victorian skirt cutting without markings

All photos and content (c) to Michaela de Bruce, please feel free to share and use for any non-commercial activity with linkbacks or credit.

As per my guide on pattern shapes for Victorian skirts (with 1/10 patterns layout guides) the actual process of cutting is incredibly fast and simple and mainly relies on having a workspace to lay out each drop of fabric. This can be done on a table or bench or floor as per my photos. I prefer a dinner table height surface but it is very difficult to get photos at all let alone from a table!

So the following photos will show how to use a tape measure as well as just use the body to create a very fast skirt that is perfect for the 1870s, early 1880s, early a890s just as it is. In this example I am using the skirt lining and shell for my wedding dress recreation (seen under “historic inspired” in the menu here.)

Materials and tools needed:

150cmwide (60″) cotton twill- approximately 3yards or just shy of 3m or more

115cm (45″) wide rayon crepe- approx 4 1/2 yards or just shy of 4m or more

long glass headed quilting pins (any pills but these are the easiest for this yardage)

shears or scissors (able to cut through two layers of fabric at least)

tape measure (optional)


Cutting 60″ fabric

Start with the fabric laid out folded in half, selvage to selvage


If you prefer an intuitive method start by holding the fabric to your waist and let it hand to floor unimpeeded and mark the hem- add a comfortable seam allowance to both waist and hem.


If you prefer use a tape measure to mark the length you desire for the side gores. This will be the length from where the waist sits, over the hip and down the side. Include shoe height plus an inch or two at hem and waist depending on your comfort. There are many ways to hem a skirt that is too short or too long.

I used 115cm (45″.)


Cats make excellent weights until they decide to play.


Cut across the fabric through both layers.


Next mark the width of the upper portion of the panels on opposite corners of the fabric (I place one at upper right along the cut across the fabric, and one at lower left ditto.) Then fold the fabric from mark to mark, making sure to keep all layers smooth and aligned.


I used 8″ or 20cm as I will be added pleats at the waist of these panels.

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Cut through the layers with the diagonal fold. I use the weight of my hand to hold the layers together due to difficulty carrying actual weights. Your mileage may vary!

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As we cut two layers together it is very easy to make sure you have cut all panels the right way! The top layer will be one side, the bottom layer the other. Be careful if cutting single layers at a time!

Next I find it easiest to cut the train/CB panel as it is a straight width with at most a modest train. So I lay one of the side gores diagonal side to the selvages. Again the fabric is folded selvage to selvage.


Then I cut through the fold to the same distance and cut a scoop out for the hem.


So that least the other half of this panel to cut the front gore. This is the panel that will mostly define the era of your skirt! I usually aim for the same side angle if not the same waist and hem widths.

Start with the panel laid flat then bring up the cut edge to line up with the selvage.

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Then take the other set of side gores and lay the straight edge along the side of the fabric. Match the hem to the selvage edge and bring the waist of the side panel to lay in line with the end. Here the side panels are 8″ at the waist and the CF panel is 5″ on the fold (so 10″ all up.)

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Here you can cut the hem in a gentle curve.

Next mark the waist width of the panel and remove the side gore. Now you can again fold the fabric along the diagonal and cut through the layers as per the side gores.

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And finally you can lay out your panels to see how the skirt will flare.


The camera here lies a little! The side panel are the same shape! However as the diagonal is always going to be longer than the straight edge you will have a little extra on that seam. Do not cut it off!

While this is the lining and pretty stable, the diagonal cut will mean that edge is somewhat stretchy. You will want to sew that and allow it to hang before cutting.

This can be kept as a pattern for cutting fabric to the same shape but from different fabric widths. And I had to do so with the fabric shell which is 115cm (45″) wide.

The train section is not what the train will look like in the end, however it is there to show the maximum length for this particular shape. A double width of fabric in the back and longer side back gores will allow for a much longer train.


Cutting 45″ fabric

Again I started with the side gores and laid them on the folded fabric but this time aligning the first panel hem with the cut edge.


As seen above this allows the other set of panels to be top and tailed with the first. And this is why the gores are the same shape, if they were not then the diagonal edges would not line up.

I then cut the front panel on the same fold and will use the waste fabric to cut a new bodice shell.


But when I laid the CB trained panel on the fold I wound up with a strips of narrow fabric that really wasn’t going to be able to be used.


So I unfolded the panel and the fabric and lined up one edge of the panel with the fabric selvage.


Now that is a width I could use! I will be able to cut a pair of two part sleeves from that!

The fabric was then clipped and ripped down the grain in line with the other side of the panel.

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It was only torn as far as the start of the train which was then cut to match.

All panels were then rolled up to prevent the crepe from creasing in storage while I wrote this page up!