make a set of panniers

Instructions for Panniers 1720 - 1780

Instructions for Panniers 1720 - 1780

Hooped Petticoat / Panniers 1720 - 1780

The hooped petticoat of this time period may be known to some as "panniers" or "hip improvers". This steel structured undergarment adds little to the front and back profiles but increases the breadth of the hips.

The pattern we have used is by The Mantua-Maker and this particular pattern envelope contains two patterns; a simple one hoop version based on an American model and a larger more complex pannier version requiring three steels.

If you plan on building the larger panniers version, allow yourself some time to figure things out, the actual sewing time is only a couple of hours and is quite simple. This can easily be built in an afternoon provided you take your time, think out each step and proceed cautiously; otherwise you could end up tearing out and re doing.

I found the instructions for the panniers a bit vague especially as I have never built panniers before, however I am fairly happy with the end result and it was not too difficult to get there. Even with fumbling my way around it was still a single afternoon project. Because panniers are unlike any modern day garment the pieces will not be familiar and I would suggest marking the casing lines onto each piece as well as the stitching lines and labeling the center front and center back. The long sloped edge will become the waistline. This is important to be aware of, as you may have to adjust the width of "hem" you create along this edge. The width will depend on the size of draw cord you are using. I did not figure this out ahead of time but luckily my lacing cord of choice; # 18-7178-04 flat lacing did fit, a bit too tight to slide easily but it did fit.

Drawing of pannier pattern pieces stitched together.

My background is in theatre, which means I am more concerned with function and shape than authentic construction techniques. This effects my approach to costume projects; I look for ease of construction, strength of the structure (will it support the fabrics and the "business" that a directors could demand of the character) and does it look right. This pannier pattern is easy to construct and looks right but needs a bit of assistance to meet structural demands for theatrical purposes. To help minimize collapse I simply added four bones to the existing four side seams. This helped to decrease the collapse of the lower hoop inward at both center front and center back when pressure was applied to the upper outer hoops (area where skirt fabric will hang from). It did not stop the collapsing completely but does help. A heavier steel in the lower hoop may also be beneficial.

This hoop petticoat or pannier was made following the instructions with only a couple of variations.

  1. I serged the raw edges of the side seams and stitched the seam allowances flat along the outer edge of the serging. This results in the formation of casing which will hold the ¼" bones I placed in four of the eight seams.
  2. I stitched the waist casings before I stitched up the center back seam and I only stitched from the casing down to the bottom (the angle of this top edge would have made making the casing after too difficult). I then top stitched with a zigzag stitch for about ½", from the casing down the pressed open back seam. See Diagram.
  3. I trimmed the corners of the waist casing edge.
  4. I used twill tape rather than creating a casing by folding the garment. I simply stitched the twill tape to the fabric along the fold lines indicated on the pattern.
  5. I used a hoop steel connector for the lower hoop at center front. This seems to have removed the need for the ties at this point.

If you wish to build the above hoop petticoat/pannier you will need the items listed below. Quantities listed are for the largest size.

We Suggest the Following Products For This Project

Click the link to go to the ordering page for the item


pattern, Panniers 1720-1780 pannier pattern 1 EA
04-7419-05 twill tape, cotton 19 mm natural (unbleached) pannier

5 M



03-7178N-01 lacing flat pannier 2 M
50-8405-10 hoop steel 10 mm wide X .5 mm thick pannier 5 M
20-7070-00 shrink tips, clear 1/8" to finish cord ends pannier 1 FT
34-7212-01 bone casing 1/2" (13 mm) white (fits 8 mm bones) pannier

1.1 M

91-8016-11 "U" tips for steel ends



00-8400-11 hoop connectors pannier


50-8206-26 6mm bones panier



 (these are not part of the pattern but I fuound them helpful)

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