Choosing your 1860s Era Crinoline Size

1860s era crinoline

When it comes to the crinolines of the 1860s, bigger is not always better. Contrary to popular belief, the crinolines worn by women of this period were not as wide as folklore (or Scarlett O’Hara) wants us to believe. While the largest period crinoline I have found documented measures a whopping 225″ in circumference, the majority of 1860s era extant cages only measure between 90-105″ in circumference.

There is photographic documentation amongst the upper class and European nobility’s preference for the larger cage crinoline during the 1860s.

However, numerous 1860s era photographs support the idea that the average middle class European and American woman of this period chose to include the the more modest sized crinoline in her wardrobe.

CDV courtesy Ebay
CDV courtesy Ebay
CDV courtesy Ebay

To determine what size crinoline you need for your 1860s era middle class impression, I have devised a simple algebraic equation. The average waist size in the 1860s was around 26″. Let’s use the smaller extant crinoline circumference for our equation. Take your waist measurement and plug it into the following equation:


Here’s how it works: Let’s say you have a 32″ waist. Plug 32 in the equation where it says Waist. Now do the math: 90×32=2880. Divide 2880 by 26. The answer is 110.76. So that means you would need a 111″ circumference crinoline (or there-abouts).

Happy sewing my friends!

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About Susan

My interest in historical costume began at a very early age. I knew by age 5 I wanted to be a designer. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to turn my passion into a full time business. You can find my costumes onstage in NYC, on the big screen, and in museums around the globe.