So how do you make the skirt fullness fall smoothly? There’s two options:
And, indeed, most of the Herjolfsnes dresses and the Moy gown have triangular insets at the center front/back seams as well and the side seams, and sometimes at other seams too (often in the guise of an angled cut to the piece itself).
But what if you don’t want all those seams? Well, the answer is a curved seam at the waist itself. We saw that in the circle skirt. But the skirts in Benvarre’s Banquet clearly don’t have the fullness of a circle skirt. In fact, Salome’s skirt (rule of thumb: in art, the chick holding a head on a platter is generally Salome) show’s only a slight conical shape, with a more pronounced angle at the back than at the front. And that means that someone, somewhere, knew what they were doing and really understood related curves and conic sections. (Which, incidentally, is why I get so giddy-geeky about this.) Here’s what you need to know:
My flat pattern teachers called this the “slash and spread” technique, and spent a lot of time repeating the mantra “cut to but not through”. If you read my bit about why the basic bodice draft doesn’t work for everyone, then you know you can make a rectangle into a section of a cone by folding out triangles. This is the same thing, but we’re making a rectangle into a cone by adding triangles to the pattern. In both cases, doing it right means that all the lines that appear straight horizontal on the body are slightly curved on the pattern.
Now, I really doubt that tailors back in the day were using the slash and spread method. Materials were a touch more expensive, I hear, and waste was discouraged. Thing is, once you think to cut the skirts separately from the body of a gown, it’s just a teensy little leap to get to a proper gore. Ready?
Just like that, we’ve mimicked the effect of the slash and spread technique. To make the waist curve, we just smooth out the angle between the two lines, just like we made the hem on the first gored skirt by smoothing out the weird bits with a gentle curve.
Next: Comparing Gores to Everything Else…