Petticoats look fabulous under a full 50s skirt! They add va-va-voom volume and swish but they can lose their puff and go limp if not cared for properly. Here are a few hints and tips to care for your petticoat. We recommend the following information to be used for new petticoats, made from nylon or tulle only. If you have a vintage petticoat, the fabric may be delicate so we recommend taking it to a professional cleaner to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.
When you first get your new petticoat home, it may have been stored in a dust bag and tightly packed for shipping so it could look a little flat. Remove the petticoat from its packaging and give it a good shake to loosen the fabric up. You may need to separate the layers and fluff it by hand to pull it into shape and make sure the hem of each layer is even.
From here, it is okay to hang it up for a day or two to let the wrinkles fall out but petticoats should never be stored on a hanger or they will be pulled down by their own weight and lose their fluffiness.
Petticoats should be stored rolled up in a bag. Scrunching it may cause wrinkles and the hem to sit uneven so rolling will allow it to remain smooth but without any weight pulling it down. You can buy special petticoat storage bags but a reusable shopping bag will also suffice. We do recommend a fabric bag over plastic to allow the fabric to breathe.
To roll your petticoat, lay it out on a table or hold the waistband with your chin. Fold the two sides into the middle so it is folded into thirds and is now a long rectangle, approximately 30cm (1’) wide. Press the air out and roll it up (like a sleeping bag) from the hem up, towards the waistband. You can now use the waistband to fold back over the skirt and tuck it in or place it in the bag how it is. A bag roughly the size of a supermarket shopping bag is perfect. It will keep it rolled up nice and tight without crushing it.
You shouldn’t need to wash your petticoat very often as it’s protected by the dress or skirt that’s on top so it shouldn’t get too dirty. When it is time to give it a wash, you can hand wash it in the bathtub or put it in the washing machine on a gentle/delicate cycle. If you have a top loading machine, put the waistband of the petticoat around the agitator and make skirt the skirt is evenly distributed around the tub. You will only need a very small amount of detergent. Regular detergent is fine but a mild soap (or shampoo) is much better for the fabric.
Your petticoat will have some creases, this is perfectly normal and not an issue as it will be hidden under your skirt but if you find the creases are making the hem sit uneven, you can steam them out.
A proper clothing steamer is ideal for steaming delicate petticoat fabric. Hang your petticoat up and use the steamer to steam the fabric from the inside out, to puff it up and loosen the creases.
If you don’t have access to a steamer, you can use a hand iron with a steam setting but be very careful not to let the fabric too close to the iron. We don’t recommend ironing as the fabric is far too delicate for a hot iron and it will scorch the fabric.
To steam the petticoat using the steam setting on your iron, hang the petticoat up and use the steam from the iron to gently blast the fabric with steam from the outside in, to loosen the creases and fluff it up. Don’t try and use this method to steam from the inside out as you will risk scorching the fabric with the hot iron.
If you don’t have access to an iron or clothing steamer, you can hang the petticoat in your bathroom, near the shower and let the steam from the shower loosen and fluff the petticoat. You can turn the hot water on full, close the door for a few minutes and leave it but we recommend doing this while you’re in the shower, so you don’t waste water.
If you have a dryer, you can put your petticoat in the dryer (on its own) and run it for a few minutes on a warm, gentle fluffing cycle. Remove the petticoat from the dryer, hang it up and gently pull it back into shape by smoothing the creases and lining up layers at the hem. Don’t pull down too much or you may take away the fluff the dryer process added.
Still want more volume? You can starch your petticoat BUT what you gain in volume, you will lose in that pretty swishy movement that comes with modern, fluffy fine net, nylon petticoats and it may be a little itchy and catch on your clothing.
If you do want to starch, we recommend a spray starch which will lightly cover the fabric, without soaking it. You can buy a spray can of starch at the supermarket, in the cleaning isle.
To starch the petticoat, hang it up and pin the outer layers up so you’re working from the inside out. Lightly and evenly spray each layer of the petticoat with the starch and leave it hang until its full dry. Once dry, roll it up and store it as normal.
Full petticoats look great when spinning and dancing but they can bunch up when you walk and gather at the front. Wearing nylon pantyhose can make it worse as the petticoats fine fabric sticks to them like velcro! If you find this an issue, we highly recommend wearing a satin, pencil (narrow) slip skirt under the petticoat. It should be around 10cm shorter than your petticoat so it doesn’t peep out (15cm – 20cm shorter if you’re dancing and spinning). This will keep it sitting flat, all the way around and prevent it from getting caught between your legs. Satin slips can be found at in the underwear section most department stores for $10 – $20 and are usually available in black, white or nude.
If you’re driving to an event, keep your petticoat in its bag until you arrive. Sitting on and driving in your petticoat can get it squashed, dirty or greasy. It’s also really hard to steer when it’s fluffed up on your lap!