Sewing · Victorian

Pretty Princess Dress: The Underskirt

After finishing the petticoats it was time to start working on the underskirt.

I fell in love with the Sea Salt silk taffeta from Silk Baron earlier in the year and knew that I wanted to use it. They’re not stocking it any more so I’m so happy that I managed to purchase some before I missed out.

Sea Salt taffeta from Silk Baron – so pretty!

This would form the base of the skirt, which I made from the Truly Victorian 1870s pattern and, oh my gosh, the pattern includes a pocket!!! And the Baby Pink taffeta that I also bought from Silk Baron would form the trim.

Baby Pink Taffeta from Silk Baron

At first, I was undecided on how to trim the skirt but as I browsed pictures of extant dresses and fashion plates I found myself drawn towards these:

And I kept going back to this dress too. Clearly, I was leaning towards pleats in the front, ruffles in the back…

Kent State University Museum, KSUM 1983.1.127 ab

I figured it was best to attach the pleats and the ruffles before sewing up the side seams so that they would be enclosed. So, after sewing the front piece to the side fronts, and the back to the side backs, it was time to trim them.

I worked on the deep pleats at the front first, and attached it to the skirt, 1 inch from the bottom (to leave room for the hem).

With the pleats stitched down

The ruffles at the back were originally going to be pleated but… guess who didn’t make the strips long enough? So, ruffles it was! Again, these were attached leaving a 1 inch space at the bottom for the hem.

I then joined the front and back together. Because of the added weight of the trims I wanted to give them extra support so I made up a hem facing. I also enclosed horsehair braid into the hem to help hold the hem outward.

Then it was a case of pleating the back and attaching the waistband, adding the closures and then I began debating with myself – was I actually finished or not?


I could have been lazy and left it as was but it didn’t look quite finished. So, I took the plunge and started making up some trim to go along the top of the pleats and ruffles.

I wanted to make pulled box pleats that I could use on all the main pieces of the Pretty Princess Dress so I knew that I had to make a lot. I also loved the idea of using both the blue and pink to do it so where the pleats were pulled up, the pink would show. Oh, and I also decided it might be cool to have a sort of border along the whole trim. This meant cutting the pink silk a little wider than the blue.

I may have got a little carried away and cut two 33m strips of fabric. I joined those together and then turned them through. Once that task was finally completed I could pleat it and stitch the pleats together.

Fortunately for me, I ended up really liking the end result (I was a little worried in the middle for a spell).

I hand stitched it onto the skirt (without the help of a thimble because I accidentally stood on it a couple of days earlier and broke it). And then, then I could call it complete.


And then I could call it complete! I’m really glad that I decided not to be lazy and that I added the pulled box pleats because it really does finish it off and gives me a trim that I can carry on throughout the whole outfit.

With the underskirt done, it was time to move on to the overskirt (post coming soon!)

6 thoughts on “Pretty Princess Dress: The Underskirt

      1. Do you tack the pleat itself or do you tack it to the pleat next to it? Do you have a closeup picture? I don’t know how you did so many pleats? Thanks Jill


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