The Goose Girl: Peasant Skirt

As discussed in my previous posts, the concept behind the Goose Girl garment is to have a coarser peasant look on the outside layers with more delicate layers hidden underneath.  This mirrors the story of The Goose Girl as she hides her royal identity while working in the Prince’s kingdom. With the delicately embroidered petticoat finished, I could start work on the coarse peasant skirt.

My original design concept had the skirt drafted in blue as is described in Shannon Hale’s rendition of the story.  In shopping for fabric, I stumbled upon a roll of coarse 100% linen home decor fabric on clearance at Joanns. However, it was goldenrod yellow rather than blue.  The material was too good of a deal to pass up on though, and it helped that the tone of the yellow perfectly complemented the fabric of the stay already constructed. 

In plotting the draft of the skirt, I planned to use similar dimensions as with the petticoat. Since it is home decor fabric, I was able to get 4 yards of material at 60” in width which gave me a bit more volume to work with.  Overall, in looking at paintings and fashion plates from my time period, I wanted more fullness in the back than the front.  I also wanted to mirror the flat center front, bound by pleats as I had achieved in the petticoat.  To do this, I used ⅔ (96”) of the original length as the back panel and ⅓ (48”) for the front. In hindsight, I could have kept it all as one piece and only had one seam at the back or side. Live and learn.

The length of the skirt was based on the length of the petticoat plus 4” for folding over the top for the pleating and 1” for the hem.  I planned to use the selvage on the hem line to save on a bit of finishing time.

The front and back panels were finished by cutting with pinking shears and then machine stitched together using heavy duty thread due to the weight of the fabric. I used polyester thread in a matching color and a large stitch length.  Both sides were stitched to 8” below the top to allow for closures. 

The 1” hem and top fold over were ironed to make stitching easier and felled with an extremely tiny prick stitch. I took advantage of the selvage on the hem so I would only have to fold it once and thus saved on excessive bulk.

I tried taking only one or two threads from the front fabric since my thread wasn’t an exact match and was visible if stitched through. Since the material was thick already, I did not use an extra bulk layer in the top fold over like was done for the petticoat. 

Then began the cartridge pleating process again.  I initially draped the skirt on Molly (my “me” sized mannequin) over the petticoat and pinned mock up pleats in place to get a general idea of the depth I would need for the pleats.  To do this, I pinned the skirt at the side seams, center front, and center back to the corresponding spots on Molly.  Then, each quarter is halved, pinned at the halfway point on Molly.  This process is repeated until there is little room left to pin.  

This gave me about ½” depths to my pleats for both the front and back.  This was different from the petticoat on the front since I had compensated for the 8” flat center front by reducing the panel width. This time, I got smart and made a template out of cardboard with my markings that I could use.  The template gives three parallel threads at ½” apart lengthwise and widthwise. 

I tried not to think too hard about the pleat depths and width beyond the mock up and template since I would be able to wiggle the width as necessary onto the final waistband. 

For the pleats, I followed the same method as with the petticoat using thick buttonhole thread in a matching color and stitch running stitches at my marks.  These were then pulled and temporarily tied together while I made my waist band 

For my waistband, I measured my natural waist while wearing the petticoat since the skirt would need to fit over the extra waistband layer.  I then added 3” to this length for finishing and overlap length.  Though I had stitched the skirt panels with two side openings, I changed my mind so there would be only one opening at the left side and an overlap to hide the closure.  

For my waistband, I use the vintage jacquard ribbon from Studio RicRak that I had been originally inspired by.  The waistband would eventually be hidden under the stay when worn, but it was a lovely touch and the yellow in the ribbon was an exact match to the skirt color!

Both ends of the ribbon were quickly whip stitched (“felled”) to finish.

I then marked the right side seam point with a red pin, and the beginning of the overlap portion with a blue pin. The finished pleated skirt panels were pinned to the ribbon about every three to five pleats.  The back section of pleating ended up being a bit too small, which was remedied by removing the temporary knots in the thread and releasing a bit of tension to expand the pleats to match the waistband. 

The pleats and flat front were whip stitched to the ribbon with the heavy duty thread and the extra left side opening was closed. To finish, a skirt slide and bar was added to the overlap, and hook & eyes were added at the top of the side closure and 2” down to keep the cartridge pleats next to the opening tight together when worn. 

This is where I started backtracking.  When put on Molly, the cartridge pleats looked too stiff and perfect. It looked almost Victorian.  I also wasn’t happy with the distinct line where the fold over ended due to the third row of stitches to make the pleats.  

Since my pleats were stitching in place on the waist band, I simply removed the three rows of pleat threads. It was a very subtle change to do this, but I felt the released volume gave a better shape outwards from the hips and rear rather than the tight pleats.  

Overall, I was very pleased with the look and how the length allows for the petticoat lace to peak out from under the hem, especially when in movement. 

The sheer bulk of the home decor linen did weigh down the garment a bit and I am considering adding a hip-roll to achieve the 17th century look I am designing for.  

Check back on the next posts to see where we go from here!

The Goose Girl: Petticoat

In following the concept of the Goose Girl’s story, the petticoat is a bit more regal and embellished than the rest of the garment.  In the original tale, the lady’s maid demands that the Princess hand over her dress while they are on the road together.  The maid then wears the Princess’ clothes and rides into the Prince’s city where she is announced as the Princess. But I doubt she would have demanded her petticoat.  This let me have a bit of fun with the garment and build on the motif of the Princess’ hidden identity under the coarser worker’s clothing.  

While researching the petticoat, I found little specifics that I would have to stick to for my 17th century style aside from the length being just to the ankle. So, I let myself run a little wild here. 

