Sunday, June 11, 2017

Inside a Turn of the Century Evening Gown, Part 2: The Skirt

Yesterday I shared pictures of the bodice. While the inside of the bodice is fairly messy and pieced, the skirt of this gown is fantastic! It is so heavy and engineered!

I'm always really excited to get to study a skirt, since they seem to rarely survive, while bodices, which don't employ yards and yards of fabric just waiting to be remade, are so much more common.

The shape is fairly simple. Here is is laid flat. The CB is to the right, CF on the left. 

Cross stitching to indicate the CF of the skirt.

The hem is deeply faced in a stiffened leno weave fabric. Probably cotton. Tarlatan? It's about 15" deep, and is cut with the skirt pattern, on grain.

Mounted on top of the stiffened facing is the most fabulous ruffle. It's about six inches. It's very stiff, like an organdy, trimmed in a heavier lace (cluny?) and pleated beautifully. I have read you could send out fabric to be pleated. This could have been done like that, or perhaps purchased already pleated and assembled for the purpose. It's very consistent.

The pleated ruffle is tacked to the hem every ten inches or so. Underneath, you can see more of the facing.

Where the selvedge could be used, it is. The rest of the raw edges are overcasted.

The fold of the hem is soft and rounded, like maybe it is faced not only with the leno fabric, but also perhaps with something like flannel. 

The skirt closes with some hefty hooks and eyes at the waistband. The ten inch placket closes with a metal hook and thread bar. The waistband is cotton twill.

These loops look to be original to the skirt. There are two, one toward each hip. They are cotton tape and I assume are for hanging.

And here you can see the booty pocket! It's inserted into a seam toward the wearer's right hip, but still in the back.

Below you can see the concealed opening of the pocket.

Across the back of the skirt is another cotton tape that seems to keep the skirt slim around the front, with the fullness kept tidy at the rear.


  1. These pieces are great to study! I am always amazed when you see the inside, and how messy they are. I'm always afraid not to have everything as perfect as I can make it. This gives me some license to relax a bit!! haha

  2. Hahaha, I love that in the past someone also needed to mark center front and did it with a thread X. I don't usually struggle to find front on skirts from this period, but with my 1850s/1860s skirts I definitely do, as they close in all sorts of different ways and I've done the pleating or gathering on each one differently. :)

    Thanks for sharing your gorgeous dress with us! I love seeing the insides of these lovely things. I found when I made an 1890s skirt, lined with cotton and stiffened with canvas at the hem, that all that fabric did create a rounded bottom edge. It's quite a heavy skirt, given that the exterior is silk. :)