The Bum Pad revisited–Ideas for Quick Production, Assembly Line Construction and Storage


If you follow my blog you know that I used bum pads to create the historical feel in the recent production of “Cinderella” that I costumed.  You can read my original bum pad post here.  I absolutely fell in love with this silhouette during the show, and I went back and stuffed Charlotte’s pad fuller . . . of course that meant clipping out the stitching and re-sewing the top shut.  Doable, but annoying.

Things that I learned during that show included:

  1.  Bum pads shrink.  Yep.  That stuffing compresses with wearing,   Not only that, once you visually get accustomed to the shape, you probably will want it fuller than you originally made it.
  2.   Bum pads take up A LOT of storage space.
  3.   Bum pads are generally unseen, and probably rarely washed since they don’t actually touch skin (as they sit between the petticoat and the skirt).

This led me to do some thinking about a better way to make and store enough bum pads for a large cast.

To begin, I began with the Simplicity 8162 pattern.  I traced the bum pad on to a large plastic sack.  This way I can keep my original pattern in good condition, and, if doing assembly line construction, there could have multiple people cutting out.  The biggest size difference in the bum pads is how wide they are across the top.

pattern and traced working version

I also found that a thrifted pillowcase works great as the base fabric.  It is just about the right size, and when you fold it in half you can cut out both sides at once with minimal fussing with the fabric.  You could also consider using a non-fray fabric, like a knit, or even the non-woven maerial that re-usable grocery sacks are made from.  I like to add trim on the edges of mine, but this is totally optional.  Ruffled fabric, lace and/or eyelet work well.  I have found that the ruffled edges of curtains are a great source of super cheap, easy-to-use trim.

You will also need some sort of tie.  You can make the ties out of scraps of the pillowcase, or use some other cord or twill tape.  If I were doing assembly line mass production, I would definitely pick tape.

cord for the tie, or use scraps of fabric

You will also want snaps.  I like Kamsnaps, but you could use any sort, or sew them in by hand (although that would take a lot of time).  I wouldn’t use velcro as that will stick on the stuffing.  You could also consider a zipper or safety pins.

kam snaps

Lastly, you will need stuffing.  Stuffing is expensive.  This is where you start being creative:  thrifted blankets, pillows, plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap, petticoat net cut out from under dresses, strips of towels or trash fabric . . . .basically anything you can use to stuff the pad.


found stuffing

The main emphasis is to make them quickly.  The thing about bum pads is that no one sees them, so why spend the time to make them gorgeous?  We are going to cut corners by keeping the seam allowances on the outside and make them flexible by adding snaps to the top.  Odds are, the bum pad will never be washed.  The pad is sandwiched between the petticoat and the skirt, and thus never touches the skin, so, do we really need to be concerned about raw edges?  Especially hidden ones?  The increased flexibility provided by the snap opening will prove useful in several ways.   First, we can adjust the size of the bum pad to achieve different looks with different dresses.  Second, we can remove all or most of the stuffing for easy storage between uses.  And, in a mass production situation, we can give the stuffing job to non-sewers–always a plus!

My streamlined quick-and-dirty sewing technique included:

  1.  Cutting the pieces out on the fold of the pillowcase so both sides are cut out at once.
  2.   Use a pinking shears (if possible) to prevent fraying.

3.  Mark the tips of the stitching lines (indicated on the pattern) with a pen or sharpie (who will see it?)


4.  Stitch around the sides of the bum pad, WRONG sides together.  Stop about 5/8″ from the top edge.

5.  Stitch from the indents to the sharpie marks (the red thread is just to show the stitching line).

6.  Sew on the trim.  If you don’t have enough to go all the way around, start at the center of the trim and the center of the bum pad.  First stitch to the edge in one direction, then flip it around and stitch the other way.  You may need to make a small pleat at the indent.

7.  If the trim was too short, fold the raw edges under to the back, and topstitch  down.

8.  Fold the top (open) edge to the inside about 5/8″ and stitch down.

9.  Make ties, or cut ties.  Stitch them securely to the corners of the bum pad, which stitching the top shut to within about 1-1.5″ of the divisional stitching (from step 5).

stitch the tie on, and stitch the top shut to about 1-1.5" away from indent line of stitching

10.  Mark the spots for the snaps (I will add small sharpie marks where the pens are), and add your snaps of choice.  (If you don’t want to use snaps, you could just use a safety-pin.  Sewing is also an option, of course).

11. Stuff.  Remember to tear your stuffing into smaller pieces to work into the corners and small spots first.  Then fill the remainder with larger pieces.  Be creative in what you use to stuff with . . . think of things that are plentiful and CHEAP.

stuff as desired

12.  Snap shut and you are done!  After use, all or some of the stuffing can be removed and the bum pads can be stored flat until they are next needed.

Here is my video blog about how I did this.

2 thoughts on “The Bum Pad revisited–Ideas for Quick Production, Assembly Line Construction and Storage

  1. I love your work!! It’s amazing. I’m an amateur costumer–I do the costumes for our local elementary school. Yours is the first site I’ve found with helpful information on making a transformation dress. Thank you!


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