Recreating Edwardian Undergarments: The Bustle Pad
4. December 2021
An important part of historical fashion are the undergarments. It not only ensures that the expensive outerwear does not lie directly on the body, increases comfort, but also that the desired silhouette is achieved. Padding to create more volume, to shape the body optimally and to set the scene is therefore nothing new. In Edwardian times, the narrow waist with wide hips was particularly chic. Since I placed my Snow Queen Gown Project in this era, the next step was to create a matching bustle pad.
I chose a hip pad whose technical drawing can be seen in a patent filed in 1904. I was particularly taken with the star shape because on the one hand it fits in well with my theme and on the other hand it is an unusual shape that I have not seen implemented in this way before.
With the help of a 3D simulation in Clo3D I derived the pattern from the patent and adapted it to my own body measurements. I then printed out the three resulting pattern pieces and cut them out of simple cotton fabric.
This was also the first project that I was able to do on my new old sewing machine after I got it up and running again. The fine stitches of this machine are perfect for the sturdy seams I needed to stuff the pieces tightly. It wasn’t until the first fitting that I realized that the padding was actually far too full and didn’t benefit my already naturally wide hips. So I took out a bunch of the filling, which consists of cotton wool and fabric scraps.
The bustle pad itself consists of two cushion parts, the central star, and an outer ring. Between the two parts, there are triangular openings, which are described in the patent as necessary for ventilation. A net should be used here. I had the idea to pick up the crochet theme of the outfit here too, and crocheted a net that reminded me of a star pattern. When crocheting, I followed the pattern I had made before, even though it didn’t quite fit afterward. But since it has no structural significance, I sewed it in any way, and it is now a little eye-catcher if you get in the situation to take a look at the hip pad.
In addition, colour accents provide another eye-catcher to this bustle pad. The otherwise white padding is rounded off by a petrol-coloured stripe on the inner ring and three top stitches of the same colour on the outermost edge. These top stitchings were also noted in the patent and I wanted to implement them, but this turned out to be impossible at first, due to the overfilling of the cushion. Only after I had taken out some of the filling and used the coarsest sewing needle available to me, I was able to sew through the still thick material.
Unfortunately, I then realized that I didn’t really like the shape and that the outer ring was sticking out too much. So I opened up some seams again and shortened the outer ring so that it now runs flat over the hip and doesn’t create any unwanted volume.
I had to learn that even though padding out the shapes was quite normal, it was also done consciously and adapted to each body. My hips don’t need that much padding. Sometimes less is apparently more, even if it ends up being more.
In the following video I show my less than straightforward process of making this hip pad.
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