Dawn's Costume Guide

How to Make a Bum Roll

The Bum Roll is a crescent shaped pillow that middle class women in the 16th and 17th centuries used to wear under their skirts to make them stand out a little at the sides. Quick and cheap to make, this will help give you the right "look" at RenFaires and medieval recreation events.

What you need:

yesterday's newspaper or other large scrap paper

1 yard of muslin or scrap cotton fabric.

polyester fiberfill or cotton batting for stuffing

1 yard of ribbon, cord, or string for ties

Make the pattern:

Take your waist measurement. On a piece of newspaper draw out a large oval that represents your waist.

At the top of the oval mark a center line. Measure up 6-8 inches from that point. Draw a line that tapers toward the bottom of the oval, as in the illustration. Don't make it too pointed, as it will be hard to sew and stuff later on.

When you think you have it right, cut it out and hold it around your waist to see if it is correct. Adjust the pattern larger or smaller if necessary. (This is why we're using yesterday's newspaper here, okay.) The inner curve should fit close around your waist, not too tightly, but not more than an inch or three loose.

Gudrun Stockman wrote to tell me that:

" To get the inner curve on your bumroll correct (or near correct) on the first try, all you need is some aluminum foil. Take a piece of foil that's 4-5X your waist measurement, fold it in half and then roll, squish and mangle it until you have a solid foil snake. Wrap it around your waist, molding it to your curve, (I recommend that you put on your corset first to get the right shape and a reasonably solid base to work from) and remove gently. Ta-da! Instant correct curve! "

Don't worry if your pattern is a little lopsided. Just fold it in half and cut along the lines you think are more accurate.

Pin the paper pattern to a double layer of your fabric. (Just a note, it doesn't have to be terribly nice fabric. The cheap muslin you can get at some stores will work fine. Nobody but you is going to see this.) Trace around your pattern, being sure to leave about half an inch for the seam allowance.

Cut out both layers of fabric. Remove the paper pattern. Place the first fabric piece right side up on your table. At the very end of each curve pin half a piece of your ribbon or cord so that one end overlaps into the seam and the other end is tucked up into the center of the pattern out of the seam. These will be the ties you use to hold it on when you wear it.

Sew the seams from one end to the other, leaving a few inches in the back for stuffing. Make sure the ties are sewn in securely at the ends of the roll.

Turn the roll inside out. Use the ribbon ties to help you pull out the ends of the curve. Stuff firmly, like you would a doll or a toy. When it is fully stuffed, sew up the hole by hand.

Wear your bumroll over your chemise, under your skirt. Tie it on over your hips so that it fits comfortably and supports your skirts. You'll find that it will raise the hemline of your skirts by 6 or 8 inches, so if you plan to wear one often, consider making your skirts a bit on the long side.

The roll has two added advantages. First, by lifting your skirts it allows more air to circulate around your legs, which is cooling in warm weather. Second, it is a great place to pin a handful of emergency saftey pins.

And, Ladies, if you plan to wear this as part of an outfit to some place, like, say, a RenFaire, be aware that you can't sit in a car seat very comfortably with it. My advice -- if you are going to dress before arriving on site -- is to discreetly hike up your skirts when you get out of the car (you've got the chemise on for modesty, now) and tie it on in the parking lot or the ladies room.

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2001 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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