May 11, 2014

Work in progress

This last week, I've been working on this dress:

As I've mentioned before, this image is from a Libelle magazine from the summer of 1956. It was a pattern which readers could order, but obviously, it's not available anymore. So, I drafted my own.
Instead of the wonderful, ideal-for-this-design bold black and white stripe in the picture, I'm using a fabric with a thin black and white stripe. Because it was in my stash.

The dress isn't finished yet, but I thought I could share some information about that skirt with you. It's not difficult to make but it is eye-catching and unusual. It will should look great in my finished dress but it could also complete a different kind of bodice and I think it would work equally well as a skirt on its own.

For this skirt to like the one in the picture, it would have to be full. Mine is just under 4 meters wide at the hem. The width of the first tier is almost 2 meters.
To get the interesting effect, the skirt has two tiers and eight gores. On four gores, the top and bottom tier are of the same length, on the other four, the bottom tier is substantially longer.
To get the look from the picture, the middle of one of the short upper tiers is placed at center front. This means that center back and both sides are in the middle of a gore as well, so you'll either have to put the closure in an unusual place or insert an extra seam or a facing to make one (I'll make use a facing lined up with the bodice side seam to include a zipper).

I only had a limited amount of fabric (a bit under 3 meters), so I had to calculate my skirt accordingly. Fortunately, my fabric was 150 cm wide. I cut my pieces like this:

The middle length rectangles are 42 cm long, four of them are 50 cm wide, the other four 25 cm. Then, there are four pieces of 57 cm long and 50 cm wide and four of 27 cm in length and 25 cm in width. Which left me with enough fabric to cut out the bodice pieces. The layout in the picture is for fabric folded in half as usual when cutting, the sizes given in the text are the sizes of the whole pieces.

If you add up the numbers, you will notice that this will give me a skirt of about 80 cm in length, providing I use a separate hem facing of some sort. I like my vintage style skirts to have that kind of fairly authentic length. If you don't, or if you are substantially shorter than I am, you may want to adjust the length of the pieces. 

After you cut the pieces out, stitch gathering threads to the tops of the wide bottom tier pieces. Gather them to fit the top tier pieces and stitch in place. Middle length ones together and long pieces to the short ones. 
Finish the seam allowances (I just serged mine) and press flat. Then, pin and sew the gores together, alternating the two kinds. 
After that, gather your top tiers in one go (and insert a zipper in the method of you choice, of course) and attach to the bodice or a waistband.

Before you ask, the size of this skirt can very easily be adjusted. Basically, to get a full-ish skirt, you want each gathered piece to be at least twice as wide as the piece it is gathered to. This means that you could use my pattern pieces for sizes up to a 100 cm waist... Although wider is nice too. I went with a bottom tier twice as wide as the top tier and the top tier being a bit over three times the width of the bodice waistline.

I hope my explanation makes sense. As ever, don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions and if you make a garment using these instructions, I'd love to see it.


  1. Super interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This looks intruiging! Looking forward to the outcome :)

  3. Ooh, I have just the right fabric to do this in. I may have to try this out. Thanks for sharing!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  4. I fell in love with this dress as soon as you posted the photo, can't wait yo see it!