Godets can transform a simple skirt into a glamorous flared fashion statement. A godet is simply an extra piece of fabric inserted into the seam of a garment. Godets are mostly seen on skirts or dresses and they are a popular addition to petticoats.
What are Godets?
Godets are triangular wedges of fabric inserted into a seam or opening in a dress or skirt. This makes the hem flare out and gives it volume and movement. When you are familiar with how to make them, then you can add these flares of fabric to all sorts of different projects.
Godets look best in soft flowing fabrics like chiffon, challis, or georgette. The softness of the fabric allows it to drape and move beautifully. Before you insert the godets, you need to decide how many to insert, and the fabric you want to use. Will the godet be a contrast or a matching fabric? A nice even number is six godets. Two in the front, two in the back, and two in the sides.
Drafting a Godet Pattern
The godet pattern is a pie-shaped piece of fabric. It can be cut out of the same fabric as the dress you are making or a contrasting piece of material. A godet can make a great addition to an old dress to which you want to add some detail and making your own godet pattern is very simple.
Step 1 - Determine Dimensions
Look at your skirt pattern and decide how long the godet is going to be. In other words, measure the length of the seam or slit where you will insert the godet. This measurement will determine how long the godet will be. The number of slits or seam inserts will determine the number of godets you need to cut. The image above shows you a shirt which is split for godets.
Also decide on the width of your godet. The width can be as wide as you wish. Wider godets mean your skirt will flare out more.
Step 2 - Draw The Godet
- LENGTH - Take the paper you plan to use for the godet pattern and draw a line down the center which is the desired godet length.
- WIDTH - At the bottom of the line, draw the width of the godet perpendicular. The width line will be equal on either side of the center line. Draw up the sides of the width line a couple of inches.
- SIDE LEGS - Measure from the tip of the triangle to where the same length intersects the width vertical lines. For example, if your length is 12 inches (30cm) down the center, these side legs will also be 30cm)
- BOTTOM CURVE - Anchor your tape measure at the top and mark the same distance to get the bottom curve. Always keep the tape fixed in the same spot on the point at the top of the triangle. As you move the tape the ‘pie shape ‘ will start to come together. This is very important to get the right curve on the hem of the godet.
- EXTRAS - Add seam allowances to your godets and a hem allowance the same as the main skirt. Add the grainline which will run vertically through the center.
Step 3 - Completion
Cut out however many godets you need to complete your skirt and stitch them according to the instructions below. Hem the godets along with the skirt hem and press the godet seam out from the godet to let the drape of the godet fall with the skirt.
How to Sew Godets
Step 1 - Preparation
Have your fabric pre-washed and dried and cut the godet according to the length of the inset.
Finish the raw edges of the seam as well as the sides of the godets.
Stitch the seam up to the slit. Press the seam open all the way to the hem.
Step 2 - Sew the Seams
Take your godet and on the wrong side, mark the ⅜ inch (1cm) seam allowance at the top. This will help you sew this top area with greater accuracy.
Step 3 - Pin the Godet
Put the godet face down on the wrong side of the skirt. (It will be right side of the godet facing the wrong side of the skirt)
Pin one side of the godet to the seam line of the garment. Just pin one side to start. Put the point where the seam ends in the center of the seam line. Put your pins in the crease of the pressed seam of the garment. The pins will act as a guide for more accurate sewing.
Pin the second side.
Step 4 - Sew the Godet
Begin the stitching at the top of the top with a small stitch length of 1mm. These small stitches are to start the insert and secure the stitching. There is no need to backstitch at the top.
Just use the small stitches as the anchor stitches and after a short way (about 1 inch) return to normal-sized stitches of 2.5mm. Stitch from the top to the bottom to complete one side.
Sew the second leg the same way. Insert the machine needle into the place where the previous stitching began and stitch to the bottom. Once again start with small stitches to secure the stitching and do not reverse stitch.
Step 4 - Press
Press the seam allowance away from the godet on the reverse side of the insert. Then check the beautifully set in godet on the right side of the fabric. It should be securely set into the godet opening with no puckers or tucks in the seam line.
When you stitch the hem of your dress or skirt, the godet will be hemmed in line with the completed hem of the whole dress or skirt.
Uses of Godets
Here are some suggestions for using godets to add volume and flare.
- Wedding dresses - Godets look so beautiful on wedding dresses. Especially the fishtail style of a wedding dress. Frilled godets are very dramatic and add even more frills to a wedding dress.
- Dresses and skirts - Godets can be made to look like little ‘kick’ pleats or be set in from just under the bust to make a long and elegant feature to the dress. Godets are easy to add to an old favorite skirt or dress and add some life and color to the garment or to a pattern you enjoy making but need something different for a special occasion.
- Jackets - Add some into the back of a jacket for some extra interest. Should you decide to add godets into a jacket be sure the fabric is of a suitable thickness.
- Dance dresses - The flared Spanish flamenco dance dresses look fantastic with layers of godets. The addition of flares to any dance dress makes the dramatic swirls on the dance floor look even more spectacular.
- Sportswear - Godets on cheeky tennis dresses allow for movement on the tennis court and in the skating arena godets look beautiful on a short skating outfit.
- Blouses or tops - A pretty blouse or top to hang over a skirt can look really creative with some godets.
- Whatever takes your fancy!
Godets - In Conclusion
Once you have tried out making a godet and inserting it into something you have made or plan to make, you will enjoy the creativity and the panache the godet brings to your design. The beauty of inserting godets is if you decide you do not like the overall effect you simply remove the godet and stitch up the opening to return your dress or skirt to its original style.