1910 Afternoon Dress, Part IV: Underskirt

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Since I was making this outfit as separates, I decided to really maximize the sizing and mix-and-match potential by making the lace underskirt a separate piece as well– two skirts total. This way I can use the underskirt for another outfit somewhere down the road.

I started with a base skirt made of thin ivory cotton, which I based on the original pattern’s underskirt– I just cut it a bit larger in the back and added some small knife pleats to take up the extra fabric at the waist (for ease of size adjustment). I also evened out the waist height to hit at the natural waist in back rather than the artificially raised level of the original, and added a flat waistband. I omitted the hem facings from the pattern because this is an underskirt that’s going to be covered in lace– no one will see a machine-stitched small hem. I hemmed it to fall right at the ankle, figuring that I’d want the lace to fall slightly below that level.

Once the ivory base skirt was set, I constructed the rose-colored overskirt (more on that in a later post) and put it on top to see what parts of the underskirt were still going to show.  I wasn’t going to make the entire underskirt out of lace– that would be wasteful since so little of it would be visible. I decided to make the all-around ruffle about 12″ high to ensure that the attachment seam would be completely covered by the overskirt. The front section of lace, which would be revealed further by the raised overskirt, needed to be taller, so I planned on having a second tier of lace on the front half of the skirt only.

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As you recall, I accidentally ordered two separate 1-yard pieces of lace instead of a single 2-yard piece, so I had to do some piecing. I had four separate 1-yard pieces of border (one on each selvedge), and three yards of skirt to cover– two yards around the bottom, and one yard across the front for the second tier. In order to keep things gathered evenly, I split up my borders so I’d use 2 2/3 yards for the bottom and 1 yard* for the top– I had to do a lot of cutting to get the piecing seams to look symmetrical, though in the end I’m not sure they were all that visible. Annoyingly, at this point I realized that the borders on the two selvedges were *not* identical– the pattern on one was slightly larger in scale than the other, which meant that my edges weren’t going to match perfectly once joined. I decided to basically ignore this, because no one will be looking that closely at my hem. But it’s still going to bug me.

*I’d intended to use the full remaining 1 1/3 yards, but decided later that splitting my extra 1/3 yard into 1/6 yard pieces (in other words, 6″ wide pieces) seemed like overkill for a relatively small added width. Particularly since only the center few inches of the flounce were going to show anyway.

Anyway, I stitched the pieces together with a tiny seam allowance, which I then zig-zagged so it would roll over on itself to look even smaller. Then, because my lace looked a little flat when I tried pinning it to the skirt, I cut and hemmed a long strip of ivory cotton and sewed it to the back of the lace. I ran my gathering stitches through both layers to make a ruffle with more body to it, and then stitched it upside-down to the skirt so the ruffle would flip over and hide the raw edges. The flipped section also helped with ruffle volume.

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It actually took me forever to get this ruffle to be even all the way around– partly because I hadn’t been quite careful enough when cutting and stitching together my embroidered net so it wasn’t quite the same width all the way around, and partly because the hem of the underskirt wasn’t exactly level so I had to keep adjusting the height of the ruffle to get it to fall at just the right height off the ground. I also think I’d have liked a little extra width to get more fullness in the lace itself– maybe if I’d bought three yards of lace rather than only two, since right now the gathers aren’t very evident in the final skirt. Still, not much I can do about it now– perhaps if I ever want to use this skirt for a future project I’ll buy another yard of the lace and piece it in…

I took my remaining 1 yard piece and backed the lace with another piece of cotton before gathering and stitching to just the front of the skirt, so I had two tiers in front and one tier in back.

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All in all it turned out pretty well!

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