Ever make a skirt where you sew up all the side seams – easy, right? – then you have to figure out what to do with the opening? (Hopefully you left an opening in one of the side seams. 🙂 ) It’s not always as simple as folding the raw edges to the inside and stitching down.
A well-made skirt opening shows off good dressmaking skills – yes, even if you can’t really see it. With a separately attached placket on Victorian skirts the closure is strong and supported – perfect for heavy skirts of the late 1800s.
Let’s look at the how to cut a skirt placket then how to attach it to your skirt for a smooth, “hidden” closure.
I find it easier to set in the placket first before sewing any other of the panel seams. In fact, it’s one of the first things I do on my Late Victorian skirts, right after flatlining and before the main side seams.
A skirt placket is generally applied to the center back or a side back seam (usually on the left side). Rarely are they in the front. Plackets are straight strips of fabric sewn to the opening edges. (I know, boring but oh-so-practical.)
Cutting a Placket: Width
Finished skirts plackets are commonly 1.25” to 1.5” wide. For thin or sheer fabrics use a 1″ inch wide or smaller placket. Based on originals, you may want a narrower placket piece for the back or right-hand side of the skirt.
For length allow a longer placket opening than anticipated – trust me on this one. Corsets, chemises, petticoats, hoops, bustles, hairpieces, etc., all add to the body circumference. The shortest length recommended for a skirt opening is 8”. Period dressmaking manuals recommend 10” to 14”. You can use 9” to 12” for most period skirts and be fine too.
Decide your finished placket width. Let’s use 1.25″.
The formula is: skirt seam allowance + (finished placket width x 2) + skirt seam allowance
So for our 1.25″ placket we need to cut a strip of fabric 3.5″ wide.
Sewing Tip: Add your finished placket width to your waistband before cutting. Even though we set on placket facings to both skirt panels, you only need to add one additional width. So if you cut a 32″ waistband (with seams) then add 1.25″ more before cutting.
Cutting a Placket: Length
Decide your skirt opening length; we’ll use 12″ because of our awesome bustle layers.
The formula is: waist seam allowance + finished opening length + end seam allowance of 0.5″ or more
So for our opening we need to cut the placket strip 13″ long.
Setting in a Placket
The skirt side seam can be sewn before or after applying the placket (I prefer to do the placket first as you see in this article). Remember to leave the seam allowance on the bottom of the placket pieces free so they can be stitched together later after the seam is sewn.
When sewing the placket, you want the placket piece on the back or right hand panel to stick out towards the front. The placket on the side back or left skirt panel is turned completely to the inside.
Cut two placket pieces according to the measurements above (13″ long by 3.5″ wide). Depending on your fabric, you may want to flatline the placket that will be sticking out from the seam for support for closure pieces. Finish the lower edge with pinking, serging or zigzag stitch.
Right or Back Panel of Skirt
Press under the seam allowance on one long edge of placket piece. Trim (see above photo).
Right sides together and matching raw edges (of placket and skirt), stitch placket to skirt along opening. Grade seam then press the seam allowances toward placket.
Press placket in half (lengthwise) and tack pressed edge of placket over seam line along the inside. Leave the placket sticking out away from the skirt.
Left or Side Back Panel of Skirt
Stitch placket to skirt at opening, right sides together (above). Press seam flat; grade and press seam allowances towards skirt.
Press placket in half matching raw edge to seam, then press again the entire placket to the inside and baste across the top at the waistline. You can trim the excess underneath to eliminate bulk before stitching down. Hand tack outer fold of placket to skirt underlining to secure.
Sew the skirt seam from hem up to where the placket pieces are sewn on. Keep the placket out of the way of the seam.
To complete the placket, turn the skirt to the inside. Overlap the finished opening aligning the skirt seam lines, and stitch across the ends of the placket pieces to hold in place.
The waistband will start at the edge of where the placket is turned completely to the inside, go around the top of the skirt, attach to the top of the opposite placket, and end at the placket edge.
To finish, sew hooks along the skirt placket that’s completely turned inside. Place eyes or bars on the under placket making sure when placket is closed, the garment edges will meet. This is important to hide the placket in the seam.
When closed, the front placket aligns with the seam of the back placket, creating a complete seam line. Voila! A hidden but sturdy skirt placket!
Do you use plackets to finish your skirt openings? Have you discovered any tricks of your own when sewing in a full placket like the ones here? Share below in the comments.