19th Century

1883 in every way

So, after I posted about pleating my plaid 1880s skirt, an awesome friend crunched some number and figured out that if I counted the thread I used in the skirt in imperial rather than metric I would have used 1883 feet of thread in the skirt, which, since it is circa 1883, is just perfect.  How fantastic is that?

Metres & metres of stitching in the pleats

Most of the thread usage in the skirt went into the pleats, but after I had sewn them all, and attached the bottom portion of the pleats to the skirt base, I had to do the hardest part: drape the overskirt.

I suck at draping overskirts.  I don’t know why.  Mine just never look right!  I do better when they are separate pieces, but after scrutinizing the inspiration skirt from the Met, and considering how much fabric I had left to play with, I decided to sew it as one skirt.  I’m still not sure that was the right decision.

First I had to make my pieces of pleating big enough.  Remember, I had a  5.4 metre long, 12″ wide length to work with, so I sewed it into three shorter 36″ wide lengths – one each for each side, and a further fall for the back.  Luckily piecing was really easy with this plaid, and the pleats and topstitching held it even more.

Piecing on the stripe 4th from the right

For the apron overskirt, I arranged the pleats running around the body, so they sort of fall in a fan from the centre front points.  I did lots and lots of pinning and and re-pining and basting to get everything where I wanted it to be.

Draping the overskirt

The pleats falling open over the hips

When I was reasonably happy, I sewed everything down to get it to stay.  I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to press it the next time I display it, but it looked rather good at AetherCon.

The 1883 skirt – side view

The 1883 skirt, front view

What do you think?  Too controlled and pannier-y?  Too symmetrical?  Should I incorporate another fabric to give more fullness to my overskirt?  Or is it just right?

The 1883 skirt in the wind

Doesn’t my model look fabulous in the ensemble though?



  1. Lynne says

    Very close to perfect! Simply splendid in side view. The wee bit of yoke one can see at the front doesn’t quite look right – even though you have a beautifully centred dark stripe. Not sure what you could do about that, though. The outfit as a whole looks wonderful – very assured and graceful.

    • Lynne says

      I’ve been thinking about this – I love the way you give me things to think about that have nothing to do with my daily cares! Do you have enough fabric left to make a tiny swag that could be caught in under the two main swags? So that it would drape down in a scollop across the front, cutting out the straight line. I know you may well have used every scrap! A plain colour wouldn’t be as good, but it might be better than nothing. The paler blue, for preference.

      • Elise says

        My thoughts exactly. It looks (I’m so sorry) it looks a little like panties are showing under a skirt.

          • Elise says

            It’s funny, because I read this article the same day I read about a leak of unretouched Victoria’s Secret photos.

            This dress reminds me of this swimsuit, which was even too ‘immodest’ for Victoria’s Secret Lingerie (even though it still covers more than most bikinis, and totally safe for work)

          • Elise says

            So right, it’s not the draping, it’s what shows underneath.

            I guess I’m fascinated by this the way I’m always fascinated by little things that can make a piece of clothing ‘immodest’. I mean, this is a beautiful figure-hugging dress! But the little bit that shows under the draping of the full skirt is what makes it risque.

          • See, I actually really LIKE that the bit underneath shows, precisely because it looks wrong to modern eyes, but is there in my main inspiration piece – it plays with our idea of how clothes should look and go together, and I think that’s a good thing. So it’s probably going to stay that way for a while,

          • Elise says

            Well good thing I don’t live in the 19th century…I would see panties everywhere!

  2. Frank says

    I don’t see a problem with the yoke showing, as long as it wasn’t a solid color. In fact, the center stripe breaks up the symmetry of the pannier. And the dress is GORGEOUS!!!!

  3. Love it! I think it looks stunning, but I have to agree with Lynne – the peak of front yoke on the skirt seems a little off. But other than that – wonderful!

  4. Karen says

    I think your outfit is amazing and perfect as it is. The symmetry helps to give some order to all the plaid which might get out of hand with a less controlled arrangement. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  5. Natalie says

    I love it but the yoke showing in the front does bother me. I feel like it is revealing something that shouldn’t be shown.

  6. How lovely! Every post makes me love this outfit even more! The silhouette is just amazing. The part of the yoke that is showing doesn’t bother me much at all, but if it really worries you, you can just take two scraps of fabric where the blue stripe goes down, and place those blue stripes over the white stripes, like how the skirt looks with all of the white stripes on the inside of the pleats. Then it would match perfectly with the bottom half of the skirt. Of course, that is only if you wish to do it; I love everything about it, anyway!

  7. I love it! The lines are so elegant. I really like it better than the first version you made

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  8. I think it’s positively STUNNING. It’s perfect the way it is, in my opinion, and I am completely awestruck by the amount of time, work, and talent you put into this amazing piece!! So very well done.

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