Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fitted Wrapped Apron Dress--Thoughts So Far

Last weekend, I finally began work on the "fitted" wrapped apron dress  that I've been planning to make for months. 

What I have done so far was to take my fabric, decide on the approximate length and cut the fabric to length and width.  Then, I wrapped the piece around myself in the manner in which the finished dress will be worn, and marked locations at each hip that will be slit from hip to hem for the insertion of long gores.

I'm not completely sure how to decide upon the size of each gore.  They need to be wide enough so that the top portion will wrap snugly without causing the lower part to twist, or fail to cover my lower body.

The diagram below shows the plan of  the rest of the construction.  (Bear in mind that this sketch is only roughly to scale and the location of all features such as tucks is approximate.)  The dashed lines  on the main body part represent cuts, while the dotted lines show proposed tucks.  Thus far, I have trimmed my fabric to the main rectangular piece shown below, and cut slits where the dashed lines are.  The numbers show the order in which each  subsequent construction step is to be taken, to wit:
  1. Hem the side edges.  (The top edge is a selvedge, so it's not going to be hemmed, this time around.)
  2. Cut and insert a large triangular gore into each of the long slits.  The parallelogram shown below the body piece in my sketch is meant to represent two gores, cut on the diagonal line running roughly from right to left.
  3. Make and attach the loops.  Like my orange wrapped apron dress, this dress will have three pairs of loops, two short sets (both of which will be in the front when the dress is worn) and one long set.
  4. Try on the dress again, and add tucks above the waist to make the top fit more snugly.
  5. Hem the bottom, evening out the length as necessary.
  6. Trim as desired.  I'll probably just sew a piece of fabric or trim between the places where the brooches will sit, in the area shown on the diagram. 
Is there historic support for this design?  No.  Moreover, I doubt that this design would have been used in period, because while the body of the garment doesn't require wasteful cutting, the more-or-less freehand cutting of the gores I'm planning would be wasteful of fabric.

On the other hand, the top portion of the dress isn't blatantly inconsistent with the archaeological evidence, and it's possible that a similar effect could have been achieved non-wastefully in period by piecing many small scraps of fabric into two large gores.  Garments such as the Viborg shirt show that the Vikings had no problem with piecing many small bits of fabric to achieve the effects they were after. 

At this point, I'm mostly interested in demonstrating that it would be physically possible to craft a body-fitting garment that would not need to be wriggled into and that would have the convenient access to the breasts of the wrapped dress designs. 

I will, of course, post pictures when the dress is completed.  Hopefully, I can make some progress this weekend.


  1. Cathy, I think there is a different way to cut the gores so they aren't "freehand". I'll try to explain this in writing and if that isn't clear enough, I can draw something up.

    For the gores, cut one rectangle the length needed for the gore. Then make a *diagonal* cut down the length of the rectangle. Flip one of the resulting pieces so that LONG straight sides are together. This should result in a triangle that is narrow at the top, wide at the bottom and split down the center.

    It's an extra seam, but as you say, scandinavians were not afraid to piece.

  2. Hi, Lara! Thanks for stopping by.

    I"m aware of the "make big gore by sewing together two right triangles" trick, and I thought about doing it that way.

    However, my problem is that I actually need the final gores to be pretty fat, or the dress won't cover my hips without twisting. Put another way, I'm not sure what measurements to use for right-triangle shapes that will give me the kind of width I want at the top of the triangle.

    I'll think about it, though. Maybe I will try it that way, after all.

  3. Well, since the big question is the width at the hips, you could also do multiple gores in the same slit. Just keep adding them until you think its going to fit. Sew angled gore side to straight side. Pin opening. Fit. Add another gore approximately the same size. Pin opening. Fit. Etc. It would kind of like a gore pinwheel, if that makes any sense.

    I'm curious, since you already plan to do tucks to snug the fit on top, if you had considered measuring to fit your hips and taking in the top of the apron.

    Fun project. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  4. "I'm curious, since you already plan to do tucks to snug the fit on top, if you had considered measuring to fit your hips and taking in the top of the apron."

    The answer is "no", because I am enough smaller on top that going that route would require much more effort than expanding the dress below the waist to match my hip measurement. I've already roughly matched the top to my bust measurement; adding gores to snug it in to the rest of my torso should be easy.

    I could use a bunch of narrow gores in each hip-slash, but I'm not sure I want to do all that much sewing. However, I have a little time to think about that. Thanks for your advice.