Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The (Almost) Modern Edwardian 10-gore Princess Skirt

Goodness, it's been a week, hasn't it? Last time I posted, the kids I nanny were still going to school like normal and I was planning to go to church like normal come Sunday. I kept reminding myself I needed to get to the library over the weekend to pick up some books I had on hold. Now? All schools in the state are out for the foreseeable future and I'm not sure how many weeks it will be until my church holds a Sunday service again. The library closed it's doors last Monday night, without even a suggestion of a re-open date.
Of course, the event I planned to make the 1901 evening gown for has been canceled, along with everything else, but that's honestly the least of my worries or disappointments right now. Was it seriously less than 2 weeks ago that I was giving myself deadlines for each individual piece of the costume so I could be sure to have it done in time for the event?
Even with all the Covid-19 worries and my event off the table, however, I've decided to press on and finish this evening gown before starting another big project. It's approximately half done, and I should definitely try to finish it before losing all momentum. I may not have anything to wear to it b  right now, but I'm sure, once this is all over, I can come up with something.

And so, without further adieu, lets talk about my recent Edwardian sewing adventures, starting with a project only vaguely connected to the evening gown plans. A small project, which allowed me to just dip my toes in the waters of Edwardian costuming, before diving in head first with the pink silk and fur gown.

For Christmas, my Grandma gave me several Truly Victorian patterns off my wish list. One of which was the 1906 10-gore Princess Skirt pattern. Now this pattern didn't exactly fit with any of my 2020 costume plans, it was just really pretty and I wanted in my closet. So, in February, I decided to make it as my introduction to the Edwardian era.

I had, by this point, already made an Edwardian corset (which I still need to photograph and blog), like a proper historical costumer who makes the undergarments first. However, on the day I decided to start this skirt project, I did not feel like putting on said corset to take my Edwardian measurements. I figured I could just cut the skirt according to my normal measurements and take in the waist later. This proved to be a less than great decision. With a normal waist measurement of 28" and a hip measurement of 38", I fit perfectly in size E.

As I didn't feel like making a mock-up first, I decided to make my skirt out of a fabric I wasn't very attached to, but would still happily wear if the skirt turned out nicely and fit well - a synthetic blend blue moire I picked up at a thrift store. The moire had some rather dramatic fading streaked throughout so some areas of the fabric looked more purple than blue. I decided that would be fine, and tried my best to use the parts of the fabric which weren't faded too badly.

I traced off the pattern in my "non-corseted" size (Tracing the pattern, rather than cutting it, is probably the best decision I made when it came to the prep work for this project.), cut it out of the faded moire, cut a partial flat lining from cotton twill, and set to sewing.

The first step was to flat line the top section of the skirt in cotton twill to support the very high waist this style has. With that done, it was on to making the nicest concealed hook and eye placket I've ever seen.

The instructions described how to conceal the hooks and eyes in the placket seams for an absolutely beautiful finish. This was a bit more work than my usual method of just slapping on the hooks and eyes at the end - but look how pretty it is! I will definitely use this method for future skirt plackets.

You can hardly even tell where the placket is on the finished skirt!

Fancy placket done, the skirt gores were sewn together like normal. I decided to add in-seam pockets to the side seams, right below where the flat lining ended.

I anchored the top edge of the pockets to the bottom of the flat lining to prevent the weight of the pockets from distorting the shape of the skirt.

After all the gores were sewn together, the next step in the instructions was to bone the seams at the waist, where the skirt was flat lined. Knowing I wouldn't be able to adjust those seams once the boning was sewn in, I decided this was a good time to try on the skirt over my Edwardian undergarments and make any adjustments necessary.

First I tried on the skirt without any historical undergarments - and it fit beautifully! The waist didn't even seem to need boning, it stood up beautifully all on its own. At this point I was tempted to keep this skirt as it was and wear it in every day life. As I'd meant for this to be an Edwardian skirt however, rather than a modern one, I figured I ought to actually try it on with my Edwardian undergarments before finishing it.

So, on went my corset and bum pad, followed by the skirt - which now did not fit at all.

It was too big through the waist and too small in the hips. This meant the waist wrinkled horribly and the pockets gaped wide open. The skirt was simply not wearable over my Edwardian undergarments, which decreased my waist measurement to 26" and increased my hip measurement to 40-something".

I decided it wasn't worth attempting to alter the skirt to work over the undergarments, so I would just finish it as it was, to wear in my modern life.

I finished the upper edge with bias tape made from fabric left over from my plaid tiered skirt.

The hem was trimmed to the correct length, then finished off with a wide, bias-cut, hem facing of the same cotton plaid.

I then wore the skirt to church the very next Sunday. (Clearly, this was before social distancing because of the virus became a thing.)

At church no one said a word about my skirt. So we'll just assume it didn't look too out of place. Or at least no more out of place than what I usually wear.

After church I ran to the auto-parts store to pick up oil and an oil filter for my truck. There I did get a "Nice Dress!" from a guy in the parking lot. 

That afternoon I went for a walk with my family on a local trail (and drafted my brother to take pictures for me), and the long skirt did not get in the way at all when it came to walking, or climbing up steep, narrow trails to see the river from the top of the bluff.

Thus, all in all, I'd say this skirt works pretty darned well for modern wear.

However, I still do want a skirt like this for historical wear, so I think I'll re-trace the pattern in the combination of sizes required to fit over my Edwardian corset, bum pad, and petticoats, and make it again!


  1. Yes, I felt the same way about events getting cancelled in my area, too. I'm working on a big project (and now I have lots of time to finish it when I thought I wouldn't...) and I've decided to keep pressing on rather than putting it aside. I have to hope that events will be reasonable to have again (and hopefully sooner rather than later!).

    The skirt has a lovely fullness to it and the color is lovely. At least it fits with historical undies and now you know what changes to make for the second version!


  2. It looks so graceful and elegant. I want one!! Do you mind sharing the pattern you used?
    It is sort of like, historical Edwardian meets modern maxi-dress look. As for the fading, before you mentioned it I assumed it was a sort of prism affect. Nice job using what might be considered "ruined" fabric.
    Yes, I think the extreme measure of social distancing took us all off guard a bit.
    Our entire state is currently under a 2 week stay at home order.

    1. id also be happy knowing which pattern she used....

    2. it looks a lot like this pattern : https://trulyvictorian.info/index.php/product/tve23-1906-ten-gore-princess-skirt/
      but since i also want to make it to use in modern life, id be happy to know if this would be a good pattern to use without bones, and maybe with a zipper and not hooks and eyes....

    3. Yep! That’s the pattern I used. I left off the boning, and think you’d be fine to put in a zipper too :)