How I Made an Elliptical 1867 Crinoline


May was a really rough month for me. Between AP testing and my Junior year wrapping to a close, I spent the first two weeks going out of my mind and the next two in a comatose-esque state. But now it’s June and I’m on my summer vacation and things are looking better! I’ve been doing a ton of sewing since I got out, mainly on the undergarments for my 1867 ball gown!

I started working on the crinoline (hoop skirt) for the skirt because I want to leave the bodice for the end. I looked at a few historical examples, but mostly focused on recreating the silhouettes shown in my reference fashion plate.

my inspiration :)
my inspiration 🙂

I knew I wanted an elliptical shape with a sharper slope in the back and a gradual slope on the sides, like what is shown here but with a less dramatic bustle.

1860s gown stripes

The Making of the Crinoline

This is pretty technical and rambling so really only read this if you are interested in how I made mine and possibly making your own. There are pretty pictures at the bottom 🙂

When I made my red steampunk fairy costume almost exactly a year ago, I figured out the basics of how I like to draft hoop skirts. It’s really complicated and hard to explain after the fact, but here are the diagrams I made. Each square in the graph paper represents a 2″ by 2″ square in real life.

crinoline diagrams

The top-view diagram is the most interesting I think, because it shows how I made the elliptical shape using circular hoops. The centers of each successive hoop is moved 2 inches back from the one before it while the radius increases a little more than 2 inches. (The horizontal diameters are marked and there are extra hoops marked on the diagrams on the left because I added them later. I also got rid of hoop #2. Hoop #1 is the waistband.)

Basically, that makes it grow evenly on each side, slowly in the front, and quickly in the back.

Taking all the measurements from those diagrams and converting them into real measurements was a total pain. Eventually, it resulted in this table.

crinoline measurements

And then I simplified that into this table.

crinoline measurements final

I went to Home Depot and ordered 100 ft of blue 1/2″ PEX flexible tubing. It’s for plumbing but is super cheap ($30/100 ft), light, and works great for hoop skirts, especially when’s hoop boning is backordered and you’re super broke 😦

I cut the piping into the lengths for each hoop, covered it in painstakingly made fabric tubes (there were so many…), duct-taped the end of the pipe together, and sewed the fabric tube closed over the tape. Making the bag at the bottom (the thing that keeps you from stepping between the hoops) was a total catastrophe that I really don’t want to relive or publicize, so … yeah.

here you can see my multicolored houndstooth duct tape
here you can see my multicolored houndstooth duct tape

My sister helped me hang the hoops by the ribbons and after a few hours of hand-sewing, I was finished!

The Promised Pretty Pictures

1867 crinoline

I added a bum pad to make the hoops hang correctly. All I have left to do is finish the waistband!

Here are some sneak peaks of the petticoat (first of at least two) I made to go over it! There is more information on my last two instagram posts (@by_strings_attached).

1867 crinoline and petticoats

1867 crinoline and petticoat

Sorry this isn’t the most interesting post! I hope you like the pictures at least! I’m super excited for how this gown is going to turn out, and I’m going to be working on it a lot over the next two weeks! There will be more information on my Instagram sooner than I can get it here 🙂

What do you think of my crinoline? Have you made anything from this era before?

Thanks for reading! Also, thanks for 400 followers on IG 🙂

Samantha 🙂

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