Hello readers, it’s been a while! Some sewing has happened since my last post, but no historical projects were actually finished, hence the lack of updates. However, in December I finially got around to some historical projects again, this time with a deadline. So sewing ensued, and stuff has been completed. (And of course, after that it took a little while to actually write the post).
I had an Edwardian weekend away with friends end of January, for which I aimed to make two things. Firstly, a black wool walking skirt for practical purposes. Secondly a lacy ball-gown. More about that one later, this post is about the wool skirt!
The black wool skirt was a practical choice. I wanted something that would be suitable for colder months, and which would match with a lot of different things. From sporting sweaters to blouses to bodices, in many different possible colors. Something like that didn’t really exist in my wardrobe yet.
I started by looking through the online Gracieuse archives. I picked 1905 as a year, and browsed through collecting the images which included a pattern reference. I wanted something walking length and simple that wouldn’t be too difficult to make. However, also something with visual interest somewhere, as a plain black skirt can also get too plain easily.
In the end, I settled on this design from the october 1905 edition. It is described as a ‘foot free costume skirt with pleated accent’. It has two pleated panels on the side for visual interest, and I figured I could also add some in-seam piping on the panel above the pleats. The skirt pattern is, as usual with de Gracieuse, absolutely tiny. However, it was enough to get basic shapes/proportions and to start a skirt draft.
My first step was to transfer the general style lines of the skirt patter to a grid, and to convert it to something that had the right length for me. Waist size was a little less important, mostly because there’s pleats in the back. But I did measure roughly how wide I wanted the front to be on me, and attempted to stick to that.
Honestly, there was no super clear method to this. I started mostly figuring out the length, angle of the circle, and waist measurement before pleating the back. And then I drew something which looked visually sort of similar, trying to retain the angles. I also decided I’d do the pleated panel last, based on the size of the ‘gap’ to fill in.
Drafting the full scale version was one of those moments where a big floor came in handy!
In the end, I think all my panels came out wider than in the inspiration, including the pleats. I had 4 pleats instead of 4, and my pattern for that piece was much more rectangular than the more square you see in the original. I don’t hate it, but it does mean the skirt has a slight tendency to ‘swing foreward’ a bit? I might experiment with inner ties to keep the pleats to the back a bit more.
Then it was time to cut! I got a black faux wool for this project. It’s fairly heavy, which I did want for this skirt. 100% wool is a bit harder to find around here, and there was enough of a price difference that I opted for a ‘good fake’ instead. That also made me feel a bit better about not making a mock up.
I piped the seams next to the top side panels with pre-made piping (another short-cut, as making piping out of wool is a pain, and I had a deadline). I next pleated the side bottom panel, and with a bit of fiddling and figuring out managed to attach that on 3 sides. To the front/back it’s seamed under a pleat to the front/back panels. Not actually in the pleating line itself, which would have been much easier and probably better, but I didn’t take that into account when patterning, so I managed.
At the top, I folded over the side top panel, laid the pleats underneath and then top stitched about 2mm from the edge. This actually gives a bit of a ‘fake piping’ effect because of the springy wool, which I was quite happy with.
The pleated panel was hemmed with bias tape before pleating, because I wanted to make sure the hem would hold the pleats as well. I eventually ended up just hemming the whole thing with bias tape. A wider cotton facing would probably be more accurate and better protect the hem, but in this case I don’t worry too much about that and just wanted a simple finish.
Final steps were to pleat the back, and attach the whole thing to a waistband. The rest of the skirt hemming was actually done then, and finally closures made it complete!
Some pictures on the dummy in my messy room
And some on me! Paired here with a cycling sweater by Emmy design, it makes for a great winter outfit. It’s warm, a practical length, can be paired with nearly everything and yet the pleats add a little interest. I was very happy to have a bit of snow for the perfect picture setting, thanks to Niklas @vintagebursche for these photos!
Thanks once more for your posts. I’m always so impressed with your projects and sewing know how and ability.
I’m so glad to see your new project! I like the detail on this skirt. I don’t find pattern drafting particularly easy, so I love picking up tips and tricks! And, of course, I’m looking forward to seeing the other projects you hinted at!
Thank you! It’s definitely not an easy thing to learn, and quite different often than the actual sewing skill.
The pleats are such a beautiful detail!
Thanks! I was quite happy with how well the faux wool holds them.
Welkom terug! Lovely skirt, the photo with the snow reminds me of a photo I once saw of Michelle Pfeiffer wearing a similar outfit in “Age of Innocence”
Isn’t that just the right outfit for the snow! It looks cozy and the skirt has that classic, crisp look that is one of the joys of tailored Edwardian clothing.
I am usually perfectly awful at patterning, so it’s neat to see how you approached it only the design, but the order of making…insetting the pleats could be fiddly, but they lay very well.
Natalie in KY USA, where spring is too early this year: we miss snow!
Thank you. It was definitely a bit of a task to figure out how to put the pleats in and although I’m sure I didn’t do it the easiest way, I’m happy with how they look in the end!