Making a round Crinoline Cage

IMG_3425Welcome to another of our tutorials aimed at the folk getting their gear ready for the Victorian Ball.  In this one I am going to provide a step by step  guide on how to make the iconic round crinoline cage, perfect for 1855-65 period.

The other tutorials below:

The undergarments  ( chemise, drawers and petticoat)

 Ball bodice and a skirt

 Day dress

I already have a cage, made by a friend, Denise Piggin, but to help folks who are  getting their own, I have decided to get the pattern and play with it, documenting  the stages – and then to sell it on. Again, as I don’t usually use commercial patterns, this was quite a challenge – especially when you realise that things can be done in a simpler way than in the instructions. Still, I preservered and got the thing working….


The pattern was a Truly Victorian one, availble from Sew Curvy – get yours here. They also do kits,  which make  work simpler, but you can always buy from your supplier separately, especially if you want different colours etc


Fabric – I used cotton twill, but any cotton or other sturdy fabric will do. It doesn’t have to be  white either – colours were used too ( check the pinterest board on skirt supports, including crinolines). amount – 1.5m ( if 150cm wide)

Tape/ribbon: for the vertical  elements ( reffered to as ribbons) in the pattern –   11- 12m,

Tape for the boning channels – if using tubular, follow the directions for the length on the pattern. If  making channels of herringbone tape, double the required amount.  I used 28m of 25mm herringbone tape for the large size option

Tubular tape is good, but rarely comes in the required width suitable for the cage. Also, it is pricey. Herringbone tape works great, is cheap and comes in different widths and colours.  To be honest, you can use any strong tape – including cotton ribbons,  velvet or grosgrain ribbons, jaquarded ones – just be aware that you will need a lot.

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Boning: again, as reqired on the pattern.  both 11mm steal  boning and 13mm work great. I used 28m of 13mm


  • trace the pattern ( not much here, so easy!)


* trace the pieces onto the fabric  and cut. Mark the channels carefully on all pieces




1 piece cut out, 2 to go!


tracing the lines for the boning

  • Sew the pieces together into one long piece.  Open the seams and stitch them down – either on one side or on both. I opted for both, looked better on the right side:-)

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From now on, follow the insructions very carefully – they are  a bit tricky at this point!


sewing along the top – remember to leave the 6 inches gap at both sides!


turn the long tube inside out


press, if necessary…

The tricky part – the last seam to make the tube into a closed circle – carefully sew the pieces, righr sides together. The top opening allows for that. I overlocked my edges a bit first, but this is not necessary

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you can even flatten the seam out – a bit tricky, but can be done

Time to stitch the channels. Do not panic if your markings are not aligned perfectly at the seams – you may need to round them up a bit anyway, and the channels are big enough for several bones, let alone one – so no disaster there.


Your bag is now basically ready.

Time to work on the vertical supports – the ribbons. They are very straighforward, as are the instructions. Trace the required length, cut 8, fold and mark the channel slots. If you are using a diffrent width channels, make sure the slots are big enough ( but not too big) for them!


If you are short on tape, or want the cage to be lighter,  you can simply form little loops for the boning channels, without having to double the entire length of the tape.

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I tested both of these – I have 6 double taped and 2 single ones 🙂


tapes ready to be sewn

Sew the tapes. then attach to the bag as instructed – the seam allowance is enough to sew on both sides of the top channel in the bag


Boning channels.

cut the desired length of the tape.


I used double herringone tape – lots of long seams,  so make sure you clp the tape when you double it, otherwise it starts having Mobius ideas… I secured the edges and checked where i need to sew. the pattern of the tape is great – for 10mmboning use the inside groves, for 13mm the middle of the outside ones.

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sew on both sides. I left one end folded, and the other one opened a bit – once the boning is in it, it will be easier to sandwich them together and connect.


You can also use double width tape –  simply fold it in half, lengthwise and run the stitches.  i ran a trial below – on a 4cm tape. with careful stitching, it is wide wnough for both  11 and 13mm boning

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Once the tapes are ready, measure up and cut the boning, for both the bag and the tape channels. I used 13mm bones. Make sure you number the boning.

File the edges ( or protect using caps or tape) after filing i  used plumbers tape to make sure there are no sharp edges.

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Insert the bones into the bag, starting from the bottom. once the whole bone is in, overlap a bit and tape – i used a plain masking tape here.


inserting the bone


taped bone joint

Repeat for all the bag bones – then sew the bag opening shut. You can also complete the sewing on the channels if you want – but not necessary. Be careful not to sew over a bone – if in doubt use a zipper foot.


You are almost there! so far you have the bag with tapes.


