Farthingales, hoops, crinolines and bustles were all names for a variety of undersupports for women's skirts over a period of some 400 years, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. By the eighteenth century, the typical hoop like the one pictured was made of linen fabric panels with several cane hoops sewn into it. The hoops were relatively flat at the front and wide at the side to emphasise the hips, producing a very flat 2-dimensional silhouette, rather like a hobby horse (as seen in the woman dancing in the coloured print below). Some women made their own hoops, and the cane could be bought from local haberdashers such as Zachariah Shelley of Congleton whose 1728 shop inventory included a quantity of "hooping cane" worth 2s 6d".
Crinolines of the 1860s were much rounder and bell-shaped than eighteenth century hoops. They were made of metal circles, often watch wire, attached to tapes, forming a cage-like structure. The wearer could move easily and sit down as the metal circles folded up like a concertina. However, they were very cumbersome contraptions, so it was of course easy to knock into furniture or to catch the crinoline on projections, resulting in mishaps and accidents.
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