By pleated Underskirt I do mean the portion that sticks out at the bottom and sides. I am going to assume that they didn’t waste all that taffeta to pleat the whole skirt and only have the side stick out. And in some pictures it even looks like they ran out of taffeta and only had a small section of pleats sticking out the side from the top. It is hard to explain and these are the least photographed pieces of this project
My first bit of a challenge was my lack of fabric. I miscounted the taffeta I had for the pleats. I thought I had 5 yards, but it looks like I only have 4. That leaves me with just enough to make pleats in the gown. The floor pleats, the pleats at the shin, and the pleats coming from the top to the side. So before I could pattern those further I needed to have the underskirt bits patterned that this will attach to.
For that bit of the underskirt I went online to purchase a cheap but pretty taffeta. I bought it on Fabric.com. It was like 2 dollars I think. Great deal. I bought ten yards. And when it came in, what I got wasn’t like a taffeta that I have seen before. It wasn’t stiff, or textured any different like stretch taffetas that I own. It sure is pretty though. The color does have a depth to it.
That concludes my plan for the skirt. Both fabrics match each other real well. As you can see in the picture below.
To pattern the skirt I didn’t want to add too much bulk in the waistband because of the two petticoats and the bustle pad. So I created a yolk. It was easy. I just draped my fabric along my mannequin, drew out the shape of the top of the waistband, as well as the sides. Then marked four inches below as I wanted the skirt to start four inches lower. Transferred the markings to my pattern paper added a 5/8 seam to it. Instead of fusing the fabric like I normally would I lined it against twill and some cotton. The waistband will only be lined with a stiff cotton. For less bulk.
For the majority of the skirt I used the previous pattern from my petticoat and added some width to the sides of it to make it a little more flowy. I cut these pieces out of the two dollar taffeta. I am saving my fifteen dollar taffeta for the bits you will see, that is the pleats. I don’t have enough for the overskirt, but we will go over that part with the draped skirt next.
For the pleated fabric I had four yards. The long section at the one side is on me roughly 27 inches long. Which is about half my fabric length. The bottom pleated section needs to be 9 inches in width. I marked and cut this out three times to make a section that was 12 yards long. The second ruffle section 10 inches wide. But since I needed to remove the section for the side which I removed a yard and a third for that leaving me with two yards and a third but times three.
Sew each of the respective sections together creating one long strip. I sewed the seam down using a decorative stitch. And then proceeded to hem the fabric using a decorative stitch as well. For all edges that were cut I used my overlocker to stop the unraveling threads from getting worse. Do not tear this fabric lengthwise. It will not work. I tested it on the swatch/sample I requested because I knew it could tear width wise on grain. But don’t tear it lengthwise. You will need to mark out the measurements and cut them out.
After all the edging was completed I pleated it by dividing the fabric in four, and then I kept dividing and pinning each section until all sections were as even as possible. To make sure it matches up with the hem of the skirt pin the pleats to a grosgrain piece of ribbon that is the same length plus seam allowance of the skirt edge. It was very simple just very time consuming.
To pleat I used bridal satin pins. Pinned the top of the fabric, the bottom, and two in the center evenly spaced. When all sections were pinned off I ironed the fabric. To help set the pleats iron them with water and vinegar spritzing the fabric with a spray bottle. It smells, but the smell does go away. The vinegar will help, at least in all the research I’ve done that is what I found out.
I did iron it a few times throughout the process just to make sure that the pleats stayed put. After that I attached the strip of pleats to the hem of the skirts. Both at separate times. And once they were attached they were sewed down using the same decorative stitch. They will likely never be seen, but just in case it needed to be even.
With all that down I just needed to pleat the long section, all edges besides the top have been hemmed. I made the yoke out of the taffeta that the skirt is made out of, used a twill as the strength. For the waistband I used a fusible interfacing to stop any warping. The material was too finicky for me to deal with it in the time I had, otherwise it would be lined with a cotton or twill.
Sew the waistband to the yoke, I made a tie waistband because it will be under a bodice anyways. To finish it off I sewed the yoke to the skirt body. Use decorative topstitching in all these pieces. Just for a matching effect.
This skirt doesn’t sound very complicated now that I look back on it, but I was stumped as to how to make a bustle gown out of the four yards of taffeta that I owned and use other items that I previously owned or could readily buy. If you have any questions feel free to ask. This is one of my more favorite pieces, though not completely historically accurate, I did the best I could in a weeks worth of time.
The draped skirt is the easiest you can imagine, even though it took the same amount of time as the pleated skirt. But that was because of my inability to measure the width of the pleats correctly. Since I only had 4 yards of a beautiful taffeta that I was going to use I needed to purchase a close enough color match at Joanns for this. As my time was seriously hindered. I found a near perfect match in their Casa winter collection. I purchased the liquid woven in this deep blue shade. I made sure to get eight yards in case.
The main length of this skirt is just a long rectangle that I hemmed. The waistband is also a long rectangle as well. Roughly 36” long, I want it to overlap and 4 inches wide. The waistband was interfaced before I attached it. I normally would line it with a cotton or twill, but the fabric was slippery and the time didn’t allow me to fiddle with it as much as I would have liked.
The longest time spent on the draped skirt was attaching the skirt to the waistband. I first gathered it down by hand stitching. And when I pinned it to the skirt to check the look of it, it was fluffy. I don’t think I am describing that right. But it was poofy at the top and a little billowy. I wanted it sleek and flat at that area because the bodice should cover it. So I tore out all the tiny gathers I made and pleated it to the waistband. But I ended up running out of fabric about ¾ of the way through and unpinned to restart. This time I had too much fabric left behind. So I repined and started over. Third time was the charm. I completed it and then sewed the waistband on like usual.
For my Red Riding Hood costume from OUAT I sewed down the pickups and pulls of the skirts. For this I didn’t I wanted it to be able to use for different costumes if I wanted to. So what I did was find a section that I liked the pickup to happen and I safety pinned it to the part I liked from the inside to the inside so you don’t see the safety pin. The waistband is also safety pinned on. Considering I lost weight since I wore Red last year, I need to take in all the skirts for it and make a new corset for the costume. (If you want me to write up a post about creating her corset I can.)
With that done, I am finished with the skirted portions of this costume. The next post will be on the bodice and the train. I hope you enjoyed the process. Sorry the pictures aren’t here. I didn’t have time to take pictures of everything I wanted to. If you have any questions or suggestions let me know in the comments below.