I was hesitant to make this pattern and took a lot of time to decide on the fabric. I was afraid the style would not be flattering on my figure. I was wrong to be so hesitant…and thrilled with the results.
This pattern is for a high-waisted skirt (2” above natural waist). It has three pattern pieces: center front, center back, and side. The lower portion of the front is embellished on either side of the center front panel with soutache braid in a design provided in the pattern. There are eight decorative buttons on the center front panel. The center back panel includes a pleat near the hem in each of the side back seams.
I selected medium weight linen in marine blue from Fabric-Store.com. More of a lavender blue than aqua, it coordinates with the blouse I made from VPLL pattern #0219. It is the same linen I used to make the welt trim on that blouse. My lining fabric is from the same as the lining for my Ladies Mantle, VPLL pattern #0189. It is polyester in a light shade of blue. It is close to the color of the soutache, ice blue. Eight decorative buttons 1” or larger and 7 to 8 yards of soutache braid are needed to make this skirt, as well as 2” wide grosgrain ribbon the length of the waist measure plus 1”, and hooks and eyes (I used 5 pair). I used 60” wide (pre-wash measure) fabric for both garment and lining, and this required 2X the cut length of the center back panel. I shortened the skirt by 8” on each side graded to 5” in the center front and the center back. It stays (mostly) off the ground on my 5’3” frame, and required 2-1/3 yards of each linen and lining. To ensure a smooth front of the skirt, (my own version of tummy-control), I interfaced the top portion of the center front panel (above the cut-away for the trim) with canvas. It required a piece 13” X 13” square cut to shape according to the front panel pattern.
The pattern is for a 25” waist. I added 4” by slashing the side pattern along the lengthwise grain (just behind the dart) from waist to hem and inserting a 2” piece of pattern paper. As I mentioned above, I shortened the skirt considerably. I shortened the center front panel 5”. I shortened the sides by 8” at the sides and down to 5” again at the back. The reason I shortened the sides by the additional 3” was as a fitting alteration to correct the drape.
There was some difficulty in finding the braid. My local fabric haunts only carried gold and silver, and some black. After I ordered three different colors, I was happy with the match…almost. I wanted some contrast between the panels beneath the braid and the rest of the skirt. Another sewer used sheer ribbon behind her braid and it looked beautiful. She was doing tone on tone, and I loved the result. I wasn’t able to find any ribbon that matched my linen, but I did find some organdy in a slightly darker blue. I was ready to apply the ice blue soutache to the organdy. I’ve never worked with soutache braid before and was anxious to learn how. I (wisely) decided to start with the bottom of one panel, as I hoped my work would improve with practice.
I traced the pattern onto light weight tear-away stabilizer, cut panels of the organdy twice the width of those marked on the pattern and the length I measured after shortening the skirt. I basted the stabilizer to the back of the organdy and learned to work the soutache around the curves of the pattern. The braid is made of 2 cords wrapped by thread in a figure eight manner. By holding the braid flat between thumb and finger and pulling on one cord of the braid to shorten one side only, I found I could make curves that were smooth. It took some time to do both panels, as the shaping of the braid (at least for me) must be done as it is sewn down. I am very happy with the look. The organdy adds a little extra to emphasize the braid detail.
Once I finished the braid and secured the ends so they wouldn’t ravel, I stitched the organdy to the sides at the indicated lines.
All pattern pieces were stay stitched 1/4” from the cut edge.
I flat-lined the front panel, inserting the canvas interfacing, and stitching right sides together at the waist and sides, leaving the hem edge free.
I followed the rest of the instructions as written, except for adding a lining, and a placket for the hooks and eyes. I cut a placket from the linen 1-1/2” wide and 22” long. I also cut a piece of canvas 1” wide and 10” long. I folded the linen in half across the short side and stitched one long edge. I trimmed the seam, turned and pressed the placket. I inserted the piece of canvas and pinned the raw edge of the placket to the left side front seam allowance so it will protrude under the center front panel on the left side of the skirt.
A fitting showed the back of the skirt was entirely too large. I realigned the side back seams, removing approximately 2” at each seam 7” below the back waist. A bustle would also have solved this fitting issue.
I attached the lining at the waistline seam for the sides and back of the skirt. I added the grosgrain ribbon to the waist, then stitched the side front seams of the facing to the skirt, leaving the hem free. I pressed, trimmed, and turned these seams, then topstitched the front panel to them. I sewed five pairs of hooks and eyes onto the placket, then hemmed the skirt and lining.
One recurring theme in sewing for 1912 is buttons. As plastic buttons were not readily and cheaply available, many buttons were handmade. After much searching, I decided to make buttons. I perused 50 Heirloom Buttons to Make by Nancy Nehring, and decided on the variation I describe below. Originally, I drew a stylized version of the trim design that was to be placed on the center medallion of the buttons. They were too busy for my taste, so I omitted any trim on the center of the buttons.
I used 1-¼” plastic curtain rings and wrapped them in soutache. You must be careful not to twist the braid, and that the wraps are next to each other, not overlapping. I secured the braid to itself with a few stitches once the ring was snugly covered. It is recommended that you wrap each ring in the same direction and count the wraps to ensure that each ring has the same number (and the same look).
I created a template by tracing the inner circle of the plastic ring onto template plastic. I cut one for each button. I also cut two layers of cotton batting the same size for each button. I made a template for a circle 2-1/2” in diameter. From this, I cut a layer of linen and a layer of organdy for each button.
I placed the wrong side of the organdy on the right side of the linen, then ran a gathering stitch ¼” from the edge. I placed the two layers of batting in the center of the wrong side of the linen, put the plastic template on top of that, and gathered the edges. Making sure the top of the button was smooth, I stitched the back of the medallion to secure the two layers of fabric snugly around the template. I then blind stitched the medallion to the center of the wrapped ring.
Using buttonhole twist, I created a figure-eight thread shank on the back of the buttons. With sturdy thread, take a horizontal stitch across one side of the button back, picking up a couple of wraps of braid. Take a second horizontal stitch across two wraps on the opposite side of the button back. This will create a figure eight of thread across the back. Take several stitches in this manner and secure your thread with a couple of half-hitch knots around the center of the figure eight. Secure this to your garment.
I would definitely make this pattern again, but would eliminate the alteration increase in the sides. Instead, I would use the dart to alter the waist size. I’m going to try this dart alteration in my next pattern, Vintage Pattern Lending Library #1002, Traveling Suit. The skirt looks lovely with the blouse. I loved working with the braid, and plan to do more with soutache!