I have been watching the maxi skirt’s popularity rise over the last year or two, and it has mostly confused me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful skirt… but so many of these maxi skirts aren’t. So many of them are elastic waisted, polyester, one-size-fits-all things, often festooned with a print that doesn’t do much for the backside. In my opinion, they are basically the sweatpants of the skirt world. They look great on young university students, but all that extra fabric doesn’t do much for most women. If you search for “maxi skirt” on Pinterest, most of the women sort of look like columns. No waist, no hips, just fabric. Call me an idealist, but I think a skirt should do more for a woman than make her look like an architectural feature.
Now, the Edwardians knew how to do skirts. Damn. You’d think they’d be stuffier than that, given how long ago this was, but oh no. The gored skirt of the Edwardian era is the maxi skirt’s beautiful, grown up sister, with all her womanly curves. The gored Edwardian skirt is surprisingly sexy, and wonderfully easy to make. I promise. It’s so modern you can even pull it out of a wide variety of easily accessible modern dress patterns. And it’s so sexy that your bum may prefer the skirt to your favourite yoga pants (which is fitting, considered the gored skirt was basically the yoga pant of the early 1900’s).
When I say “gored” skirt, I’m talking about a skirt made with princess seams. A skirt that has about 7 pieces in it—front, side front (x2), side back (x2), and back (x2). With these different pieces you can construct a skirt that hugs your bum, whittles your waist, and flares out to a deliciously indulgent train (or not, if you’re feeling more practical). You can choose where you want the waist to hit as well, which is very convenient if you’re not overly fond of your tummy and want your skirt to sort of double as an under-bust corset.
I pulled my skirt pattern from a princess seamed dress pattern I’ve had for years. If you’re familiar with sewing you’ll be able to do this without any trouble. If not, I recommend using a pattern like Sensibility’s 1909 Beatrix Skirt Pattern, which includes more specific instructions (I would have bought that one myself if I’d had the time to wait for it to get up to Canada).
I started by tracing out the pattern pieces onto pattern tracing paper, using the size that matched my hips and waist (more or less).
From there, I made up a dummy using scrap fabric. A good thing, too, as it was far too large and I ended up having to knock about 8″ off the waist for the final skirt.
The final skirt came together beautifully. The only hitch on a princess seam is often the easing for the bust, and that obviously wasn’t a problem here.
I browsed Pinterest for ideas on waistbands, closures, and embellishments, and opted for a front closure with fake buttons (velcro for the win here!) and a black waist band.
The waist band was simple enough to draft—measure my waist, add a few inches for overlap and seam allowance, double the height so you can fold it over, and that’s that. I lined it with interfacing to keep it stiff.
The resulting skirt is just wonderful to wear. It’s comfortable, but very flattering. It’s great with a loose fitting blouse and cardigan, or even a fitted knit top.