Mini-Project: An 1890s Walking Skirt


I need to make some shirtwaists next…

About a year ago, I threw out the last pair of jeans in my closet and vowed to only wear what made me comfortable. Since then, I’ve been slowly making new garments and giving away clothing that I don’t wear. I’ve been trying to make my skirts as long as possible, but suddenly having everything floor length would have been a big change. Instead, the patterns have been lengthening over the months.

I’ve also tried to keep my closet natural fiber-based as much as possible, primarily because polyester clothing makes me heat up. I didn’t even realize just how much until I made this change – I pulled on an old favorite poly dress of mine this summer and had to change out of it mid-day because it was so stifling in comparison.


I wear a corset (usually Redthreaded’s 1860s pattern) several days a week due to back pain, so wearing it to give proper shape to this skirt is nothing out of the ordinary.

All this is to say that I’ve finally arrived at my preferred aesthetic: #historybounding, as Morgan Donner coined it recently. I’ll throw in another shoutout here to Bernadette Banner, as it was her 1890s skirt video a while back that really put this into my mind.

I finally have the courage to wear exactly what I want to wear out and about, and at the moment, that’s a slightly modified version of Truly Victorian’s 1895 Ripple Skirt!

I made it almost entirely historically accurately – my concessions were 1) serging, which I hadn’t actually planned to do until I realized how terribly the fabrics were fraying, and 2) my outer fabric was a wool/nylon blend. But it feels like it’s all wool, I swear!

My flatlining layer was the rest of my gray silk/cotton microfaille that you may recognize from my 1870s crinolette. I had actually planned this to be the outer layer (what heathen relegates a silk mix to the lining??) but upon unfolding it from my stash and ironing, I recalled exactly how terribly it holds creases. Not what I want in an outer fabric!

IMG_1256So it became my lining, and with some piecing on both fabrics, they were stitched together at the edges and treated as one. I overcasted the seams down where I needed smoothness and structure, and reveled in the wonderful body that combining them gave me.

I only had three yards of my suiting (and similar of the microfaille) so I had to cut down the largest pattern piece. The Ripple Skirt measures a full six yards at the hem, and in cutting the side piece down I reduced the circumference to about 4.25 yards instead. It’s still a very big skirt!

Also, a note: I found that TV’s 1893 Bell Skirt came up a bit short on me. I lengthened this one accordingly (unevenly by layer, as you can see in this photo…) but it turned out in the end that it was unnecessary, and I chopped it off again. Just FYI if you’re using this pattern! (Yes, I could just measure, but I find that skirts never sit the same way on me with and without corsets, with different types of corsets, etc. It was easier to simply make it a little longer from the start.)


Putting my loft bed to good use.

I made this skirt over about three nights; some ~political~ things were happening in my life and I had a lot of worry/anger/anxiety that I needed to distract myself from. But this was the first larger project I did in my new apartment, which is absolutely tiny, and I needed to find a good storage solution. Behold:

Anyway, it came together very quickly – the pleats were a bit odd and I don’t love the result, but I can always change them later.

I cut 5″ hem facings from some very light suiting wool I had around (not enough microfaille left, and I didn’t have any other scrap fabrics on hand). While I stitched all the long seams on this skirt by machine, I relished in doing a lot of it by hand as well, which included the overcasting, securing the waistband, and slipstitching the facing down.

I raised the hem just a tad so that I could wear it with flats if I needed to, but because of the slight train this skirt is more of a heels situation. I’m obviously not wearing it over petticoats or padding, which I would definitely add were I to ever wear this for a historical event!

I’ve added the equivalent of a brush braid to the hem – I ordered navy blue cotton webbing, which is thick enough that it should act as a nice guard to the edge. Rough NYC streets are no joke…

Overall, I’m very happy with this skirt, and I’ve already worn it to work for several days. It takes a little bit more effort to navigate the subway stairs, but feeling this amazing in a skirt is absolutely worth it!


Full pattern review:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s