A skirt for the opera

After two days of non-stop sewing, frozen pizza dinners and sinks-full of dirty dishes we’ve finally finished Louisa’s Steampunk skirt.

For the most part we made up the pattern ourselves and added details we liked from other Steampunk designers, as well as historical photographs. We were greatly influenced by the styles of the Edwardian period, as you can probably tell. The main fabric is a midweight brown linen with a very subtle woven stripe. A green on green patterned cotton was used for the trim fabric. Louisa chose some buttons from my collection- no two the same, but all sharing a sage green shade to match the bias trim. Two tiny ones; one glass and the other faded wood, are stitched at the top of the two front pleats.

And two larger; one bakelite and the other horn bring together the fastening at the back. And speaking of the fastening, we were in a bit of a muddle to find a way to fit this skirt to Louisa’s rapidly shrinking figure. If we made it to fit her waistline now, it would be too big by next month, and unwearable by autumn. The natural solution was elastic, but that just didn’t fit with the image we wanted. In the end we did use an elastic backwaist, but hid it underneath these buttoned flaps. As Louisa’s size decreases, the buttons can be moved closer and closer together. The elasticized portion merely looks like a gathered panel behind a box pleat.

As she loses weight, the hem will gradually come closer to the floor, and the back will form an ever-so-slight slight train.

I tried a new-for-me hem treatment with this project: facings. I love how they allow the bottom of the skirt to hang so perfectly, and even with the trim coming right to the hem there is a crisp clean edge. I love that. What I did not love however, is the time it took for me to hand finish this fourteen foot long hemline. In fact, for once I am happy to put the needle and thread away and tackle something different for a few hours.

Like maybe those dishes in the sink.



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23 Responses to A skirt for the opera

  1. 1
    Tasha says:

    Amazingly beautiful!!!! you are an awesome seamstress. lovely, lovely, lovely!

  2. 2
    Ginger says:

    Now I love this skirt, Can't wait for the all done picture!!! Louisa I am so proud of your weightloss accomplishment!

  3. 3
    Bethany Hudson says:


  4. 4
    Beth says:

    Oh wow…what an undertaking! I am so impressed! (And I was proud of myself for being able to hurridly throw together an apron for my daughter's 4H show in Food Preparation! Oh, by the way, it does look like I "threw it together!" haha.) Oh well…..I'm glad YOU have talent!! Have a lovely day! Beth

  5. 5
    Diane says:

    awww thanks tasha.. and how are ya doing girl?

    mrs b… next year it'll be you needing new skinny duds, girlie☺

    bethany… oh, thanks so much hon♥

    beth… thanks for the lol, hon;) and you have a wonderful day dear!

  6. 6
    Jo Flemings says:

    really great! Can we see the ensemble on?

  7. 7
    Diane says:

    oh absolutely jo! once it's all done that is☺

  8. 8
    YayaOrchid says:

    Lovely skirt! I really like the linen, and the contrast is lovely too. I could easily see a Regency dress made out of that beautiful green fabric.

    I hope Louisa allows you to share pictures of her wearing the finished skirt. I'm certain she will look really pretty!

  9. 9
    Ginger says:

    Amazing!! I can't wait to see it all together!
    P.S. My daughters want you to be their mom. At least long enough for a new wardrobe! ;)

  10. 10
    Ganeida says:

    I am in awe. My mother sews like that so I know the amount of work & fussing that goes into making something look so fantastic! I didn't inherit that skill ~ unfortunately. I bet Louisa is going to look absolutely fantastic in this outfit & you are a wonderful mama for going to so much trouble. 14' of hemline!!!! Oh my!

  11. 11
    Lynn says:

    I love it!! It is beautiful, and I like a lot of the steampunk clothes I've seen. Not all, but a whole lot, especially considering I'd never heard of it!! :)


  12. 12
    Diane says:

    thanks yaya.. i can tell you are a sister seamstress- the sight of fabric gets you to thinking of new project ideas;)

    ginger… my girls'd probably be up for a mom-trade some weekend- especially if it corresponded with one of my house cleaning binges,lol

    ganeida.. thanks so much for those sweet words. hearing compliments like that from someone who knows what goes into a project like this really means a lot hon ((hugs))

    lynn… i totally agree.. some of the steampunk stuff is just bizarre, but some of it is sooo adorable. i choose to pay attention to the cute things and ignore the rest;)

  13. 13
    vivian says:

    You are so talented! i couldnt sew a piece of clothing to save my life! and if i had to make my own clothing.. Id be naked! (oh just the thought should make you shudder!)
    sweet job diane! and more congrats to Louisa for continuing to lose weight!!

  14. 14
    Diane says:

    oh viv- girl, i have seen your bears and other creations, so you can't fool me! talent, thy name is viv;)

  15. 15
    nancy says:

    This is beautifully made! I wonder what her top will be.
    Since steampunk art involves the juxtaposition of old artifacts with new technology(or vice versa) or hardware with software, organic with inorganic — that's about as close as I can come to my understanding. Like a cyborg… or a spider with articulated metal legs. I'm still trying to figure out what the fashion part of it is.


  16. 16
    Diane says:

    wow mam, that is a great definition! i'm not exactly sure where the fashion side of it came in myself. perhaps kids doing role playing or the like? it's a big thing now though, however it originated. a lot of the women's styles are really dreadfully immodest, but some are just adorable. it's kind of an interplay of edwardian or 'wild west' fashions with adventurism and steam technology… sort of jules verne-y, if you know what i mean. hard to explain, but once you've seen it, it is unmistakable☺

  17. 17
    Anonymous says:

    Holy Canoli! The best project yet! Soooo beautiful!-hil

  18. 18
    Diane says:

    hey there miss hil! why are you anon, my dear? and thanks so much for the compliments… we've finished the whole outfit now and louisa looks really great in it, if i do say so myself. i'll post pics next week.
    how are you and the girls doing sweetie?

  19. 19
    chicory cottage says:

    that's a really great skirt (i'll take two, please)…i can also see some art nouveau influences, too…maybe something about the contrasting fabrics…

  20. 20
    Diane says:

    chicory… two? *gulp* well, ok if you don't mind waiting a year or so;)

    and now that you mention it, the contrast trim is quite art nouveau☺

  21. 21
    Jeanne says:

    That skirt is quite a magnificent work of art…especially since I never learned to sew. I am in awe.

    This is my first visit to your blog – I dropped in from Ganeida's – but it won't be my last…I've added you to my reader!

    Oh, and I'm so impressed with Louisa's weight-loss story – Go Girl!

  22. 22
    Diane says:

    hey there jeanne.. any friend of ganeida's is a friend of mine☺ you are welcome here anytime (especially when you leave such charming and complimentary comments;))

  23. 23
    Mommy says:

    that is beautiful, good job!!!

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