1884 Gown: Pleated Underskirt

In case you need to catch up on my 1884 project, here are the links to all other stages:

Remember the inspiration image?  Well, in the description that accompanied it, the underskirt is said to have been pleated.  It didn't say what kind of pleats. 

They look like box pleats to me, but they could also be deep knife pleats as well, I suppose.  I tried both, and the box pleat won out for the fabric I'm using.  I draped my own underskirt, no pattern used.  I originally thought I would make a kind of yoke, and attach the silk pleats to the bottom of that, but then I realized that the over-skirt will be draped really high up on the hip, and the yoke would show.  So, pleats from waist to hem was the only way to go.

  Pleats.....I loath them.  They might look like something an innocent little school girl would wear.  But I'm convinced they are the Devil's handiwork.  They are pure evil!  They don't look all that bad at the top, close to the waist, but the further down you go, the worse they look.

Or perhaps the fabric I am using (silk/polyester blend) is to blame for my pleat woes?! It wrinkles where it shouldn't, and yet barely holds the shape of the pleat.  It's alive, and it's laughing at me.  I spent almost an hour ironing these pleats into place, and yet they still look sloppy.  
It's also a strange thing to have pleats draped over a curved (bustled) figure.  Pleats are meant to lay flat and look perfect.  Obviously that doesn't happen over a curved surface, they open up.  I think the magazine sketch that is my inspiration, is a bit deceiving.  Surely the pleats in their skirt didn't really look that precise...did they... I'm trying to console myself, if you haven't noticed.  I DO like the look of the skirt, just NOT the messy appearance.  Any suggestions?

Next up: The silk blouse (a.k.a. vest) and a brown velvet Swiss waist.


ZipZip said…
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ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,

Good morning! I still think the skirt is very pretty. It may perhaps be the fabric.

On the other hand, kilted skirts...pleated skirts...were often made so that the pleating was mounted to a lining underskirt starting below the hips. That way the pleats wouldn't spread out when going over the hips or bustle.

Had you tried pinning a few of them down so that they'd lie flat over the hips? If they lie better that way you could topstitch them down to that point.


Jenni said…
Natalie, thanks for the tip. I was really bummed out when I discovered that the yoke would show under the draped skirt. I knew for sure that a yoke would solve the problem. Now, thanks to you, I have another option. I will let you know how it turns out. :)
Sarah Rachelle said…
Well, in the picture it says it's a wool costume, so I imagine the weight of the fabric would hold the pleats in place. It also looks like there might be a lot more fabric in the skirt in the picture. You might need a lot more fabric to achieve the look you want. Just think of how many yards they fit into a single Scottish kilt and the pleats always look in amazing perfect order. Not to mention - they're usually made from wool!

Not sure if this was any help... Good luck!
Jenni said…
Thanks, Sarah. Yes, wool would certainly work better than the horrid silk/polyester that I'm using. Do you know how many yards is typically used in a kilt? I used 5 yards of 56" fabric.

I'm going to update this post tomorrow, but I think I managed to tame the skirt a bit. ;) It's not perfect, but better than it was.
Sarah Jane said…
Well, to my very inexperienced eyes, knowing very little about the bustle era, I think the underskirt looks beautiful. Although, I do think the pleats opening up would bug me too, if I were making it, but since I am just an observer I think it looks beautiful! The fabric is gorgeous too, even though it does sound like it is a pain to work with. This going to be such a beautiful ensemble when it is done!
Cassidy said…
I definitely think it's your fabric and not you. Take heart! And probably the drawing is a bit idealized, although if it's wool (and therefore probably lined with glazed cotton) the weight might hold them, and they very well might be tacked down a bit.
Jenni said…
Thanks, Sarah Jane and Cassidy for the encouragement!
Sarah Rachelle said…
I read that a full Scottish kilt uses 8 yards of fabric. Whew! I also think the dress will look beautiful when it's done. It's a really beautiful fabric, even if it's not happy being tamed. I'm sure you'll do a great job!

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