Saturday, May 21, 2011

Civil War Cage Crinoline

While I already own a hoopskirt, it's made as a petticoat with sewn-in channels. It's very similar to this cage crinoline at the MET. All the fabric (in addition to the steel) is surprisingly heavy. It's from the popular Simplicity pattern, but it's too long and is constantly scraping the ground. I could fix that, but it's also very large and not really designed for day-wear. I decided I'd like a new set of hoops, and wanted to try making a cage crinoline, like this one at the Victoria & Albert museum:
I purchased a fairly straight forward kit from Originals By Kay, and was able to put it together in an afternoon with my husband's help (I really don't like having to use the bolt cutters to cut the hoop wire). My dress dummy was a lot of help. It seems like period crinolines had many more hoops than modern reproductions, but our hoop steel is very different than what they had available during the civil war.The hoops are 108 inches in circumference, and are not an exact bell shape since they are ever-so-slightly larger in the back. That way my skirts will be more voluminous in the back. I would definitely recommend Kay's kit for convenience and ease of construction. There wasn't enough tape in the kit for me to make my waistband, but I have enough ribbon/tape lying around that it wasn't a problem. I admit I'm curious about the Truly Victorian hoop pattern since it includes a bag hem (you're less likely to put a foot through a hoop). Has anyone tried out the two different hoop styles?

I have a petticoat that will work with these hoops, though I know I should really make a new pair that:

A) Fits better
B) Has a flounce
C) Is neither too short nor too long


The Dreamstress said...

I'm so envious that you can buy a kit! Shipping for the kits is just too expensive to New Zealand, so I have to figure it all out by myself!

I still can't figure out in my mind how they make the bell shape - is it made by extending the length of tape in the back?

Costume Diva said...

Yep - the tapes are longer in the back, which helps create that pretty bell shape. You'll also notice that there are two tapes that don't start until the second hoop in the back. That also helps the shape.