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Take a Tour Inside a Chic Couture Skirt

I take a group to Paris every year, and near the end of our stay we visit the Clignancourt Flea Market. As you might imagine, it's full of anything and everything. Some of the items were by turns breathtaking, bizarre, desirable, horrifying, inspiring, and fun you get the idea.

My friend Sharon Wixen's attention was caught by an adorable Giambattista Valli skirt in a consignment shop. The store was full of treasures, including this one. It's a pretty basic skirt, but a few little additions lift it from the ordinary to the charming. Here, I'll give you a tour inside this lovely skirt taking a close look at its construction details.

couture waistband technique Get more couture techniques by Susan Khalje:

Couture Techniques for a Better Fitting Waistband
How to Finish Seams on Chantilly Lace
Combine Topstitching and Binding for an Elegant Seam Finish
• How to Make a Hidden Button Placket


inside skirt 1  

As you can see, it's a princess-seamed tweed skirt. However, there are a few things that set it apart.

A chiffon band has been sewn to the hem, and its raw edges have been delicately machine-finished. It's a pretty print and the colors match the skirt perfectly.

  The double row of machine stitching that attaches the strip of fringe and chiffon band adds a nice bit of integrity to the lower edge of the skirt.


While it's not pictured, a 1 inch wide strip of grosgrain ribbon faces the hemline.


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Comments (32)

Primaras Primaras writes: wow
Posted: 1:35 am on May 11th

ernesto50 ernesto50 writes: good afternoon,
I liked it a lot. A lot of creativity and good [URL=]taste[/URL].
Posted: 11:55 am on October 17th

ernesto50 ernesto50 writes:
good afternoon,
I liked it a lot. A lot of creativity and good taste.
Posted: 11:53 am on October 17th

emilyswan emilyswan writes: HI,
I just want to tell you that you have done a very amazing work. The skirt is very nice, pretty. Love your design.....
Posted: 12:11 am on December 21st

juliahaley juliahaley writes: Wowwww.....Lovely
Posted: 1:53 am on November 20th

Albertdesuja Albertdesuja writes: Very creative work. Love yours amazing skirt design..........
Posted: 11:39 pm on October 30th

PPGirault123 PPGirault123 writes: your creativity is amazing
I want your hands (a copy if you prefer keep yours ;-))
Posted: 3:38 am on October 28th

Brianlawson Brianlawson writes: Good collection

Posted: 7:11 am on October 7th

Antonsantiago Antonsantiago writes: Good creativity to this lovely skirt
Posted: 12:56 am on September 10th

Antonsantiago Antonsantiago writes: Good creativity to this lovely skirt
Posted: 12:45 am on September 10th

Quincyblake Quincyblake writes: Its really Amazing skirt.I am impressed with your work
Posted: 8:26 am on September 9th

JulienOrmidal JulienOrmidal writes: Hello Susan, thats a really lovely skirt, love the style and the way u sewed it.
Posted: 2:44 pm on August 3rd

Mahbub Mahbub writes: That is very nice. Have a fabric for women style?
Posted: 5:25 am on June 30th

decorchick decorchick writes: Chiffon for lining! Brilliant! I am making a dress using lawn which needs a skirt lining just for added privacy purposes. I want to maintain the very lightweight sheer feeling of the lawn. Perfect solution. And covering the metal...very interesting. OK will do!
Posted: 8:09 am on June 9th

gailete gailete writes: Thanks for this interesting article. I think if I would do one of the things mentioned it would e covering up the hooks and eyes as mentioned.

Was the chiffon piece on the hem being used as an 'ruffle' type thing? I wasn't sure what I was seeing as it looked to me as if the lining had fallen loose.
Posted: 1:04 am on November 9th

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: The petersham (or grosgrain) used on this particular skirt was unusual, in that it felt as if it was made from wool, and was quite sturdy (study enough to keep it shape). Regular petersham (which comes in a variety of thicknesses and fiber contents) probably wouldn't be thick enough (on its own) for this treatment. But - you could use a couple of layers to firm things up, and if you really wanted a built-up waistband, you could put boning in it - little vertical pieces, placed every 3-4", sandwiched between two layers of grosgrain (or even grosgrain on the outside and something else on the inside).
Posted: 8:22 pm on November 1st

BJ_sews_on BJ_sews_on writes: The waistband of this lovely skirt looks like PETERSHAM. I learned about this finish used in couture clothes from Sandra Bedzina and other Threads articles that suggest it as a stablizer for waistbands of skirts and slacks. I began looking in local fabric stores for it but no one ever knew what I was talking about. I plan to order some petersham online since it looks like a great feature on its own as well as supporting the structure at the waist.