For choosing the fabrics, I wanted to incorporate one of the embroidered pieces I had sourced from vintage shops that were all too pastel for the stay. 

Fortunately, I found the absolute perfect piece at a garage sale in Bay View from Bandit Vintage. This linen tablecloth was hand embroidered with delicate pansies in yellow, orange, and green.  Total, the tablecloth measured 54”x 90”

I wanted as much volume as I could get into the petticoat and planned to use cartridge pleats to achieve the effect.  In order to make the most of the tablecloth, I decided to cut it in half lengthwise and add a strip of taffeta to the top and bottom for the full length (measuring from my natural waist to ankle bone + seam allowances + hem). 

Please enjoy my chicken-scratch plotting…

The cream taffeta was found on clearance at Joann’s, had a bit of sparkle to it, and more stretch than I realized.  The cream also contrasted the bleach white of the linen.  However, I had a massive pile of ribbon polyester lace from my grandmother that would create a lovely transition between the fabrics while hiding the seam lines. 

Here I have the linen, taffeta, and ribbon trim set out to check color and proportions of the cut strips of taffeta.

I had to get a bit creative with cutting the taffeta strips since the clearance fabric had an odd wrinkle through the middle and deep crease that would not come out with steam. Compensate, I adjusted my measurements for the strips so that the top strip would cut with the crease at the fold over line and the wrinkle was outside of the bottom strip.

I cut all my strips and finished the edge of the bottom layer taffeta with a zig-zag stitch. While doing and then stitching to the linen, I realized the stretch in the taffeta was causing it to gather slightly. Fortunately, the gathering actually made for a nice ruffle effect at the bottom tier.

However, I wouldn’t be able to finish any of the other edges of the taffeta in this way or I would have that ruffle effect everywhere. Instead, I used a French seam to encase the edges of the quickly fraying taffeta at the upper tier and side seams. The stretch of the taffeta is only in the width-wise direction, so I still had a bit of gathering occur at the top tier seam, but the sides had no puckering. The gathering would later be covered by lace trim, so I was not concerned.

The sides, as mentioned, were stitched together with a French seam and I left about 8” at the tops of both seams unstitched for the side openings. 

For the waistband, I cut two strips of the taffeta equaling half my waist measurement + 1” for ½” seams. I would be using side closures for the waistband as was typical of the period. I made a mock up to check the sizing and used twill tape attached at the top and bottom of the waist band for ties. I decided on a rather thick waist band (5″ wide)

The mockup went well. But as I fit tested it, the taffeta began to stretch. To combat this, I cut two strips of flannel equal to the length of the taffeta, minus the seam allowances, and only half the width since I would be folding the taffeta in half, encasing the flannel. 

The flannel was baste stitched inside the taffeta casing to hold it in place. I then pressed the folds with the iron on “synthetic” with a press cloth and steam to make for crisp lines to stitch along. The pressed fold over was hand stitched with a tiny slip stitch.  I then carefully machine stitched every ¼” along the width to give additional stability to the band. 

The stabilized waistband during the final fitting

Before attaching to the band, the skirt was prepped for pleating.  The flannel was used again at the top of the skirt to give additional bulk when making the pleats since the taffeta was so thin. The taffeta was folded over the flannel, ironed, and stitched like the waistband to finish the top edge.  

To prepare for the cartridge pleats, the wrong side of the fabric is marked with precise dots for where the running stitches will go.  For the front, I marked 2 parallel running stitches at ¼” and ¾” from the top and ⅜” apart. 

Once marked, a quick running stitch with strong buttonhole thread is used.  With long tails on either side, the pleats are pulled together.  I was honestly terrified of this process because of how precise it is but found it to be an incredibly satisfying experience! I want to put cartridge pleats on everything now.

Getting just the right amount of pleats to match the size of the waistband wasn’t nearly as satisfying.  I have to admit, it was quite a bit of guess and check on the front.  I had made my pleats too deep on the front, and didn’t have nearly enough to make the full length of the waistband.  Luckily, this worked out in my favor.  I cut the pleat threads at the exact middle of the panel and released enough pleats to make the full length of the waistband.  In the end, the front was pleated for 6” from either side while the center is flat, allowing for the stay to sit flush against the body. 

Learning from this, I used different measurements for my back panel: 3 parallel running stitches at ¼”, ¾”, and 1 ¼” from the top and ½” apart.   With the change, the length fit to the waistband much nicer.

The threads from the pleats were backstitched in place and then the skirt could be attached to the waistband.  To attach, the button thread was used again, and the pleats were whipstitched on.  I used two stitches for every pleat to ensure a solid hold. 

Originally, I finished the side seams of the waistband with cotton twill tape that would be tied around the body, overlapping front and back as was common of 17th century petticoats. But, I added dress hooks to the sides to make a tighter closure. 

Because of the ruffling effect with the taffeta discussed earlier, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the hem or the waistband on the machine. In finishing the hem, I steamed the fold in place so I would have a nice crisp line. I then killed two birds with one stone by felling the hem on the inside while taking small bites of the lace trim with the needle to attach to the front of the hem. 

Now, the fun embellishing could begin! 

1” ribbon lace trim was applied with a prick stitch at the two seams where the taffeta and linen were attached. At every stitch to the outside, one gold seed bead was strung.  From a distance, the beads give just a bit of sparkle.  Between the glint from the beads, the sparkle in the taffeta, the hand embroidery, and delicate lace, the petticoat was absolutely over the top lux. 

With the taffeta and linen being lightweight, the finished petticoat has lovely fullness at the pleats and float just at the ankle.  The final length was a bit long since my bottom tier of trim was 2” past the planned hem. This would need to be accounted for in the skirt construction.