Vintage Sewing

An introduction, and advice needed! :)

February 25, 2014

Hello fellow vintage sewing enthusiasts! I have been a long time stalker of this page, and I love to see the beautiful creations you all make! I have been sewing using vintage sewing patterns for about 8 years and still have a tendency to get impatient and sloppy (whoops). I also tend to get obsessed when Ihave a project in mind. That being said, I have a couple questions I’ve been thinking way too hard about and would really like to hear some opinions!

I like to make separates for more versatility, and I am preparing to make a nice full fluffy skirt with a halter top for a night out. My dilemma is, do I make a gathered skirt! or a skirt with small box pleats? Will small box pleats give the same type of fluffiness as gathers? I HATE gathering, but I’ll do it if I have to …..

The other thing I am wondering is if I can make a tiered skirt from a softer fabric and get some of the desired volume rather than an itchy petticoat/crinoline. I’ll be dancing and probably pretty sweaty, so I’d like to avoid a stiff crinoline. And I hate making them haha. Anybody have any advice on one vs the other? It might seem like a silly post, but I have a baby, so not much time for sewing anymore. I need to have everything fully planned before I execute!

  1. I think that gathers would be your best bet for puffiness. Unless your fabric is rather stiff, I don’t think box pleats will give much volume at the bottom. You might try using horse hair braid in the hem to help with the puff factor.

    I have seen crinolines made from chiffon instead of netting but that has it’s own issues. A slip under the crinoline might do the trick.

    1. Yep. Gathers will give you the most fullness without a crinoline. I used to detest gathering too but I found a shortcut in an old sewing book. You will need some very thick strong thread and a zigzag stitch. I use upholstery thread. I thread my needle and bobbin with the regular matched thread that goes with the garment. I place my skirt in the machine with the needle landing just inside the seam allowance. Then I run the thick thread over the top of the fabric in a straight line across the presser foot. Using the widest zig zag stitch I begin to sew over the heavy thread so that the zigzag goes across it but doesn’t catch it. Once I’ve gone all the way around, I can pull the ends of the upholstery thread like a drawstring and the gathers magically appear! Hope that makes sense!

  2. Instead of a net petticoat, make one from lining fabric (or line the skirt) and make a gathered up ruffle from net, which you then stitch on the outside of the petticoat, (or on the lining) between the main skirt and the lining, so that the bottom of the net ruffle finishes about an inch above the hem of the lining.
    That way you get the fullness of the net, but you have a layer of lining fabric between the stratchy net and your legs. I’ve done it, making a separate petticoat, so I have the option of wearing the dress/skirt without the crinoline, AND I can wear it with other dresses. Hope I’ve explained that so you can understand what I mean!

  3. Have you considered a roped petticoat instead. I live in Brisbane with its hot humidity and find this much more comfortable. It basically a lightly tiered skirt with a heavy piping run around each tier to help hold the fabric out. Think half way to a Gone With The Wind hooped petticoat.

  4. I agree with Sharon, I have seen real vintage examples of rope petticoats – basically a tired cotton skirt with rope sewn into the seams of the tiers. It’s special ultra thick cording rope you can buy from fabric stores.
    About your skirt, gathers are ultra full. But are bulky at the waist. If you want the fullness to be more at the bottom, you can do box pleats but leave them unpressed below the hips for softness. Or do a circle skirt with extra gores for fullness. Or a yoked skirt, with the gathers starting at the high hipline. For me, it’s much more flattering to have a smoother hipline and fullness below, but it depends on your own figure of course. Happy sewing!

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