Thursday, August 13, 2009

My favorite skirt pattern

Over on the author (my daughter) asked for our favorite skirt patterns. Here is mine. It's not really a pattern, per se, but rather, a fabric manipulation method. [doesn't that sound really nerdy and a little hard??]
The skirt pictured (sorry the pictures are so dark -- that fabric is really dark) is my adaptation of an 18th Century Scottish Women's Dress Kilt. (As opposed to the casual kilts that the scullery lasses wore around the castle.) Here's how I made it -- no Passport required. Although you will need a dressmaker's dummy set to your exact waist and hip measurements, or a friend you can trust not to stick you with the pins.

This fabric was 54 in wide, and a difficult-to-find Thai Ikat, so I was reluctant to cut up something I could not easily replace. So, I didn't. Cut it up, that is. I turned it cross-wise, and pinned it to my dressmaker's dummy, giving myself 3 in of ease in the hips, and having the left cut end of fabric where I wanted the underlay to end up. {Traditional kilts are wrap skirts.} Next, I pinched out darts in front and back (roughly mid-way between CB or CF and sides). On the Front, one dart was in the underflap, and the other was in the overlay (pleats at Front Left will take up fullness over that dart). Next, comes pinching up the pleats. Knife pleats are de rigeur, with a slight overlap. Have the last pleat end about 2 - 3 in from fabric's terminus. Step back and evaluate. Are you really happy with the amount of pleats? their depth? their distance/overlap one to another? Make adjustments now. carefully remove the skirt form the dummy (not you) and try it on. Are you still happy with it? If not, make more adjustments. Repeat evaluation steps as many times as necessary.
When you are satisfied with your pinching and pinning, heat up your iron as hot as the fiber you have selected will allow (synthetics are NOT recommended for this skirt), get plenty of steam going, and set in those pleats!!! Stitch darts. Stitch pleats across the top, and down as far as you like, if at all. I stitch down to the hips. After 4 children, mountains of fried chicken, barrels of Dr.Pepper, and no real exercise to speak of, I have enough bulk at my belly buck naked, I don't need fat folds of loose fabric helping.
Now it is a simple matter reinforcing the waist with the right interfacing, hemming, lining, adding a bound edge/facing over the lining at waist and front edges, adding closures.
Ta da!!

Note: the fabric used to make this skirt is a Thai Ikat that I bought at Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA 3 years ago. This frabic is distinguished by its method of fabrication. Always made of silk, the yarns for both warp and weft are spot dyed before and/or during weaving. It requires a highly skilled weaver to execute a design of 4-5 colors. This one has 9 different colors. I really did not want to cut this fabric. I must tell those of you who don't know: my actual degree (although my transcripts use the more generic : Human Ecology) is in Textile Artifact Conservation. {yeah. I know. A "do-you-want-fries-with-that?" degree} I mention this so that you will know that the irony of my having used a fabric which dates to 14th Century Siam to make an 18th Century Scottish Kilt is not lost on me. Neither was it lost on one of my favorite professors, the late Dr. Ardis Rewerts, who teased me mecilessly about it. May the great lady rest in peace.


  1. I just love the fabric of this skirt!! It is so beautiful and cute!! Lovely!!

  2. Wow that is really very good skirt fabrics. its so cute.
    African Fabrics | African Wax Print