Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Sacque and Petticoat of Purple, Part 1: The Petticoat

I have explored wrapper-making a little bit. Wrappers, as we all know, were one of the "casual wear" options of the 1860's.  Something a lady may wear in her home before dressing for the day, or something a more working class lady may have worn for hard manual labor. Or something that could be conveniently worn for pregnancy due to the possible loose front (although certainly proper "dresses", not "wrappers" per se, could be worn throughout pregnancy as well). This is the one I am using as my inspiration image for the black lawn wrapper, as of  yet a pile of fabric sitting on the sewing table:

This time I am exploring the sacque and petticoat (or saque or sack). It basically consists of a skirt (the petticoat) and a loose fitting top (the sacque) that could vary in length from hip to knee. In the past I have never found this style of dress very attractive, but , well, I suppose tastes change with time. I actually quite like this style now and I think it will be a nice addition to my wardrobe. Something different. Like the wrapper, this ensemble is "casual wear". And also like the wrapper, the loose fit is very convenient for pregnancy, although most certainly this style is *not* necessarily "maternity-only"!
original 1860's sacque and petticoat from the Met museum

Since the baby is due in August I will be going through the hot months of the year very pregnant indeed. I decided to use a very lightweight cotton for this outfit so as to be as comfortable as possible during our humid and long Illinois summers.
Sacque and Petticoat Pattern from Past Patterns

Yesterday I finally started on this outfit. I have been dreading actually cutting into the fabric because it has been so hard to find originals to look at, either extant sacque's or images of women wearing them! I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do as far as style and fit. I figured that I could at least make the petticoat with no worries since it is basically the same as any other skirt; cut the panels, sew the seams, add the hem facing, balance the waist, gather or pleat and attach to a waistband. I made the skirt 180" at the hem, and finished it with a 4" wide facing of white cotton:

The top of the skirt was folded down to the inside. More was folded down at the front than at the back, to make the skirt longer at the back. You can somewhat see this here in this inside picture of the waist:

To draw up the fullness I decided to cartridge pleat, or gauge, the waistline. Pleats are also common for skirts of this era but with a lightweight fabric gauging seems to work best, plus I love doing it and I somewhat detest pleating. Here is the gauging from the outside:

And from the inside; two rows of parallel running stitches were made along the folded top edge of the skirt and the resulting little pleats were whipped, one stitch to each pleat, to the waistband:

It has to sit a little high waisted to go over the bump which results in the hem at the front being a bit higher than the back, but it works quite nicely I think! The color in this picture is a little brighter than the actual fabric color and the color in the previous pictures is a bit washed out compared to the actual fabric color. The real color is somewhere in between; a nice, blue-grey, lilacy purple. :)



  1. Oh I think you found some wonderful period clothing pictures! They make me smile. I think they are wonderful! I have resigned myself to just missing the spring season of reenacting with my babe due in June, but I think you may have inspired me to do something about my maternity wardrobe. Darn, now I have to actually get busy! I think you look fabulous; love your grayish, blueish, lilacy fabric skirt and can't wait to see what the top turns out like!

  2. Heh - I had all sorts of ideas for how to rework my planned late-Victorian walking dress to be maternity for Dickens on the Strand last December, but pregnancy disagreed with me so much I both didn't sew much and spent most of the last six weeks "in confinement," pretty much, so was in no state to walk around Galveston in a heavy dress anyhow. (Does mean I can use the fabric to make it properly four this year, though!) But you did such a good job on this... And such a lovely color, too.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!