Truly Victorian TV141 - 1860 Round Cage Crinoline: Three Short Versions
Using the Truly Victorian round cage crinoline pattern we’ve created 3 contemporary versions of a cage. We’ve made all in size medium for a waist up to 39” (99cm) but have used different materials for each. Products used are listed below – if the product is sold at Farthingales the item # is included.
o 6mm hoop steel #50-8406-06 (approximately 10 meters)
o ½” wide white bone casing #34-7212-01 (approximately 10 meters)
o 1” (24mm) white Petersham for waistband and vertical ribbons #70-7625-01
o Buckle #54-8730-34 (1)
o 10 mm hoop steel #50-8405-10
o Hoop connectors #00-8400-11
o no casings
o 1” pink Petersham for waistband and vertical ribbons
o 3 hoop connectors to close bottom three hoops #00-8400-11
o Buckle #54-8730-34
o 11mm German plastic boning #50-8125-11
o no casings
o 1” black petersham ribbons and waistband #70-7625-90
o Buckle #54-8730-34
o used a large denim needle in the machine
These are Victoria’s notes
The process for each cage was more or less the same and I did follow the pattern instructions, with a few changes made to accommodate the different materials being used. Because I was making a short version of the cage, the “bag” for the four lowest hoops was not necessary.
I began my cages with the waistband and ribbons, opting not to cut my hoop steel until I was closer to needing them. I used the guide provided to determine the length, however I chose to measure the guide rather than simply laying the ribbon along it, which is what the instructions seem to suggest. I also added the step of pressing all my ribbon before cutting my pieces, as well as pressing the fold of each ribbon before marking the stitching lines for the slots. This ensured that all my ribbon was sitting nice and flat as I was marking, so that all my marks would be accurate and in the same place on each ribbon. At this point, I didn't follow the pattern completely. The markings on the guide in the pattern give a 1” wide slot for the hoops while the pattern calls for 3/4” wide bone casings and 1/2” hoop steel and I thought all those numbers were a little more different that I cared for. Instead, I marked and stitched the top of each slot (as well as the waistband) then measured the width of my boning or casing and marked my second line according to that measurement. Regardless of how you do it, marking is a must.
Side Story: The process of stitching all these very short lines is a bit tedious, there's no denying it. There is also no way around it. I had thought there might be when I made the third cage with the sew through boning (German Plastic), but I was wrong. I had thought that I could use only one layer of ribbon and simply mark where the boning had to sit on each ribbon and then sew the ribbon to the boning, however I was forgetting the part where you need to be able to adjust the position of each ribbon as you go. We'll get to it in a moment.
For the Judy I was using, this meant my spaces were between 2 1/2” and 3” wide. This differed a little between each of the three cages I made. On my first cage, I pinned each ribbon to the waistband and into the dummy and proceeded to insert the hoop steel, however on the second and third ones I felt pretty confident with my spacing and decided to go ahead and secure the ribbons to the waistband before inserting the hoop steel. I decided to secure my ribbons by hand by doing a small whip stitch around the open edges of the waistband slot, but this step could be done by machine. I simply preferred the look of having done it by hand. (I mention all this because I used the same Petersham for my waistband as I did for the ribbons instead of belting and wanted to add a little more detail about the process than the pattern gives.)
Note: there are little snowflakes sewn to the bottom of the ribbons for decoration.
Here I once again skipped forward a bit. I made my waistband by stitching two 35” lengths of ribbon together along the outer edges, attaching a buckle to one end and finishing the other by hand (I did an adorable and easy-to-thread-through-the-buckle little point). I then threaded all my ribbons onto the waistband and fastened it around a Judy. Once on the Judy, I made sure that all the ribbons were evenly spaced on the waistband.
With ribbons on my waistband, it was time to get to the hoop steel and casings. I only used casings on my first cage and left the hoop steel exposed with the other two. The top two hoops of each cage are cut significantly shorter as they don’t go all the way around the body (providing an opening to get into the cage. I cut these hoops the length indicated by the pattern - for all three cages, which seemed to work just fine. The lengths of the lower hoops varied a bit between each cage, partially because they were all being finished in different ways. For the first cage with the 6mm hoop steel and casings, I cut my bottom two hoops 6” longer than stated in the pattern so that I would have a good overlap (because there are no “hoop connectors” to fit this size of hoop steel), which proved to be more than generous. I cut the lower three hoops of the second cage 4 3/4” shorter than indicated to remove the overlap allowed for in the pattern, as well as allow for the gap created by the hoop connectors. These hoops were still too long and I ended up cutting several inches off of each of them. For the third cage, I cut all five hoops the length indicated in the pattern and still ended up shortening the three lowest hoops by several inches each. In general, I suppose it's better to have hoops that are a bit long rather than too short. Had I been building the full cage crinoline this likely would not have been an issue.
