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satin gown skirt is too soft, needs slip

Knitnut | Posted in General Sewing Info on

For those who remember I needed helped with the princess bodice top fitting issue on my bridesmaids dresses, I now need help with the skirts!

We bought the satin (polyester) and it is very drapey and hangs too close to the body for the pattern style.  In retrospect, I should have purchased a heavier satin, but am now stuck with this special order fabric and 3 more gowns to make.

For reference I’m using Butterick 4452 and making “E” view skirt.  When you look at the pattern, it now looks like there is a slip under the skirt or it is very heavy satin.

So – without wanting to go to a bridal store and buy $60 slips, what can I do?  I tried to find slip patterns on line with no luck, not on McCalls or Butterick on line sites.

I have to something because when the girl walks the satin clings to her legs!  Help!  Jackie


  1. starzoe | | #1

    I don't know where you are, but could static be the problem? There is a product called "static guard" which might come to the rescue.Would a half slip be the answer?

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #6

      Starzoe - the static guard will help with the cling but not with the fact the skirt just hangs limply without any body to it.  In the photo on the pattern, the train even has body to it along with the soft pleats - I got a suggestion to underline it with organza - instead of a slip - which might be the way to go . Thanks for your help.


      1. GailAnn | | #22

        Oh, DesignandSew has a much better idea, with the organza and china silk, treated as one piece.  I withdraw the slip idea.  Gail

  2. jjgg | | #2

    Simplicity 5006 is for slips, there are others, I can't find them this moment, but look under the costuming section

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #7

      Thanks for finding this for me.  I was not able to find a slip pattern.  It is definitely an option.

  3. scrubble4 | | #3

    Dear Knitnut:  I have a lovely 6 gored, rayone knit skirt.  I absolutely love it, but without a straight slip underneath, it bunched between my front legs when I walked.  I tried a fuller slip and that didn't work.  A straight slip with a slit in the back not the front was the solution for me.  Maybe someone else can give you help with the weight and type of fabric.  I am thinking a slip pattern that parallels the fashion pattern until the hips and then hangs straight with a slit in the back to allow walking.  The straight slip in the front will hopefully keep it from bunching between the legs.  Best of luck.  Scrubble4

  4. jatman | | #4

    What about McCalls 4109?  Wouldn't one of these styles help you?



    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #11

      Jatman - Thanks for this pattern number!  I was on that website last night and typed in "slips" and "lingere" and came up with zero results.  I forgot about the category of "petticoats"!

      As I look at the options of lining vs slips and having completed one skirt already, I almost feel compelled to make a slip before taking apart the one skirt.

      I actually feel quite foolish that I didn't get a good understanding of the "hand" of the fabric when ordering.  How can you really, when ordering from a swatch book?  The store had a similar fabric in larger swatch but not the exact.  I suppose I'm being too hard on myslef -but I'm the kind of person who likes the finished product to look like the pattern photos.

      I'm about to go get a box of chocolates . . .


  5. DesignandSew | | #5

    It's not a slip that is needed...try silk organza underlining and then china silk lining.  Take the organza and cut it just  like you would the skirt pieces and baste them to the skirt pieces.  For 8 dresses for a wedding I did last summer, I took the dress pieces that were already cut out and pinned them (with lots of pins) to the organza and serged them together without even picking up a pair of scissors.  If you do this time saving technique you should serge your pieces in the same direction.  You will then treat the polyester and silk organza as one piece.  I like china silk lining (or you can use the same lining you used for the bodice) because it's light and soft.  The organza is a real workhorse, it is stiff enough to add body without adding bulk.  It also is great for handstitched hems because you stitch into the organza, not the dress fabric so you don't see the hem stitches on the right side at all.  It you want some very stiff try nylon organza.  It is still light but it is much stiffer.  Good luck!

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #8

      This is an excellent idea!  I think it is better than the slip idea as it will flow with the pleats.  Now, tell me the bad news - since the one skirt is almost completly finished except the hem and the waistband is not sewen down, will I have to totally disassemble it to line it?  It sounds like it.  Oh man.  The special ordered fabric does not allow enough extra for a full new skirt.

      Because of the 2 full pleats in the back I'm almost afraid I have to take it all apart so i can get the interlining into those pleats.  UGH.  The satin is prone to leaving hole marks that disappear with some steam, but the zipper I had to pick out left some fuzzy areas. Thankfully, that is hidden by the pleats.

      Do you have any feel for the way I should handle this first skirt?  I greatly appreciate your help and guidance.  I'm on the fence - slip or interlining?  Maybe both - if I can get them to look the same on the outside - what a risk :(

      What started out as a money saver is ending up to cost the same as ready made. . ugh.

