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Wicked Lady

katexxxxxx in dressdiaries

The sewing is fighting back! 

The Petticoats of Doom!  Alive, and out to get me!  


First look at your measurements and do the maths.  You want the HIP cicumference and the finished length of the gown from waist to hem.    Work out the radius of a circle with the circumference of the hips plus a couple of inches wriggle room...  and divide the skirt finished length in three.  For the tiers of net you want to cut 6 for the upper tier and 12 for the lower tier, each  T 1/3 of the finished length by the width of the net.   To make the net cutting easier, I drew a line in pencil on the blank side of the cutting mat, parallel to the edge and the distance from it of the depth of the tiers.  I just dragged the net to the edge of the mat and sliced it off with the rotary cutter along the line.  Simples!  18 slices later...  

OK, the stuff is rough to handle, but at this point things are still reasonably civilized.

Next spread out the lining.  On it draw your half circles -  or quarters in this case as it was easier and the lining is very light.  Find the radious of the circle, and draw the first arc.  The height of the tiers out from that you draw the second arc.  And then TWICE the height of your tiers out from that, the third arc...  


Cut along the arcs to cut two sets of half circles.  pop everything for one petticoat into a named bag so you don't get bits from Petticoat A mixed up with the differently sized bits for Petticoat B!  And it helsp to keep the bits tames for now...

Off to the sewing room to experiment with the serger...  We need a seam for all the net and one for the lining bits...  And a rolled hem.


The rolled seam and rolled hems on the lining were perfect, but the nety did not want to roll.  It just made nasty spiky bits.  I ended up flatlocking it.  


That worked...  So I flatlocked the 12 pieces for the lower tier and the 6 pieces for the upper tier together.  


At this point I had one chunk 18 yards long by 10.5" wide...  Time to put the ribbon edge on it!  On the LONG bit, that is...  


It started on the floor, goot fed through the machine and into the ribbon, and finished in an unruly heap on the table.  That got tames...  Then the fun began!

I put a gathering line in along the top edge and gathered the lower tier to the upper 9 yard tier...  This involved pulling it up, distributing the gathers, and pinning madly with the Giant Yellow Pins.   


It was easier to do this stretched out in sections and pinned down on the ironing board that any other way.  


The tiers got sewn together.  This is where it got a bit uncivilized and threatened to engulf half the western hemisphere!  The net is scratchy.  The pins are vicious and out to get you.  The net is VERY bouncy, and the ribbon edge makes it stiff!  And there is MILES of it!  

Once the net is all assembled, you need to gather the top edge to fit the curve of the yoke circle and add the lining circle.  These need to be added so that the seam allowance ends up between the outer net layer and the petticoat lining so that you don't have the scratchy edge irritating the wearer or snagging on the inside of the dress...  


Forgive the messy hair...  It was getting late by then!  I was using the Cub 4 to sew this, with a strong thread I picked up somewhere that was just the right colour...  It's a poly thread, and very strong, so ideal for the gathers.  Other than that, I have no idea what it is.  Wish I did: it's great stuff!  (For continuity's sake I should mention that this stage was photographed on Leonie's petticoat.  The rest are on Helen's.) 

The final thing was to sew the elastic to the top.  I just used the 3 step zigzag for this.  Once that was on, we were done!  


There is a serious amount of petticoat here!  It does the trick with the dresses nicely.  You can see why I cut the amount of petticoat down to just over a third of the original.  Alice Lon's petticoats had 48 yard hems and these are only 18 yards, which is quite enough!  I also did the yoke section with the lining fabric rather than the net, for comfort as these girls won't have a 1950's girdle under them!  And I didn't want them bouncy all the way from the waist.  The circle of lining in the lower half of the petticoat is also for comfort: it keeps the scratchy net off the legs.  

Yes, the gown needs pressing.  I'll do that tomorrow, just before packing them up for delivery on Sunday. 

Things I might do differently for a fuller petticoat:

Make the whole thing from net, for extra bounce.
Line it from the waist with a layer of lining fabric: this would eliminate the awkward join at the hip, and working out which way the seam has to go!
Go for the whole 48 yard hem, just because... 

Today I tackle the red one...  Same again, but with an added layer in the back half of the first tier for some extra bounce for the train of Amy's gown...           


Another way to get a bouncier or fuller petticoat, without it 'bouncing out from the hips' is to increase the gather/length of tulle in each layer... and or add an extra layer of tulle over the top of the existing ones so it springs out over a springy layer already.

But yes... they are nightmarish to do!
I'm putting an extra layer in the back of the red one for the extra bounce factor. I definitely didn't want any more bounce than I got with these ones... I almost took some out!
I have a gathering foot for my overlocker. I cut the net out along the length of the net from the bail so that I don't have to join multiple pieces together. Then I run the whole lot through the overlocker on a stretch stitch setting with the pressure on the foot adjusted until I get nice gathers. I have a setting on my machine which allows you to put a tightly serged hem on the petticoat which gives a nice finish, I rarely use a ribbon or bias hem. :)
I wanted the ribbon for the look of it as much as the comfort.

I thought about cutting it from the length, but found it easier to do the ratios when I knew the widths, and seaming it together only took a few minutes: about half an hour per petticoat!

I shall have to investigate the gathering foot on the overlockers. I'm sure I have one for one of them... Can you control the gather ratio automatically (like set it to do 2:1), or is that trial and error?

I experimented once with a tucker, but that just ripped holes in the net, so this time I didn't bother.
I think the setting depends on your overlocker. I use 1.5:1 and make a few tiers, it gives a really nice effect :)
I shall experiment when I get the time. Meanwhile, this process I know well and can just do. Thanks for the ideas. It'll be something to play with and perfect for Next Time! :D
Seconded using an over locker to join the tiers. Still like wrangling a bag of snakes, but fast fast fast and very consistent gather.
great notes and good pix too. i really enjoyed this post :0) also best title for a cut EVER!
Giggle... Thanks! And so TROOOOO!
I do something similar to what the other commenter suggested. I use a gathering foot on my sewing machine. Before I used to do what you do but I was surprised to find that the net went through the gathering foot no problem and while you can't be exactly sure of the ratio (you have to experiment with the settings), the effect was good enough. It saves so much time. I mean I'd just make a huge gathered bit, then sew it onto the next tier and chop off the excess. Made it go very fast.

Anyway, very nice work as always :)
Thanks. :)

And I really will try the gathering feets!