Diary of a Titanic Dress: Part Five–Skirt Options!

By Jennie Chancey

After stitching together the bodice, I experimented with several skirt variations. I’d love to get your feedback on these, as there are a lot of ways to put together a 1912 skirt. The Art Nouveau look was all the rage, and that meant artistic drapery of diaphanous, exquisite fabrics ruled the day:

A 1912 dinner gown with the “V” inset style. This one has a solid overskirt decorated with embroidery or openwork, then a trained underskirt in a lighter blue.

Here’s an interesting 1912 French dinner gown with a split, trained overskirt featuring a “knot” in the center. Underskirt has decorative fringe across the hemline.

This is a 1912 illustration of an evening gown by House of Worth. Note the filmy kimono sleeves and the split, trained overskirt revealing a heavily decorated underskirt beneath.

Another 1912 worth evening gown. This one features a brocade underskirt with train. The overbodice and skirt are of black chiffon or georgette. Note the “V” inset on this gown as well–a popular look in 1912, it seems. Good choice, ladies!

So, given these ideas, let’s see what I can create of my coppery spun silk and yards of saree material!

This is obviously the most straightforward option: a split-front overskirt that echoes the “V” of the inset. Here’s a close-up:

I’ve pinned the skirt with minimal gathers for a slimmer look. Fuller skirts came in around 1914-5, emphasizing the hipline. The look of 1912 is still mostly columnar, emphasizing the regal posture and collarbones. In a way, this period is a throwback to 1812, as it has a brief “fling” with the empire waist again.

Okay, let’s mix things up a bit by moving the front split over to the left side for an asymmetrical look:

And here’s a close-up:

I think this work looks, because the split serves as a visual continuation of the “V” sweep of the right side of the bodice inset (left in the photo). It’s not as slimming as option 1, but it’s pretty. Now let’s try sweeping the material to one side to create a more dramatic front opening:

I think this has more “wow” factor than the plainer side-front split. Thoughts? Here’s the same basic idea but with a less dramatic sweep:

Okay, now let’s try “hemming” the saree material to create a shorter overskirt:

Hmmm…. I know it’s straight out of 1912, but I just don’t like the “chopped” look of a shorter overskirt. I think it visually shortens the wearer, making for a dumpier silhouette.

Now let’s take a look at some skirt back options:

This is the most basic option: a solid overskirt with the copper train coming from the underskirt.

Close-up of the rectangular train.

Here’s a more dramatic skirt back option–a second split opening:

I like this idea much better. It really revs up the drama of the train and makes it look like a “waterfall” rather than something just sticking out from under the overskirt. What do you think?

Now let’s try a “swept” overskirt back:

This is very Paul Poiret with the “hip panniers” created by the overskirt. It’s definitely dramatic, but I think it draws the eye to the wrong places. What’s your opinion? Here’s a dress from this period with a similar look (stolen from Suzi Clarke’s Pinterest–thanks, Suzi!):

Now, there is one last option that I do have enough fabric to attempt. Here is a Worth gown with a tiered overskirt made of what looks like saree material:

Because I have so many yards of my saree fabric, I could attempt this look. The quick draping below gives an idea of how it would turn out, though it looks a little “bunchy” simply because I had to fold the saree to shorten up the layers:

The idea has merit, but I’ll confess up front it’s the one I’m least inclined to try due to my time constraints. I hope to finish all the machine sewing on this gown tonight (Friday), since we’ll be enjoying our guests all Easter weekend. I plan to do the hand trimming and hemming on Tuesday. The dinner is Thursday, so this is it! I’d really appreciate your feedback on the various skirt options. I truly can’t make up my mind without a lot of input!

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27 Comments on Diary of a Titanic Dress: Part Five–Skirt Options!

  1. Veronica
    April 6, 2012 at 6:30 am (3 years ago)

    How about a split-front overskirt with the edges rounded up rather than at right angles? I do hope that makes sense. I also like the look of the second split at the back, with a small train of copper showing. :-) Looking forward to seeing the finished dress.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 6, 2012 at 8:52 am (3 years ago)

      Yep, I like the more rounded edges as well. It gives the overskirt a softer look.

      Reply
  2. Anna Victorya
    April 6, 2012 at 6:31 am (3 years ago)

    Oh it is beautiful! Been so nice to watch your progress!!

    I love the plain split front, it does compliment the top! And I do find the split back ever so dramatic!! Has this wow factor indeed.

    I really love your work!

    PS Does anyone else find that knot slightly obnoxious?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 6, 2012 at 8:49 am (3 years ago)

      LOL, Anna! I have to admit the first thing I thought of when I saw the knot was a knotted Oxford shirt a la Daisy Duke. I’d never seen a knotted overskirt like that before. Very unusual.

      Reply
    • Sandy
      April 11, 2012 at 9:02 am (3 years ago)

      Unfortunately, I came into this too late to comment, but it has been fun to watch and I will continue to read this series and more!

      I happen to like to knot in the center of the dress because I think it’s very subtle, yet dramatic at the same time. And it also completes the look with more interest without to much emphasis on the knot.

      I love the way the fabric drapes and I think it’s a beautiful compliment to the bodice without competing with it.

      I would love to know how the designer did it.

      So many times people sew but their heart and soul are not in their creations, and I think it shows.

      The love and passion for the art of dress from this designer definitely shows in their work.

      Reply
  3. Joni
    April 6, 2012 at 6:43 am (3 years ago)

    I am not so crazy about the off-center split in the overskirt. If you are going to do a split it should be centered – otherwise it looks wrong IMHO.

