I love clothes. Unlike the men in my house, my favorite Christmas and birthday gifts are new clothes. As a young woman, the love of clothes and the lack of funds(now, my frugal spirit) is what propelled my sewing habit and pushed me to challenge my sewing skills. Window shopping through the stores and then stopping by JoAnn Fabrics to pick out a pattern and piece of fabric to duplicate the ready-made item I had fallen in love with was, and still is, a loved tradition. My regular stops in JoAnn Fabrics and the relationship built with the workers there is how I got offered a position to work in my local JoAnn Fabric store many years ago.
Now that life is filled with many, many other responsibilities, finding time to sew for myself is always difficult, so holidays have become a time that I find a “good-enough” reason to sew a new outfit. Being able to attend Christmas Eve, and Easter church services in a new handmade outfit is the gift I try to regularly give to myself.
This year for my Christmas outfit I was inspired by a piece of wool fabric that I had received from a church member. She had a beautiful stash of woolens that she had decided she would no longer be able to find a use for and graciously offered them to me. Her generous gift makes this new skirt I chose to create extra special.
I knew I wanted to create a skirt and did a little Pinterest exploring to uncover ideas for plaid wool skirts styles. I was tempted by many options, but in the end opted for a short, straight pencil skirt style. My next stop was pattern choices, I already had several versions of straight skirts I could have used, but found this New Look pattern with several interesting variations on a mock-wrap straight skirt.
Uneven hem lines seems to be on trend right now, but I don’t love the high-low version especially on my body type. So this skirt in version D seemed like a nice way to have my simple pencil skirt with a splash of new style thrown in.
I also had envisioned with my grey plaid fabric a leather feature of some kind and this wide no-waistband/waistband seemed like the perfect addition to this plan. Now with fabric and pattern chosen this new Christmas outfit was on the road to reality.
An important part of working with a plaid is careful layout of the pattern pieces. If you take the time to check and re-check each piece for pattern matching your finished garment will have the professional look that you will only find in high-end stores. Sadly, so many off-the-rack clothes have mismatched patterns and can really ruin the finished looked of the product.
This plaid was fairly easy to layout and match because it was symmetrical-it had a center and could be folded at the center to match on either side. A simple skirt like this one is a good beginning plaid project because it has only a few pattern pieces to be matched~center back seam, side seams, waistband, and, with this skirt the front wrap section. As you place the pattern pieces onto the fabric locate the notches on each tissue that will be matched together, then use the plaid pattern as a gauge to place the pieces to be matched.
Another detail I considered as I placed my pattern tissue was how the plaid would look as the finished skirt. Did I want the multi-stripe section directly on the center front line or on either side of center front? Those kind of decisions can visually affect the skirt. Things like stripes circling the widest part of your body or large prints over your breasts can’t be changed after you cut everything out. So take your time and consider your layout from all points of view.
I cut the waist band from the faux leather for the right side of the skirt and the wool fabric for the wrong/facing side. I thought that the wool would hold onto whatever shirt I tucked into the waistband better than the faux leather. I also purchased that leather buckle detail from the notions wall of JoAnn Fabrics.
The top for this outfit was a piece of grey sweater knit fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabrics. The pattern was copied from a finished top I had purchased off the rack. It is a super simple design that is just a shirt front and shirt back-the sleeves and shirt body are cut as one big piece. To sew this top I matched the front to the back and stitched the underarm/side seams on both sides and the shoulder/top sleeve seams. I added a wide cuff to finish off the ends of the sleeves and bound the neck opening with a strip of the sweater knit cut across the width of the fabric because it had the most stretch.
The finished skirt is meant to be worn 1 inch below the waist. I am still deciding about the finished fit and think it could have been taken in a little more, but I sometimes struggle with items that hit below the natural waist line, so I am still evaluating.
Along with the leather details, I also opted to line this skirt because I prefer to sew a lining instead of wearing a slip. I lined the front mock-wrap piece so that it would hang smoothly and the lining on the inside of the skirt is attached at the bottom of the waistband.
It was fun to have a new outfit for Christmas Eve. I am still trying to decide on this style of uneven hem line. Sometimes I look at it and like the interest and fun that it adds and other times I think, “What is the point of that crooked piece hanging on the front of that skirt?”…once again my practical side wages a battle with my creative side.
I really wanted to wear grey tights with this skirt, but I don’t have grey shoes and was worried that the black shoe boots I had chosen would visually cut up my leg length too much. Now the idea of grey shoes is haunting the inside of my brain…Hmm, a reason to go shoe shopping!