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How to Draft Edwardian Underwear

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

Split Drawers?

edwardian underwear corset drawers beauty
I have always loved Edwardian underwear -so feminine and lacy!

For a long time, I've been intrigued by historical underwear. Not just corsets and chemises, which I have been wearing for years, but by lower half underwear, too. Specifically, split drawers.

What were split drawers? They were a pretty, often lacy pair of undergarments - essentially a loose fitting pair of pants, but with an open crotch. Why was the crotch open?

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
Split drawers were worn from the Regency period onwards through the Edwardian period

To facilitate bathroom trips, of course! If you've ever wondered how historical women in those enormous skirts used the bathroom, now you know. They didn't have to "surgically extract" a pair of teensie-weensie panties from beneath their skirts! They wore split drawers or, in earlier periods, nothing but a shift beneath their skirts, petticoats, and corsets. It worked.

Stay tuned for my next post about the sewing of these drawers, where I will talk about my experience wearing a pair of split drawers underwear and what it has been like!

Let's Draft Edwardian Split Drawers!

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
Drafting your own pattern may seem intimidating, but it is actually quite simple!

While there are plenty of commercial patterns for historical underwear, there is nothing like being able to draft your own pattern to your own measurements. When I found this free drafting tutorial on the internet straight from 1916, I knew I had to try to draft my own!

We will be drafting what are known as "circular drawers" - which are more flared and closer to a split skirt. Think circle skirt. There are also straight drawers, which have a straighter, more streamlined fit over the legs.

split drawers linen edwardian victorian underwear tutorial drafting
We will be drafting circular drawers, which are close to a circle skirt in how they are shaped

If you have never drafted a pattern before, this may seem intimidating. No fear! The steps are actually simple, so just focus on one step at a time, and watch the video or to clarify. I recommend making a mock-up to test the pattern afterwards.

Just to clarify - in pattern drafting we refer to lines by the two beginning and end points. In this tutorial we are using letters, so when we refer to Line AB, for example, we are referring to the line that starts at point A and ends at point B.

Materials You Will Need

To draft your own pattern, you will need:

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
There are a few materials you will need to draft your own pattern
  • A large piece of drafting paper (I used leftover Christmas wrapping paper since that's what I had on hand!)

  • A yard or metre stick

  • Measuring tape

  • A clear drafting ruler with a right angle and hip curve ( I use the Patternmaster ruler)

  • A sharp pencil

Taking Your Measurements

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
Drafting drawers is easy because there are only a few measurements you will need,

You will need just a few measurements for drafting this pattern:

  • Waist Measurement (the narrowest part of your abdomen, and/or where your body bends)

  • Hip Measurement (the fullest part of your lower body, usually over the bum)

  • Vertical distance from waist to inner bend of your knee (I measured this along the side of my body)

  • Vertical distance from waist to hip

edwardian split drawers pattern drafting 1916 tutorial
The original diagram from this 1916 drafting method - refer to it and my video to clarify the directions.

Beginning the Draft

split drawers linen edwardian victorian underwear tutorial drafting
Drafting your own patterns is so rewarding!

Line AB - this is a vertical line along the left of your paper, and is your waist to bend of knee measurement. This line represents the middle line of the leg of the drawers, which will be at the outside of your leg.

Line AF - Perpendicular from point A - 1/4 waist + 1/2"

Line FG - Perpendicular up from point F - 1/8 waist

Line AC - 1/2 AB (waist to bend of knee) - 2.5"

Centre-Seam and Bottom Edge

Line CH - Perpendicular from point C - 1/2 hip +1/2"

Line BI - Perpendicular from point B - waist measurement

Line IJ - Perpendicular line up from point I (no definite length for now)

Line HK - 7.5" Pivot ruler from point H to touch Line IJ

Top Edge

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
This part of the drafting can be intimidating. Just take one step at a time!

We will now be plotting both the front and back waistline over top of each other. This may look a little confusing, but just follow one step at a time.

Line LH - 5" - Continuation of the slanted line we just plotted, but going up.

Line LM - 1.5" - going perpendicular out from point L

Line AD - At the top of the drawers - 1/4 waist +2"

Line DE - Perpendicular up from point D - 1/12 waist

Line EMH - Connect points E, M, and H, with a curved line. You can use a hip curve ruler for this, or do your best to eyeball a curve. This will be the front centre seam for our drawers.

Line HN - 4"

Line NO - 4" perpendicular from point N

Line GOH - Connect points G, O, and H with another hip curve line. This will be the back centre seam.

Line AG - Connect points A and G with a curved line - back waistline

Line AE - Connect points A and E with a curved line - front waistline

black corset split drawers edwardian victorian white linen chemise stockings
We are almost done drafting the pattern!

Grain-line and Back Pleat

Line AP - 2.75"

Line CR - 6"

Line PR - Connect points P and R - this is the grainline of the pattern

Line GS - 3.5"

Line ST - Perpendicular lint from line GS - this is the pleat line for the inverted box pleat that will be over the bum area

Line BK - Curved line at the bottom edge of the drawers.

Good luck drafting your pattern! Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

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