Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fat Tuesday's Vintage Skirt

My love affair with fat quarters is largely due to how inexpensive they can be; which of course naturally leads me to thrifted fabric. In the case of this skirt not only thrifted but thrifted by someone else and then given to me- i.e. free!
It began with Melody (Monday's girl) finding a darling top sheet at a thrift store and using it to back a quilt (one of my favorite quilts of hers, I'll have to make her share it with y'all). The next weekend found Holly (Thursday's girl) and I marching out of the same thrift store with three or four sheets each. The darling vintage flower print found it's way home with her, under my admiring eye, for a total of 0.95 cents. Where she proceeded to use it to make a purse that she sold at Oktoberfest and a few other little things before deciding that she was tired of working with the same fabric over and over and passed the rest of it on to me- why yes, thank you!

The pattern is a bit of a game of six steps to Kevin Bacon (did you ever play that? You try to connect everything to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less? It's weirdly uncanny how it works). About a year ago I was on a blog that I read frequently (can't remember which one), which led me to another blog, which led me to another blog, which had this darling tutorial for a forties inspired high waisted skirt. I skimmed over the tutorial and liked the skirt so much that I swear I favorited it, (this was way back in the days before pinterest), but I was never able to find it again. It was such a great skirt though that I cobbled together what I could remember of the tutorial and made up my skirt- except that this is not that skirt. This one was inspired by that one. There were a few improvements that I wanted to make to the original to make it faster to pull together and then several of the changes were due to not having quite enough yardage in my gifted half of a sheet.

Have I lost you yet? If you're still here I'll give you a quick rundown on how I made it. And please, please, please if you're interested in using this as a tutorial, feel free, but read thru the whole thing first to make sure you know everything before you cut out your pattern. You may need to adjust here and there to suit your needs (i.e. the length of skirt- I didn't need a hem so my skirt measurement is full length- if you cut that piece according to my measurments and then added a hem you'll be sporting a very full mini skirt and I don't want you to bring back the eighties on account of me).

Below is a quick sketch of the pattern pieces- not the actual pattern to scale so don't try and print it out, you'll be sorely disappointed, but an idea of the shape your pieces should be with measurements that fit my frame so that you can adjust as needed. In skirts I'm roughly a size two, just so you have a starting point for the measurements I'm giving you...

Still following me? You're brave, okay- so first turn on your iron and get that heating. Now haul out your serger (or flip to your zigzag stitch if your house is sans serger) and lets get those exposed edges taken care of. (note: when I give instructions for a piece that there are two of do the same to both pattern pieces).
           Piece #1- serge (or zigzag) side "D", iron along the fold (right sides together of course) and serge sides "C" and "B" together. (You can sew it as well if you like or if you're using a zigzag stitch you'll need to, but the serger alone works fine for me). Turn them right side out and iron them flat. Nice, now you have your two ties.
           Piece #2- Serge all four sides, turn all four sides under (just the width of your serged edge) and iron down to give a nice crisp line starting with the short sides. Now fold in half long ways (wrong sides together) and iron again as sharply as possible.
             Piece #3- Hold it up to your hips and decide where you want your pockets. (A quick note on the pockets- make sure that the wrist edge is wide enough to get your whole hand thru easily- not that I found out the hard way or anything...). Pin your pockets (piece #4) in place (wrong side of pocket to wrong side of skirt) and and serge the wrist edge to the edge of your skirt. I didn't actually pin these, but you could, if you're into that sort of thing. Now serge (or zigzag and sew) your two skirt pieces together above and below your pocket opening to make one long skirt piece.

Whew, still with me? Let's keep going...

          Piece #3- Grab a piece of 1" no-roll elastic and cut it to fit the top of your hips plus 1/2". Mine was 31.5 for reference. Fold the top edge of your fabric over 1.25" and iron down. Don't sew it down yet. A few notes on the hem. I used a sheet and I used the top (4" hem) of the sheet as the bottom of my skirt, which I think turned out nicely. If you happen to not use a sheet you'll need to add extra length (4.25") to piece #3 and add in a hem, now is the time to do that if you need to- go ahead, I'll wait..... Okay, done? Great. Now serge the two ends of your long skirt piece together above and below your other pocket (right sides together of course) to make a circle of skirt. Now you can go ahead and stitch that top fold on your skirt in place so that you have a channel for your elastic. Remember to start at the back of your skirt and not at a side hem and remember to leave about an inch and a half open to fish your elastic thru. Go ahead and fish your elastic thru and sew it together by overlapping it 3/4" and giving it several strong lines of stitching back and forth. Now sew your hole that you fished the elastic thru closed (this is also where you would put in a tag if you want to be all cute like that- I always want to and often forget). I like to catch my elastic here just a tiny bit so the bump of the elastic that was sewn together can't work it's way around to the front. Grab your pocket flaps and serge those right sides together so that you have pockets instead of flaps. Turn your skirt right side out. Set this aside and lets get the waist band going.
          Pieces #1 & #2- Take one of you Piece #1's and sew it down to the folded (remember we folded in just a quarter inch and ironed it?) edge of either side "B" or side "D" of Piece #2. Do the same thing with your other Piece #1 to the opposite side of Piece #2.

Hang in there, we're almost done...

           Now this next part is a bit tricky to explain without photos but I'll give it a whirl for you... take Piece #2 and stitch the wrong side of it to the inside of your skirt waist band with the rest of it above the band. You want Piece #2 to eventually fold over and for the ties to be on the outside of the skirt when it's folded over. Like Piece #2 is an upside down bun and the skirt is a hotdog but I only want you to sew the inside part right now and I want you to sew it very close to the elastic but be careful to not actually catch any of the elastic. And be sure to line this whole thing up so that the middle of Piece #2 is at the middle of the front of the skirt (Piece #3).  Clear as mud? Good. (I should mention here that the waist band is not meant to go all the way around- there should be about 4" of exposed skirt in the back- this is both for ease of putting it on and for aesthetics).
           Last part. Fold your waist band over, (being careful to keep your ironed 1/4" tucked under), and stitch it down to the front of your skirt, again being very careful to not catch your elastic. I stitched it down and then gave it another line of stitching 1/8" lower just to give it a bit of a more professional look. Done!!! Slip on your skirt, (the elastic should move freely and make it very easy to slip on), and either tie a big bow in the back or just give the ties one tie around each other in the back and do a cute little knot in the front.

There you have it folks- my one of a kind, so far from the "can't find it" tutorial of the inspiration skirt that I'm considering it an original design, fifty cent, thrifted vintage skirt. Like it? I do, especially with a bold pair of $5 blue Target tights. Happy Tuesday my lovely sewists. Hope I didn't make your ears bleed too badly with that one. Feel free to put questions in the comments and I'll do my best to help.


  1. cool use of that awesome sheet! Are you getting a lot of wear out of that skirt?

  2. Really cute, can I just say that I am a little annoyed about the size 2, haha! :)