Monday, August 18, 2014

18th Century Pocket-Hoop Panniers

These pocket-hoop panniers are my first step towards my 18th century ensembles, which will be coming up in the weeks ahead. I needed the proper underlying support garments for correct measurement and draping. The pocket-hoop panniers were popular in the mid to late 18th century, 1760-1780, and were a modified form of the required undergarments to create the proper silhouette that Marie Antoinette made famous during that timeframe.

These panniers were made from “Patterns for Period Impressions #512” and were super easy to construct. I added the additional lace and ruching, which added a few extra hours, but a person could easily construct these in three to four hours, start to finish, if you simply wanted the basic outlines as stated in the pattern.

I used a very heavy white Cotton Percale (or Percalcos), which is a closely woven plain-weave fabric. The term refers to the weave of the fabric, and not it’s content. Percale is noticeably tighter, usually 200 threads per inch or higher, than most bed sheets, which is what this fabric was originally. I knew that the constant pressure of the semi-circular hoops could possibly push threw lighter and finer fabrics, and I wanted to guard against that if at all possible, so I
selected a stronger fabric to begin with. I wrap a medium weight rubber band lightly around the hoops to help take pressure off the fabric when I store it. Also, while they state “pocket hoops”, I do not plan on using them as “pockets”. I think the weight of a modern day wallet, cellphone, and keys would pull the pockets off sides, and/or wear a hole. I do not wish to get to the end of the day and not be able to find my keys! Lastly, I think these pocket hoops will do well for ladies shorter styled bodice garments or full length garments made of lighter weight fabrics.

I love being able to take flat linear fabrics and be able to sew it into a 3-D item like a gown or such – it’s like magic! One day the fabric is laying on my table, the next day that same fabric is hanging on my mannequin looking like something completely different than the day before, and the next day I am running down the stairs in a new frock I made myself! Magic!

I decided early on that I wanted to add lace and trimmings to my panniers, because I like things to be pretty and feminine. I also thought that the extra lace would help soften the line edge of the hoops, and the same for the ruching at the top. The cutting out and sewing are very straight forward, and the instructions, while a little confusing at first, eventually begins to come together to form a three dimensional object. One thing I did change, I used white ¼” plumbers tubing instead of the called for four yards of steel hooping, you could probably get away with ½” diameter tubing if you made your channels a little wider. I bought it at Home Depot for $8.

The lace was sewn on at initial construction. The ribbon flowers and bows, plus the matching ribbon ruching, were all sewn on by hand. I very much like the way it came out and am looking forward to wearing it soon!


  1. Pretty! Almost a shame they'll be covered by a dress. You'll have to show them off occasionally. *wink*

    1. Remember the pic I posted of that laced pannier with the deep-V corset? That was my inspiration for this garment. I liked the lace.

  2. Plumber's tubing! What a great idea. I really love how pretty you made these!

    1. I borowed the idea from Gina L. She and I were talking about what she used, and I figured - if it worked for her, then I would try it as well. I would give it only a 50% period correctness overall, but they do the job and look pretty while doing it! Win!