1910 Afternoon Dress, Part VII: Overskirt


Making the overskirt was a bit more complicated than I thought it would be, so I put off finishing it until really late.

It started off simple– I extended the length of the original overskirt pattern and cut the pieces a bit larger to allow for some extra fullness in back, just as I did for the underskirt. However, since there were no darts in the front like there were in the underskirt, the shaping was different– once I pulled the waist tight in back, the front pulled unattractively across my stomach, and there seemed to be too much curve at the side seams, keeping them from laying smoothly over the hips. I tweaked the shape a few times, and eventually got it to behave reasonably well.

This issue was compounded by the horror stories I’d heard about working with satin– that it showed every tiny pinhole, that it puckered if you looked at it funny, that sewing machines loved eating it for lunch, and that it was impossible to keep straight while cutting or sewing. Though I managed to avoid most of these issues by flatlining the satin with my cotton voile, I still had to be really careful with pinholes and ripping out seams. Basically, in order to avoid visibly ripped-out seam lines, every alteration I made had to make the skirt progressively smaller as I widened the seam allowance. (sigh… I guess I should’ve done a mockup after all)

Anyway, once the main skirt was sewn I tried it on over my ivory underskirt and started experimenting with the center front gathering at the hem. I quickly realized that just gathering or pleating the center would not work– far too puffy, and the skirt sides pulled in like a cocoon (not what I was looking for). Instead I took a page out of the skirt gathering section of my Birthday Princess Dress, and decided to give the raised center a little help. Rather than cutting a shallow curve right away, however, I cut a small slit up the center to allow the edges to pull away towards the sides more gracefully. If I’d planned ahead more I’d have flared out the hem to allow the center gathering to take up the extra fabric and bring it back to a straight side seam, but that didn’t happen so I’ll just have to make do.

In any case, I kept making pleats in the center front until the skirt draped prettily over the underskirt. When I was satisfied that I’d be able to make a nice drape, I let down the pleats and trimmed away the portions of the skirt that just added bulk in the center. Then I took some extra cotton and made a shaped hem facing about 3″ wide. I machine-stitched the facing to the hem and understitched it so the seam would roll to the inside, and hand-tacked the other edge to the underlining layer of the skirt– I did keep the underlining on the skirt, despite removing most of it for the bodice, both for this purpose and because I wanted the extra layer of fabric to soften any corset lines.


I hand-stitched the center pleats so they’d stay in place– I considered adding some kind of decorative detail, like a self-fabric covered button or a smidgen of lace, but in the end I just left it as-is.



One thought on “1910 Afternoon Dress, Part VII: Overskirt

  1. Fun. The shaped hem is a good tip. Regarding the pulling… one time i deconstructed a prom dress that had a pull up in the front. It had a piece of tape hanging from the waist and attached to the pull up. That way the weight hangs on the tape and not the skirt… which might help with those pull lines you were struggling with. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

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