Operation: Save the Petticoat! (Or, A Simple Petticoat Alteration)

Operation Save the Petticoat (Or a Simple Petticoat Alteration), the artyologist

Less than a week before Easter, I realized that the dress I was planning to wear on Easter Sunday required a petticoat, and that I did not have a petticoat which I could wear under it.

I have one longer length 29″ starched crinoline which I got at a thrift store a few years ago, and it works perfectly for the few 1950’s tea length gowns I have. Because of the longer length, this crinoline doesn’t work for my “regular” length skirts and dresses though, which are usually somewhere around 24″-25″ long, so a few years ago, I also invested in a Doris Petticoat. I decided to buy a Doris Petticoat because I had seen several other bloggers wearing them, and they are so, so pretty since they are made of over 36 metres of fluffy and soft nylon lingerie netting and ruffles. There could be nothing more perfect in my mind than a peach coloured ruffled petticoat, so I decided to buy the 21″ length one, and then waited expectantly for it to arrive. Imagine my disappointment when it arrived and I discovered, when I tried it on, that it was simply too full for the majority of my dresses! I did have one circle skirted dress it fit under, so I wore it with the petticoat a few times. I realized though, that while I do love the extremely full and dramatic silhouette of the 1950’s, for some reason, I felt very self conscious when wearing an extremely pouffy skirt for daywear. When I see pictures of other vintage ladies, I never think that their skirts are too full- but as soon as I am wearing one, I feel a bit unsettled. Give me a ridiculous hat and I will walk tall and proud- but an extremely wide petticoat makes me nervous! (Oh, and so sorry that my massive skirt with a mind of it’s own just bumped into your priceless vase. . . )

So, with great reluctance, I stuffed the petticoat back into it’s bag and hid it in the back of my closet so I wouldn’t feel bad every time I looked at it. It came out of hiding a few times for costumes etc. but not as a regular part of my wardrobe.

Well, back in October I was reading Lily’s blog, Mode-De-Lis, and she shared a post about different styles of petticoats and what kind of shape they give and how she liked them. She had altered her Hell Bunny petticoat with a cotton yoke, so that it would be more comfortable, and suddenly I realized that I should alter my petticoat! Fast forward to the week before Easter, and I realized that it was time to enact Operation: Save the Petticoat.

I was a bit nervous cutting apart my petticoat: after all what if I ruined it?! But then I realized that it wasn’t doing any good unloved and unworn in the back of my closet, so I decided to go ahead with the petticoat alteration. Here is how I altered it and ended up turning it into two separate petticoats of different lengths, which can also be worn together, if needed someday in the future.

The first step in the petticoat alteration, was in creating a yoke. I decided to create a yoke because, like Lily, I found the elastic waist to be rather bulky, as well as shifty. I was always afraid that it was going to slide down and poke out the bottom of my skirt. Creating a yoke, solved this problem by making the top fit smoothly and securely, while also reducing bulk. (Because who wants bulk right at their waist?)

Operation Save the Petticoat- materials, the artyologist

I made the top out of a few scraps of cotton in our scrap bin (exactly enough to make this yoke- so keep those scraps- you never know when you might need them!) In order to create the shape, I took a basic skirt pattern, traced it and then figured out where I wanted the yoke to end, which was 8 inches down. I then cut out the fabric at this length.

I decided to French seam the side seam, as I wanted this to be perfectly finished inside and out. For the other side (the opening) I pressed the seam allowance in, to cover all the raw edges, and then sewed up from the bottom about an inch. At this stage, I tried it on to see if I could pull it up over my hips, and over my head (before I got it all sewn together and discovered that it was too short or something).

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, how to yoke

Once I had made sure that the yoke fit well, I turned under the seams and topstitched to finish neatly. To finish the top edge, I had thought about creating a facing, but then decided to cover the raw edge with bias tape instead. Bias tape was my mom’s idea and was a lot quicker than creating a facing, and it made a nice edge without too much bulk. Once that was done, it was time to add the petticoat ruffles.

