The demon pannier are finished!! These have been the bane of my existence for over 2 weeks now, oy I’m so glad they are done!
I don’t really like pannier. That is to say I love them on other people and in movies but I don’t love wearing that side hoop silhouette. It just doesn’t make me feel amazing the way layers of petticoats, a 18th century bum roll or a Victorian bustle do. However, with the exception of a few late century American sacques just brought to my attention, all my research says some form of side hoop was ALWAYS worn with the robe a la Française. Annoying but true.
So after inspiring myself with a watch through of Slipper &the Rose and Dangerous Liaisons I decided to suck it up and just go with it. My previous experiments with pocket hoops were frustrating thanks to my waist to hip ratio (Kendra had the same issue, which made me feel SO much better about it!) so rather than mess with making it work I decided to make a full hoop version. 'Cause I lost my mind and thought that would be easier and faster. Riiigghhtt!
I used Simplicity 3635 (now sadly out of print) for the pannier of my Queen of the Night as the pattern is practically the same as the ones in Corsets & Crinolines. As nicely as they worked for a dramatic costume they are a little big for restaurants and crowded rooms so I decided to make a smaller pair for my Française Noir. When Megan visited a few years ago I tried on her adorable ruffled pannier and really liked the scale on me. So I measured them and tucked the notes away in case I ever needed them. I be smart!
Only problem with the Simplicity pattern is that it is a one size fits all affair. I had been hoping that it would be an easy cutting it down to the smallest size but no luck. So I debated whether I should size down the Simplicity pattern or re-size one of the scaled patterns in Period Costume for Stage & Screen or Corsets and Crinolines, - there are very few differences between the three patterns. Eventually I decided to use the Simplicity pattern with the books as reference. Looking back I think it would have all been about the same amount of work. Sizing pannier is a pain no matter what you do!
Then the endless math began as I tried to figure out then reconcile the ratios of the Simplicity pattern vs Megan’s measurements. Finally I had some reasonable numbers and started work sizing the pattern down.
The real problem with pannier is that they are like stays – you don’t know if they work until they are practically finished. So after hours of patterning, cutting, sewing (felled seams - we hates them Precious!) and stuffing in reluctant boning, I finally was able to try them on.
They were a hideous tragedy. *sigh* I suppose I was overly optimistic that I could change the pattern so much and have it right on the first go but really it was a mess that I knew will take me days to re-do and fix. To say I was discouraged is an understatement.
The continuous piece was something Hunnisett did in her book and I found several examples of the method so it wasn’t a crazy idea, but it didn’t work for my boning – too stiff perhaps? It was too bad as the separate pieces required a lot more work. I learned on my QotN pannier than simply running a row of stitching at the bottom of the boning. There is too much strain there and mine ripped out. So this time I reinforced it with a piece of bias tape, which had to be finished by hand. Secure but time consuming - blah!
Good thing I'm very accomplished with a seam ripper!
The finished result if far from perfect (that top yoke is still really funky) but it’s wearable and functional – yay!
I spent another day (that I don’t have *sigh*) creating a deep pleated frill at the bottom, This was a suggestion from Jean Hunnisett, she recommended it to weight down the hoop and make it less likely to swing about wildly. It was so much work (starching, pleating, pining and sewing) but I do love pleating striped fabric and it came out looking spectacular. It also does all the practical things Hunnisett mentioned too which is awesome.
Up next was trying it on with some petticoats on top. I tried my standard ruffled under petticoat hoping I could use that (no go!) then my fullest 18th century petticoat – the Diva petticoat. That gave me a good idea of how many panels of fabric I needed for the Petite Pannier under petticoat and the Noir so that was good. I’m a bit concerned that it’s too small at the very top, maybe I went too conservative with it. But I’m going to wear it to the dinner and see how I feel. I can always adjust it before the next time I wear it if I need to.