accidentally 60’s skirt.

First skirt of the year. Had it already cut out before Christmas and took about 5 hours over 2 days to make it up at the end of last week.

wool damask skirt

This is basically another version of the Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt, this time using the medium length pattern view. I know its kind of boring using the same pattern over and over, but actually when I was thinner and could buy clothes easily on the high street I had about 5 virtually identical skater and slightly longer skirts in various colours and used to wear them with various victorian style blouses (something I have yet to learn to make) and actually decent basic skater/A-line skirt patterns are quite hard to find, & seriously the only skirt I have seen in my size comparable to this in quality and warmth on the high street was in Monsoon, so really can’t afford that.

Anyway, although from the photo it looks deceptively simple, it was a right nightmare to make….

First up, the fabric…..

wool damask

Close-up of the pattern. Its a really nice wool damask off the local fabric stall that I got for £3 a meter. Unfortunately there was just under 2.5m left, which left things a bit strained for having enough fabric. I cut the front on the fold instead of two pieces separately, this made it easier for pattern matching and worked really well, however there was not enough fabric left after that to cut the two back pieces at exactly the same angle, so they don’t match that well, and the pocket pieces are completely upside-down  as that was the only way I could fit them in. Luckily it is such a busy pattern it doesn’t really show.

It is also my first time sewing with wool. Apart from having to clean the inside of the machine every five minutes I didn’t really find it too difficult. The issue came because, as it was wool, and it is intended to be worn in the middle of winter, I felt I had to line the skirt, I also had to line the waist band as wool against bare skin would be incredibly itchy.

Visualising how instructions are going to work five stages ahead is one of my real weak points with sewing, and as it’s the first time I’ve tried to add a lining into this pattern I was kind of winging it. It has sort of worked.

The way the pattern works is you sew up the front and back panels into one long strip, add the waistband and then sew it all together at the back. I added the lining as a strip as well, at the stage before it was all sewn onto the waistband. This was the right thing to do, the problem came when I sewed the back together. The easiest way to do it seemed to me to be to overlock the lining and the wool fabric together and then sew the back seam through both of them. I completely forgot that doing this would mean that when I came to hem it, I would have to hem them both in together rather than have the lining hanging separately. I only really figured this out when I’d pretty much finished everything else, so had to go with it. I also decided to fold over the hem twice instead of overlocking it and folding it over once as I thought that would look neater, completely forgetting that a double layer of wool and lining would be much thicker than a folded over single layer of cotton is.

I inserted the waist ribbon by machine just before folding over the waist band and hand stitching it in place. This I am actually pleased with.

So I finished it, and it does not look like off the peg high street finished clothing on the inside, so I was a bit miffed, but then I looked at it again, and realised the finish was really similar to a lot of vintage I’ve seen down Camden when I used to fit into it all (sob!) so I rung my Mum and she confirmed that what I did was actually the way she would have done it in the 60’s when she was a teenager and not to worry about the hem being to thick as it would make the skirt hang better that way, which in fact, after it had settled for a couple of hours, it really does.

So pictures….

inside the skirt

Inside the skirt.


Closeups of the hem and the waistband.

wool damask skirt 2

Another picture of me wearing it, I think it does actually hang really nicely.

I am about to make a shorter version of the skirt in a red and black houndstooth wool and I am intending to line that as well. This time I am going to do things differently so hopefully it will have a free floating lining. It will be interesting to see which works best.

My main aim with sewing basics is to make them look as like high street bought garments as possible, preferably top end high street, or like they came from an independent Camden designer. I’m really not a fan of those drapey patterns with pleats (hello Burda) or weird little details that in the designers mind I’m sure make it look couture, but when sewn up by an amateur dressmaker just look a little bit odd and sloppy. And I’m a massive fan of my overlocker. However my Mum insists that the 60’s construction techniques are much more hardwearing and more of a couture finish (I don’t really get to see much couture, specially not from the inside, so really I wouldn’t know) and certainly they were common in high street fashion from that era as well, and so many things modern clothes manufacturers do are purely to save money. But I’ve grown up with high street clothes, and I have actually received quite snotty reactions sometimes when I’ve said I’ve made something myself, so I think blending in is quite a good thing. I’m really not sure what is the best way to go with this sort of thing.

Anyway, I hope to have the new skirt at least cut out by the end of the week, and I have signed up for a 4 week knitting course at a place called 57 Arts that thinks it is in Brockley, but is basically about 5 minutes walk from Lewisham Station, as I am getting progressively more covetous of scarfs and gloves and stuff I keep seeing patterns for on the internet and even though I have made several attempts at getting into knitting over the years I am still completely useless at it, so being shown things properly may be the way forwards.

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