This is technically a 1950s pattern, so we’ll sneak it under the historical/vintage umbrella yes?
So I rarely buy patterns; these days I mostly draft my own or work off existing ones I have. But Wearing History came out with a 1950s pattern that for some reason ate my brain, and I decided to buy the PDF:
This made very little sense for me to buy for several reasons:
- I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn a skirt since I started working from home permanently when Covid shut down offices in March 2020
- This skirt is clearly designed for someone who has some distance between the bust and the waist (I do not) and some kind of hourglass figure (I do not. I am in fact shaped like the World’s Fastest Hourglass).
- The stash fabric I had in mind for this was a heavy wool crepe, and I started working on this in the middle of the summer.
Oh well, you have to go where the sewing muse takes you, regardless of thinks like “sense”.
Even though this pattern was very simple, I made a full mockup because I have a bad habit of half-assing modern clothing, and then having it not fit (wearing ease scares me. Just let me fit things skin tight over a corset for consistent sizing ok?)
The two changes I made before making the mockup were:
- shortening the waistband height by 3/4″ (I think. It’s been a while). I asked the pattern maker where this skirt was supposed to sit, and the hip gathers are supposed to hit at the natural waist, while the rest of the waistband sits *above* the waist. Well that would stick the top of the waistband straight into underbust territory, especially as I’ve been living in nursing bras since February 2022 which don’t provide as much lift.
- shortening the length of the skirt overall. I’m 4’11”, me and tea length are not friends. That’s an instant invitation into frumpy-stumpy-ville.
Bonus, shortening the skirt meant that I was able to get it out of ~2 yards of 60″ wide fabric (especially since I used a cotton/silk satin as the waistband lining, instead of a self lining since I had some notion of wearing this with a cropped top).
The muslin showed that I needed to take a bit of width out of the top of the waistband, because I am 100% shaped like a cylinder (and not the upside-down-triangle shape provided here. Remember, the waistband here is actually sitting above the waist, and the original 1950s pattern probably assumed a girdle).
Next picture shows blue thread tacks marking the spot of each button, and the orangey-brown wool crepe cut out for a pattern piece.
Wool crepe is an interesting fabric. On the one hand it’s quite friendly as it doesn’t fray a ton, and wool is extremely malleable and easy to iron out wrinkles. On the other hand, this is a *heavy* crepe. To actually press things like seams you need a clapper, otherwise it just bounces back. The thread tacking was also out of necessity and not just couture-aspirations, because no chalk or pen would leave a marking on it.
I made self-covered buttons because nothing was going to match this. After that, it was pretty quick to sew together (after I came to my senses and made regular buttonholes, and not bound buttonholes. You don’t make bound buttonholes the first time you make a pattern and don’t know how it will turn out…)
Then it went onto my dress form to hang for a couple days, because something like this will absolutely stretch on the bias, and you want all the hem to stretch out from gravity before hemming it.
I went to try it on, and siiiiiigh it was too big. As I mentioned in the previous post, when making a skirt that is supposed to fit at the natural waist, you can’t have wearing ease. Otherwise that wearing ease just makes the skirt sit lower. (Note, this was the first skirt I discovered this on. But I did not internalize the lesson and then literally made the same mistake on the sparkly formal skirt too…) And since I had already topstitched the waistband this would be a HUGE PAIN to fix, plus I was completely out of the matching thread except for a bit left in the bobbin.
And that’s when this skirt went into the naughty pile because at that point I really needed to start working on the corset of that gothy fae outfit previously discussed (in May 2022).
In the beginning of November 2022, the gothy fairy outfit was done, and I had a brief window of time before needing to work on my JordanCon costume! I decided to finally fix and finish this dratted skirt to wear out to dinner in New York for Thanksgiving (which is a yearly tradition with my family). Wool crepe is actually a weather-appropriate fabric for New York in November.
Which meant opening up the waistband where I had whipped it over the seam allowances, opening it up on the sides, taking the waistband in ~1″, pulling the gathers tighter in that space, and then sewing it back on. I did so quite grumpily! As I’ve said in previous posts, part of the benefit of shapewear is that it keeps your waist the same size when sitting/standing/eating etc, which makes a difference for how tight to make a skirt with no stretch that you want to sit at the waist. In order to sit comfortably in it, the skirt feels a little too loose when standing up.
Then it was time to deal with the hem (which did sit very unevenly at that point due to bias stretch). The pattern instructions call for the front to be faced and then the hem folded up, which ends up with 4 layers at front with a single fold, and a whopping 6 layers if you double fold the hem. This would be bulky on most regular fabrics, let alone this super bouncy crepe. Instead of doing that, I used rayon seam binding to cover the raw edge and whipped it on. (It might have made more sense to fold up the hem and then whip the front facing over it, but I had topstitched the edge already which meant it had to be folded first). The double fold also doesn’t work well on an A-line, because you have to ease in the fabric at the top of the fold. Since this is wool I could have gathered it up and shrunk it with the iron, but I was definitely past the point of making this as couture as possible.
I don’t subscribe to the cult that every garment must have pockets (they don’t look good in pencil skirts, change my view), but when you have a big gathered skirt there’s no reason not to add them! I also made the facing out of a silk/cotton scrap left in my stash because I had some notion of wearing this with a crop top and wool crepe doesn’t feel great against the skin.
And after all that, I finally wore the skirt in February 2023 during a work product summit where every actually flew out and I sat in an office building 3 days in a row for the first time in years!
I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out! This makes something like the 5th [relatively] modern item in my wardrobe! I still have some notion of making the full length version out of something like a green hammered silk satin for all those formal occasions I totally definitely have on the calendar…