Before I can start going crazy making a bunch if silk balls to put on the skirt, I need to figure out how to make the skirt. The good part about this is that once I figure out the proportions it’ll go pretty quickly. The bad part is it’s a decent chunk of work leading up to that and it involves undoing a lot of work to redo it later. But hey, this is supposed to be the big one, right? Onwards!

The breakdown of the skirt goes like this:

  1. Test pleat the skirt. Figure out how many panels will be on the skirt and their widths, what the final waist measurement will be, how deep the pleats can be, how high they can be stacked without making an ugly, thick waistband, and how much fabric can be pleated into it.
  2. Cut the base panels that the balls will be mounted on, making sure they will fit on top of the box pleats on the final skirt.
  3. Cut and construct all of the balls and attach them to their respective panels.
  4. Mark on the test skirt where the panels need to be attached. Unpleat the test skirt.
  5. Hem the unpleated fabric for the skirt.
  6. Attach the panels to the unpleated fabric for the skirt.
  7. Repleat, crossing fingers that it doesn’t go wrong somewhere along the way.
  8. Continue as usual with the sewing and the waistbands.

So, here we go.

You can’t really tell in this photo, but each of those four box pleats is pleated a different way. Some of them overlap, some of them don’t. In the end I decided that my four box pleats would be 7″ wide to give me a final waist measurement of 28″. This is slightly bigger than what I normally lace down to, but it was the best number I could get while still using whole numbers and it really just means I’ll be a little more comfortable than usual. Darn.

I managed to get a full 8 yards of fabric in the skirt and each box pleat is pleated to 3.5″ on each side and stacked as many times as necessary to get it down to 7″ wide. The final pleats are a little less than 3.5″, but with all that fabric packed in there, it’s pretty difficult to tell. Even with the greater than usual number of stacked pleats, the silk compresses down beautifully and there were will be hardly any bulk in the waistband at all.

The next test was to see how the text ball looked on it. I had just pulled the starting measurements out of the air, but wanted to see how much I’d need to alter it.

Not that much at all, it seems! The next phase of balls will not be turned inside out, so there will be a bit of a lip on each side. I’ll probably increase the next set to 7″ and 9″ from 6″ and 8″, respectively and see if that’s too exact or not.

A quick drape over the dressform with just the hoop skirt shows that the dress should lay pretty well. The silk is very lightweight, but with all of the weight from the balls, I’m not too concerned. It will definitely need a large hem along the bottom and I’ll want to give it a good iron when I’m done so it lays flat.

Okay, that’s it for now. Next post – balls!