Somewhere around a decade ago, when blogs were shiny and new, a dear online sewing friend sent me a gift of some fabrics she didn’t think she would get to use. It’s perhaps a little embarrassing to admit that I, also, went on to not use them for, y’know, a decade, but anyway. That coating is earmarked for the Next Coat when my grey coat wears out, which is on its way but not quite yet.
And then there was the glorious, sequined, black linen border embroidery. One of those fabrics relegated instantly to the “too good to cut” pile. I’ve fantasized about making it up many times over the years, but kept waiting on the perfect plan, or the perfect moment. Needless to say, such a moment did not arrive. It didn’t help that in addition to being exquisite, there was a scant two yards there. I don’t often think too much on the difference between a yard and my native mètre, but when you’re trying to eke a garment out of only 2, that extra 8” of fabric can make or break.
Anyway. Last spring, when the Leslie Skirt by Wearing History came out, I was blown away. I have a bit of a thing for front buttoning designs, and her sample in linen just ticked all of my boxes. Despite the skirt featuring that most dreaded of features in my wardrobe—waist gathering. But I instantly purchased the pattern, and started going through fabrics I had on hand (and more importantly, in sufficient quantity) to give it a go. And I thought of this long-languishing border embroidery.
But no. On further inspection of the pattern, the gathering was limited to a tiny section at the side of the front. The skirt as a whole is A-line (which is great for me in general), with a very curved hem. Completely unsuitable for a border embroidery. Not to mention, the part where there was only two yards, and the pattern calls for a minimum of 3 1/4.
But, my brain couldn’t leave well enough alone. Especially once another piece of linen-type fabric turned up, a remnant from a shirt I made my husband once, of an almost identical colour, weight, and weave. Enough there to make the waistband/buttoned front piece, preserving all the precious embroidery for the skirt itself. Surely two yards is enough circumference for a skirt hem? Surely?
So I dove in.
The pattern calls for interfacing in the waistband segment, but nothing down the front where the buttonholes are. This seems suspect to me, so I wound up adding strips of knit interfacing down my button bands, while I used a beefy twill fused to armoweft for the waistband interfacing, and added little plastic boning stays in several places to support the raised waistband. It’s possible I went overboard, but I regret nothing. (Except that some of the bones are a tiny bit too long.)
The waistband and front button panel were all cut according to the pattern, but to make the border embroidery work went pretty far off road. Basically I took the front edge of the skirt pattern, with the curve where it gathers into the waistband, and put that along the cut edges of my fabric, while I used the length of the centre back pattern to get the right “height” at the back fold, and drew a line connecting the two. I think it might be slightly longer in the back, which accommodates booty? Anyway, I cut this and just extended the gaaa an athers all the way around, gathering my fabric to fit. And while I would love it if I had, oh, an extra yard of fullness for that skirt, it’s pretty darn fine just as it is.
I had meant to finish the edge of the border embroidery nicely and trim it around the scallops, but I wound up just folding it under and hemming instead. I think the more structural nature of the folded edge works better with the weight of the front button placket anyway. Or something.
The pattern calls for quite a deep hem, which is great, but it also has the same amount of hem at the bottom of the button placket, which just seems odd. I didn’t trim the excess away, but it does make the bottom of the placket/front panel a bit odd and bulky. We’ll call that vintage pattern oddities.
Anyway! It’s a skirt! It worked! It’s a garment which does challenge me on a few levels. I don’t usually care for anything gathered at my waist, ever. The length is a bit odd, too, although that weird midi length seems to be popular of late. Most notably, it doesn’t have pockets, which may be an issue if I ever try to wear this to work.
I don’t regret overengineering the waistband, and would (will) do it again, as I’d still really like to try a true-to-pattern version of this skirt. The design does put a lot of stress on that second buttonhole, and I’m tempted to add a hook and bar to support the waist there, with the buttons just keeping things closed. You do definitely want to be aware of where you want the pattern to sit and make sure your size works, as you don’t have a lot of room to futz with the button positioning without changing the look of the overlap at the top of the shaped waistband. That being said, I did find it true to size. Also, if you’re shortwaisted like me, it will look a lot different than on the drawing where there appears to be about 4” between the top of the waistband and the bust—for me, there is no such space, and depending on the look you want you might want to adjust for that.
Anyway, it’s made, and fun, and I am so happy to have finally used that fabric!