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Monday, 27 August 2018

The Accidental Skirt

It wasn't supposed to happen.  As stated in my comment on my August sewing plans "before I sew anything, I MUST sort out my fabric and pattern stash, including all the remnants left over from past makes".  That is exactly what I started to do, diligently sorting into Washed, Unwashed, and sub categories Natural Woven, Synthetic Woven, Stretch and Remnants under 1 metre long.

One of the remnants that I came across was a seersucker cotton with woven blue and white stripes.  Seersucker is especially cool in hot weather as the puckering of the fabric allows air between the fabric and the skin  I knew this worked because I had made my partner an item from this material and it was his garment of choice in hot weather.  Encouraged by the news at the time that the warm weather was likely to continue, I couldn't help myself and set to thinking what I could make very quickly with this fabric .  I had made two summer tops recently ( three if you count the Laurel Blouse) so it was time to do something for my bottom half.  I really wanted a pair of knee length shorts but there was not enough fabric left for that so it had to be a skirt but one that gave me enough room to go bicycling about town.
 I wanted to use only items that I had in my stash.  I didn't have any suitable skirt pattern that worked with the amount of fabric that I had so I created my own and decided on an elasticated waist, both for speed and because I didn't have a suitable zipper but did have just the right size and length of elastic.  The remnant that I had was roughly L-shaped (150 centimetres at the widest point)  and the diagram below shows how I cut it.

The body of the skirt was consisted of two equally wide rectangles to reach knee length on me.  The waistband was a rectangle 3 inches wide and cut long enough to go over my hips plus about 2 inches, I prefer to pull the skirt on over my hips but it could be made with measurements that allow it to be pulled on over the bust.  The  measurements allow for a half inch seam allowance and result in a 1 inch wide waistband. I used the whole 150 cm width of the fabric to make a 1 inch wide tie belt, cutting a scant 3 inch wide strip.  The belt could have been created by folding the strip in half, right sides together, stitching along one short and the long side and then turning the tube to the right side and hand stitching the remaining short side closed.  However, being lazy, as it is an effort to pull the fabric through a tube this long I just pressed the seam allowances in to the wrong side, folded the fabric in half and top-stitched all round on the right side.

I also made carrier loops to go on  the waist band to keep the belt in place.  I cut a strip of the fabric and, since it was a much shorter piece than the belt and so not so much of a hassle to turn, sewed it into a tube right sides together and then pulled the tube through.  I then cut the cube into 7 equal pieces, each 2 inches long.

If I can I add pockets to a garment I do and I did for this one.  I made side seam pockets and,since this type of pocket is not visible, it can be made from any suitable fabric, which was just as well because I did not have enough left to cut pockets in the same fabric.  There are many excellent blogs on creating these pockets and here is one from By Hand London using the shape of pocket that I like and here is another fromTilly and The Buttons using another pocket shape and giving a down loadable pattern for the pocket.

To give greater freedom of movement and to eke out the fabric by having a very narrow hem I made a shirt tail hem at the bottom.  I drew this with a French Curve but there is a down loadable pattern and instructions on creating this for any dress at Christine Jonson Patterns.

So, with all my pieces eked out of the fabric, I sewed together the side seams and also the short sides of the waistband prior to gathering the waist of the skirt to fit the waistband (see diagrams 1 & 2 below).

The belt carriers were placed right side to right side against the skirt waist.  I put one at the centre back and one either side of the centre front and more between centre back and the front as shown below.  Placement can be as you wish.

Then the waistband is placed right side against the right side of the skirt waist, sandwiching the carriers in between skirt and waistband, and stitched together all around the waist.  The waistband was pressed upwards and then folded in half.  The folded waistband was secured on the wrong side (I did it using the "stitch in the ditch method") leaving a gap in order to insert the elastic and the carriers were looped over the top of the waist band and I hand stitched these down to the inside of the waistband.  The only thing left to do was to turn up a narrow hem. And, thus, another garment made,  no money spent on buying a pattern and my stash reduced- win, win.


  1. Great work Barbara, just the kind of sewing I like!

  2. I very much like the description of how this skirt was sewn, this is so useful. The drawings are fantastic too, thank you so much for writing it all up Barbara!
    How fantastic to be able to use up a remnant, and all of it too! It looks like a skirt you'll get a lot of use out of in summer. A great project.


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