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RH101 - Bodice and Petticote

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Make the perfect Pilgrim or Cavalier Lady's outfit with this pattern!

You need our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for English-, French- and Dutchwomen's bodices and petticotes (jackets and skirts) with optional stomacher appropriate for the 1630s; and Women's Common or Middle Class bodice and petticote appropriate for the 1630s through 1660s. Included are low, open front bodice to be worn with stomacher or closed, high front, boned or stiffened lining, wide or narrow sleeves with optional paning, continguous gored or attached tabbed skirting. Petticote options include hooked or tied waistband with slits for pocket access. Upper class and lower class instructions included.

All Sizes in one envelope. Fits bust 30½"-48" and waist 23"-41". Embellishment suggestions included.

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Suggested Fabrics: wool, silk, linen for lining

Yardage Requirements:
Bodice 2¼ yards at least 45" wide
lining 2¼ yards at least 45" wide
Petticote 3 yards at least 45" wide
lining (optional) 3 yards at least 45" wide

buckram or stiff linen
(boned bodice) corset boning or 7mm half-oval reeds
(stomacher) wooden busk
hooks and eyes for front closure
silk ribbon (optional)

Let us help you! At Reconstructing History, we want to see you wearing the best garments you are capable of making. Call us Monday through Friday from 9am until 4pm Eastern Time (or email us at info@reconstructinghistory.com) and we will answer any questions you might have.


Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:

The English Lady’s Jacket


English Upper-class Jacket Becomes a Common Woman’s Staple

Another type of jacket was worn in the 1630s in England and on the Continent.  In this style, the waist is at a normal level and the jacket is slim and figure conscious.  This we call “The English Jacket Style” because this type of jacket was typical of English upper class casual dress is the beginning of the 17th century.  This type of jacket went out of favour among the aristocracy and fashion conscious in the 1620s, but this general shape persisted in common women’s dress well into the 1660s all over Europe.  In the beginning of the century, it was elaborately embroidered with multicoloured silks and precious metal threads.  However, when this style trickled down to common wear, the jackets were more subdued.  In both cases, jackets were closed with hooks or ribbon ties and worn with shifts, cuffs, caps, and neck cloths.  A conical corset akin to those worn in the Elizabethan period was worn under this jacket to give the wearer the correct shape.  Common women may have boned their corsets with reeds instead of baleen (whalebone) for economy.

Van Mieris’ “Brothel Scene” (previous page), Vermeer’s “Lady with a Letter” (left), De Hooch’s “Courtyard Scene” (below right), and Vermeer’s “Kitchen Maid” (below left) all show this style of jacket.


The word “petticote” was used in the 17th century to describe any type of skirt, upper class or lower class, underskirt or overskirt.  The word “skirt”, by way of contrast, referred to the bottom half of a woman’s gown or jacket.

Narrow bands of braid or embroidered decoration often trimmed the bottoms of upper class petticotes.  Multiple bands of trim started an inch or two above the hem and followed it around to the center where the decoration turned 90 degrees and continued up to the waistband.  Often three or more bands of trim paralleled each other in this fashion.

Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620 describes a petticote in the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen that dates to 1615-20.  It appears to have been cartridge pleated, but Arnold thinks it was originally sewn to a bodice.  It is now knife pleated and sewn to a waistband which dates to the 19th century.  It is lined with pink silk taffeta.  The taffeta is turned in towards the outer layer and sewn down, much like an 18th century quilted petticote.    

It is hard to discern the original waist treatments of petticotes because they were often taken apart and remade as the styles changed.  Indeed, a petticote is often nothing more than rectangular pieces of fabric sewn to a waistband, so remaking the garment is rather an easy task.  Contemporary evidence suggests that waistbands may have been closed by hooks and eyes on occasion.  But there is reason to believe that this was not the most common method of closure.

In the 17th century, married women of reproductive age were in a constant cycle of pregnancy and nursing.  In the centuries before maternity wear, garments were too expensive to acquire new ones every time one was pregnant.  The fluctuations in women’s bodies necessitated garments that could change with them.  The solution may have been a waist treatment we see in many 18th century petticotes.  The front panel of the petticote is cartridge pleated to a tape or waistband and the back panel pleated to a separate tape or waistband.  After the side seams are sewn to within 8” of the top (to allow pocket access), the waistband can be tied in a number of ways.  The ties can be knotted at either side, just above the pocket access slits.  They can also be arranged so that the back panel waistband ties in front and the front panel ties behind.  This arrangement offers a little more security when the waistline is shrinking.  And, of course, the front panel could be tied more loosely than the rear to accommodate the pregnant belly without causing the pocket slits to move forward.

A pregnant woman could still wear the bodice of this period because the high waist and light boning wouldn’t interfere with her changing shape.

Petticotes were worn in multiple layers for warmth and security.  Single petticotes were often a sign of abject and desperate poverty so even if doing the lowliest impression, you should wear at least two.  It is common to see women with their top petticote tucked up to show off a brighter under layer.  See Wencelaus Hollar’s engravings for reference.


Arnold, Janet.  Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620.  1985:  Macmillan, London.

Arnold, Janet.  Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d.  1988:  W.S. Maney & Son Ltd., Leeds.

Boucher, François.  20,000 Years of Fashion.  1987:  Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.

Cunnington, C. Willett and Phillis.  Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century.  1972: Plays, Boston.

Halls, Zillah.  Women’s Costumes 1600-1750.  1969: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London.

Hart, Avril and Susan North.  Fashion in Detail.  1998:  Rizzoli International Publications, New York.

Payne, Blanche.  History of Costume.  1965:  Harper Collins, New York.

Waugh, Norah.  Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930.  1968: Faber and Faber, London.



For more, purchase this pattern.

This information © 2003 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History


The pattern fit first time with little alterations. Great fit in the end. Great results overall. I love this pattern.