Changing silhouette

After enduring years of austerity during WW2 and with an increase in the availability of a new range of fabrics, women’s appetite for feminine garments using copious amounts of fabric was epitomised by Dior’s New Look. The New Look was characterised by a structured bodice, cinched in waist and billowing calf-length skirts. As fashions filtered down from the couture houses, women sought ways to achieve and recreate the style and the newly available nylon net or bobbinet provided dressmakers with an inexpensive material in a range of colours in order to do that.  Using multiple layers and/or combining it with other materials gave the illusion of generous amounts of fabric and provided volume without excessive weight.

Bobbinet was first made by machinery in 1809. It was so called because the cotton thread from which it was traditionally made was wound onto bobbins and then twisted to form a net structure with hexagonal mesh form. Nylon bobbinet is manufactured in the same way and will hold its shape more readily without the use of starch which would have been required for cotton bobbinet underskirts.

This 1950s evening gown (1) uses layers of differing shades of pink nylon bobbinet sewn into the garment beneath the top lace layer to achieve the desired volume and a graduated colour from the waist to the hem.


Volume was also popular for day dresses and skirts. Crisp colourful cottons were supported by underskirts made from layers of bobbinet often edged with tape or ribbon to prevent snagging on stockings or scratching the legs of the wearer. This example (2) incorporates three tiers of nylon bobbinet with an over skirt of starched material with a machine embroidered edge.