I love the fringing and want to try that feature too.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful garment.
Posted: 11:38 am on October 29th

SharonPicone SharonPicone writes: Thank you Susan! I've learned something new :) It seems like a great technique to use when wanting to incorporate some subtle shaping into a skirt.
Posted: 2:32 pm on October 24th

ladydi ladydi writes: Like the waistband a lot but can't see how the hem treatment adds anything to the garment
Posted: 2:20 pm on October 24th

DesignRewindFashions DesignRewindFashions writes: For such a modest looking skirt I did learn a few things! I never thought to cover metal hooks and a little bit of ribbon can look so lovely. I too didn't know the term "pegged" as I always called that something else. Thank you for sharing these little details!

Posted: 10:33 am on October 23rd

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: To Sharon -
of course - it's such an odd name for this, but "pegging" means narrowing the skirt as it goes down from the widest part (the full hip) to the hem. It can be subtle or pronounced....ending up an inch narrower per side, per seam is a good place to start (you'd want to check when the skirt is in its muslin stage - it all depends on your particular proportions), losing 4 inches of width by the time you get the to the hem, in total.
Posted: 8:40 am on October 23rd

SharonPicone SharonPicone writes: Hi Susan,
Thanks for sharing this information. I have a question: You mention that the skirt has been pegged along the side seams. Please could you clarify what this means? I've never heard of this term in sewing before. Thanks!
Posted: 7:26 am on October 23rd

Sewista Sewista writes: Fascinating skirt anatomy! Personally, I would have preferred a matching waistband. Something about the black and the fringe just jolts me. Thanks for the lesson, Susan. I really enjoy seeing the inside construction of these garments.
Posted: 6:16 am on October 23rd

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: I think, in fact, the grosgrain is pretty essential - it provides a nice backdrop for the waist fringe. Without it, the fringe would sort of disappear - nothing would support it, so it's kind of a clever way to both give a bit of a built-up waistband, but in a decorative way.
Posted: 1:59 pm on October 22nd

sewold sewold writes: Maybe that waistband would look more attractive "in person". It does seem to have a soft appearance on the outside.

Posted: 10:35 am on October 22nd

sewold sewold writes: I think I would like the appearance more if the waistband would be concealed. It would show off the fringe a little better. I wonder if the chiffon was added to lengthen it just a bit.
Posted: 10:31 am on October 22nd

Pepper60 Pepper60 writes: Hi Susan,you were wondering which detail I would recreate?
Definitely the covering of the hooks! When something so simple makes you feel high end - well for me it just doesn't get any better than that.

Posted: 10:51 pm on October 21st

SanMarGnd SanMarGnd writes: Just looking at the close up of the band/fringe area, it appears to me that the skirt was sewn onto the band about 1/2 to 3/4 inch below the top edge of the skirt with two rows of stitching, then the raw edge of the skirt was fringed afterward. Similar to fringing a wool scarf, or other loosely woven fabric, such as a linen napkin.
Posted: 9:10 pm on October 21st

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: I think the person above answered that - and of course, the "pegging" can be modest or exaggerated. It's sort of an optical illusion, but sometimes when the side seams of a straight skirt go right down, the skirt almost appears to widen - so this just slims things a bit and somehow lengthens the whole silhouette.
Posted: 6:23 pm on October 21st

gladrags gladrags writes: I sometimes get to do alterations on vintage or couture garments and I love to see how things have been put together and how problems have been solved in times gone by. I usually handsew thread bars for a neat finish, but hadn't thought of covering the base of the hooks. Silk Chiffon lining would be luxurious!
Thanks for sharing

Posted: 4:29 pm on October 21st

marijkapaprika marijkapaprika writes: A pegged skirt's side seams angle in from the hip to knee, rather than stay straight. See
Posted: 4:02 pm on October 21st

CerlonGatto CerlonGatto writes: Hello Susan, I love this post - it's always fascinating to get a sneak peek at couture secrets...

Would you kindly explain what you mean by "pegged":
"One final note, the skirt's been pegged along its side seams. You can tell if you follow the vertical lines in the fabric."


Posted: 3:34 pm on October 21st

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