Sleeping Beauty Part One: Figuring out my skirt pattern

I wanted to use a gored panel pattern for the skirt, but I’ve never done that before and have no idea what I’m doing, so I set off to research.

I found an historical pattern for farthingales (which is actually awesome because the skirt needs to be very drapey and I’ll achieve that without putting boning into it) which uses gored panels and very detailed but easy(ish) to follow steps. A lot of pages I found didn’t include pictures, and I’m a visual learner so I had no idea what was going on with the directions.

The instructions were very clear that the pattern was made for a 5′ woman and that it was going to be a yard across (if using 45″ wide fabric, I’m using 120″ [which I’ll halve appropriately]). I am not that height, I am in no way petite either, so I knew some math was going to be involved.

The first step is to take measurement A which is from your waist to the floor. For me, that happens to be 40″. Then it said to add five inches to that, so…45″.

Step two says to take measurement A, multiply it by two and that’s how much fabric you need. Since my measurement is 45″, I’ll need 90″ of fabric, so 2.5/three yards.

My 45″ length I needed (I measured along twice to get to 90″)


Step three is to split the fabric in half (so if you have 45″ width, you’ll have two pieces of ~22″ width). Since I’m using 120″ wide, I’m going to make my piece 60″ and then make the 60″ piece into two 30″.

My 60″ piece cut in half to be a 30″ piece

There is a note that says if your waist is larger than 40 inches around (I do believe mine is 41″) the fabric will need to be wider than those 22″ pieces. It says to take your waist measurement (41″), add 6″ (47″), and divide by two (~24″). So using 60″ is perfect for my size.

It says that one of the pieces is going to be the front and the back and the other is going to become the gores.

For step four, for the front and back it says to take one of the pieces and fold it in half lengthwise so instead of 22″ (30″) it is 11″ (15″) wide. It says to cut the pieces on a slight curve (for the waist and hem).

Making the front and back (I didn’t cut on a curve)


For step five, for the gores it says to fold it in half width-wise. It says that both gored panels should measure the same length as measurement A (so 47″ in my case). So it should have a 30″ width and a 47″ length, and you cut on the diagonal. Because I’m not exactly concerned with recreating a period piece, I’m going to ignore the part about cutting one of the panels a certain way to create a certain silhouette.

Making the gored panels


Step six is sewing it all together. It says to take the front piece and starting at the bottom, sew a triangular gored panel (using the straight side [the edge that was against the edge of the fabric]) on either side.

Straight edges sewn to the front


Then it says to take the back piece and sew the other triangular gores (using the bias side, not the straight side) to either side of it, starting at the waist and sewing towards the hem.

Bias edges sewn to the back


Last step (for me anyway) is to sew the front and back together at the side seams, from top to bottom. If some of the ends are a bit wonky, trim them.


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