Past Patterns’ Lowell Mills Dress Part 3: Skirt

I was so ready to make this skirt. After the (albeit welcome) challenges of the bodice and sleeves, I knew the skirt would be a breeze. Past Patterns replicates Mary Gregg’s original skirt, which comprises four rectangular panels. The panels aren’t symmetrically placed or evenly sized, probably because—like many women of her time—Gregg was trying to be economical with her fabric and didn’t have the luxury of cutting even panels. If you wish, you can cut your own panels to be more symmetrical.

It says a lot about the pattern, and its intended audience, that the booklet doesn’t even bother to include instructions for stitching together the panels. It just assumes the reader will figure it out, and indeed, it is easy enough. The next thing after that was to make a narrow-hemmed opening at the center of the back panel, which I did. If you prefer a placket opening, there’s no reason you can’t arrange your own panels so that there is a seam right at the center back.

I then pleated the skirt according to the included template, and gathered the rest of the fabric at the back. I will say that I had to gather the back extremely tightly in order to get it down to an even size with the waistband. This isn’t a bad thing though, since it creates a lot of volume in the back. I didn’t even bother making a bustle for my dress, since the extra gathers and my corded petticoat provide plenty of poofing in that area.

The next step was to pin the skirt to the outer waistband only, and half-backstitch them together. Only then did I pin it to the waistband lining and whipstitch those together as well. Because I made the waistband lining just a tiny bit narrower than the outer waistband, none of the whipstitching showed on the outside. After turning the waistband ends under and adding the hooks and eyes, I was almost finished.

The last item on my to-do list was to make a pocket slit. This was awkward. The Lowell Mills Dress’s pleats all face forward, so I couldn’t hide the slit at the back of a rear-facing pleat. Instead I put it right at the inside fold of one of the forward-facing pleats. I can’t reach it as smoothly as if it were placed elsewhere, but it doesn’t show.

Hidden pocket slit.

And. And. And…My dress is finished! The entire 1830s project is complete! Anyone have any suggestions for where to wear it?

I’ll be taking a short break from blogging to make my husband the coat I promised him a full year ago, but will be back soon with a few A League of Their Own-inspired 1940s makes.

Happy sewing!

– Kate

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