Godets, Flounces And 1930’s Design Sense

skirt fabric gently rumpled from contact with reality.

skirt fabric gently rumpled from contact with reality.  And the tree-climbing.

The first two Cake releases were relatively simple garments, well-explained and suitable for beginners.  For the Hummingbird release, I wanted to provide a little something extra for intermediate to advanced sewists.  This is the Hummingbird Pink view– below the knee length with a “Tailfeather Flounce” inspired by the name of the pattern and also by the practical and pretty skirt insets found on many 1930’s skirts.

Flounce? Or Godet?

Tailfeather Flounce | Hummingbird Pink

Flounces and godets are two ways to add fullness to a straight skirt.  Slim cut skirts provide a challenge for mobility- the hemline must be full enough to allow the wearer to walk.   Many, many RTW (ready to wear) slim cut skirts have a slit down the back to allow for walking and other motion.

Picture 35

Harriet Pepin was my first drafting teacher, and I often refer to her manual on drafting written in 1940.

I think the Hummingbird Pink inset qualifies as a flounce.  And what is a godet, Madame Pepin?

Picture 36

But Madame!  You just said that about a flounce, but with different words!  I wish I could email her.

At the end of the day, I played it by ear.  “Tailfeather Flounce” rings true as it describes the motion of the skirt, too.

Design Inspration

The 1930’s style approach to the slim skirt / walking room conundrum is infinitely more interesting than the visually discreet back slit which is so ubiquitous on modern slim cut skirts:

click for source

click for source

The skirt in this Schiaparelli day-to-evening ensemble features front and back insets.  (The longer I stare at that top, the more I want to try it!)

click for source

click for source

The skirts on this pair of dresses from the era show two separate inset types.  The printed chiffon on the right looks to have a cascade of flounced insets.

no source, from personal image file

no source, from personal image file

This skirt has three shaped insets in the front for day wear.  What fun!

Godets- Definitely Godets

I think these skirts definitely show godets.  I always think of godets as triangular and set into seams, as these appear to be.

click for source

click for source

This is a modern skirt, available on Etsy, featuring godets.  I like the soft, sheer fabric overlaying the solid.

Click for source

Click for source

The hem edge of the Tailfeather Flounce was shaped to suggest a bird’s tailfeathers.  A softly rippling tailfeather is more interesting than a slit, and more fun to sew.

Hummingbird Peplum Top & Skirt

The Tailfeather Flounce is a part of the Hummingbird Top & Skirt pattern, pre-saling now for $14.50 until April 7.  RRP $22.

What’s your definition of “flounce” or “godet”?  Do you like my tailfeathers?

I’ll be back with more after the holiday weekend!  Have a happy Easter, everyone!


  1. Lovely! I am always frustrated with pencil skirts with just plain slits at the back, not to mention that I’m not always willing to have as much on show as many slits inevitably end up showing. Also, the Schiaparelli blouse does look interesting. I’m generally a big fan of hers and it would be so great to actually make something she designed.

    • And when you’re climbing some stairs and the slit decides to split a little be more? Or the top of the slit wears out before the rest of the skirt, and it looks shabby? I hadn’t considered the “display” aspect of it but you’re exactly right.

      Schiaparelli was an amazing designer..

  2. This is so pretty! I hadn’t considered a flounce as an alternative to a slit or vent, but it makes perfect sense and is such an elegant way to add some mobility to an otherwise-slim skirt. Gorgeous!

  3. Goodness! Your photographer nailed it on the stair photo — all those horizontal and vertical lines, and then the saucy diagonals of your belt and flounce. Not to mention the your pops of color against the neutral background, the muted reflection of those colors in the canopy at the upper right and on the trucks in the street. And the 3 dark elements anchoring your figure — head, belt and shoes, and the sinuous line of your leg, right hip, and left shoulder. I haven’t been so taken by a photo in some time.

  4. I’m so happy you’ve created this pattern – 30s is my favourite style to look at and wear:). Even though I’m a pear shape, and common “wisdom” dictates I should never wear straight skirts (I completely agree with what you wrote about these dictates- body fascism!), I love them – so long as they have godets or flounces or are panelled so they flare out at the bottom and have ease of walking – slits are boring and when skirts move around they look funny! Plus they can be indecent:). I just made a trumpet skirt which is quite straight but flares out dramatically – great fun.

    I lveo the pics in this post – you look amazing:)

    • Yes! I like straight skirts on larger/curvaceous women, reminds me of Joan in Mad Men… :) I like trumpet skirts, too!

      And thanks.

  5. Long slits seem to have taken over the slim skirt world as modesty went out of fashion. I infinitely prefer the flounce/godet method of adding walking room to a skirt. Love that picture of you on the stairs.

  6. I don’t like back slits in skirts, in my opinion they’re very unflattering to most women over 20. The flounce is a lovely alternative and makes for a pretty rear view.

  7. I can’t wait to make up this skirt! I love a pencil skirt but always destroy them at the back slit. And who doesn’t love a flounce? (Or godet)

  8. I love this: “skirt fabric gently rumpled from contact with reality.” It’s funny how we (at least I) easily ignore all those wrinkles when in the reality, but when I see myself in photos they seem to jump out. I think we all might be happier if we acknowledge that wrinkles exist.
    And, I love those 30’s skirts!

  9. I love the “tailfeathers”! :) The flounce in the back makes it so much more fun. Interesting post, and I agree that “flounce” seems a more appropriate title given the movement of the material.

  10. Great post, so informative! And, love that pattern and skirt. It’s so Va-Va Voom! I wonder how it would look on me. I don’t have that much Va or Voom. Do you think it would enhance the Voom or point out that I don’t have it? Hope you had a lovely Easter Steph.

  11. I really like this, so pretty with the flounce in the back. Sooo much more interesting than a slit!

    BTW, since I don’t get around to commenting as much as I used to, I’ll say it now: I really think you’re doing a great job with your patterns. Hats off to you for taking the dive! (Hm, two different metaphors in one sentence sound very odd)
    I like your designs and in general your approach. Here’s wishing you loads of success!

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