petticoat rules. :)


  1. I need to make a new, huge petticoat. When I wear petticoats to work, the ladies ask me to lift my skirts so they can see. It's not icky, kind of funny and cheeky. Lately I find myself layering petticoats for a big, full effect but I think soon I'll be ready for your half-circle one.

  2. Oh do!!! They are surprisingly quick to make, and they look sooo good. Joy and I are going to make an even fuller , two layer one, out of white tulle so you can see how it turns out, if you don't beat us to it that is ;-)

  3. Dear Mrs. C.,
    Oh, well described! Well analyzed! Yokes at the waistline help, too.

    Can't recall, but the petti underlying this dress ( (ill-fitting since I didn't know how to fit things then) may have a yoke, and does have the ripples. Could even be a little fuller. Edged the petti with wide lace, folding it underneath at hem to finish the tulle so it wouldn't run hose.

    Very best,


  4. Hi Natalie, what a gorgeous hat! We caused a yoke on Joy's black petticaot by attaching the half circle to the straight slip a few inches down from the top. But while I like the idea, I am taken by the way that in all the original sketches of skirts and dresses I've seen, the skirt bounces out from the waistline quite quickly, rather like Kate's wedding dress did. Putting off the progress of the petticoat outward to lower down the hip wouldn't provide any 'out' just below the waist.
    Lovely idea using lace to bind the bottom of the tulle. I've done that too, especially when using stiff net. But with soft net, I reckon that as long as you have something more solid between you and the net, it's pretty safe :)

  5. Excellent point that I think is easy to overlook!

  6. This is great info and makes perfect sense. I have one that i made in nylon tulle with a cotton yoke and a cheap organza one from ebay which has a lumpy elastic waist. I need a half circle one for my half circle collection! Thanks!