Make a dress stick out away from the body in a wide circle by using a crinoline. Crinolines, or stiff petticoats, were all the rage in the 1950s. Often worn with the iconic poodle skirt, crinolines make full skirts stand out away from the legs. Crinolines are still used regularly in traditional square dance wear, and longer crinolines are standard undergarments for full-skirted formal wear and wedding dresses. Crinolines are made by gathering four increasingly large rings of fabric and sewing them together into a garment of four graduated tiers that hang to just above the hem of the skirt on the dress you wear it beneath.
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Match the Crinoline to the Skirt of the Dress
Choose a crinoline just a little shorter than the skirt of the dress you intend to wear it with. Too short a crinoline makes the hem edge of the fabric droop. Measure the skirt of your dress, and select a crinoline only about an inch shorter.
Choose How Far to Make the Dress Stick Out
Crinolines come in various degrees of thickness. The more fabric used to make the crinoline, the thicker it is and the further out it holds the skirt of the dress when worn underneath. Choose the thickness of your crinoline based on how far you want the dress skirt to stand out away from your legs.
Add Length to an Existing Crinoline
Add length of an existing crinoline by constructing an extension petticoat. Put on the shorter crinoline and put the longer dress on over it. Measure from the crinoline's hem to the hem of the dress. Cut a length of stiff tulle with a width to this measurement. Sew the length together to form a ring and sew a running or gathering stitch along the top. Gather the ring of tulle. Put on a long slip and put the shorter crinoline on over it. Sew the gathered ring of tulle to the long slip far enough down its length so that it starts where the shorter crinoline ends. Wear the long slip with the bottom crinoline underneath the shorter crinoline, and with the dress over both. The double layer of crinoline makes the dress stick out consistently from waist to hem.
Crinolines can be hard to find these days; they are not everyday wear as they were in the past. Shop carefully to make sure you don't pay too much for your petticoat. Bridal boutiques and stores that specialize in evening wear are often drastically over-priced. Make your own crinoline, or shop second-hand stores and look for evening wear that has a crinoline built-in. Clip it out and sew the top to a piece of elastic for the waist to make exactly what you need.