1830s Butter Yellow Day Dress, Part IV: Skirt

Once the bodice was done, the skirt was relatively straightforward. 1830s skirts are just rectangles pleated to the bodice, so rather than follow the pattern I cut three lengths of fabric to use.

I added some non-historically-accurate pockets to the side seams– I do intend to carry a reticule with this dress, but pockets are nice for things you really don’t want to lose.


Because I had a center back seam I figured that I didn’t need to stitch in a separate placket– I just used an extra-wide seam allowance and folded it over to one side. Sadly, this did not end up working out, as once I’d pleated my skirt to my bodice and basted it in place, I realized that it was just too full– my fabric was 54″ wide, making for a 160″ skirt circumference. It looked more like an 1860s skirt than an 1830s skirt, so I cut out a section from the center back (12″ on each side) and re-stitched the center back seam. That required me to rip out my skirt pleats and start again, which was a pain. And I ended up doing it a third time once I tried it on and was dissatisfied with how I’d distributed the skirt fullness. And then a fourth time when I decided that my waistline was just 1/2″ too high, so I needed to re-set the skirt (and waist piping) entirely to bring it down just a bit. And then a FIFTH time when I realized that in order to balance the hemline properly I’d need to take it up from the waist due to the difference in length between front and back. (sigh)


Once I’d finally gotten the waistline right (or so I thought), it was time to get the hem done. I donned my new multi-use petticoat and a pair of flats (I have plans for 1830s-ish half-boots, but those will come later), and pinned up a 7″ hem to just about ankle height. I blind-hemmed it by machine, as I’ve found that blind-hemming makes a sturdier seam and one that’s actually less visible than hand-stitching since the stitches on the right side are further apart than my hand stitches.


And finally, the dress itself is done! I still have some extras to work on– the ribbon belt and the sleeve supports (so necessary, look at those sad, droopy sleeves), plus the bonnet and pelerine– but the main parts are finished! Whew!



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