This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
Serge (fine or heavy twill).
All cloths should be sponged and pressed before making up, to prevent the material becoming spotted or shrinking up when pressing seams and hems, or after being caught in the rain. This may be done by rolling the cloth in a very wet sheet, letting it lie over night, and then pressing the cloth on the wrong side until dry. In pressing, move the iron slowly back and forth continually. Do not iron it, nor let the iron rest long enough in one spot to leave its imprint on the cloth, else it will need to be dampened and pressed again. If you do not wish to do this work yourself, the cloth may be taken to a tailor to be done, the charge for this being not more than five cents per yard. Some cloths are sponged and pressed ready for use before leaving the factory. When such have been sold to you, if there seems to be a very high gloss on the surface, do not fail to test the sponging by dropping some water on one end of the cloth and letting it dry. If spots show after it has been dried, the same will happen when the seams and hem are pressed, or you are caught in a shower.
The general rules for cutting linen and cotton skirts may be applied to the woolen skirt. Serge and cheviot may both be cut double, but broadcloth or any other smooth surface cloth must be cut singly, and with the nap running down toward the bottom of the skirt. To find the way the nap runs, pass the hand over the face of the cloth; the direction which makes the cloth smooth will indicate the edge which will be toward the foot. Care must be taken in cutting single pieces not to cut both for one side of the skirt (Fig. 191). When working with materials that fray badly, it is well to overcast the edges roughly to protect them while putting the skirt together. Avoid a seam with two bias edges coming together in heavy twills, unless there is an inverted plait to cover the seam. The twills meet at right angles almost, giving a displeasing effect (Fig. 209).
The best method of marking the seams is to tailor baste them (Fig. 183). They may be traced on chalkboard. Sometimes they are marked with tailor's chalk along the edge of the pattern, the pattern removed, the two wrong sides of the cloth laid together and the cloth patted along the seam edges, which will carry the marks through to the other side. This is not so secure a way, because the least slip of the cloth will change the line of the seam on the opposite side.
Follow the rule for basting linen and cotton skirts (pp. 330-332). Extreme care must be taken to avoid stretching the bias edges of woolen materials. Circular skirts should hang for some time after basting to let the material sag before turning line at the bottom.
Fig. 209. - Effect of a bias seam in twilled material.