A 1920s Linen Skirt

A “LaterBlog” (instead of “Latergram”), I realized when posting yesterday that I neglected to blog my personal project of a 1920s linen skirt to go with the 1920s blouse I made last year!

I go through funny periods where I think “I’m not going to show that thing I made, because people will ask where I got the pattern, or if I’ll make the pattern…” blah blah. Brains are silly. In any case, my current mode of thinking is that it’s *good* to show these odd little projects, and be honest about *why* not all vintage patterns are excellent relics of dressmaking past.

This particular skirt pattern is one of those patterns. I got there in the end. But it was *interesting*

This is Butterick 3262, which was pictured in The Delineator in September, 1921.

The original illustration from the Delineator is show above. A friend of mine pointed out, very correctly, that “the illustrator has clearly never walked a dog before”.

The text says:

“3262- Half the charm of many of the French fashions is the ease with which they suggest so much and do so little. The narrow line is the generally accepted line for tailored skirts, yet softness is a necessary requisite for the smart costume, so to a very simple, straight one-piece skirt, Paris adds two narrow loose panels that can be tacked at the hem or allowed to hang free. These panels achieve a certain ease of line that is most desirable. The skirt can be made of one width of a 50 inch material. Use serge, twills, worsteds, checks, duvetyn, or tricotine.

38 hip requires 1 1/2 yard serge 50 inches wide. Lower edge 47 1/2 inches.

This skirt is good for ladies 35 to 47 1/2 hip”

My skirt pattern was for a 26″ waist (which I likely was when I bought this many moons ago), but my current waist fluctuates around 32″-33.5″. Since this really was cut all in one piece (other than the facing at front and swinging “panels”, it was easy to resize. I was proud of myself for remembering to size by my hip measure, instead of my waist, since my hips tend to run narrower than waist in standard body measurements. It was then easy enough to gather in the waist *in theory*, had my fabric not been so heavy!

For the fabric I used a rough woven linen that I purchased in bulk from an estate sale, which worked out to about $1 a yard. I probably purchased about 20 yards, in a trash bag, and I still have quite a bit left.

After working with this for over three projects now, I can say it’s not my *favorite* linen. The price is right, of course, but if I was purchasing new fabric yardage I would go with something with a tighter and more regular weave, since this one makes doing corners, or anything to do with straight lines or precision, quite annoying. The theme of this skirt ended up being “close enough”, and that was due to a combo of the loosely woven but still strangely heavy linen, and the quirky old pattern.

In process, here. The skirt view I wanted to make was finished at the front edges with a bias binding. I thought that was rather clever! It did end up being pretty fussy because of how thick the fabric was with all those layers. The fold line at front meant 2, plus the bias and turn over, meant 6 total layers to go through just on the binding, on a mid/heavy linen. Plus a facing under. Whoo! It was tricky.

You can see here, on the finished skirt, what I mean about binding. No matter what I did, I did have areas that wanted to “flare” out. In the end I tacked some areas down to the facing underneath, there. I also found it beneficial to iron a curve into the bias there at the bottom of the skirt before I even attempted to attach it. It doesn’t look that drastic, but in a heavier linen with a fussy weave, it was necessary in order to get it to lay somewhat symmetrical.

I found the heavier shell buttons really helped with the “panels”, to get them to hang down straight. Or straight-ish.

Here it is with the blouse

The waist treatment was similar to 1910s skirts. The waistband was internal, and the gathers were topstitched to the internal waistband.

I opted *not* to make the belt, as it was already quite bulky, and I thought the extra belt-plus-bias-binding wouldn’t be the most flattering, or the most comfortable! Besides, the blouse hits just at the right spot to cover up the waistline so I really didn’t *need* the belt.

I had pulled out an early 20s jacket to make a cute little walking suit, but I didn’t manage to get that far. I have, however, been working on a 1930s coat in the same fabric! In a pinch, I could likely wear these together and not many would know the pattern wasn’t from the 1920s.

So, in conclusion, despite the pattern being quite quirky, and despite the fabric being a bit too heavy, it did end up being quite a nice skirt!

I will let 2023 Lauren give the total synopsis of this project:

“This was deceptively annoying to make. Like I said previously, it ran much longer than indicated on the pattern cover. Interestingly, the skirt is one main pattern piece and then a “facing” at the front where the skirt turn backs lap to center front. The sides of the skirt are then drawn in with gathers to fit the waistband. This sounds simple, but the reality is that there was much too much to gather in, and doing those darn internal waistbands with gathering are quite a pain to do under normal circumstances!

The original said you could bind the edge of the curved version with silk or braid, so I cut a bias of my linen and used that. Since my linen is medium weight, this was actually quite bulky and made for challenging sewing at the waistline where it turns under for the waistband.

The little decorating bits are just like the period illustration, and they could be left to hang or tacked at top and bottom. I’m letting them be free-flowing. I like how it mimics the top.

All in all, it ended up ok with some little frustrations (normal for old patterns). But I’m most likely *not* going to reproduce this one because I’m not sure the quirks outweigh the end result. I like it, but probably will try another pattern next time around.”

If I were to attempt this again, I think a good option would be some sort of nice wool suiting in a lighter weight. I would probably make the “panels” from one layer of fabric and a matching layer of silk for a facing, cut slightly smaller to avoid any peekage. I think this is really the sort of garment that is so *simple* that it really requires skill and precision to pull off perfectly. It would also likely benefit from some form of interfacing where the hem folds back at center front, to help avoid the “puckering”/pulling I got from a less stable fabric.

I likely won’t get around to doing another version, but finding out how it worked was quite fun, and I did end up with a nice little summer skirt!

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