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An 1850’s Guide to Dressmaking: The Skirt

“General facts and rules to be remembered:

Some few things are true about the making of all skirts, through every change of fashion, and whether the dress be of the courser stuff or the richest satin.

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  1. In cutting off the breadths, be careful to have them all of precisely equal length; also see that regard is paid to the figure running up or down, when the breadths are being basted, previous to running them.  This is a matter that is frequently overlooked, even by experienced dressmakers.  
  2. The breadths should be basted or pinned securely while running them, because a puckered skirt will spoil the appearance of the most elegant dress.
  3.  Commence running each breadth at the bottom, first measuring off a length of silk sufficient to prevent the necessity of making any breaks of any sort in the seam.  Not one backstitch can be permitted , as it will show distinctly on the right side, especial if the material be stiff silk.  

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The fastenings of the dress should be sewed with great care, so that they may last as long as the dress itself.

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 Whalebones should be smoothly pared on the edges and ends, to prevent them from slipping out after wearing holes in the waist-lining.”

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Source: The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility… by Emily Thornwell, 1856

Looking to create your own 1850’s skirt?  Here are a few great patterns to get you started:

Past Patterns has a wonderful pattern for a skirt and bodice.

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This pattern for a petticoat can be made of a variety of materials for under or outer wear…and the price is great!

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Happy sewing!
~Aimee

 

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