The underskirt is a fairly simple piece to make. It is similar to other skirts I have made in the past. Still different than the one used for Inara Serra white/Gold Gown. I went a little off script for this piece. The dress in the movie is based on a Russian Court dress from the era that the Grand Duchess Anastasia has lived in. This style has been seen throughout the 1890-1910 range of court dresses.
In the movie, the underskirt is just seen as a pink/fuchsia color of satin I am assuming. I liked that idea, but when I went to my local JoAnn’s and saw this beautiful scrollwork chiffon I had to have it. I picked up eight yards total, even though I knew I wouldn’t need it all, but I got it for a future use as well. It has no purpose as of yet, but I am sure I can think of something later on to use it for. In addition to the chiffon, I picked up this fuchsia satin, four yards of it. I am hoping to use all of it, because I will say this now it is not my best color. However, it is accurate to the show.
If you want to make the underskirt completely accurate, you can forgo the scrollwork chiffon on top. You may need to find another pink matte satin fabric, because the Casa I picked up is discontinued, which is a bummer. It is not the best pink I have ever found, but I would have liked a little more leeway with my sewing projects. Especially when I have not designed the piece yet.
Now that we can go ahead and get started. I took a muslin sheet and brought it to my mannequin who is currently wearing three petticoats I have made, I may decide to remove one of them later on, but for right now I like the look with three of them. (Also, I may make a new one in place of the one on top currently, only because I made that for another person, and I am sure she will want it back at some point.)
Onto officially starting on the overskirt. To start have all your petticoats, if you are having any, and lay your muslin on top of them, lying flat at the waist. Pull it down to the bottom. Make sure the straight edge is in the front. Mark out where you want the underskirt to start and where you want it to end. I let mine go a little past the floor, just a couple inches. I needed a bit of room available to make sure I could hem the skirt where I wanted it to end.
Leave this piece pinned here, but carefully cut around the edge. Pin the other piece of muslin to the back of the mannequin, the same way as the first, except with the straight edge at the center back. Pull flat and mark out where you want this length to end and where the edges meet up at the side. I made sure to leave a little room to err on the side of caution.
Transfer the muslin pattern to wrapping paper. Make sure to add seam allowances at this point. I failed to do this because of the size of the wrapping paper, but I added seam allowances onto my fabric as I cut it out. I first cut out all the satin pieces on the fold and then used the satin pieces unfolded to cut out of the scrollwork chiffon.
A little heads up; I am nowhere near a professional status when it comes to working with chiffon. I do not know how to hem it and it slips about. I do have a knife that is heated that should cut and heat the edges for a professional look. But I cannot get my knife to get hot enough. Therefore, I researched online and most people I saw used a special hem foot for their regular machine, I don’t have one of those. And I tried to use my serger to have a narrow hem, but I cannot figure out how to do that with my machine. (If you know, please let me know in the comments below.)
Onto the construction portion of this blog post, I pinned the fabric right sides together. Satin to satin. And chiffon to chiffon. I sewed down the edges of both sides. Leaving an 8-inch gap at the top of the left side of the skirt. Maybe it would be easier if I had the opening on the right side, because I am right handed, but oh well. That should not be a huge issue. At least not to my knowledge.
Fold inward the edge twice encasing the raw edge inside as to avoid fraying and sew this done. Use lots of pins. I am hoping to get a narrow hem foot myself for a maybe easier task or to learn how to use my serger for this process instead.
I followed the same steps for hemming the satin. The satin layer turned out much better than the chiffon layer did, but I knew it would be like that, because chiffon likes to slip under the foot sometimes if you are not careful. Staystitch the tops of the skirts together so you can treat this as one piece for when you add the waistband.
The waistband was a bit of a tricky one, as I have mentioned before I was unsure if I was going to use an elastic, drawstring, or hook and eyes, buttons. I wasn’t sure until the time came to add the waistband. I went with buttons. It meant I needed to cut the waistband slightly larger than I needed it to be, so the end could overlap the other side for better closing. You will need to interface the satin for it to stiffen and sit nicely at the waistband. If you don’t, be aware that the waistband can warp over time. Albeit I won’t be wearing this costume every day. Maybe only a handful of times total. Nevertheless, it will remain in my collection for future use if I need to wear it again.
Interface the fabric according to the instructions. (My ironing board is currently now my bench. Sturdy and made of wood. I covered it in pretty in pink hot air balloon fabric. Sandwiched the batting in the middle, two layers for protection. The reason I needed a sturdy ironing board is because my expensive ironing board that was only really used these past two years warped and became unusable. It was badly warped from ironing on the interfacing. It required a damp towel to iron over the fabric until the towel was dry. Which made the metal bow in certain areas. I have yet to purchase a new one, considering the places I have stopped at were poor quality.)
After you interface the back of the satin band, staystitch the chiffon to the outside. You will need two pieces of satin the same length and one piece of chiffon. Interface the backs for both satin pieces. Staystitch the chiffon to one side around all edges. Then pin the satin with right sides together and sew along the top and side edges. Fold one side inward a half inch and iron it to keep it out of the way. I recommend the back piece without chiffon, because when you sew the piece to the skirt you will sew the outside down first so you can hand sew the inside in place.
Pin the chiffon piece right sides together with the chiffon skirt. Pin the ironed portion up and out of the way from the machines needle. The last thing you want to do is have to unstitch this portion to resew it correctly. Sew a narrow straight or zigzag stitch along the top. Unpin the ironed piece out of the way and lay flat against one side. Here is where you can either stitch in the ditch or do a ladder stitch inside, even a slipstitch, or a whipstitch. Any way of sealing up the edge inside the channel. As long as it isn’t noticeable on the outside of the garment.
The hardest part for me was the buttons and buttonhole. I have a machine that does an automatic buttonhole. So that part fairly easy. It was deciding what buttons to use with this project. I scoured my JoAnn’s store and wasn’t sure what I wanted to use. The choice was limited to the color palette of the fabric, which is a light pink with iridescent shimmers to it. I bought pink buttons, but misplaced them in a safe place. (Probably that safe place that I lose everything in.) I instead used a purple button.
After you do the automatic buttonhole on the flap that hangs off the waistband, find the spot on your body where you want the waistband to close at and sew the button on that spot. There were two options for buttons, shank and regular. Obviously I want with the regular choice, as the shank buttons would be too much of a nuisance on a skirt that is supposed to be under the corset/bodice. It would add too much bulk underneath.
That is the end for this post. I hope the instructions along with the pictures were easy to follow. As always, if you have any questions leave them in the comments below. Thank you for reading this long piece about the simple process of the underskirt. The underskirt took less time than the petticoat although this post is longer.
Sorry for the fabric just thrown onto the pile, that pile is labeled the What I Plan To Work On Next Bin. Now replaced with a pretty bin. And I almost never work on what is in there. Because I am always sewing for the next event or con. Although I do manage to sew some every day kind of clothes here and there. If that is something you are interested in reading about, please let me know.
Until next time, bye.