Mrs. Bennett’s Lazy Petticoat Recipe

from Mrs. Bennett: 
IMG_7946This is my LAZY Regency petticoat. I use it for a number of costumes when it just needs a light petti to help support the skirt and keep it away from the body.

Things you need to make it:

1 Queen size or larger flatsheet – preferably of that good, old-school cotton that gets a little stiff when you hang it on the clothesline to dry.


Safety pins.

A sewing machine.

Helpful: scissors and seam ripper


I get my flatsheets at thrift stores and wash the heck out of them when they come home.



  1. I remove the decorative band of the flatsheet – the part that indicates the top of the sheet – from the sheet. I just grab a seam ripper and start removing the stitches. They go pretty quickly once you get started. It’ll come apart in one long band that will have the fold in it.
  2. Wrap this band around the largest part of your torso (for me, this is just above my natural waist). Note where the ends of the band meets to make a circle.  Add a few inches to each side to make a slightly larger circle.  (This is obviously not scientific measuring. This is LAZY, remember?)
  3. Once you’ve got your waistband approximately measured with a little bit extra for overlapping, cut the waistband down to size. Sew the bottom to close it.
  4. Mark the front middle of the waist band with a straight pin. Mark where the R and L side of the waist band will fall on your sides with straight pins. You’re basically dividing the waistband into 4 quarters (with a little extra at the ends for overlap).

Note: (I like to use white headed pins for the front-middle and red for the sides. This helps me keep track later.)

Set the waistband aside.


  1. The remainder of the sheet is a single piece of fabric that will become the skirt.
  2. Note the edge that already has a hem in it. This is the BOTTOM EDGE of your petticoat.
  3. Holding the TOP edge of the petticoat fabric, find its middle (basically, fold it in half to find the middle). Mark it with a straight pin (white).
  4. Find the one quarter mark to the left and the one quarter mark to the right (basically, fold it in half again and mark where those two folds land) with straight pins (red).



  1. Line up the front middle (white) pins and attach them together (like so, if you’ve never done it) with pins.
  2. Moving to the right of center quarter, pin in 2-4 knife pleats along the front of the petticoat. (Quick tutorial on putting in a pleat). I tend to make these pleats larger than in back and I don’t measure them well. I eyeball these. Remember: Lazy.
  3. Repeat above pleating on the left of center quarter of the skirt/waistband. Important: Point your knife pleat in the opposite direction from the other side! It doesn’t sit right if they are all facing the same way. 
  4. Now, move past your side red pins and pin more pleats all around the back quarters of the skirt/waistband. I make these smaller to try to fit in as much of the remaining sheet as possible.  (If it gets too thick for you, though, cut off the extra when you get an inch or two from the end of the waistband.) It’ll give you a very full back half of the skirt.
  5. Once you have all of the pleats pinned to the waistband, sew the shitake outta that sucker! Attach the pleated skirt fabric to the waistband.


  1. Once you have the skirt attached to the waistband, you can remove all of the pins. 
  2. Fold the skirt in half with the fold down the front middle. Inside out (the rough, non-pretty side of the fabric should be facing out).
  3. Pin those side pieces together and sew it up. This is creating the back seam.
  4. Stop sewing 4-6 inches or so from the top of the skirt. That gap helps you get in and out.
  5. If you need to take it up (and many people will) you can do a very deep hem and fold it up and sew it.  Or you can put some pleats (just like the knife pleats) around the bottom to take it up 3 inches at a time. I like the pleats because they give the skirt a little extra structure to help the costume.




At this point you have the petticoat, such as it is. It is probably quite. .  . functional! (And maybe a little bit pretty.

Try it on for size. If everything has gone well, it should fit around you fine and have a few extra inches in the waistband for overlap.

Because I’m LAZY (and because my weight sometimes fluctuates), I simply put two large, heavy duty safety pins at the back of the petticoat and use that for closures. This keeps me from having to move hooks and eyes every time I lose or gain an inch.


And there it is. The Lazy Petticoat Recipe from Mrs. Bennett. Back to the Sew Along with Mrs. Parks! 






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