      1. DesignandSew | | #16

        Don't despair,  can you serge each organza piece to the seam allowances of the almost completed skirt?  Or stitch the organza into the seam by straight stitching say..1/8" away from the existing stitching?  You will have to remove the back of the skirt to stitch the organza into the pleats but that is better than disassembling the entire skirt.  I did find an inexpensive source for silk organza in the $5.00 a yard range.  Let me know if you want the source.  I realize you intended to save money by the doing this project but my experience has been that never happens!  But what you do get are dresses that fit!  At the weddings I've done the dresses have always fit.  I went to a lovely, no expense spared wedding last night and the girls dresses did not fit...even the bustline of the brides dress fit poorly.  The bridesmaids were pulling up their strapless gowns on a regular basis due to poor fit in the bust.  Don't get discouraged...there is a learning curve here.

        1. User avater
          Knitnut | | #18

          Thanks for helping me visualize this.  Actually my non-sewing daughter suggested the same thing after I got home with the slip items.  If the slip looks hokey, that is what I'll do.  I don't own a serger (it's been on my Xmas list since I tried them 2 yrs ago at a Chicago Expo - but I did get an all expense paid trip to WPT Poker Boot Camp in a few weeks!! Can't serge yet, but can't complain either!) so I suppose just sewing into the seam allowance might work.

          You know, I should know better about the cost - I tried to tell that to the daughter but she still hasn't learned it yet.  Every trip to the store for another item has her shaking her head.  I won't even charge them for the $50 of fabric, patterns notions etc for the sample!  That would push her over the edge.  But you are right about the fit. . . now if only the girls lived near me!  One is in Florida, one in Cincinnati and one in Indiana - we're in Toledo! 

          I'm off to sew the slip.  Thanks for your helpful comments and suggestions.  Jackie.


          1. Teaf5 | | #19

            You have a big job ahead of you!  Instead of remaking the first dress, cut out and try the interlining on the second dress; if it works, you'll know that taking the seams out of the first dress will be worthwhile, and you'll be one more dress down the line. It is possible to interline after the fact, but it's time-consuming and not as effective as taking apart and reassembling the skirt.

            The interlining makes more sense than the slips, as you'll be treating it the same as the fashion fabric, rather than making 8 more garments.  You'll spend less time, and the girls will be more comfortable, too. 

            Use a long stitch on the skirt part of the second dress; if it doesn't work out, you can remove the stitching much easier, and if it does, you can simply go over the seams with a tighter stitch.

            Good luck and keep us posted on your progress; it's always nice to hear of such a generous person doing such a great favor!

      2. autumn | | #20

        I think you can just attach the lining at the waist treating it as one piece with the upper skirt.   Hem it separately from the top skirt so they don't pull on each other. I've done this and it works great. It is like having a slip but without the extra waistband that a slip would add.

  6. Josefly | | #9

    I agree with the post by DesignandSew- first underlining and then lining the skirt should give it enough body to flare out the way it is shown in the pattern. If the fabric is very drapey, the soft pleats in the back of the skirt will not stand out as shown without the stiffer underlining. I know it is a pain in the neck to re-make the skirt you've already made, but I don't think just adding a slip will make those pleats fold the way they should. You may want to look at synthetic organza to see about the stiffness. Silk organza is available online at dharmatrading.com at a pretty good price, particularly if ordering 11-yard bolts of 45-inch or 55-inch wide fabric.

    Edited 12/30/2007 1:11 pm ET by Josefly

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #10

      Oh Josefly!  I knew that was what I was going to hear.  Sometimes the truth hurts!  I wonder why the pattern wouldn't suggest this option based upon the type of fabric.  I guess I've been sewing all these years, I should just know this stuff.

      Thanks for your comments.  I'll let you know what I end up with.


      Reminds me of the advice "if you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question!"

      1. Josefly | | #12

        It does seem that satin comes in so many different weights, that weight should be specified in the pattern fabric recommendations. It's so hard to know how fabric will drape until a garment is finished. A shorter skirt made with the same fabric might behave differently, too. I'm sorry - I know the last thing you want to do is take the skirt apart. Perhaps trying the skirt on over a stiff slip will tell you what you want to know.(While I was typing my original message, several other messages were posted. So this is a popular topic, I'd guess. I do hope you find another, better alternative to re-making the first skirt.)

