Monday, July 19, 2021

Handsewn Linen 18th Century Panniers/Pocket Hoops

As I expanded my 18th century costume wardrobe, the next item to try after making a bum pad was the ubiquitous pocket hoops or panniers.

I used a rough-textured, thick-fibered, open-weave linen in my stash for these. This linen was one of my first "historically accurate" fabric purchases, and again highlights my lack of understanding, at that time, of suitable historical reproduction fabrics. This linen has too much of an open weave to be a functional lining, it's too thick and scratchy to be a shift, and the threads are thick and chunky...ugh. Pocket hoops seemed like the only way to use this fabric in a mostly appropriate context.

The panniers are boned with two layers of reed boning in each channel. The channels are made from strips of the linen fabric.

I sewed these with linen thread which was prepared by lightly coating in beeswax before sewing. 

I used Simplicity 8579, which was released alongside their Robe a la Francaise sewing pattern. Simplicity 8579 also includes instructions for stays and a gored shift, which I made in 2020.  

The pattern is designed for machine sewing, but I chose to hand-sew these pocket hoops instead. Instead of using twill tape or ribbon for the boning channels, I cut strips of the linen fabric and sewed them down with a whip stitch. The other alteration I made was to add a rectangle shape of fabric to the side and a semi-circle shape of fabric to the bottom of the panniers, to truly make them pocket hoops! By closing off the sides and bottoms, I can now store items in my panniers. They still fold flat like an accordion with the addition of these pieces.

Instead of attaching the pocket hoops to one waistband, each "unit" has been sewn to its own twill tape waistband - this makes storage super easy and allows me to just wear one of the panniers as an 1880s bustle, should I ever need to!

The panniers give a lovely shape under silk petticoats

As always, I'd be happy to hear from you if you have any questions or comments about my sewing methods. Happy stitching!

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