First version – brown Victoriana
My first attempt with a draped skirt, with all the interest at the “bustle” area (or butt as Mrs Mole would say – do your brides blush?), was executed with brown corduroy. Or “corde du roi” as my (new) tutor Daniel Kinne calls it. We like to speak a bit of French in the classroom. I countered with (serge) de Nîmes. I am sorry about the overexposed photograph taken in the classroom. Brown, like black, can be a bit fussy to photograph. So it looks like we have no stand behind the skirt.
If you are thinking why drape in brown corde du roi, the answer is that Morley college was selling off various remnants for £1 a metre – half the price of calico – so why not? Actually it is nice fabric and I thought I might make a “wearable toile” with this fabric. But so far my draping experiments never seem to go from fabric to outfit in one fell swoop (or one foul sweep as someone at work said the other day.) Anyway what is interesting with this experiment is that I had to gather the side seams to create the space for the bustle. I then picked up the fabric at CB and pinned it to the CB neck of the stand. I had some fun pleating the fabric to create some pleasing folds.
I then whisked this off for more work at home. I created a waist line with thread, then cut off the large centre folded section to create the back of the skirt. There were several layers of cloth at the CB and i stitched it down carefully. I also used fusible interfacing at the side seams where they were gathered with two layers of machine basting, and then taped.
Finally I bunched up a piece of cotton organdie and pushed it up the skirt. It seemed, against my best intentions, taking the shape, colour, weight and bulk into account I had more or less invented a Victorian skirt. Not really what I had in mind.
Back to the drawing board
I showed you some historical inspiration for the under structured skirt. I was wondering (a little conservatively) if I could create something a more restrained, for everyday wear rather than court or couturier. I liked these 1940s dresses and, while they are all evening/cocktail dresses, they are very wearable. Maybe as a knee-length skirt, rather than a one piece dress.
For my second attempt I decided to make a toile first, and rather than using corduroy I thought I would have a try with something drapey. Also I had been toying with the idea of using the middle, pulled up piece to make the bustle – something like in the third Vogue pattern above, the striped mustard dress with the square back. I got out my skirt block, cut a skirt back with closed darts (opened at the CB and side seam) side gathers and an about 38″ of fabric added at the CB. I think that in a nice fabric without an obvious front and back (or maybe with an interesting reverse), and with a little more body, this design might be really nice. The bustle bit looks a bit like a big bow (or could be arranged that way). I think this is another skirt that has legs, but it needs quite a lot of development. I will report back in due course.