I took apart the elastic waistband/casing of the petticoat, which left me with a tube of tricot with ruffles sewn on either end. I then measured up from the hem to the length that was required. Since the yoke was 8″ and the finished length I wanted was 24″, I measured up 16″ and added 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. I pinned all the way around, (since I currently don’t have a fabric marker) and then cut neatly all the way around.

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, petticoat ruffles

Once the piece was cut, I was left with a very short and wide petticoat 🙂 Now it was time to sew the petticoat to the yoke. As the petticoat was wider than the yoke, I just eased it in as I sewed without worrying too much about it if I got some pleats in the fabric. Once I had sewed the petticoat on, I serged the edge of the seam to give it a nice finished edge.

With that, the petticoat was done, except for buttons. I decided to do small buttons and button loops, so I marked where my buttons needed to be, and then created thread loops using this method below. With that, the first petticoat alteration was done!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, button loop instructions

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, button-details

After I had made this first petticoat, I decided I might as well take the remaining half and create a shorter one. I don’t like my petticoats sticking out below the skirt, so I thought that creating a 21″ petticoat would be perfect for those few dresses I have which fall at exactly knee length. For this one, I decided to simply sew some wide lingerie elastic around the top and call it done. But, of course that would have been too easy, right? When I tried this shorter petticoat with my dresses, I realized that the fullness had too much of a rockabilly flair and I am simply not a rockabilly girl. The petticoat was too full for it’s length, and so I realized that (horror of horrors!) I needed to reduce the fullness. So, now began Operation: Dismantle the Petticoat.

When Doris Petticoats tells you that their petticoats are made up of more than 36 metres of fabric, they are not kidding. The first step in this petticoat alteration was in taking the bottom tier off of the petticoat, which resulted in more than 17 metres of ruffles!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, ruffles and second petticoat

I decided to reduce the fullness of the petticoat by about a 1/3 as I figured that would be enough, and I wasn’t sure whether reducing it by 1/2 would be too much. I cut the bottom tier at 12 metres and then came to the odious task of regathering the nylon back onto the top tier (while also distributing the fullness evenly all the way around; so I wouldn’t end up with an unevenly shaped petticoat that was fuller on one side!) This probably took the better part of 2 hours to do. Once it was all regathered, I pinned it within an inch of it’s life- and then went to bed! 🙂

In the morning, when I was ready to tackle the job again, I took the petticoat and ran it through the serger. This took care of the edge seams, as well as sewing both pieces together all in one step. I did end up with some areas that missed the stitching, since it was a massive amount of fabric to work with- so I ran it through twice.

Once the tiers were all gathered back together, I was almost done. All that was left was to sew the skirt back onto the elastic waistband. I sewed it near the top, to get the proper length, and was initially planning to sew two rows- one at the top and one at the bottom of the elastic for stability. However, when I tried it on, the elastic accidentally flipped inside out and I realized that if I left it with one row of stitching I could flip it in or out depending on which length of skirt I was wearing. It is now essentially a convertible petticoat! Yay!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, altered tops

So, after all that, I ended up wearing the convertible petticoat for Easter Sunday, as it turned out to be the perfect length to wear with my Easter dress which is a bit on the shorter side.

I was at first nervous to cut it apart and attempt a petticoat alteration, but I am so glad I did! After two years of owning it, I now have a petticoat that I can actually wear. I have worn it a couple of times now with my knee length skirts, and it adds such a nice fullness, shape and swish to my skirts. It was amazing how simply reducing the amount of ruffles in half made such a difference. I think now, that my petticoats are going to get a lot more wear from now on!

Have you ever altered something you purchased that didn’t work out for you the way you had hoped? Would you ever make or alter a petticoat?

You can see what a difference the petticoat gives to the shape of this dress. The perfect amount of “pouf”!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, before and after with petticoat

Afternoon Tea and Cream Coloured Roses

Afternoon Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, the artyologist

Last month, when Spring had not yet arrived, (who am I kidding- Spring still hasn’t really arrived!!!) but we were aching for some sign of life, my mom splurged and bought a bouquet of roses. Although cut flowers don’t last for long, and can be expensive to buy regularly, they are such a nice treat during the long long days of Winter and the early days of Spring when there is nary a sign of green to be seen anywhere out of doors. It is amazing what a pretty bouquet of flowers can do to lift the spirits! And a bunch of beautiful cream coloured roses, with just a hint of blush pink in the centre, paired with a cup of afternoon tea- what a perfect combination.

Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, detail, the artyologist

You might think, judging by the photographs I often take, that all I do is drink tea. And yes- you would be correct. 😉 At any given moment of any day, you will most likely find me with teacup in hand, sipping away. The most often answered question in the house is, “Shall I put the kettle on?” And the answer is almost always a resounding, “Yes!”

For me, it must always be black tea (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Ceylon or Orange Pekoe are my favourites), lightly steeped and without anything else added to it. (Although, yes I do occasionally enjoy a cup of green as well) I used to drink my tea strictly the English way- with milk and sugar, if you please, but now I enjoy drinking it plain. I once read that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water- and I don’t doubt it! For me, it is most definitely the second most consumed- and some days I have to remind myself that water should come first, not tea 🙂

Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, teacup, the artyologist

What better way is there to spend an afternoon, than enjoying a pretty bouquet of roses, and a small tea party for one?

Do you enjoy drinking tea, and how do you take it? Do you do “afternoon tea” or do you just drink it whenever you feel like it? And do you like to get bouquets of cut flowers?

Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, roses and tea at desk, the artyologist

Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, roses closeup, the artyologist

Tea and Cream Coloured Roses, tea detail, the artyologist

How to Start Dressing Ethically

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist

I have only been consciously dressing ethically for five years now (since 2012) but in that time I have picked up a few tips. Making the decision to start dressing ethically can be both exciting- as well as completely overwhelming when you start to look around you and see only fast fashion, or sustainable fashion brands that you cannot afford to buy from! The first step to dressing ethically (yay!) is not in completely overhauling your entire wardrobe, but in taking small steps starting from this point on. So, continuing in the spirit of Fashion Revolution Week, today I am sharing both a completely ethical outfit, as well as my tips on how to start dressing ethically yourself.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, shoes and purse

My purse was from a vintage store, and the scarf and shoes were thrifted. 

Shop Secondhand 

Secondhand clothes make up a large portion of my wardrobe, because they are a really great and affordable way to dress ethically. Because used clothes are already in existence, whatever history and supply chain they may have had previously is given a second chance at life when you add it to your wardrobe. There are so many textiles already in existence, and unfortunately many of them are sent to the landfills. (11 million tonnes each year in the USA alone!!!) This is obviously unsustainable, and one of the best ways to combat this is to wear secondhand clothing. For my fellow vintage lovers, we’ve already seen the value in wearing “old” things 🙂

While shopping second hand may be time consuming- and might not be the best option when you need something very specific, if you treat it like a treasure hunt, you might be surprised at what you can find. Some of my favourite pieces in my closet are thrifting finds: one man’s trash is certainly another’s treasure.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, outfit

My shirt was “thirdhand” as it originally belonged to my aunt, who then passed it on to my sister, who finally passed it on to me! 

Some easy ways to start wearing secondhand clothing would be by thrifting and shopping at vintage and consignment stores. If you don’t have a thrift store in your area, consider having a clothing swap with friends, accepting hand me downs from others, or buying online through places like Etsy or ThredUp. (ThredUp is an online thrift store. I’ve never purchased from them before- but I know plenty of other people who have had great success shopping there.)

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, outfit

I upcycled my skirt from a thrifted extra large wrap skirt.

Handmade

Another great way to way to dress ethically is by making your own clothing or accessories. Learning to sew, if you don’t know how to already, is a great life skill and can really help you to appreciate the value of clothing (and the hard work that goes into making it!) By making your own clothing, you are escaping the “fast fashion” trend and instead creating thoughtful, slow-fashion pieces.

