A 1912 Soutache Skirt
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
This was my attempt to replicate the Ladies Skirt Pattern #0162 from La Mode Illustree, May 1912. Other than a few modifications for fit, I basically followed the directions as written and am very pleased with the results.
The soutache trim is what caught my eye so I decided to work it up as designed. I drew the scroll work pattern on my paper pattern with a black sharpie marker. I then pinned my fabric piece on top and used a Frixion pen to draw the design on my fabric.
I’ve been using this pen for fabric with wonderful results. They are sold at any office supply store, cheaper than ‘sewing’ marking tools, available in a variety of colors, and a warm iron removes the marks when done. Be sure to test on your fabric first. Although I’ve never encountered a problem, it may not completely disappear from some fabrics, and if your garment is not going to be washed after completion, I've heard the marks sometimes reappear in cold weather.
My soutache was 1/8 inch wide and I used about 8 yards, or 2 yards per scroll line. There was a wonderful ‘how to’ article in Treads Magazine for applying soutache, although it was great for smaller details, not for my 2 yard continuous piece. For my needs I found it easier to pull and twist the cord where needed, then held it in place with my thumbnail until hand stitched down. I used tiny back stitches along the inside grove of the cord following my lines down the entire motif. A couple of spots seemed bumpy at close view, but once complete, I gently applied heat with an iron, and voila’…. the little stiff spots molded into a beautiful curve. The detail took about 3 weeks of evening sewing but I’m absolutely thrilled with the results.
Assembling the skirt went as per the directions, and for the sharply defined back pleat I went with a 1/8 inch top-stitch option along the edge. It really did crisp it up nicely. I also changed the opening for the placket by adding a 1 inch binding to the inside portion, and a 1/2 inch binding on the back of the outer portion. I then added 1-1/2 inch Petersham ribbon for the waistband, turned it to the inside, and stitched it down at the seams. With the new placket in place, I had a more substantial base to apply the hook and eyes, and the decorative buttons.
I don’t make enough covered buttons to warrant a professional grade button maker, but plan on sore thumbs if you don't have one. This takes about 16 buttons, depending upon your spacing. I went with 6 on each side of the front bodice and 2 on each of the back pleats. If you find lovely buttons that suit your needs, all the better for your fingers.
This pattern surprised me. I so love hand sewing, or 'slow sewing'. For me it's like therapy - I get into a rhythm, relax, and unwind. And the results are so rewarding.
This reproduction sewing pattern is sized for a 25 inch waist and is available for purchase here.