Skip to content
April 19

I Conquered the Crinoline

I got two comments yesterday asking if my skirt was puffy due to a crinoline or from the horsehair braid and I think it’s high time that I did a recap of my crinoline adventures.

I’ve had a draft version of this post up for sometime, and I’m happy to let you all know that I’ve officially conquered the crinoline!

Here it is in all its puffy glory:

It hits right at my knee but I would have preferred it to be about an inch longer.  So far the length hasn’t been an issue though.

And let me be the first to say… I may have prevailed upon this one, but it will never be done again!  I’m happy I have one I can wear out and about with my 50’s creations, but I will never make one again.  It’s really not worth my time/effort/money to make one when I can just buy a prettier one elsewhere for less money than I spent on the supplies.

That may be very consumerist of me, but after battling with it and having to replace my serger’s upper knife, it really wasn’t worth the cost and stress.

If you’d like to take the crinoline challenge yourself I highly recommend Sugardale’s Tutorial, which is what I used.

As to answering your questions about my Nautical dress and the puffiness there are three factors that went into having the skirt being so full.  First and foremost,  my fabric choice worked well with retaining a full shape.  The tight gathers at the waistline really helped the thick material to puff out and hold away from my waist.

The horsehair braid was 3″ which is decently wide, this coupled with my hem facing (ie thick fabric) contributed to retaining the full, soft folds on the hem itself.  The more I work with horsehair braid I find that it’s key use isn’t necessarily in creating a full hem, but enables the folds of the fuller skirts to drape softly around the body so that the hem appears more flowy and full.  It prevents the skirts’ folds from collapsing in on itself (drab hem) and instead has a swishy, soft hem.

I could have left off my crinoline for this dress and it would have been about 3/4 of the fullness that it was.  For this dress, the crinoline served as insurance that the skirt would remain as full as possible during the shoot while I was standing on the windy pier.

For my Valentine’s Day dress the crinoline was essential!

The fabric was a light weight gingham and it really needed my crinoline to make it full from waist to hem.  If I was to add a horsehair braid to this dress, the hem would be full-ish but the rest of the skirt wouldn’t have been.

I find that only adding horsehair braid is fine for an every-day look, you get an appearance of a full skirt without the fluff.  But sometimes you need a bit of fancy crinoline puffery to achieve a more 50’s look.

My scalloped skirt especially would be lovely with a crinoline underneath:


What are your thoughts on crinolines and horsehair braid?

  1. Annabelle / Apr 19 2012

    I haven’t used horsehair braid or made a crinoline – but I’ve been itching to make a crinoline. So far I only have my circle skirt that is in need of a crinoline, but I find myself drawn more and more to 50’s dresses. Hopefully a crinoline will find it’s way into my closet at some point.

  2. Jennifer / Apr 19 2012

    I’ve used horsehair braid and agree, it’s an improvement on a floppy hem but certainly doesn’t replace a crinoline. I started making a crinoline a few weeks ago (for the Mad Men challenge) but, my machine hated the fabric and I got frustrated and gave up. Having just bought a serger, I thought about finishing it with that but, now having read your previous post, I’m a bit leary of doing so. Perhaps, I’ll try again with cotton muslin rather than cotton organdy. Great job tackling yours though! It looks perfect and adds just the right amount of fullness to be cute. Love the nautical dress too!

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      Thanks Jenny!

      I’d recommend using your serger, but just not with pins. It’s too tricky to get them out of the way of the cutter on time, imo. A cotton would be nice and comfortable.

  3. Lauren / Apr 19 2012

    I prefer horsehair braid over crinoline, just because I like the softer fluff and I think it is more comfortable. I always feel like I’m in a costume when I wear a crinoline – which is pretty funny, considering some of the stuff I used to wear when I was a ~punk rock~ teenager hahahaha. I do have a crinoline i made using Sugardale’s tutorial (it’s really the best!). I used horsehair crinoline, so it’s really really full… but also really really itchy. REALLY itchy. I don’t like wearing it!

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      Horsehair crinoline?! I just saw one at a vintage market… It was so stiff and lovely but yea, it was scratchy so I passed on it.

      Did you buy yours or make it?

  4. Meg / Apr 19 2012

    After I bought my puffy blue crinoline, I knew that I would be a crinoline lover for life :) I admire your efforts in making your own (you are my hero) because it turned out beautifully! I haven’t tackled horsehair braid yet, but it’s on my list of things to try. Maybe on my circle skirt for the upcoming challenge?

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      Horsehair braid is the bomb! heh Did I just say that?! It’s an easy way to finish a hem and get a bit of oomph for everyday.

  5. Kat / Apr 19 2012

    I love the crinoline! You did a great job on it. I am pretty lucky because I actually own 4 petticoats. I bought a black one from a shop on the Gold Coast and then a white one off ebay really cheap. When I got married I bought 2 to go under my wedding dress from Vivien of Holloway. Now my dilemma is I have 3 white petticoats. I am thinking of dying one of them but i’m not sure how the material would take the dye. I know RIT make a nylon dye though so I might just give it a whirl and see.

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      4 petticoats?! Where do you store them all?! heh Mine still hasn’t found its way into my closet yet since I don’t have much room.

  6. Lucy / Apr 19 2012

    I’m making a 50s tea-length wedding dress, and my next stop is going to be to put together a crinoline/petticoat based on that Sugardale tutorial. I live in NZ and can’t for love or money find crinoline (maybe we call it something else, I have no idea) so I’m just going to get some tulle and use that. The soft kind though, not that stiff scratchy ballet tutu type. I’m thinking of making a simple A-line skirt in cotton to go under it so it doesn’t get itchy.

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      Crinoline and Petticoat, for me goes hand in hand. I think the stiff kind is all right to use, as long as you have a slip underneath to shield your legs from the scratchiness.

      Before I had this made, I’d been known to wear another skirt underneath a creation to help add some fullness & fluff. :)

  7. Jo / Apr 19 2012

    Thanks for your break-down of your thoughts on the crinoline and horse-hair braid. I’m like Lauren, I would feel too costume-y in a crinoline. I like the subtlety of the horse-hair (I haven’t tried it yet though!)
    Your crinoline is so pretty, I’d want to wear it on its own, haha :)

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      I do agree with you and Lauren about feeling costume-y. I’m wearing my dress again this friday (for my b-day) and will be wearing it sans crinoline.

  8. Rochelle New / Apr 24 2012

    All of those outfits are absolutely darling. I would LOVE to make a crinoline since I need one almost daily, but I’m with you on the time/cost/effort thing… I think I might just buy one and be lazy. Yours is ridiculously adorable though and if I ever did try to make one, I would certainly use that same tutorial!

    • Liz / Apr 24 2012

      BUY ONE!!! The cost of the materials alone will probably rival any price you find online.

Leave a comment