1930s Sew-along with Norma: Draping the flared skirt



Illustration for draping a flared bias skirt without side seams.  From “Draping & Designing With Scissors and Cloth 1930s” by Sandra Ericson.

I really had to experiment with the skirt.  The only flared skirt illustrated in the book is for a bias cut, flared skirt without side seams.  Cutting on the bias is not easy so I decided to drape with the straight lengthwise grain at the CF and CB.

The instructions from the draping book I used at school didn’t help.  I only draped a flared skirt once so never got much experience with it.  It’s so much easier to create a flared skirt using flat patternmaking.  There is greater control over the width and placement of the flares.  It also is not the cumbersome process I found draping one to be.

Highlights of draping the flared skirt front


1. The fabric is cut along the full width of the fabric and the desired length.  I know that flared skirts “grow” once they’re allowed to hang and the drape sets in.  I’d rather have more fabric than less since I plan for a longer skirt.  I’ve found that if the fabric is not long enough, once the drape sets in and the hem marked there may not be enough fabric for an adequate depth to the hem.

2.  About 3″ in from the lengthwise edge, the fabric is pinned at CF.  Prior to doing this I marked a straight line 3″ in along the length of the piece.

I positioned the fabric 6″ down from the crosswise edge.  This is necessary because as flares are added the fabric angles further down.  This gradually places the grain onto the bias 3.  The fabric is smoothed and pinned in place along the waist or in this case the style tape shaped along the hip line.  I was able to feel it under the bodice.  At the point where a flare is desired a pin is placed and a clip made.  Once the depth of the flare is achieved another pin is put along the waist, hip or wherever you’ve marked the skirt.

Note:  This is the way the bodice looked before contouring.  I will look even more dowdy when the front skirt drape is completed.  I think the shaping makes it look more attractive.  How about you?

4.  What made this so very difficult for me was handling the weight of the entire width of the fabric.  I also did not like having a puddle of fabric on the floor and falling onto my feet.


5.  The process is repeated until you get the number of flares you want.  The line is marked in chalk at the waist (or hip).  The hipline is also marked in chalk.

The book did not mention anything about marking the hipline before draping the front and back.  And since there was no side seam I had to use my own judgment in how to handle this.  I did not look at the books from draping class because I wanted to see how hard or easy this would be.  I also wanted to see if I could reason through what I had to do next.

I know the flares will widen and grow longer as gravity works on the fabric.  For that reason I decided to redrape the front again to make the flares less deep.  I’ve read that when flares are too deep they no longer have a lovely, swingy movement.  They end up looking like flaps or unsecured pleats.

I got the knack for this when draping the back of the skirt.  I’ll show more photos of that in the next posting.

The hem is uneven because it is not marked off until after the back is draped and pinned to the ftont.







One thought on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Draping the flared skirt

  1. Curves in the bodice will be a much better look. You are right about too much fabric in the flares looking like flaps – I have seen this happen when people use a heavier fabric for their dress than the the pattern recommends.

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