Until the early 19th century, a corset and linen chemise were all the underwear a woman thought necessary, or even desirable. It wasn't until the turn of the century, when the use of very light fabrics became popular, that women even considered wearing underpants as a necessity for added warmth. When the crinoline was introduced toward the middle of the century, its tendency to fly up at inopportune moments created yet another need for underpants.
Queen Victoria's standards of propriety were so stringent that she soon ensured that the fashion for underpants would become a staple article of clothing in every woman's wardrobe.
Pantalettes, an adaptation of men's pantaloons, were the earliest style of underpants used by women. They were also called drawers because they were composed of two separate leg sections that were tied on at the waist with drawstrings. Early on, these were considered a fashion accessory and were decorated with frills and lace and allowed to hang several inches below the hemline. By the middle of the century, drawers were connected at the waist to form a one piece garment, though the crotch was still left open. The loose style of the garment, however, accommodated the opening and afforded a degree of modesty.
By the 1870's, drawers started to become an “unmentionable” part of a woman's wardrobe. It was no longer appropriate to show off ones drawers so they were shortened to just below the knee. Despite this, many women still took pains to embellish their drawers with frills and lace much to the chagrin of those who thought it a waste of materials.
This PDF pattern ensemble includes a chemise, drawers, corset, crinoline, and petticoat. It is designed to be worn with the 1850s and 1860s Thimbles and Acorns dress patterns, though the corset, chemise, and petticoat are suitable for the entire Victorian era.
Skill Level: Intermediate. The basic pattern itself is not too difficult, but some sewing experience is helpful.
What You Get: One 27 page sewing pattern that you digitally download as a PDF file so you can start your project immediately! The PDF sewing pattern provides digitally drawn step-by-step illustrated instructions and full size pattern pieces. A PDF reader is required to view and print the files (example: Adobe Reader or Preview for MAC). The download link is received immediately after the transaction is complete. Print copies are NOT available
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