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Convertible garments with hidden elements are already hard to understand with drawings present. Patents without drawings pose further challenges. So, we started to make our own visuals.

make our own pics

Mary Ward’s patent features a side-buttoned skirt with two waist straps that gather the sides of the skirt upwards via the tethering of buttons/holes.

mary ann ward

Emma Grimes’ patent for a ‘combined bicycling and walking skirt’ was more complicated. She explains:

Overlapping box pleats extending from the wait to the hem, so as to present the ordinary appearance of the tail of a walking skirt and to enable the superfluous amplitude of the skirt to be disposed of neatly for riding purposes a system of draw cords is provided running through guide rings at the inner folds of the pleats whereby the pleats may be drawn closely together and caused to present a neat appearance when the rider is in the saddle without the possibility of the superfluous fullness if the skirt being blown about by the wind or disarranged by the movements of the bicyclist. 

In order to permit this contraction of the pleats by the tightening of the cords without festooning of the skirt, suitable stiffeners might be provided in the pleats.  

Here is our attempt at creating a drawing and scaled model with which to understand the stiffened pleats gathered via a cord and rings.


paper skirt open

paper skirt closed

If we were to make a working toile of this, we would probably stiffen the pleats with sections of iron-on interfacing. The would change the nature of the fabric and alter how it hangs and gathers. I wonder what material Emma Grimes would have used?

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