How to make a Pegged skirt (Draping method)

Last week I wrote about how I had draped a pegged skirt on the stand at my Morley evening class. After three hours in the studio I came home with an understanding of what a pegged skirt is, but I wasn’t able to make up what I had already prepared.

This post continues the story of a very lively red fabric versus a determined woman, armed with big pins and scissors. That makes it sound exciting. Actually it is a fairly technical post about symmetry and fit.

Symmetry

As you know one of the great advantages of flat pattern cutting (using a paper pattern) is that,  as long as you cut, mark and sew fairly accurately, you tend to get a nice, even, balanced, symmetrical look. Conversely of the most frustrating things about the draping process in the round, is getting a symmetrical garment. Of course I tried. I measured, marked and “eye balled”; I held my set square against the pleated, bulky vertical garment, but I was completely floored by my opinionated fabric and the skirt that fought back.  Maybe I should have gone for a deliberately asymmetric design (not an accidentally asymmetric one).

Fit

Also the skirt was too big.  Apart from the symmetry challenge, I also needed to get the size right, and I wanted the pleats to work OK on my figure (rather than the shape of the stand at my evening class. I haven’t gone on about it but she looks like she was on the Titanic). I hoped that by settling the design of the back first I could be certain how much fabric I had to play with. Also because I was draping the whole skirt rather than half as is usual, I just couldn’t control all the cloth, unless I fixed it at certain points. So I pulled out the pleats I had painstakingly stitched last week, and inserted a CB zip on the bias, as I had marked it. I now had a definite CB seam and marked CF. I got out my biggest, meanest pins (seen in the photo below) and I anchored the angry red object to Camilla.

By having the CF and CB sorted and attached to my stand at the right place I felt I now had a chance to create the skirt I wanted.

This picture is nice as you can see what happens to the hip line (yellow). Ignore the blue (left over from my first attempt). The yellow thread at the top left shows what happened to the waist line at the CB.

Draped, pegged skirt with zip
Draped pegged skirt, with a CB zip

Style

In this first iteration (above) I had a nice, angular pleat across the derriere. On the stand it looks rather fetching. But when I tacked all the pleats down and tried it on it didn’t work so well. The springy fabric jutted out across the fullest part. Bearing in mind Mrs Mole’s injunction against any drapes that make “your hips/butt look enormous”, I shied away and went for a couple of darts. Yes, I am a coward, and one day I will try something more adventurous, but as I mentioned before I want wearable and relatively flattering. This skirt is big, red and does its best to make the “hips/butt” look somewhat prominent.

Method

Once I had the zip in place I laid out the skirt on my ironing board. At the far end of the board is the zip and the brown selvedge, basically showing the CB is on the bias grain. You can see the CF across the bottom on the photograph and the hipline as a long yellow stitch. The while thread tacking is where the waist line is after the skirt has been draped. The circumference of the waist is currently 60 inches, or 30″ on the folded fabric. The darts and pleats had to reduce the 30 inches to about 14″ (to fit my 27″ waist with an inch of ease). I trace tacked the side seam too, half way between the front and back. To do this I went down from the 15″ point to half way across the hem (the hem is much narrower than the waist).

Draped peg skirt instructions
Remarking the fabric

Then I set to work on the doubled fabric, marking the darts and pleats through the two layers, using tailors tacks, and then I separated the two layers, cut open the tacks and pinned the darts and pleats closed.

Peg skirt pleating
Pegged skirt; Suppressing the waist fullness

Style

A pegged skirt is wide at the hips, narrow at the hem, and flatters tall women with small hips and slim legs. As I am making this skirt for me (with fuller “hips/butt”) I need to make a very careful decision depth of the waist band and the length of the skirt. Any advice?

 

6 Responses

  1. Mary Funt

    Any reason you are draping this from one length of fabric rather than drape the back and front separately? You are right that combining the front and back of a pegged skirt will rotate the center back onto bias grain (or even further to the cross grain depending on your pleat depth). This assumes you place the center front on the lengthwise grain. The waistline pleats on a pegged skirt radiate from the side seams. If you eliminate the side seams it will be very difficult to get the pleats to hang correctly. The back pleats also misbehave because you are now trying to make the warp threads, which are woven under greater tension than the crosswise threads, fold softly. To see this better try pleating a length of fabric on the lengthwise grain and then on the crosswise grain. Your crosswise pleats will pouf out more. I’m also not sure how eliminating the side seams will allow you to peg the skirt. At best the back hem will be off grained and there would be some type of sharp angle where the side seam should fall. This is probably harder to explain than draw.
    I would keep the waistband narrow and the length not too long. Pegging the bottom will make it difficult to walk in the skirt if it is too long. Hope this helps.

  2. sew2pro

    I have a wide-hipped, short legs figure and found the pegged look actually quite flattering because the width created was higher up than my very low, widest point so in fact it makes my legs look longer. However, I created the pattern on paper rather than drape (tute here: http://www.sew2pro.com/indian-pink-dress/ ) I know you don’t like heels (which help pull off this kind of look) so maybe Doc Martens would look good with this skirt style as they have chunky wide soles which balance out the width further up (like bootleg jeans do).

    Good luck with the class; I wish I was doing it with you but too far, too late.

    • fabrickated

      Next term I think it is bodices – maybe you can join me for that. It is really getting me into new ways of thinking. So exciting.

  3. mrsmole

    I’m with Mary as I was trying to imagine where the side seams should be and being left with some sort of weird poking out edges, Maybe the fabric is just not the right one to be messing with? Would this work with something more drapey and airy? All those pleats and darts are supposed to help you, not create problems. Another thing we have to have in mind before we start a project is waist and hip circumference…starting with 60 inches and needing to reduce it down to 27 is a huge risk on a tiny girl! What were your thoughts on the eventual circumference at the hem? How much circumference do you need to walk up steps and get into a vehicle? Will this skirt need to have a very high back vent to allow you to walk? You know my brides want their mermaid dresses pegged so their knees are together and swear they will never have to walk up steps but you live in the real world, Kate and are very active. Wishing your good luck and a flash of genius along the way, Sweetie!

  4. Jay

    60 inches is very wide, and in a fabric with quite a lot of body too. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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