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creating a tulip-shaped hemline

Angela_Lukach | Posted in The Archives on

Last year for Halloween, I bought the new Simplicity pattern that replicates two of the costumes from the movie “Titanic”, #8399.

I have a lot of weddings to attend this year and would love to remake this costume, in the view that shows the dress Rose wore when the ship sinks – it was sort of pink and white and made of multiple layers of chiffon.

However, since I last made it, I saw the original sketch on the movie website [www.titanicmovie.com – look at page 2] and I would like to make my new version in the more Regency-style of the sketch.

The sketch shows the over dress made with a tulip-shaped hemline, while the pattern is rather square. I have asked the question on the Usenet sewing newsgroups about creating this hemline, and while everyone has been absolutely terrific about pointing me to resources on costuming and Regency styling, what I REALLY need to know is how to make the the tulip shape.

I have no background in pattern drafting, and I have looked through every pattern book at the local stores [in Ottawa, Canada] for any skirt with a petal or tulip shape to no avail.

To complicate matters, the fabric I’ve chosen for the over dress is silk chiffon from an old sari with a design hammered into it in silver.

If anyone can give me an idea of how to actually make a pattern piece that will do this, I would be very grateful. Grateful to the point of shipping chocolate chip cookies anywhere in the world [assuming your Customs officers don’t eat them en route]!


  1. pam | | #1

    I didn't see Titanic and your pointer wasn't specific.

    I've made the assumption that a tulip skirt is similar to a tulip sleeve. I am currently working on a Style (distributed by Simplicity) skirt that is a tulip skirt. It is part of a suit but could be extended. This type of skirt is basically a pegged wrap skirt front for a straight skirt back. The front pieces are rounded and the top one has drapes.

    If this is what your interested in, I can bring the pattern number for you. It's easy enough to alter although you will want to increase the spread in the drapes to extend the length of the longer skirt.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, this is probably what you are looking for.

    1. lin_hendrix | | #2

      *Hi Angela, I also looked for the titanic web page you mentioned and couln't find it. If I see a drawing I can probably tell youhow to draft the shape/pattern.--lin

      1. Debra_Lancaster | | #3

        *Don't know if this is what you mean, but the Dos de Tejas website (www.dosdetejas.com) has a pattern for a skirt that has a tulip-shaped hemline.

        1. thimble_ | | #4

          *Hi Angela.....sorry I didn't see the dress hem line....but this might work...if it is anyhting like a scalloped shape, just copy the shape and add it to your hemline!but that sounds tooo easy...i must be confused by what you mean!thim

          1. Maura | | #5

            *Wow! I found the picture, and I can see why you like that better!Let's see....This may be a case where making the skirt look like the drawing is nearly impossible, but here are my suggestions anyway.First, I'd go buy some cheap fabric that is about the same weight as your sari fabric (which sounds wonderful!) The easiest way to get to the look you want is going to be a trial-and-error combination of draping and pattern drafting, and you'll need fabric that is the same weight as your final fabric to play with. I'd buy at least twice as much as you expect the final overskirt to take, that way you can recut twice if you have to.What I would do would be to figure out how much fullness you want at the waist of the dress. It is hard to tell in the drawing, so play with your fabric. You might want to measure the pattern pieces for the overskirt and see how much they allowed (though you do _not_ have to use what they did.)Once you know how much you want, there are two ways to go.1. (THis is the way the drawing looks to me)Divide that number in half, and add a little bit extra if you want the front edges to overlap like in the picture. Again, you'll have to experiment. Then, figure out how far from the waist of the dress the point needs to fall.Now take a really large piece of paper (brown or white package wrapping paper from the mailing supplies section of your local Wal-mart works very well.) It needs to be wide enough to draw one side of the tulip waist (that is the "1/2 the measuring plus overlap" that we came up with earlier) and long enough to draw the distance from the waist to the point at the side bottom. If it isn't wide enough, tape two pieces together. Draw the waistline (just straight), and mark where you want the point to fall--it looks like to me it would be exactly in the middle at the bottom. Freehand draw the curve from the point to the waistline. Don't worry if you can't get both curves to match. Pick your favorite, fold it in half, and cut along the one you liked, then they'll both be the same. Cut _one_ of these from your play fabric, allowing an inch extra above the waistline so you have a seam allowance there (there are no seam or hem allowances anywhere else) to pin. Try it on and see what you think. Fiddle with the curve and placement of the point until you are happy, then lay the fabric back out on paper and trace it and add seam and hem allowances to make your final pattern. If it is squiggly anywhere you think it ought to be straight, or lopsided, fix all that and make one last test of you pattern.If you do it that way, it probably won't cup in at the bottom of the tulip like the drawing seems to. To get it to do that, I'd do this:2. Warning: You will probably use more play fabric this way. Basically, you want to do the same as last time, only you don't want the waistline to be straight across. You can angle both sides of the waistline down on either side of the middle, leaving them straight lines, or you can curve them down. You still want there to be a definite corner where the waistline meets the sides of the petals. It will almost be a kite shape when you finish with it. The lower the two ends of the waist line are in relation to the center, the more the petal will cup in at the bottom.To draw this shape, I'd start by drawing a line that is the distance from the waist to the point. Then I'd use the top of that line as the center of the waist lines, and draw those. Then I'd connect the point to the ends of the waist lines.You will end up with something basically four sided, instead of the three sided shape you got the first time.Gather the two waist lines and pretend they are one straight waistline edge. This method will give you more "cup" at the bottom of the tulip. It will also make more folds at the waist and hips. Play with this as needed, like the first time, and then trace it back onto the paper (like before).It doesn't have the folds at the waist and hips I'd expect to see if they did this in the drawing, but this is the nicest way I could think of to get it to cup in like it did in the drawing.You could also try just making a curved sideseam in each petal to make in, but I think that would not look as good, and all I can say if you want to do that is to figure out the measurements, draw a pattern you think looks like it will work, and test it. Which is actually what I've been telling you to do all along. *grin*Sorry for the length, and email me if I wasn't clear.

          2. Maura | | #6

            *So many people had trouble finding the picture of the dress, I went back to the link. Go tohttp://www.titanicmovie.com/present/bts_index.htmlIn the bar across the top, there is a fine print option for costumes. It will give you a page of seven sketches. Follow the link to "More Costumes". The dress we're discussing is in the top right corner on this second page of costumes. Click on the image for a larger one.

          3. Linda_in_Colorado | | #7

            *Thanks for the more specific directions to view the costume. I think Maura's method sounds the most practical way to go about it. What type of fabric are you using for the underskirt? You might want to combine the two in play fabric for your drafting project. Otherwise you might end up with a beautiful overskirt that doesn't act/look the same over the underskirt. You might also want to try soft pleating the overskirt rather than gathering if the hammered in silver creates stiffness at the gathers. This can also allow you to control the draping folds at the bottom by moving the fullness around more easily. Good luck, it looks like a really beautiful project!!

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