Pseudo-Victorian Skirt

Still wandering blithely down the garden path of “how far can we get from mainstream fashion?”

Back in October, maybe, I spent some time fantasy-fall sewing and pulled out several candidate fabrics for fall and winter pieces that would complement what currently passes for my wardrobe. I wanted a skirt that would fill the same role as the Adventure skirt, but for the grey/red/black subset of my wardrobe, and this grey “flannel” got tapped.

First of all, you know those fabrics that you buy and then they’re too precious to use for fear of ruining them? Well, this fabric is basically the exact opposite of that. It was billed as some kind of flannel, which I guess it maybe is, but I would more describe it as a lightly brushed twill suiting, 100% polyester. I bought it quite a few years ago to make a shirt for a Christmas present, and even paid a significant chunk of full price. At the time, I was thinking the poly flannel would be durable. Which, I mean, hopefully it will be. But it’s also so, so nasty. Although it has a nice drape, it frays like crazy, and worst of all does not want to take a press. Anyway, I’m profoundly grateful to have it out of stash, and that I didn’t turn it into a gift.

I didn’t want to freehand the pattern as I did for the Adventure skirt (the fabric alone was going to be annoying enough) so I pulled out an old Burda envelope pattern I had made back in the day. I figured I could modify it a little bit to get the effect I wanted. (Actual pattern options would be the Folkwear Edwardian Walking Skirt, which I should actually have a traced version of somewhere, from when my mom made it for herself back in about 1992, or the Scroop Fantail skirt, which conveniently went on sale shortly after I started this project. But I already knew I loved the shape and length of the Burda pattern). I actually couldn’t even find the original pattern (curse words) but I did find my traced out version. I knew I needed to add at least 3” at the waist, and I was hopeful that adding a bit more fullness thorough the hips would make room for pockets (since my hip expansion hasn’t matched my waist expansion the last few years.)

My pattern changes were simple. I cut the centre front piece a bit back from the fold (probably adding about 1.5” there, and I cut the back piece not on the fold, but extending out to the edge of the fabric so I would have extra fullness for the pleats. I added a more precise 3” to the waist and length, but in hindsight I should’ve added more because the wide underlap I tend to use on the closures of my “Victorian” style skirts needs more overlap than the narrow zipper closure the waistband is designed for. I also cut pocket bags, shaped to attach to the waistband. This nicely keeps the pockets from pulling on the side seams, but in hindsight I should have cut them using the upper part of the side front pattern piece for the shape, as that would’ve been a good size and supported the pocket nicely. Also I didn’t add quite enough length to accommodate the pocket reaching the waistband, so the actual part of the bag below the hand opening is really shallow. Though my phone didn’t fall out at work when I put it there, so they’re functional.

I came incredibly close to underlining the entire skirt in (real cotton) flannel, but didn’t have enough that I was prepared to sacrifice, so I just went with a single modern-style layer. It makes for a swishier skirt anyway.

I spent a LONG time fussing with the pleats to fit them into the waistband, and they’re still not great.

In the pics the rear closure isn’t lying especially flat, but I’m hoping it’s just my pinning because I got impatient and wore this before I made a button hole for the closure so it’s just held on with a big safety pin.

I was hoping for an invisible hem with hand hemming, especially since it required a LOT of easing, but I don’t know that it’s much more invisible than a machine blind hem. Oh well. It’s done now.

It maybe says something about the weird state of my wardrobe right now, but I’m hopeful that this skirt will be a really practical addition.

Unfortunately, I still have about a mètre of the fabric left. I’m tempted to make a matching top, or at least waistcoat, to extend the historybounding look, but we’ll see.

4 Comments

Filed under Sewing

4 responses to “Pseudo-Victorian Skirt

  1. LinB

    Those pleats look just fine from where I’m sitting. Hurray for a warm skirt in a basic color!

    That Folkwear skirt is amazing — but it is basically just a multi-gored skirt in which all the fullness is pushed to the back two gores at the waist. A long, wide placket opening is entirely enough to let you get into the skirt and to preserve modesty. No fastener other than one at the waist is needed. And, if you use non-directional fabric, the skirt is not a fabric hog (you can flip the gores to nest them onto your fabric).

    It sits well whether or not you choose to wear a small bustle. I do not. My own “bustle” is entirely big enough to support the back of the skirt.

    • Yeah, that’s my recollection of the Edwardian Walking Skirt—simple but gorgeous! This one was probably more wasteful, but oh well. Still not the worst decision I’ve made this year.

  2. Fun! And anything that can be a good use for icky fabric is always a win. I would vote for a vest to use up the rest. You don’t want it near your skin if the fabric is as icky as you described. That way you can wear a blouse underneath.

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