I think by this point, it’s become fairly apparent that I’m quite the fan of a good old-fashioned circle skirt. I mean, what’s not to love? Easy to sew, easy to wear, they’re super flattering and they look classically 50s. As the weather turned colder down here in the Southern Hemisphere, I started to wonder how I’d style my gorgeous summery cotton circle skirts for winter. I tell you, it requires some creativity. But then the thought struck: why not make a winter one?
I was a very lucky birthday girl this year: my sister gave me a beautiful black long-sleeve top with a lace collar, and my parents gave my both of Gertie‘s books: Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing and Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. As I was flicking through the books, and wondering what I’d wear with my gorgeous new top, I landed on the quilted variation of the half-circle skirt and inspiration struck. But pshhhh, I wasn’t going to bother with a half-circle skirt. Weak, WEAK I say! I don’t do things by half. It would be a full circle or nothing. This, this would be my downfall, dear readers.
I saw an absolutely stunning floral-printed linen online at Darn Cheap Fabrics, and I knew I absolutely needed it. Fortuitously enough, I was able to get the last 1.6 metres, at 75% off as a remnant. This is going to be easy, I naively thought. Then I hit the first stumbling block: I had originally intended to line and quilt the skirt with flannelette, as per the variation in GSVC. However, the selection of flannelettes available to me was pitifully limited in terms of colour. So I decided to follow instead what Gertie had done on her blog: use three layers: the fashion fabric, a coordinating lining, and wadding in between. A second mistake. So I bought a nice magenta cotton to line, and a packet of polyester wadding, and set to work.
As per usual, I used By Hand London’s circle skirt app to calculate the appropriate measurements. I cut my three pieces – two back and one front – from all three fabrics. I prepared a little quilting sample to make sure I was happy with my thread selections (light grey on the outside, a contrast black for the inside) and quilting square size. Then I carefully ruled out all my quilting lines on the lining fabric. It was at this point that I realised just how much work lay before me. It probably didn’t help that I was doing this with a thirty centimetre ruler – but it happened to be the perfect width for the squares so I just went with it. That alone probably took two hours all up. I could then pin my layers together and start the laborious process of stitching down them all.
It wasn’t just the length or number of the lines – although that was a lot of it – but there is a hell of a lot of fabric in even just a half circle of radius seventy five centimetres. I was constantly wrestling to get it through the machine. It was in my lap, on the table, wedged in the gap between needle and body of the machine; the process of sewing is normally something I adore, but I can’t say that this was a particularly satisfying part of the journey – and it took about four hours. Then I could move onto the construction proper, which was reasonably straightforward, and much the same as other skirts I’ve made in the past; the only real difference was the way I finished the seams by turning them over and stitching them down, to make sure none of the wadding was exposed. I inserted my zip and applied my waistband, hemmed the whole skirt (all five metres of it) the same way I finished the seams. Add a button and hey presto! – done!
…except for the part where the zip was a bit dodgy, and kept pulling open under the weight of the skirt (which is considerable, let me tell you), but I came up with an ingenious little fix for that: I sewed a little hook and eye right near the top of the zip, which fastens under the zip pull when it’s done up and stops it from slipping down. Now, actually done!
Okay, I won’t lie; despite the good twelve hours of work that went into this skirt, I absolutely adore it. It has the most glorious shape, and I love how it sticks out without the need for a petticoat. It’s also kinda fun to fold it around me like a blanket when I’m sitting down, haha. I’m also really proud of the construction; the seam finishes and hem are really neat, some of the best work I’ve done, and it really is one of the most labour-intensive and structured garments I’ve done to date. I may now understand, perhaps, why Gertie wisely chose a less full design – but do I regret my choices? NOPE. Would I make another, is the real question – and the answer is potentially, yes. I really do adore the way it looks and feels, and I think that it was a labour of love, after all. So some more quilting may be on the horizon! I do have some wadding left over…enough for a bomber jacket, perhaps? I don’t think I’ll be attempting another skirt just yet; the memories of wrestling acres of fabric through my machine will have to fade a little first.
Until next time,
Miss Maddy x
- Floral printed linen – Darn Cheap Fabrics
- Pink cotton lining and button – Rathdowne Fabrics and Remnants
- Polyester wadding and zip – Spotlight