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Sewing dress help

HI, Ive been invited to a friends wedding in September, Id like to make a dress for it, or at least make some summer dresses in this style(picture) Its a plain bodice with an attached skirt made from a rectangle gathered at the waist. How can I make it flare out a bit from the waist? I don’t think Il be using enough fabric so I can used a big net petticoat under it and I don’t want to go down the Elizabethan bum roll route but just wondered if there was some kind of trick I could use to make it kick out a bit at the waist but have it hang down straight from the kick. Thanks.

You may need to add more fabric in the skirt piece, I’m not sure what you mean by “kick out a bit”, if you are going to use a big net petticoat underneath you will need more fabric in the skirt, as the style does not seem gathered enough for a large petticoat. I am thinking of the styles of the 60/70’s when loads of net petticoats were the fashion, the skirts were really flared.

This is the type of pettycoat I mean, as you can see a dress to cover this would have to be quite flared.

A rectangle of material does not normally make for a very flattering skirt because of the reasons you have mentioned. There is too much material gathered up at the waist and to little to flare out at the hem. A 1950’s style skirt could be

a. A circle skirt made up either of a complete circle of fabric or sections of a circle creating a cone shape. This makes a very dramatically flared skirt.

b. A skirt with pleats or darts at the top to reduce the fullness and an a-line or bell shape spreading gently out towards a gently curved hem. This can be as understated or dramatic as you like.

Both of these skirts will have more movement and drama that the gathered rectangle style.

I would recommend buying a pattern in your size rather than drafting yourself for speed and also so that you don’t waste time and money on different attempts at your goal.

This one from Burda looks a lot like your design…and at the moment it’s only £2.90!

This one from Tilly and the Buttons looks good too

and this one from McCalls

Love Sam x

Thanks for replies. Its tough to explain what Im after but heres a pic(pic from pinterest)
it slightly flares out at the waist.
Its not an essential feature of the dress that I have to have. Its just in my head and Id like to make it as close to the image I have, but if it doesn’t happen then its ok.
Ive had other suggestions of adding crin or Vilene at the skirt/bodice join. Il give that a go on the toile.

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Hi, in your sketch the fullness round the waist looks like a gather, which is adjusting the fullness to your waist size. There doesn’t seem to be much difference in size between the measurement of the fabric, and the waist measurement, hence the shape, bit like a dirndl skirt.( i.e. the measurement around the hem is not a lot different to the waist measurement.)

In your photo, the fullness around the waist appears to be deep pleats, pleated up to create the waist size.
There is a big difference in the measurement of the length of the fabric, and the waist measurement, hence the shape.
( i.e. the measurement around the hem is much longer than the waist measurement). This is probably a straight piece of fabric, rather than shaped pieces sewn together. It does indeed have a bum roll, which is giving the round hips look, but also a stiff petticoat which is holding it out into this shape because its probably a heavy velvet or something.Great dress x

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I’d like to add this to @PetraBradleyPrints comments. The tudor dress shown above is a lot of work. Each one of those pleats and inserts (I count 8 at the front, not counting a further possible 10 at the sides and around the back) had to be stitched individually. I admit I’m a precise worker rather than a fast one but I’d struggle to make this within six months with all the other stuff I’ve got going on so not something to run up quickly over a weekend, methinks. :wink:

Oh yes, and your drawing does look like there is more material at the hem than the waist as well, as you have only indicated light gathering rather than the quantity of gathering you would get if you made it from a straight piece of fabric.

I think pleating would make your dress work, because when you pleat, you can cut away the fabric underneath where the pleats have been stitched down, reducing the bulk at the waist. That might work if you can get the shape of the skirt right by managing the pleats.

Sam x

Thanks for info. Im having a pleat or gathering dilemma. I guess I shall make a decision when I make a toile.
Although in th meantime ive had another outfit idea where I may wear a skirt and top! Im very undecided.
Also I have some headwear to make which Im excited about.

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I bought some fabric for a toile, Ive been pleating like a loon.

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I have nothing constructive to add as although I’d love to make clothes and am not too bad with a sewing machine, I know nothing about the technicalities involved in making clothes! I just wanted to say I can’t wait to see your dress :slight_smile: Good luck!

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My skirt id pleated, the top section is cut out. I sewed it all together but realised the waist bit was 8 inches too big. I had a lot of unpicking to do. Top bit has had tucks added to bring it to the right size. Hopefully il get round to sewing it today.

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HI folks, I just did a selfie!
This is the toile so far, a bit 50’s on the top half with gathered at waist skirt attached. I feel it fits pretty well but I need to add straps then it may all sit better. Also a fabric belt.I may do a petticoat to poof it out a bit at the bottom.

Please note the stylish slipper and jeans I have on under the dress.


So Im back and forth with what Im going to wear. At one point I decided to print my own design to fabric to make a top, and team it with a skirt I already had, then I talked myself out of that idea to make an broderie anglais top with fabric I already have, now Im back to the original idea of printing fabric. I only have a month to go!!
I received their wedding gift through the post today with a bit of damage. It was well wrapped so I can only imagine it was sent out like that!!