July 6, 2016

Edwardian Adventuress: The Skirt

Sneak peek there ;) Yes the Edwardian adventuress ensemble is finished! However, I'm not showing you yet (I'm mean, I know, sorry folks) because today I want to talk about the skirt for this costume and show you some extant examples from contemporary photos that inspired me when I decided how to draft my pattern.

I knew I wanted something on the shorter side for an Edwardian skirt as I intend the finished ensemble to be very adventure ready as opposed to having an elegant sweeping trained style seen in more formal gowns. The adventuress needs to climb over rocks, sketch hieroglyphics, and hop off and on the boat moored over on the Nile... you get the idea. Seeing this amazing image of a young woman in a shorter length skirt was encouraging. The street style snap is one of Linley Sambourne's photographs (check out more snaps here) and I find this young woman's entire outfit rather inspiring. It's so nice to get a candid more casual photograph from such a "posed portrait" time period! It seems her skirt has seams down the front which is something I certainly took note of as well.

These lovely ladies by the seaside are just so elegant aren't they?  These skirts are a bit longer but still short enough for walking about. I like how this photo gives a good idea of the sort of drape of the back of this style skirt.

Then there is this group again. They may be posed but it is far from a studio setting! It seems they are perhaps doing some serious hiking in their finery! The slightly flared skirts with princess seams down the front seems to be the style of the day, and these look to be made of sturdier fabrics and at a shorter length conducive to walking and hiking. I also love the addition of sash/ribbon belts at the waist with nice buckles! It's an accessory I copied for my costume and I even managed to pick up an authentic gold buckle sash pin on Etsy!

My antique buckle pin!
So once again, like the shirtwaist before it, I drafted the pattern for the skirt myself. I know drafting patterns isn't for everyone, but I truly enjoy pattern making. For me it is a fun challenge to take some muslin and paper and go for it! The worst that can happen is I fail and end up having to buy a pattern, so I am a great advocate for just giving it a go if you have a general idea of pattern making and the period of fashion in question (and muslin to spare for mock ups).

The image above (from a great free online pattern- here) shows the basic idea I went with for my skirt. I drafted this skirt by draping a piece of muslin on myself (while wearing my Edwardian corset) marking the center front, waist, and side seams, then pinching out the excess from the curve over my abdomen with a small dart at the waist. Once I transferred these basic lines from the muslin onto paper I used the slash and spread method to open the dart fullness into an A-line shape for the skirt. Then I separated the skirt into three panels along where the darts had been. I doubt that will make sense to the non-pattern drafters out there but hopefully it's intelligible!

Now I cannot in good faith really recommend drafting on one's own self, as moving around does distort and disrupt the measurements, best case scenario you have a friend to help but that isn't always possible. I have always drafted historical patterns on myself  (since I can wear the correct corsetry, unlike my dress form who doesn't squish) so it is something I am comfortable doing after all the years I have been costuming. I think with trial and error and some muslin to try things out you can achieve a lot on your own for sure. I did end up checking my pattern by trying it out in inexpensive ivory cotton, and since it worked I finished it and it became my petticoat for this ensemble!

I actually did make a mistake somehow in the finished skirt when I pleated the back. Somehow I ended up with 1 less pleat than I'd meant to have, so the back was too large and overlapped farther at the center back than I had intended. It worked on the day but I will fix it by taking off the waistband and adding another pleat to the back. Opps! I did pleats on the back of this skirt, but I think for more formal skirts I will continue to use the tilted-circle skirt shaped Edwardian skirt pattern that I used for my black and white evening gown from a few years back. Also, I need to spruce up that gown and wear it again because I am still in love with that dreamy flocked fabric...

The costume is now finished and I promise you all will be seeing photos soon :) The darn shirtwaist took me forever to finish as I decided to hand stitch the lace onto the front and it took me ages, so believe me I am glad it is done! I think I'll be making another skirt to wear with the shirtwaist in the fall, something in wool and more formal, and possibly for a suffragette inspired Halloween costume ;)

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far!


  1. Ooh, that buckle is really special. It's going to make a really nice detail on the outfit. I look forward to seeing the whole thing!

    1. Thanks Mim! I am so lucky to have found the buckle for a great deal on Etsy, that site is such a dangerous treasure trove for me!

  2. Ooohhh, your new sash pin is such a stunner. What a beautiful instant heirloom to add to your wardrobe and put to work in the wonderful Edwardian ensemble you've been creating lately. I can hardly wait to see the finished look in all it's yesteryear inspired glory.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks Jessica! I think the pin will be great on a big hat someday too, versatility is always nice :)

  3. I cant wait to see the finished ensemble - Its just lovely to see something different then all the pretty and posh evening wear, amazing as they all may be.
    And I adore all these women of yesteryears who went out and about no matter the norms of society at their time.

    1. Thank you! I have an Edwardian evening gown too, but the day wear is just as fun to prance about in :)

  4. I can't wait to see this outfit! It is always interesting to look at inspiration photos and it was good to read how you drafted the pattern. I'm so impressed! Great buckle find too.


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