Although, one of the downsides of sewing your own clothing can be in not knowing where your fabric is sourced from, one of the best ways I have found to sew sustainably is in refashioning and upcyling. This is second hand and handmade combined in one: the best of both worlds 🙂 Some of the projects I have upcycled (including this dutch wax print skirt) are featured in these posts here, here and here. Even if you don’t want to get involved in time consuming refashions, second hand textiles such as linens or extra large maxi skirts give you a lot of fabric to work with to cut new things out of, and some thrift stores even sell yard goods!  That being said, I do still purchase new fabric from time to time, if I have a specific project in mind. I would love to one day be able to source all of my fabric from sustainable textile mills, but in the meantime I am glad to be able to hand make slow-fashion pieces for my wardrobe.

And, even if you don’t want to sew for yourself, have you considered the handmade pieces other people are making (both clothing as well as accessories)? Check out your local craft fairs and farmer’s markets, or search on Etsy. There are so many talented people out there who are selling lots of beautiful handmade items. Some of them even take custom orders- so you can get exactly what you want!

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, belt detail

My belt is from the Canadian company Brave Leather, and as well as being fair trade, it is also made of vegetable-tanned leather byproducts sourced from the food industry.

Ethically Made

Another way to dress ethically is in buying from (and supporting) companies that are producing sustainable and ethically made goods. When it comes to finding ethical fashion brands, keep in mind that it’s like getting a grade in school- if you get a good grade you tell everyone, and if you get a bad grade, you tend to keep it to yourself. Ethical fashion companies usually have easy-to-find information about their practices and supply chains. If a company doesn’t have that information for you, they probably aren’t an ethical company (although that’s not always the case.)

The best way to find ethical fashion companies I’ve found, is simply by searching the internet with keywords like “ethical fashion brands”, “fair trade fashion companies”, “ethical leather purse”, “fair trade jewellery” “sustainable fashion” etc. This will bring up tons of companies for you to choose from, as well as sites dedicated to sharing ethical brands, such as this one. I shared a post a few weeks ago listing some ethical jewellery brands, here.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, bracelets

My fair trade bracelets are engraved brass, copper and mother of pearl from India, which I purchased from Ten Thousand Villages. The Pearly Bracelets and Etched Bangles are currently still available.

I find buying ethically made clothing to be out of my reach at the moment. I don’t feel confident in purchasing clothing online, because I am never sure if it is going to fit how I like it (and since I don’t live in the USA, where many of the companies are from, I don’t qualify for things like free shipping and returns). And unfortunately I don’t have any local ethical clothing shops to buy from. However, once thing that I do like to purchase from ethical companies is accessories. Things like jewellery, belts, and purses are a great first step to buying ethically. You don’t have to “try on” a necklace, so it is easy to purchase things like that online. I also do have a Ten Thousand Villages store a couple of hours away from where I live, so I’ve bought plenty from them over the years. Investing in ethical companies is a good option, because it sends the message to the fashion industry that this is something that is important to you- and by helping fair trade companies to succeed, you are helping to shape the future of the fashion industry too.

How to Start Dressing Ethically, the artyologist, jewellery details

My necklace was from Ten Thousand Villages. The Engraved Choker is currently still available for sale. My earrings are vintage and second-hand from my mom.

Well, those are my tips for some ways to start dressing ethically. It can seem overwhelming at first, but small changes make big differences over time! I hope that wherever you are on the ethical fashion scale, that these few tips can help you, and, if you have any other tips, please do share!

What are your favourite ways of shopping and dressing ethically?

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka: Recent Thrift Finds)

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist

This year, Fashion Revolution has suggested several ways to get involved, one of which is sharing a fashion “Haulternative” . The purpose behind the fashion haulternative is to encourage people to find ways to refresh their closet, other than buying new clothes. Today I am sharing a combination of their ideas: Broken but beautiful, 2hand, Vintage, Fashion fix (mended), Swapped and Slow fashion. 

