Before the invention of the cage crinoline in the mid 1850's, to achieve the bell shaped skirts
so desired, women used stiffened crinolines, either made out of woven horsehair or linen stiffened with cords. Linen crinolines came in varying degrees of stiffness, and many were worn at once to achieve the desired shape.
The crinoline pictured at the top, is the heaviest out of all three mentioned here. The crinoline is cut as two square peices and
sewn together at the sides. It has two drawstrings at each end of the waistband, which are pulled to adjust the waist size. It would have been worn at the bottom of all the skirts, and has over 100+
of flax and cotton cords to help keep its shape.
The second skirt is almost the same as the first in the way it is constructed, but is not
as stiffly corded, with most of the cording
at the hem and cords spaced far apart going up the skirt to the waist. This would have been a middle weight skirt.
The third crinoline is cut as a regular petticoat with widely spaced and less stiff cords
going up the skirt. it is quite lightweight and would have been worn over all the crinolines. As its a top petticoat, it has better finishing that the others, fastening with a button instead of drawstrings and has the typical "V" shaped waistband
of the 1840's. The waist on this one is 28", but the two heavier crinolines can go up to 50" waist. All were owned by the same lady, 'L. Bland'.
(Formerly L. Hidic)