Victorians loved silk petticoats and even those that couldn’t afford them tried to mimic the sound of the rustling silk by using other materials. Like many Victorians, I couldn’t really justify using hundreds of euros to buy expensive silk taffeta to make a petticoat that doesn’t even show. However, there are cheap silk curtains available at thrift stores if you just keep looking often and keep your eyes open. I found a pair of cream silk dupioni curtains that were perfect to make some Victorian underwear. I also added a lot of lace even if it meant using food items to dye them to match the colour of the silk! And I got to sew the whole project using the antique Singer 15 sewing machine that I recently restored!
For the pattern, I used the Victorian Underwear pattern by the Black Snail Patterns. I have already used that pattern before to make a cotton petticoat, so I knew that the pattern was fine, just a bit too long and that was an easy thing to fix.
Here is my video on making the petticoat:
Besides silk, I used cotton lace and cotton tulle with a lace border. I was lucky to find cotton tulle that matched the colour of my silk perfectly. However, the narrower laces were white. Thus, I needed to dye them.
I didn’t have a specific recipe but I knew that yellow onion peels give yellow dye and tea reddish beige. I thus figured out that mixing them both would create a shade pretty close to my cream silk. If I failed, I could always bleach my lace and start over or dye over. In fact, I had to dye over and use more onion peels to get a shade that was closer to yellow than my first attempt. However, the result was a perfect match! I used apple vinegar to fix the dye and then ironed my lace dry while stretching it slightly into its proper shape.
For the narrower eyelet lace, I also needed starch. For that, I used 2,5 dl of water, 1 teaspoon of potato starch, and half a teaspoon of salt. I mixed everything together and kept stirring until the mixture boiled. The result was a smooth goo. I dipped my lace in and then ironed it dry. It was amazing to see how the starch turned my crumbled lace into a smooth and crisp lace.
I have been wearing this silk petticoat a few times since I finished it and it truly works well. Since the silk dupion is stiffer, it doesn’t stick to my legs and it holds the skirts up nicely.
I hope you enjoyed this post. See you soon and happy sewing!