My projects,  Sewing

Finnish underwear at the turn of the 20th century – part 4: Petticoat and a bustle

I think that petticoats are perhaps the most important underwear items what comes to creating the historic silhouette. Without them, the skirts just don’t look right. The petticoat provides lift and protects the skirt hem from damage and dirt. As petticoats are made out of sturdy cotton or linen, they are easy to wash and take care of.

The 1902 petticoat pattern from Käsitöitä magazine.

The pattern came from the issue 7-8/1902 of the Finnish Käsitöitä magazine that the Finnish National Library have digitized and made available for everyone. I used the measurements given but I think I ended up shortening the skirt a bit by accident at some point. The original pattern has a flounce but I rather wanted to make a gathered ruffle like there is on some example images provided, so I made one.

The slit.

The petticoat is smooth at the front and the back is gathered up to greate volume. The pattern really doesn’t specify where to put the opening, so I made a slit on the back piece, off-centre so that it doesn’t show and added ties to the waistband.

My 1902 petticoat from the front.

I found the position of the darts weird. Perhaps I didn’t understand the instructions well, or there was a mistake. Anyway, I ended up moving the front darts toward the side seams to make the petticoat front fit.

I made French seams and finished the ruffle attachment with bias-cut strips to hide the seam allowances. Finally, I decorated the hem with broderié anglaise lace ruffle.

My petticoat from the back.

I made all the sewing with my Singer 12 machine to do this historically. Although Singer 12 was already old-fashioned during 1902, which was the year the manufacture of these machines stopped, as the vibrating shuttle technology was out-of-date.

My Singer 12 sewing machine.

Finally, I decided that I needed also a new bustle. My old bustle was getting really ratty as it was never covered with fabric. This time I didn’t follow historical instructions but covered the bustle with merino wool knit that I had leftover from my vest projects. I used a similar kind of technique as with the old bustle but added a bigger layer underneath to give my bum some oomph!

My new bustle.

Here is a side view with the bustle underneath:

A side view of the petticoat with the bustle.

I am a bit disappointed that I cut the petticoat so short. I think I miscalculated at some point when measuring the length. Luckily I have some shorter skirts like this one that can use a shorter petticoat. It is pretty, though, and I like the fact that it is one more historical pattern I have now brought to life.

Thank you for reading and see you soon! Happy sewing!


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I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


  • Kerttu

    Muotolaskokset noin edessä toimii varmaan paremmin pyöreämmällä mahanmallilla. Tein omaani keskelle eteen pikkulaskoksen niin istui paremmin. Mulla ei ollut kaavaa, leikkasin vaan nuo palat samantyyppisesti ja kaarroin vähän saumoista sisäänpäin.

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