Saturday, 8 August 2015


Photo from Claire
Mum has always loved the fact that when my sister and I first learnt to sew we were never interested in using existing patterns, preferring instead to replicate existing clothes (without pulling that piece to pieces in order to achieve this).

Logically it makes sense really, we had clothes we knew we loved and that fitted us (an increasing problem). So why put in all the time and effort on a pattern you don't actually know you'll like.

I do use patterns now, some of the time, and I think I can say the same for my sister, but there are still times when replicating existing items in one's wardrobe is just the more sensible option.

Years ago now, I acquired from my mother's wardrobe a beautiful mid-calf-length wool skirt. It is rust coloured and of eight gores which flare below the knee. For remaining warm whilst running errands, it is perfect. So perfect in fact that I decided I needed another one, in a dark grey/black.

This was partially the result of a sale at Spotlight. Wool fabrics and lining fabrics were half price which was just too good to resist.

The pattern for the skirt was quite simple; eight identical pieces overlocked and sewn together, lined, with a waist band, and zip and button closure.

Putting the zip in first and then sewing the bottom of that seam shut is far easier than trying to put the zip in later.

 The lining is not quite this blue, being a darker matt grey.

As the skirt is mid calf, and contains rather a lot of fabric, having it sit an equal length from the floor on both sides seemed to be less of a drama. Usually my lopsided hips means this is a multi-stage process involving lots of pins and at least one other person.
This time all I did was ensure that the hems made a continuous circle (by spreading the skirt out on the floor and cutting off the excess tabs), and when the various opposite seams were held together they would be of near equal length.

It seems to have worked well.

Interestingly, overlocking and hemming the skirt and lining I discovered that these simple acts had change the fall of the skirt.
Prior to hemming it, the weight of the gore seams had pulled them inwards creating a beautiful petal shape to the overall fall of the skirt. Once the lower hem was added these seams stuck out away from the body instead. Its a little annoying as I much preferred the petal effect, but maybe washing it and tweaking it as it drip dries will fix it.

The button was discovered in the stash and put to good use. With nothing about my wardrobe screaming 'modern' and this skirt being a replicate of a 1970s skirt of my mother's, an Art Deco style button seemed appropriate.

Having attached the button and worn the finished skirt a few times, I discovered that I could get away with moving the button to nip the waist in a little more, whilst keeping the comfort of the skirt.

To test the warmth and practicality of the skirt to the full I took it down south for a long weekend in Albany. I'd expected to be wearing it when we wandered around town and looked at all the historical sites, but instead found myself clamouring over rocks and through the native bush of the Torndirrup National Park.

I found it had enough movement to dance in the wind without compromising my modesty and enough fabric to allow for scrambling up rocks without riding up or showing so much as my knees. And of an evening, curled up on a couch, I could tuck my feet under and remain toasty warm.

Photo from Claire

Video clips from Claire

It is now my go-to winter skirt for warmth and practicality when I want to look a little more lady-like than jeans will allow. 
Photo from Claire

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