Updated: Mar 4, 2022
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?
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!
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.
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:
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
A clear drafting ruler with a right angle and hip curve ( I use the Patternmaster ruler)
A sharp pencil
Taking Your Measurements
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
Beginning the Draft
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
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
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!
Contact me at email@example.com
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