Draping on the stand 0.12 – Understructures – inspiration

I am slightly behind in that I have not completed the asymmetric wrap round skirt with flounce. Because the term is coming to a close I have moved on to the final project – the under-structured skirt. I very often find myself un-enthusiastic when a brief is given (as discussed yesterday). We are required to create a skirt that drapes over a foundation and has lots of structure and shape. If I was a historical reenactor I might be pleased to make  one of these. My friend Demented Fairy is on a roll with “Steam Punk” Victoriana at the moment, but to be honest I have never had a desire to wear a corset or a long, dramatic fabric hungry, heavy dress.

Bustle backed wedding dress
1880s Wedding Dress (all images from V&A)

Before draping we will have to create some sort of base to drape over. Here are some original cages and cushions from the  V&A collection.


I like a challenging brief, but with this one I admit my first thought was “arghhh. I don’t want to make a cushion to wear under my clothes – are you kidding? My behind is already big enough – without enhancement!!”.

Here is another idea – to create width at the sides, created by panniers. I remember being fascinated by these when I was young – especially being told that ladies had to enter the room sideways through the door. And this dress, permanently on show at the V&A has the most exquisite floral embroidery and silver threads (it would be nice to have a little  embroidery like this in my sweet pea collection!).


V&A Manuta dress
1740 Mantua court dress

More modern, wearable versions, with a barely exaggerated full hip shape, are is this gorgeous green Givenchy gown, and the checked dress from Ferier.

The interesting thing about padding out part of the body is that it can have the effect of making the other parts appear slimmer and more sinuous, an effect that Dior achieved perfectly with his New Look Bar Suit, in my opinion. The jacket has plenty of structure at the hip, holding it away from the tiny corseted waist.

1947 Dior Bar Suit
1947 Dior Bar Suit

I am beginning to think this might be an interesting project!


4 Responses

  1. Demented Fairy

    Ooooh yes do it do it. There’s lots of fun to be had with cages and panniers- even La Westwood has played after all [very successfully as I recall] Before you got to the line where you mentioned panniers, I was thinking exactly that. They are fun to make, and small ones could be useful too…being a sort of bumbag under the skirt.
    My little tournure is light and easy to wear-it’s just pleated crin on a stiffened base, with an elastic waist…but then again, I don’t have a bum!
    I’m looking forward to this.

  2. Jay

    I love the historical inspiration clothes you’ve featured, but I share your feelings about wearing additional clutter under my clothes. It will be a great design challenge though – interesting to work through even if you don’t want to wear the result.

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