    Reply
  4. Suzi
    April 6, 2012 at 6:45 am (3 years ago)

    Side split front with the less dramatic sweep, and the simple back split option. And as much trim as you have time to sew on!

    Reply
  5. Anna
    April 6, 2012 at 7:30 am (3 years ago)

    I would like the side slit if it were a little farther over to the right, so its more distinct, and I like the side pulled back. I also love the 3 layer look.

    Reply
  6. Katie
    April 6, 2012 at 7:44 am (3 years ago)

    I like the centre front split and the simple split back, though I’m not sure how the two would look together. Otherwise, I like the tiered skirt.

    Reply
  7. Deanna
    April 6, 2012 at 8:22 am (3 years ago)

    I like the center splint front or the one that is just off to the left a bit. I do love the split back that makes it look like a waterfall.

    So beautiful Jenny and you’ve given me ideas for my own dress!

    Reply
  8. Geneece
    April 6, 2012 at 8:25 am (3 years ago)

    For the front, I like the asymmetrical side opening with the more dramatic sweep. For the back, I like the split back so that more of the copper fabric can be seen.

    It’s coming along beautifully!

    Reply
  9. Kat Menard
    April 6, 2012 at 8:34 am (3 years ago)

    I think the simplest, nice look is to just do the split front and back. However, the off-center with the dramatic sweep to the side looked so gorgeous, and really shows the saree material to its advantage. The tiered skirt is beautiful, but perhaps for another time, when you can start with that idea from the beginning. I agree that the pannier look adds visually to the hip area.

    Reply
  10. Ticia
    April 6, 2012 at 9:11 am (3 years ago)

    I’m torn because I like the drama of that back split that looks like a waterfall, but I don’t think it would go well with my favorite front option of the side split and dramatic opening. Oh the choices…..

    Reply
  11. Krista
    April 6, 2012 at 10:10 am (3 years ago)

    I favor the straightforward front look, but with the outer skirt swept from both sides to the back, then a slight train with that beautiful underskirt.

    I would vote also for the tiered overskirt if you had time to swing it. That look suits the time period and the fabric well.

    Exiciting stuff:)! Can’t wait to see the final results!

    Reply
  12. Mrs. Mordecai
    April 6, 2012 at 10:39 am (3 years ago)

    I didn’t think I’d like the asymmetrical look, but it’s my favorite! I also like the tiered look that you don’t have enough time for. :)

    Reply
  13. Gertrude
    April 6, 2012 at 11:39 am (3 years ago)

    Split down the back, asymmetrical split in front with dramatic sweep. Love the tiers if you had more time, but the copper skirt wouldn’t shine.

    Reply
  14. ~
    April 6, 2012 at 11:44 am (3 years ago)

    Definitely the centered split upside-down ‘v’ in the front and the back. Gives drama coming and going without calling attention to… the wrong areas. Maybe with LOTS of trim on the underskirt! The train just coming out from under the over-skirt looks… like an afterthought. Sort of like… oops, what’s falling out from under my skirt?

    I love your fabrics… this is going to be so beautiful!

    Reply
  15. ~Mrs. R
    April 6, 2012 at 11:46 am (3 years ago)

    Oops, forgot to mention, the tiered skirt completely hides the underskirt, which is such a shame!

    Reply
  16. Joyce
    April 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm (3 years ago)

    I like the front with the side swept back dramatically. Beautiful. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Reply
  17. Gillian
    April 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm (3 years ago)

    I like the “dramatic” side-sweep in the front, and the split down the back. Then you really get to see the gorgeous copper underskirt, but the saree fabric is still front and centre as well!

    Reply
  18. Emily Lenz
    April 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Both the asymmetrical and center “v” in front have their own appeal…but I especially love that dramatic sweep. Could you do a center “v” with an asymmetrical sweep…more dramatic on one side than the other…maybe even “catch” it up with something just above the knee…or even “knot” it on just one side?! :)
    The second split option in back definitely complements the train the best.

    Reply
  19. TreasureSeeker
    April 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow, they all look great. I didn’t like the last one as much; because, although pretty, it didn’t have very much color and it doesn’t pull the bodice through very well. My favorites were the second one with the slit pulled to the side, and the one with the short overlay. This dress is so pretty, I can’t wait to see pictures of it when it’s done!

    Reply
  20. Katrina - Edelweiss Patterns
    April 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh my! You can’t go wrong with any of these options, but I think the “v” split front is the most slimming in front, and the waterfall back is gorgeous! I agree with you that the overskirt cut shorter is not very flattering to the wearer, but the full length overskirt adds a lot of height to the silhouette.

    Can’t wait to see pictures!

    Happy sewing,

    Katrina

    Reply
  21. Sarah
    April 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm (3 years ago)

    The draped, offset front split with the waterfall back is definitely the winner! I realize it might present some challenges with bringing it together, but I think it would also add unique detailing to the right side of the skirt. I also agree with many of the ladies here…add LOTS of trim to that lovely copper fabric! Looking forward to the end results!

    SARAH

    Reply
  22. Jennie VG
    April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm (3 years ago)

    I like the last option best – but make the 2nd layer longer (angled from mid-calf to ankle maybe), and do the bottom layer in copper!

    Reply
  23. Joy B
    April 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm (3 years ago)

    I love your work, those ladies in the 20’s knew how to look their best.

    Reply

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