Constructing the Skirt/ Petticoat

When I create a gown that is two pieces (at least) I always start with the skirt.  This appears to be in contrast with what many other people and patterns suggest.  Why do I do it this way?  Two reasons.  A logical one and a personal one.  Logically, I like to create the skirt first as then when I am creating the bodice, I can ensure a proper fit over the waist band, vs the bodice being made slightly too small and doesn’t accommodate the skirt waistband.  And the second reason is because I like getting the biggest thing done first, as the bodice usually takes more time.  So when I start the bodice,  I know that I am almost done.  So this is why I begin this gown course with the skirt!  

As I mentioned in the previous lesson, the skirt can be constructed in two different ways.  One continuous length cut to the desired width (which is what I will be using here) or several panels pieced or stitched together to create the needed width.  Whichever manner you are doing is fine.  If you, however, you are starting with several panels, go ahead and stitch them together now.

Step 1: Inserting the Placket




Step 2: Gathering and Creating the Pleats




Step 3: Making the waistband and attaching the pleats.




Step 4: Stitching the pleats to the waistband.




Step 5: Finishing off the Waistband



Step 6: Hemming the Skirt

There are many ways to hem a gown.  A simple hem stitch, blind stitch, or attaching a hem facing/twill tape.  This is a personal preference and I usually let the work I am planning on doing dictate how to finish the gown.  For example, this is a simple work gown to be used in a historical building while housework is being done.  A simple double folded hem will be sufficient.  However, for someone working outside, by a hearth, or wishes to have a more sturdy gown, I would recommend a hem facing.  To create, cut a 3-5” wide bias strip from a medium weight cotton (twill works well) as long or as many pieces as to completely cover the petticoat hem.   Press down both sides to create a neat finish.  Mark your petticoat length your finished length plus 1-2”.  Fold up that extra length, and pin the facing over it, getting it as close to the edge of the skirt bottom without it being seen on the outside.  Slip stitch the facing on the top and bottom.   This can be time consuming, but does help protect the skirt.