What is a crinoline and how do you take care of them? A crinoline, also called a net slip or petticoat, is a woman’s undergarment meant to fluff out a skirt, and give more of a bell shape. It can be made from fabric or net ruffles and is closely associated with the popular 1950’s full circle skirt style. Whether it’s new or vintage these crinolines require some special help to keep them looking bouncy and bright.
Here are some ideas for how to properly fluff and shape your net crinoline, and how to remove wrinkles. Wrinkles will sometimes come out by themselves if you hang the crinoline up for a day or two. This is the first thing you should do with a crinoline. It is especially helpful to fluff and separate the net layers and gently pull the net into shape. Give it a few shakes as well. Note: It’s okay to hang it up for a day or two just to shape it, but crinolines should be stored rolled up in a bag, or else they will lose their puff from being pulled down by their own weight. You can also steam stubborn wrinkles with the steamer setting on your hand iron. Do this by first laying your crinoline over the ironing board so that only one layer of netting is exposed. Lay a pressing cloth over the crinoline. Set your iron on the “delicate” setting, and press the crinoline over the pressing cloth, so the netting does not get scorched. Any remaining wrinkles can be fluffed out by hanging the crinoline up, and gently blasting it with steam from the steamer function on your iron. Just remember — that steam is really hot! Do not to touch the iron to the crinoline, or you will burn the netting. If you are lucky enough to have a real clothing steamer, then hang up the crinoline, and steam the crinoline from the inside, facing out. The netting will instantly puff out. Don’t have access to an iron or steamer? Hang the crinoline in your bathroom. Turn the hot water on in the shower all the way. Close the door to the bathroom and let it steam. Go in every few minutes and smooth the netting out. Or, put it in the dryer on fluff cycle and run it for a few minutes, then hang it up and separate the layers gently, shaping the crinoline as you go.
Hanging crinolines in a closet is handy but it’s only good for temporary storage. Store your crinoline rolled up in a plastic, or travel/duffel bag. Actual “crinoline bags” can also be bought from square dancing costumes and supplies stores. You can roll up your crinoline without creating new wrinkles like this: Stand holding the crinoline in front of you with the waistband at chin height and the crinoline hanging down. Tuck the waistband under your chin and use your arms to gently fold the crinoline from the sides into the center so that you end up with a long, vertical tube. Gently press the air out as you do this. Now start rolling from the bottom up, again gently press air out. Once you’ve rolled to the top you’ll have the waistband section to make a neat wrap around for the net. When you need it again you’ll have the waistband to hold onto as you unroll the crinoline. Don’t let your pet find its way to your precious crinoline and turn it into its personal throne! Pets love nesting in crinolines, and not only is getting their hair out tough, but they will flatten your crinoline as well.
Tired of the color? Crinolines can be dyed. Here’s how to brighten or change the color of a crinoline. Make sure you use a dye that works for nylon fabric. A crinoline needs two packages. Most people use “Rit” dye. Rit dye and clothing dye in general can be found at your local crafts store, or chain variety store. Fill the washing machine with hot water then mix in the dye according to the package’s instructions. Just make sure to make the washer go through an extra cycle after you are finished dying the crinoline. This will ensure that no extra dye is left in your washer! Yellowed crinolines can be whitened. Just soak a cup of dishwashing powder in enough hot water to cover the crinoline. Soak it for 30 minutes, rinse, and hang to dry. To easily “freshen up” your crinoline, just pop it in a dryer on the fluff cycle a few minutes before wearing.
Crinolines give bounce to your circle skirt. They’re great fun when you’re dancing and can add a flash of color and sass. A good one will last with proper care and storage to give you years of flouncy fashion.
Fun Fact: Did you know that in the 1950’s they used to get their crinolines to stay stiff by immersing them in a sugar water bath? This is called “Sugar Starching.” Here’s how they used to do it. Mix a couple of cups of sugar in a big bucket of warm water. Once the sugar is dissolved, immerse the crinoline and let it soak for a couple of minutes. Take the crinoline out, let it drip and then look for a place to prop up the crinoline so it can dry in the right shape. Some women would drape wet crinolines over a big bush in the yard so they would be full and fluffy.