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Farthingales

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Farthingale number 1

   
Front
Side
Back

Pattern: Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns, 1st edition

Size: 12/14

Fabric: white cotton broadcloth.

Channels: two inch wide bias made of white cotton broadcloth.

Hoop boning: polyethylene tubing.

Notes:

I originally made this farthingale exactly like Margo's pattern. It had a finished length of 45 inches and the channels were spaced approximately 9 inches on center. This length was a bit too long for me, the top hoop showed through my overskirt, and the top hoop was not in the best position for maneuvering the skirts. I also had used one inch wide bias to make the channels and this was a real bugger to get the poly tubing through.

Eventually, I stripped the farthingale down to the base fabric, shortened it to a length of 42.25 inches, and redid the channels using two inch wide bias. The final channel spacing and the length of the boning used in the channels are listed in the chart below. The topmost hoop is now at mid-palm height. I left the second row without boning so that I would have a place to put my bum when sitting.

Row Number
Distance from Center of Boning Channel to Finished Hem
Length of Boning in Channel
1
29.25 inches
62.25 inches
2
23.5 inches
73 inches (empty)
3
17.75 inches
83.75 inches
4
12 inches
94.5 inches
5
6.25 inches
105.25 inches
6
1 inch
116 inches

Farthingale number 2

   
Front
Side
Back

Pattern: Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns, 1st edition

Size: 12/14, side front and side back pattern pieces modified to make a larger diameter farthingale.

Fabric: white cotton broadcloth.

Channels: two inch wide bias made of white cotton broadcloth.

Hoop boning: polyethylene tubing.

Notes:

To determine the largest diameter farthingale one can wear and have it look proportional take .667 times height in inches. In my case, that calculation is: .667 x 69 inches = 46 inches. This would make the circumference of my bottom hoop 144 inches.

Here is the link for an illustration on how to alter the pattern to create a larger diameter farthingale. The illustration is from the files section of Margo's Patterns Group and uses the side gore pattern pieces for the farthingale found in Margo's Elizabethan Lady's Underpinnings pattern for illustrative purposes, but the technique should work for any Alcega based farthingale. The alteration example increases the circumference of the bottom hoop by a total of 18 inches. In my case, I was increasing the bottom hoop by 28 inches. (144 inches - 116 inches) / 4 = 7 inches. So, I increased the width of the bottom of the side gore pattern pieces by 7 inches.

Because this farthingale was larger, I could make it a little longer. The final finished length was 44 inches.

This farthingale was very "floaty." I also found the shape would become deformed after I squeezed the farthingale into a pretzel shape to get into small places like the passenger side of a full size Ford Econoline 150 van. I added plastic coated metal cable to the inside of the poly tubing on the bottom hoop to add some heft to the farthingale and to hopefully prevent some of the deformation.

Row Number
Distance from Center of Boning Channel to Finished Hem
Length of Boning in Channel
1
31 inches
64 inches
2
25 inches
80 inches (empty)
3
19 inches
96 inches
4
13 inches
112 inches
5
7 inches
128 inches
6
1 inch
144 inches

Farthingale number 3

   
Front
Side
Back

Pattern: Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns, 1st edition

Size: 12/14

Fabric: 7.1 oz bleached linen from Fabrics-store.com.

Channels: one inch wide bias made of the 7.1 oz bleached linen..

Hoop boning: .5 inch wide white bone (spring steel) by-the-yard from Grannd Companies.

Notes:

On my previous farthingales I would tear the fabric when trying to disconnect the poly tubing so I could remove it and wash the farthingale. I have heard of several people using duck cloth to make farthingales, so I thought heavy weight linen would be a good choice. My sewing machine would rather sew heavy weight linen than duck cloth anyway.

The use of white bone by-the-yard was inspired by Mary Lou, a fellow member of Margo's Patterns Group, who uses this in her farthingales. A bolt cutters from Home Depot is used to cut the cut the white bone to length. I used electrical tape cover the rather sharp ends of the cut hoops and to connect the ends of the hoop. Unfortunately, the tape leaves sticky, dirt collecting residue behind. Read the addendum below.

On this farthingale, rather than set the placement of the channels from the bottom up, I did it from the top down. I marked where the channels would go on the center of the front panel, then matched the placement on the center back pieces (where the seam would be sewn) and the two side seams (not the side front and side back seams.) I eyeballed the placement of the bias for the top channel using the marks I had made on the center front, center back, and side seams. After the top channel was sewn, I could measure a uniform distance down to the next channel. All the channels were sewn before I sewed up the center back seam. The whole process of marking where the channels go, pinning the channels into position and sewing them down seems to go much better this way because I could clearly see what I was doing and I had more room to maneuver.

Row Number
Distance from Bottom of Waistband to Center of Boning Channel
Length of Boning in Channel -(plus 6 inches for overlap)-
1
13 inches
63 inches
2
19 inches
73.5 inches
3
25 inches
84 inches
4
31 inches
94.5 inches
5
37 inches
105 inches
6
41.5 inch
115.5 inches

I love this farthingale! In spite of having this "(" going on between the hoops, when I put an overskirt over the top, there is no hoop show through. When I sit in the farthingale, I do not feel the hoops and the skirt flows about me in a very nice manner. Woohoo! I am so happy!

Addendum:

Farthingale length - I have found that having the finished hem of my farthingale about 4 inches off the ground works very well. It allows me to walk quite rapidly (and unladylike) over flat ground with no fear of tripping and without having to lift my skirts. Also, there is no "hoop drop off" at the bottom of my skirts, which can occur if the hem of the farthingale is too far off the ground. One solution to the "hoop drop off" problem, without making a new farthingale, is to add a gathered or box pleated ruffle to the bottom of the farthingale. The ruffle needs to be of a fairly stiff fabric or have additional stiffening added to make sure it does the job.

Hoop sizing - Farthingale calculator by Margaret Roe Designs. Input waist measurement, the desired circumference of the bottom hoop, the waist to floor measurement less desired clearance of the bottom hoop off the floor, and the number of hoops desired. The Calculator provides both the distance from the waist for each row of boning and the circumference of each row of boning. If the Farthingale Calculator won't open, see this note from Margaret, which may help solve the problem.

The program doesn't seem to work with certain versions of IE. However, for IE 7 users, there is a solution on the user end to make the program work. If you go to Tools, Internet Options, Security, Custom Level, and set "Allow websites to prompt using scripted windows" to enable, the program works just fine. Somehow, setting it to temporarily allow this doesn't cut it.

Hoop connectors - Those hoop connectors from Farthingales are great! A picture of the little darlings. How to use hoop connectors. With the hoop connectors, I no longer need the 6 inch overlap mentioned above on farthingale no. 3, so I recut all the hoops to remove it.

Commercial farthingale patterns - All commercially available patterns are based on the farthingale from Tailor's Pattern Book 1589 by Juan de Algeca. It is a facsimile and translation of the original Libro de Geometria, Pratica y Traca. Here is the illustration from the book:

Originally, there were only two farthingale patterns available commercially. Of these first two patterns, the one in Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns Elizabethan Lady's Underpinnings Pattern is probably the easiest to work with because it utilizes hoop casings made of bias which are sewn into place on the base fabric. This is the pattern I have used for all my farthingales.

The second commercial pattern is by Mantua Maker. It utilizes tucks sewn into the farthingale to create the bone casings, just like the orginal Alcega farthingale did. Mantua Maker patterns are available from a number of online sources but I am only mentioning Farthingales here because of the additional information they have on the construction of a farthingale with this pattern.

As of 2007, there are some other commercial farthingale patterns available:

Patterns for Tudor Farthingales from The Tudor Tailor.

Early Tudor Ladies Skivvies from Reconstructing History.

If you feel confident enough to draft your own farthingale pattern, here are some online sources to help:

The Spanish Farthingale Page from the Elizabethan Costuming Page.

Farthingale demo from The Renaissance Tailor website.

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