Corded Petticoat

The warp from the back beam through the heddles and the reed ready to tie on the front beam. I love the soft light of just this one on in the dark.

I love the soft light of just this one coming down. Ready to tie the warp onto the front beam.

After finishing the dress, I felt the great need for a corded petticoat. Alas I searched and read and searched and read and got a bit discouraged on this as today those who make them for their early 19th century period dresses sew all the cords in. Can anyone imagine I being able to sew cords onto a piece of cloth in perfect rows? I certainly couldn’t see it coming out well and was more than discouraged with the feat. But then I read one little sentence that changed the whole project. It stated, in essence, that “of course the women of the day just went to the store and bought the cloth with the cord already woven in it and so they just had to sew up the panels together and hem and band it.” Eureka! I could figure out to weave the fabric and sew it then together. No sewing of each individual line of cord.

So then to figure out exactly what I wanted to use for this project, and I bought some 16/2 cotton and warped it at 30 epi. I had some cotton cord that I thought would work great for the top of the skirt. In viewing quite a few I had seen that many had a thinner cord at the top and thicker at the bottom. Oh to find something for the bottom. I wanted it natural and that was hard to find. I ended up getting some Jute. Though I did find some stuff that would have been perfect but it would have cost over $100 for just this petticoat and I just couldn’t justify the cost. There are times when one could just wish they were filthy rich with money to throw away.

I now had all that I needed for the project so started weaving a plain weave header. Wove 6 inches and then started the thin cord and wove cord with four shots of the 16/2 cotton in between. I wove this for 12 inches and then switched to 18 inches of the jute with 10 ends between each one.

Weaving the thinner cord.

Weaving the thinner cord.

Weaving the thicker cord.

Weaving the thicker cord.










I loved how fast this wove up, and it seemed to go pretty well except for a problem on the right selvedge that I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I think I know now, after cutting it off, but for the weaving, I did figure out how to work around it. Oh, and it probably had its source in the fact that when I wound this warp on the warp beam I wound it backwards and after I tied on the front the brake didn’t work. So I ended up winding it all forward (6 yards) and then back onto the beam again the correct direction. First time I ever made that mistake. Hope to never do it again. But anyway it didn’t quite wind back on as perfectly as it was to start with.

After cutting it off I just washed it in the bathtub with my feet and tried to iron what I could of it and then hand sewed the side seams doubly and then used the machine for the hem and top which I just made a case of and ran a draw string through. It did come out a bit shorter than I thought it would. But despite that, it still seems to be quite good. I hope with another petticoat with it that it will be fairly smooth on the surface, but it will be closer to the bell shape that a proper skirt should have under than they do now. I think though if I get another insane moment though and want to do it again, I would make one all the thin cord and not use a thicker one. It would be a fairly quick project and of course the second one is always better than a first.

Corded petticoat finished.

Corded petticoat finished.

It will be interesting to see how a skirt looks with it under it. Oh and by the way. The bathtub is draining real slow since washing this. I didn’t think much came off the jute while in there but obviously enough that I better work on it soon or someone else will not be too happy at my procrastination.


Categories: Sewing, Weaving | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Post navigation

6 thoughts on “Corded Petticoat

  1. Wow,what a lot of work. Thanks for all the good information. My latest project (s) are coming off the loom today. I can’t wait. I made a long narrow overshot piece to hang in the front entrance. I am with you on the expense of materials, I also am not filthy rich, so the cost definitely limits me a little, but it also forces me to be more thrifty and creative which is, in my opinion, an asset in itself. Thanks again for sharing this project.


  2. This is so wonderful that you weave and can create the fabric like our ancestors had available to them. Your petticoat looks fabulous!


  3. Thanks for your inspiration. I am a NEW weaver (and by new, I mean this is my FIRST project) using a friend’s loom and her expertise to make my own corded petticoat. 😀 We are currently working on a sample piece to check out things like spacing and such before we begin the real fabric. You experience has really helped us figure out where to start!


    • This would be a great project for just learning to weave. Have fun with it. I do wish the thicker cord was thinner but all in all it worked and friends think I need to make jacket fabric like the top with the thinner cord.


  4. Sarah W

    Beautiful! A petticoat with the cords woven in is on my wish list, and it will have to remain there until I can afford to pay a friend to weave it for me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: