After careful examination of a corded petticoat in the Ontario County Historical Society’s collection, Genesee Country Village and Museum weaver, Louise Richens, has successfully tackled the challenge of weaving an exact copy of the panels used to make the original.
Corded petticoats are petticoats with cord woven or sewn into the fabric. When starched, the cords stiffen and cause the petticoat to stick out. Worn under yet more regular uncorded petticoats, the corded petticoat provided a full skirt, a fashionable item from the 1830s to the 1860s. In the late 50s, the corded petticoats were mostly replaced by a new invention, the steel cage crinoline.
Original Corded Petticoat - close-up of cords
Two other attempts to weave the fabric used for corded petticoats have been made in the past, by Pat Kline and Rabbit Goody, but this is the first time for the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Without a weaver to weave the cloth, those who needed corded petticoats for living history had to attempt to make their own by sewing cords into cloth. This method was also employed in the 19th century, but purchasing cloth with the cords already woven in was time-saving.
Reproduction Corded Petticoat - Close-up of cords
Louise, a master weaver, says it took two weeks to weave 4 panels of 36” wide cloth. Enough for 2 petticoats. The panels are currently being made into petticoats with the addition of waistbands, ties, and hems.