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How to draft a 16th century gored skirt

I’ve always loved the Juan Alcega gored draft for creating a period skirt. Over the years, I have tried to figure out a way to create a pattern draft. The modern drafting methods never really had the same drape as what I was seeing in the period depictions. Then one day, it hit me…a gore is really just a part of a circle. So, I fished out a protractor that had been buried in my drawer of rulers and I started measuring the skirt angles I was seeing in the period drafts. After some experimentation, I found I really like as skirt with a hem sweep based on 30 degree waist angle. The following draft is my simplified version of how to create a period gored skirt using simplified geometry.

Step 1: You will need to take two measurements:

1. Waist circumference

2. Skirt Length

Step 2: Use those measurements to do some simple calculations:

  • Decide on the amount of fullness you would like at the waist. If you would like a skirt without any pleating, you would add nothing.I would recommend using either 1.5, 2, 3 or 5 times the waist for your fullness. For my middle class “german” skirts, I like to use 2 times my waist for fullness.
  • Take your waist measurement, and multiply it by the amount of fullness. So, I take my waist of 7.5 and multiply it by 2 to get 14.5
  • Take the final waist measurement and divide that by the number of panels in your skirt. This draft is based on using 4 panels, so I take the 14.5 from the previous step and divide by 4 to get 3 5/8. Now, Add .5 to this measurement. This is going to be your drafting waist measurement.

Step 3: Begin the draft: Get out a large sheet of paper. The length of the paper will need to be long enough for your skirt length plus double your drafting waist, plus another 5 inches. On the paper, draw a vertical line down the left side of the paper, then square out a line from the top of that line, the width of your paper.

Step 4: Draw your skirt sweep angle:Get out your protractor, and place it on the two lines you have just drawn and mark out 30 degrees from the length line we drew on the left side of the paper. Draw a line representing that angle.

Step 5: Find your waist placement: Place your ruler on the length line running down the right side of the paper and slide it down until the distance between that line and the diagonal is equal to your drafting waist measurement.

Step 6: Draw your waist curve: take a cord or ribbon and pin it to the point of your angle. Tie a pen or pencil at the length that corresponds to the point you just marked, and draw a curve, stopping at the other line.

Step 7; Mark your hem length: starting at the waist mark on the line to the left of your paper, measure down the length of your skirt and mark.

Step 8: Draw your hem arc. With the ribbon still pinned at the point of the angle, tie your pen or pencil at a length that corresponds to the mark you just made. Make sure to hold your pen straight up and down, and draw your hem arc.

Step 8: Add your seam allowance if you wish, and then cut out the pattern. You will need at least four of these for your skirt. The line at the left can be either a seam or a fold. So, you can cut 2 on the fold, or one on a fold, then two more on a seam, or 4 on a seam.

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Hooks and Eyes: A better way

I have been super busy as of late and so it’s been a long while since I’ve posted.  I am working on a much longer patterning and construction post, but in the meantime, I thought I could do a quickie post.  Something that I have seen a lot of lately is the application of hooks and eyes on the outside of the lining fabric.  I did it myself that way for a long time, but there is a cleaner way to do it…and it is period.

Here is a picture of the way I used to apply hooks and eyes.  As wp-1461291526697.jpgyou can see, I threw them on after I had already applied the lining.  While this is a perfectly acceptable and functional option, one day I happened across a picture in Patterns of Fashion (Janet Arnold, PoF 1, ill. 368 and 369, pg. 51) that shows a much cleaner way of integrating the closures into the garment.  I had recognized the technique as one that is used in modern couture clothing construction, so I got really excited when I realized that it went back as far as at least the PoF garment.  Since then, I’ve used this method on my own garb.  Following are the steps I use to recreate the look.

Step one:

wp-1461290854911.jpgThe  hooks and eyes are sewn onto the garment after the interfacing and reinforcement have been applied up to the center front.  These closures go in as the last step before the lining is applied, so make sure all the other edges have been finished.  They will be applied to the seam allowance before it is folded over and stitched down.  I am using modern purchased hooks and eyes here.  Place the hooks and eyes facing the Center Front fold (on the picture it is marked with the white stitching) and stitch them down.  The hooks are stitched through the two bottom loops and at the top of the hook.  The eyes are also stitched through the bottom two looks, as well as at top sides of the large loop.

Step Two:

Fold over the seam allowance at the center front and stitch the edge wp-1461290814195.jpgto the interfacing  using a catchstitch, fell stitch or whipstitch.  Since this is outerwear, the front closure isn’t going to be under much strain, so I decided to use a catchstitch.  If this is for a self supporting dress, or will be under pressure, a whipstitch or even a running stitch or prickstitch would be more appropriate.

Step Three:

Nwp-1461290825063.jpgow you will apply your lining.  Fold over the edge and slip it under the hook and stitch it down.  I prefer to use a fell stitch when putting in my linings.  I really like the way it looks and it is documentable as a period imag1014.jpgmethod .  Repeat with the eyes by placing the fold of the lining over the bottom loops of the eyes.  But, don’t go over the loop or you won’t be able to close it.

And that’s it.  It makes for a very clean and lovely finish that you can show off to all your friends.  I hope to see more people using this method.

And so it begins…

My main interest is the middle and upper class dress of sixteenth century Germany.  I have done quite a bit of research over the years and just recently several people have voiced interest in the things I am looking into.  I also thought it would be nice to have a place where I can keep a record of my research and projects, and thus this blog was born.