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What is a Godet?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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A godet is an extra panel of fabric inserted into a skirt or dress which causes it to flare. Flouncy, springy patterns often use godets, which also allow more freedom of movement on the part of the wearer. People who are seeking out flared skirts may want to look for godet patterns, as should people who want a wider range of motion in a skirt. Any type of fabric can be used in a godet skirt, although some fabrics may perform better than others.

A related concept is the gore, a triangular piece of fabric which fluffs out a skirt and makes it more flowing. A flare starts close to the top of a skirt, and is often used in patterns such as a-line skirts. Unlike a gore, a godet is inserted in the bottom of a skirt, starting at least halfway down the skirt and sometimes further. This means that the top of the skirt hugs the hips, and the godets cause the skirt to flare out as it reaches the knees or calves.

Typically, multiple godets are inserted into a skirt at set intervals. The distribution of the godets throughout the skirt gives the skirt a rippling effect. In other instances, a single large godet may be used in the back of the skirt to make it more comfortable to walk in. The godets can be made from the same material as the skirt, or they can be sewn in contrasting fabrics or colors for a distinctive look.

Obviously, a skirt with a godet will use more material than it would otherwise. For this reason, lightweight fabrics are often used to make godets, so that the skirt will not be weighed down. Cotton, silk, and linen are all popular choices, since these fabrics are also appropriate for rippling summery skirts. Heavier fabrics like tweed and woolens can use godets, of course, but the skirt will not flow as much.

A skirt with godets compliments many figure types. Plus size clothing manufacturers often use godets to streamline the figure and add a flirty flair to their clothes. On more slender women, the figure hugging upper portion of the skirt can flatter the body, while a godet adds a sense of fun. On very snug skirts, a godet in the back ensures that the wearer will still be able to walk, and it is more modest than a slit.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon299083 — On Oct 23, 2012

@crangitsch: They'd probably tell you to do that because with a godet or a gore. You've got the problem of fraying, especially if you have something like satin or taffeta that shreds at the barest touch.

A couple ways around this are to serge the edge, then hem the rest. If you're using a synthetic that is 100 percent synthetic, you can take a lighter and melt the edges like with a ribbon. Practice on a scrap first, though or you'll end up with melted edges, which is not pretty. But if you melt it right, it should result in a small tight edge like on the edge of a backpack strap.

By anon232256 — On Nov 29, 2011

Since godets have a lot of bias in them you should always let the whole garment hang for 24 hours before you hem. The fabric will stretch and drop.

By anon59512 — On Jan 08, 2010

I recommend, especially with insert godets, leave hemming til last.

I always leave hemming as the very last thing to finish a dress or skirt. This helps you get the right length for your height: clothes hang differently on every person.

For example, having a sway back means the rear hem of my dresses and skirts are always higher off the ground than the front, so I have to trim the hem accordingly.

I made my own wedding dress to this principal: I would have been in trouble if I'd hemmed first!

By crangitsch — On Apr 17, 2009

I'm making a prom dress with 6 Godet's. The pattern tells me to hem each piece before putting them all together. Is this a must or simply a recommendation? Why would they want this to be done?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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