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I always love a good thrift haul, don’t you? I am always surprised by what people get rid of- and am so happy that they do! One person’s trash really is another persons treasure. So, in honour of Fashion Revolution week, here are some of my recent thrifting finds, or should I say, haulternative, and ways in which I plan to refresh my wardrobe without buying new. 🙂

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, fur coat

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, fur-detail

First up might be my favourite find of all time: this gorgeous cropped grey persian lamb fur coat. My sister spotted it for me, and I was seriously having a “start the car” moment! I got it in February, but I have still had a few chances to wear it before putting it away for Spring. (Well Spring is an illusion lately- so maybe I will get lots of chances to wear it before Summer arrives!) I don’t have too many grey tones in my wardrobe, but I do have plenty of navy, which this pairs well with, and the grey has a bit of warm tone to it, so I think it might pair OK with browns too. I am working on creating a more cohesive wardrobe, and I think this coat will fit in well.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, bedjacket

Next is this adorable little bed jacket. Now when I lounge in bed reading magazines and eating breakfast on a fancy tray, I will be all set. Now if I can just get someone to bring me breakfast in bed. . . . 😉

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, velvet skirt

This velvet skirt is an interesting one. I promise you that is a velvet skirt hanging on the wall- not a skirt shaped black abyss (do you know how hard it is to photograph black velvet!!??!!) This box pleated skirt was missing a button, but I thought- no problem to fix that, so I got it. I replaced the button, and then went to wear it on a Sunday morning. As we were headed out the door, I noticed a thread hanging from the hem, so I went to trim it- only to notice that a piece was chopped out of the hem! I have no idea why the previous owner did this- and it is even funnier that I didn’t notice it before. Well, because it is velvet, you can’t tell from the front, but obviously I will mend it. The skirt has room to be hemmed up an inch or so, so it won’t cause any problems. But, it is still so odd; who thinks, “I need a small scrap of velvet. . .  oh I know! I’ll cut it out of my hem!” ??? The joys of thrifting 🙂 I think that this skirt will work well with plenty of items in my current closet, so it was a rather good and versatile purchase.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, belt

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, belt-detail

Next up is this cute little metal belt with an interesting clasp. I haven’t worn this one yet- but I’m sure I will find a use for it. Accessories are such a great way of changing up your wardrobe without getting all new outfits. You can completely change the look of an ensemble, just by switching out the accessories. I love adding belts to an outfit to add both an interesting detail, as well as helping to create that 1950’s silhouette.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, skirts-to-upcycle

Now this is a project. I know I said I hate buying thrifting projects, but it is an addiction or something. I do have a plan for these though, so it’s OK right? Both of these skirts are rayon, and they work well together- in a clashing/quirky kind of way. I want to turn them into some kind of sundress or playsuit combination, using the dark fabric for a top, and the light fabric for a skirt. I don’t have a defined plan of action yet, but if it ever stops snowing, it would be nice to have some more summer outfits, so I’d better get cracking on it! Even though I don’t particularly love refashioning, I do love diverting textiles from the landfill, so I am excited about this project. I will try to remember to take photos this time, of my process for making it- and then create a blog post for sometime in the future.

These next few items were from a clothing swap. I do love a good clothing swap, as it’s basically a free way to get some fun new items for your wardrobe.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, white top

This white eyelet top kind of reminds me of a Victorian/Edwardian style corset cover, when it’s tucked in. I think it will be nice for the hot summer days too.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, leopard sweater

I love leopard print, but surprisingly I don’t own very much of it. I think that this cotton sweater will be a nice neutral for Fall and Winter. I like the colour combination of this one, and the way it looks tucked into a simple black skirt. I hope to be able to style it with a 40’s/50’s secretary sort of vibe.

Fashion Revolution Haulternative (aka Thrift Finds) the artyologist, scarves

Lastly here are some scarves- I love scarves! Especially since I started tying them as turbans. The one with the beaded piece makes an interesting sort of 20’s style turban (picture of that here). I haven’t tried the coral or green scarves yet. You might be able to see that the bottom of the coral scarf is faded. I think it was factory folded, and never used and unfolded, as it was perfectly faded in a square and around the edges! I got this scarf for free, so it doesn’t bother me, and as I will always be tying it, it will be hardly noticeable.

Well. There are my recent thrifting finds. Some of these are a bit out of season, so they probably won’t be making it into outfit posts until next season, but I wanted to share them now anyways.

Have you had any good thrift finds lately? What ways do you like to refresh your wardrobe, without resorting to buying new clothes all the time? Are you planning on taking part in the Fashion Revolution Haulternative?