  7. sewelegant | | #13

    It's been awhile, but when I made a satin prom dress for my daughter, I used a wedding gown pattern from Vogue and it called for a crinoline underneath and, of course, the pattern included the pattern and instructions.  I made it and found it a brand new "experience" for me handling the tulle but it did make the skirt billow out like it was supposed to.  The reason this comes to mind is because that skirt was very similar to the one on your pattern, at least in the picture.  It was not a full gathered skirt so the underslip had a hip hugging top with a zipper and the tulle was attached in rows (or layers) starting at the hip.  I think about 3 of them.  The tulle was soft so it did not bulk out the dress it just kept it away from the body.

    I am not familiar with how the silk organza looks and I am sure it would be wonderful, but tulle is not expensive.  I wonder if you have a bridal gown shop near you where you could check out an underskirt with the dress you have made.

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #14

      Ok so here's what I'm about to try ($40 later).  i got the McCalls 4109 petticoat pattern because it has the netting sandwiched between lining and slip material.  Hancock says taffeta is being phased out, they've had the same roll of hot pink taffeta for 2  years never been touched.  That is what is recommended for the slip, with lining material for the underside (where you stitch the netting to).  So for lack of taffeta I opted for lining material for both the parts.

      I'm going to make one and see what happens.  I'll let you all know what it looks like, but while in the store, I did see the weight of satin that would have allowed me to create the look in the photo without the slip - very heavy bridal satin, but not in the color I needed and can't be special ordered (see how I'm trying to make myself feel better?)

      Thank you all for your ideas.  If this slip thing doesn't work, I'm going with the suggestion to line each piece.


      1. jatman | | #15

        I'm hoping the slip works for you - I have that pattern but have never made it.  I primarily got it for the top part.  Let us know.

        As for ordering without seeing enough of the fabric - I think everyone has done it.  Earlier this year I ordered what was supposed to be a really pretty stretch velvet with a paisley pattern on it.  I loved the swatch online.  I ordered it and had it shipped only to find out that the shipping (international) was slightly more than the fabric was and the fabric was one I probably wouldn't have purchased if I'd actually been able to see it.  Oh well.  Live and learn...or not.  I'll probably do it again.

        Let us know how it goes and maybe post a picture?


        1. User avater
          Knitnut | | #17

          JT - I was just thinking about the top part myself and since I like bustier/corset style  tops, I might make the top in a fashion fabric for under my suit jackets. . . hmmm the $15 pattern is starting to look like it might be worth it.

          Yes - I'll post a photo of the slip and skir when I get them done together.  Perhaps I'll get someone to try on the skirt again for a before and after slip photo.

  8. GailAnn | | #21

    I'm sure everyone 50 and older remembers wearing slips all day, every day, with every dress or skirt we owned.  My mother insisted we wear a slip even if our skirts were lined, just because that's what nice girls did.

    I can hear the laughter from here!

    Anyway making slips is neither difficult nor expensive.  Just use the skirt pattern of the dress and put an elastic waistband in it.

    Or you could buy a slip pattern and make a regular full or half slip.

    Or you could "go all out" and using the lingerie artical in Threads 135 as a guide, make, not a camisole, but extend it full-length into a slip. 

    What a very fine bridesmaid's gift, indeed!

    A gift that would most surely be treasured and worn for a lifetime, or at least until a substantial weightgain.


    1. Ralphetta | | #23

      You will probably enjoy this story as much as my daughter does.  She still laughs about it and it happened in the 70's.  She was in jr. high and I told her that a really nice girl  I worked with was always complaining about how bossy her mother was.  She said that one Sunday they went to church and her mother asked to her to go with her to the Rest Room.  When they got there her mother asked her if she was wearing a slip.  The girl told her no.  She was aghast to see her mother open her handbag and pull out a half slip and tell her to put it on. 

      Yes, nice girls were supposed to wear slips.

      1. GailAnn | | #24

        I get it, I get it!  My Mom had an extra pair of white gloves and a pair of stockings in her purse at all times.    Oh, and two or three handkerchiefs.  Gail

        Edited 1/5/2008 3:17 pm ET by GailAnn

      2. Gloriasews | | #25

        I love your story, Ralphetta - how true!  I used to have at least 6 half-slips in those days & still have a couple (beige & black) that I wear occasionally.  As well, the white gloves always had to be clean & we always had to have a clean hankie when we went out.

        Do you remember when sleeveless blouses & dresses became popular?  How shocking to not have sleeves!  Took awhile to get used to them.  Then the completely sheer blouses came along & we had to wear lacy cotton camisoles under them.  I wouldn't dare wear anything so sheer now!  How times change . . .


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