Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lolita in Winter: Why Aren't Flannel Petticoats and Underskirts a Thing?

Petticoats (Flannel)—These are not only useful, but indispensable articles of dress. Fine flannel is the best, as it is most durable, and keeps its color best in washing. The length of the petticoat is regulated by the height of the person for whom it is intended; and the width ranges from three breadths to one and a-half. The bottom is hemmed with a broad hem; and the top is gathered, and set on to a strong band of calico, or jean, leaving the front nearly plain. Sometimes a button hole is made, about two nails from the ends of the band, to which strings of tape are attached; these are passed through the opposite holes, and the parts thus brought over each other form a kind of bustle, which makes the garment sit more neatly to the figure. A slit of about four nails is left on the back which is hemmed round, or bound with a strong binding.

—Lady's Work Table Book, 1846

Living in Minnesota, and not even "Up Nort," it gets cold in winter. As such, much of my lolita gets put away when the snow blows through and the temperature drops below freezing because it's simply too cold. However, as I was trying to figure out which fabrics should come home with me now that winter fabrics are finally going on sale, I stumbled upon a question:

Why aren't flannel petticoats a thing?

I know that, every year, people sell polar fleece bloomers to keep the legs cozy. That makes perfect sense to me because it gets cold. I do, however, wonder why we haven't taken the extra step of making flannel underskirts for even more coziness when we're donning our frills.

As you can see from the quote above, this isn't exactly a new idea, but it's one I've not often heard in lolita circles. We hear about layering skirts under a skirt if we don't have a petticoat yet or wearing underskirts to add length, but I feel like we don't talk about the most practical aspect of all that fluff: we can add warmth very easily if we need to.

I know some people will argue that flannel isn't as elegant as the chiffon and lace froth that props up our skirts in the summer, and they might be right. But, really, I cannot help but wonder why this isn't something more lolitas in northern climes pursue.

If it was "indispensable" in 1846, I can't help but think we should look into the idea.


  1. … that's actually a good point: why aren't they a thing? Just like you, I drop lolita completely during the winter, it's just too cold, but what if we could keep our tights warm with flannel petticoats? I think they'd even add extra poofiness, since the fabric would be thicker than the usual tulle.

  2. I've actually made a couple of flannel skirts...maybe using them as underskirts would make Lolita a bit more bearable in this -40' and beyond crap we've been dealing with.

  3. I have been thinking the same thing! And I will make myself one at some point.I have been using the Folkwear Edwardian Underthings pattern for petticoats, but have been making them from cotton lawn at this point. Cotton lawn is wonderful stuff. My go to skirt pattern is the Walking Skirt. I'm not into Lolita, but I have found that I am just tired of wearing jeans and pants. I've done it for most of my life and I wanted a change. I will definitely have flannel petticoats for next winter.

    1. :) I'm so glad you agree.

      Also, the Walking Skirt is absolutely lovely, and I've been wanting to get a copy of the pattern for a while. My go-to patterns are a self-drafted dirndl skirt and a late 1950s/early 1960s full a-line skirt pattern, but I might have to add the Walking Skirt to my repertoire.