When threading the hoop steel into the ribbons, I always started at the top and moved down, but I don't think there's really any reason not to start at the bottom and work up if you wanted. This is where I discovered the necessity of the slots in the ribbons. I had hoped to omit then with the third cage. Basically, I would thread the hoop steel into the slots, then adjust the spacing of the ribbons along the hoop steel as necessary so that they were more or less (I did eyeball this bit) evenly spaced and the whole cage was taking on the shape I desired. Without that slot, there is nothing to hold the hoop steel in place while you insert the other hoops or make adjustments. So, it's a bit tedious, but the slots are necessary.
Once I was happy with the spacing and the shape of each cage, it was time to finish it. For the second two cages, this meant folding up the excess at the bottom of each ribbon and stitching it in place by hand so that it looked pretty. For the first cage, this meant hand stitching the bone casing to the ribbons at each slot. This was another tedious task and I would highly recommend that you don't forget your iPod at home. This step isn't absolutely necessary, as evidenced by the other two cages, however, it does mean that all that meticulously adjusted spacing won't get thrown out of whack when the wearer moves or sits. If the slots sit fairly tightly around the hoop steel, this shouldn't be a huge problem. In the end, the only time I actually took advantage of being able to sew through the plastic boning was when closing up the lower hoops. I used a heavy needle in the machine, but still had some problems with the thread shearing. In the future I would use a heavier thread or even “Koban” when stitching through this boning. It is also a bit fiddley sewing through two layers of boning as the presser foot and the feed dogs aren't able to get the same grip on the plastic hoop as they can on fabric, and a firm hand is needed. I also ended up having to walk the needle through the first few stitches.
My overall impression is that the pattern works and I was happy with the finished product. I did tend to find that the lower hoop steels were too long, but that is preferable to them being too short, and the instructions tended to be a bit brief, but they cover all the really necessary points. I do think that they could be laid out in a more logical order though, i.e. getting the waistband and the ribbons all constructed and put together before you start cutting hoop steel so as not to have unwieldy hoop steel floating around and getting in way longer than necessary. The pattern also makes no mention of using a Judy, which I think is perhaps the most important tool you have in the whole project. It made spacing my ribbons evenly and inserting the hoop steel very easy. It also allows an instant visual of how everything is sitting and where adjustments are needed.
The German plastic boning is easier to work with as it is lighter, it can be sewn through, ends don't need to be tipped (at least not on this kind of project) and it can be cut with scissors. The finished cage was also a good deal lighter than the other two which could be more comfortable for an extended period of time, however it didn't hold the perfect circle as well as the steel boning and the cage was not as stiff as the other two. It might not hold its shape very well under a heavy skirt. You don't really need any particular tools to work with it, aside from a bigger needle, but the finished product might be a bit wobblier than you want it to be. The steel holds a beautiful shape and will feel overall like a sturdier garment, but it is tough to cut and you do need special cutters for it as well as tips for the ends.
The upper hoops are not complete hoops – they’re open at the front to allow easy entry into the cage and to allow fabric to lie more flatly over the stomach area.
The front ribbons have a slot sewn into them for the steel and the very front edge is sewn closed with hand stitching so that the hoop can’t protrude beyond the front ribbon.
Victoria used hoop connectors with the hoop steel to make the hoops easy to make and removable for easy storage.
o Slide the cut end of the steel into one end of a hoop connector until it’s secure
o Slide the hoop steel into the hoop casing, leading with the hoop connector as it has a rounded edge and should not catch
o When the hoop connector comes out the other end of the hoop casing – slide it onto the back end of the hoop steel, until it’s secure
To remove the hoop from the garment, grip the hoop steel on either side of the hoop connector and pull.
Many thanks, to Victoria Bruer for her efforts on construction and notes of this method.
Even McCall’s suggests using these hoop connectors in their Costume Pattern #M7306
To find out more about hoop connectors click the link below