In creating an authentic and aesthetically pleasing 1860s wardrobe, wearing the correct undergarments is vital. A well-fitted and well-made coutil corset, a couple of starched petticoats, and a cage crinoline or hoopskirt in the correct shape can take your wardrobe to the next level.
I have made and worn several different styles of hoops over the years. Below is a discussion of a few of these.
Above, I wear the largest of my hoops. This cage crinoline was purchased at a reenactment many years ago. I don't know the maker, although I seem to remember that there was a workshop for making similar cage crinolines around that time - so perhaps it was a product of that workshop? The circumference of the bottom hoop is 122". I chose to wear it on this occasion to portray a very fashionable and wealthy woman. I was happy with the fullness that it gave to the skirts, but didn't like how far it stuck out at the back. I would have preferred slightly less fullness at the back.
The cage crinoline. Not in perfect condition. This has 23 rows of 5/16" wide hooping. It appears to be similar in style to the cage crinoline (#19-L: 26 Row Hoop) pattern by Harriet's Patterns.
At the back is a quilted section of coutil and attached below that is a pad to hold the cage crinoline shape at the back.
This next hoop has not been invited out to a reenactment yet. I had heard good things about the Simplicity 7216 (The Fashion Historian) Hoop pattern and wanted to give it a try. I did not care for the shape of the hoop - I didn't like the amount of fullness at the back and the narrow silhouette when viewed from the front.
Side. This is shown on a dress form with no butt...on an actual person it has slightly more thrust at the back.
Finally, my favorite cage crinoline. This one is based off of the Originals-by-Kay pattern. I have found this to be my favorite shape and wear it to almost every event. Above is the 108" version that I typically wear. Below is a 98" circumference that I occasionally wear.
This cage crinoline has been worn hard for the last ten years...this is how it looks currently. At the next event I would like to try wearing it with a pad at the back to see how that changes the shape - I'll let you know what I discover.
If more fullness is desired closer to the waist, the tapes can be shortened at the waist to bring the fullness of the cage up.
Above, three different styles of hoops are worn. I wear the 122" cage crinoline, my mother (middle) wears the 108" cage crinoline, and Audrey wears a Wooded Hamlet cage crinoline. All three give beautiful shapes. Sometimes it depends on the persona that you are portraying which hoop is right for the occasion.
I can make you a custom hoopskirt or cage crinoline, and I would be happy to work with you on the style and shape! Email me for a price estimate: firstname.lastname@example.org