Now it is time to get the horizontal support sorted.

* insert the boning into the tapes


Follow the instruction on the inserting boning into the slots in the vertial ribbons.


The instructions do not say much about connecting the horizontal channels – i simply carried on with my sandwich method, sloting one end of the tape into the open end of another and stitching them shut.

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you can hide the seam in one of the slots too,  anchoring the tape there


The last thing is to sort out the waistband. I decided to use  the same herringbone tape ( in cream, ran out of white at that point). Since this cage will be for sale, the flexible  waistband is a plus as it will suit a variety of sizes. You can also  use busles, dress hooks, ooks and eyes – p to you. Be aware that if you choose ties, the waistban will roll a bit – and sit slightly below the waist. This is not a problem – actualy works very well and you don’t create additional bulk at the waist.  If you use buckes  etc, in fact any  closure that keeps the tension actoss the width of the waistband, the wasitband should stay put, snuggly against the waist

The cage is ready now – a tad too big for the  dummy, but works fine:-)


This cage is now available in our shop, offered as an experimental piece at a reduce rate! Here


the front


the back. depening on the size, you might want to moce the tapes aroud a bit.


close up

and my own cage, made in grossgrain ribbon troughout,  with 11mm boning, and the bag with two layers ( with a fancy fashion fabric)


Late Victorian Stock Undergarments - October 25, 2015 - 23

A trick: if you are lost  making the bag, simply cut one layer of fabric ( so cut along the line where the old bag would be folded lenghtwise.   Sew into a circle, hem and use tapes  to provide the channels – in the same way as the bustle cages are made  ( tutorial on Bustle cages). It saves time, and weight – and quite a lot of worry if you have trouble puzzling the bag out:-). Bear in mind, you will need more tape though.

Happy sewing!


18 thoughts on “Making a round Crinoline Cage

  1. Pingback: Making a Mid Victorian Ball Gown | A Damsel in This Dress

  2. Pingback: Mid Victorian Undergarments: chemise, drawers and a petticoat | A Damsel in This Dress

  3. Thank you so much for your great tutorial. It was so helpful while I was working on my first crinoline and I am happy with the result. Your blog is wonderful and I really love your beautiful creations. Warmest regards from Germany. Thilda

  4. I love the sillouette of the era but I’m just put off by the cage crinoline. It seems quite complex and I hate to think how I would store it. It definitely wouldn’t fit in my dressing up box. Lol! Any suggested alternative for the hoop-phobic?

    • Don’t be put off- they are easier to make than you think, and when not worn they collapse- so they canbe stored flat- hardly taking any space at all! Plus they are super fun to wear-much lighter than the earlier styles with loads if starched and cursed petticoats..

    • The measurements are clearly stated on the pattern – I believe the link is given in the article ( the article was meant for people who are working alongside the pattern – i would be doing the author of the pattern a disservice by providing all the details for free.
      obviously, there is really no rule as to how big you want your cage to be, and it is quite easy to work out the measurements yourself – simply start with the bottom hoop measurement as a base 🙂

  5. I have the ‘Truly Victorian’ pattern for the Elliptical Hoop Skirt–does the above apply for this as well?

  6. How in heaven’s name do you get hoop boning without spending a fortune? I am trying to determine how much I can spend on a costume and this has proven a significant roadblock… Any suggestions for good retailers or tips?

  7. Thank you, Damsel:
    I researched how to make this hoop cage on youtube, but was disappointed with more than one video, because there was far too much extemporaneous information in these videos which sidetracks the viewer. I searched the web and found your website. After reading this tutorial , I found it easy to follow and a great rerefresher.The measurements, widths and tape lenghts including supplies are very helpful and insightful, keep up the great work. I will recomend this tutorial to all of my reenacting friends.

  8. Pingback: Creative Project – Research | Sykes Costume

  9. Hello. My name is Andrew. I live in Korea. I love costume design and hoop skirts are my ABSULUTE favorite thing. Actually, I am only eleven, but my dream is to have a crinoline shop in Austria when I grow up. I have a huge question. I watched your video on how to move in a hoop skirt and noticed how very flexible your hoops are. I am attempting to make a hoop skirt for my mother. But she has never worn a hoop skirt before and I am sure you know that that could be somewhat hazardous, so I decided I had better ask you what you used for boning, and where to get it, or rather if I could buy it on line since we live on an island on the south coast of Korea, quite far from America.

  10. Oh, good! Thanks so much! By the way, have you ever gone to the Dickens Fair? I never have, but it’s my dream to go every year when I grow up and take my family in full costume. I like to draw it all.

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