Walking in a winter walking skirt

A few years ago in my town, something began showing up among the stylish and hipster in the city: Uksi winter skirts. Now, how to dress for the Canadian winter (and in particular how to do so stylishly) is an ongoing and chronic problem, and I was intrigued by the idea—a wool wrap-around skirt you can throw on quickly to keep your legs warm. Like snow-pants, but faster and less annoying. But, I didn’t think they were something I needed, since I’ve been exclusively a long-coat-wearer since 1998 or so.

Then I made the Red Lace Coat, two years ago. Now this is also a long coat, but as I wore it last winter, I realized that while the thinsuate interlining and denser (if polyester) coating fabric make it significantly warmer than my grey coat, the slightly shorter and full-circle skirt made it significantly less warm around the legs. A tricky conundrum—potentially solved by a long, custom walking skirt.

Finally, in the last days of 2019, whilst procrastinating from another project, I decided to trial the concept. A look through my pattern database turned up three good candidates—I don’t have a lot of wrap skirt patterns since it’s not a style I favour usually. Of course it wouldn’t be hard to hack an ordinary skirt pattern, but less work is less work.

In the end I went with Simplicity 7497, for its narrow skirt, low fabric requirements and larger size (and the parts where one of the other patterns is MIA, very upsetting, and the other had been cut off at the knee length view).

Walking skirt, with bonus cat hair!

The larger size was a good call, since this is basically outerwear and needs more ease (I also didn’t overlap it quite as much as it technically should). I like the length, as well. However, I think a slightly fuller cut would have been a good idea—this one flaps open a bit more than ideal while walking. On the other hand, the wider it gets the less warm the skirt is.

the fabric is a polyester coating that I really don’t care for, but it’s essentially the same stuff as my Red Lace coat is made of, and I didn’t want to waste any of my precious wool on a project that might be a total waste of time.

I was originally planning to interline with flannel, but the only flannel I had enough of that I was prepared to sacrifice was one my daughter came in and dibsed for PJs while I was midway through ironing it. In the end I went with fabric from a rather ugly rayon bedsheet, which was almost as slithery as my evilly beautiful polyester lining (a remnant from a project a couple of years ago, where it also nearly killed me). This is the first time I’ve hand-basted underlining since my Very First Dress. (As in that case, it made some misery-inducing fabric almost easy to handle, so totally worth it two out of two times!)

Very large hanging loop, for throwing over hangers as necessary.

I tested it out, sans buttons, last Monday, which was the coldest day of the winter we’ve had so far. (It’s actually been a ridiculously warm winter in these parts.) And it seemed helpful, but tended to flap open a bit, so I’ve added a few more buttons. A better interlining would’ve been a good call, but if necessary I could go in and MacGyver something between the two layers. I’ve been saying the same thing about my grey coat for eight years, mind you.

All pictures lightened dangerously so you can see… anything.

I need to adjust the middle button, as the placement is off, causing that weird pulling.

Now if it will just stop melting long enough for me to test out its final form. Thanks, climate change.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Walking in a winter walking skirt

  1. Sox

    The Uksi winter skirt is not something I have seen here at all. I’m surprised it’s so short-the length you made yours, or a couple of inches shorter, makes much more sense.
    Your skirt turned out very nicely!

    • I guess they are targeting people who wear short jackets and tall boots! There are two lengths, but neither seem long enough to me. 😂 All the more reason to make my own.

  2. This is a great thing. STASHBUSTING for the win! Plus making it out of washable stuff will pay off once the snow starts getting tired and grimy.

    As for the Uksi, I have questions. Ok, I get tall boots as a windbreaking thing, but I assume one of the benefits of this skirt is it’s ability to corral the available heat. And the bigger the space, the more heat. But it is a great idea: like mittens vs gloves, one is prettier but one is going to keep you warmer. Well, TWO will keep you warmer…one is usually all that’s left.
    And yes, it will get cold again.

    • I think it’s not as efficient at keeping you warm as snow pants would be, because of the open bottom—however, it’s faster to put on and perhaps more stylish than snow pants 😂

  3. Brilliant idea. I wish I had thought of something like this when I was living in the Yukon and I had to dress like a grown up for work and temps got down to -40c regularly. I don’t get the short skirt though, it doesn’t make sense at all to me, your longer version is definitely better. How about an additional lining of fleece, between the outer fabric and the lining (you wouldn’t have to hem the fleece or do any seam finishing)? And/or putting the skirt on so the opening is at the back? That would perhaps reduce some of the heat loss as well??

    • I don’t get the short skirt in a world where long coats exist, but a bizarre percentage of people I know insist on wearing short coats. Weird. 😉 Yeah, fleece would be nice and easy to slip in…

  4. Bonnie @ www.sewplus.blogspot.com

    Great idea, even though I live in Florida and would probably never use it, I love the thought of your walking skirt to keep you warm. Happy New Year & Happy Sewing!

  5. I love this. Especially the longer length. I’ve never heard of a uksi skirt. Of course, there isn’t much of a need for one in the mid-Atlantic states of the US. I’ve lived here long enough to have become a wimp in the colder weather. I would have loved something like this when I lived in the upper mid-West. I hope you get some warm use out of it.

  6. SKP

    It looks both practical and dashing! Here in Alaska, quilted down skirts (aka sleeping bag skirts) are now popular. They close with separating zippers that are applied upside-down, starting from the waist and going to the hem, so you can unzip the bottom for more walking ease or close it for more protection. I’m in the process of making one out of an old down coat, wish me luck!

    • I thought something like this must exist northwards! Good luck! My mom has a down vest she made from a kit in the 80s but I’ve never asked her about how you managed the down. 😂

  7. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to wear long skirts. I actually own some from the late 90s (I know it sounds awful to go back there but they were really well-made by a store that used to have great tailoring and fabrics but now it’s really gone “cheap” even as the price hasn’t dropped. I think it’s that I’m not long-waisted or tall and it takes a kind of presence to wear that much fabric to frame, proportionately. But I’m reminded of the fuchsia boiled wool straight skirt, beautifully lined, mid-calf. Hmmm…

    • I love the drama of long skirts—but I’m tall (though not at all long-waisted) real talk: they’re not as warm as pants, at least layered loose pants, but they can be lots more fun. 😂

  8. Zena

    My winter kit (which is good to -40 or colder) involves a pair of heavy woollen trousers and a pair of sweatpants underneath. It’s great for walking about from, say, home to office, but when I’m going to or from a public place like a restaurant, the taking off pants thing is a real hassle as the boots need to come off too. I too have been thinking about an outerwear skirt.

    When I was in Iqaluit recently, I was told that there are a couple of people wearing what sounds a lot like the sleeping bag skirt described above, and specifically with the zippers controlling vents at the hem. (I was told they were 2-way zippers, but I don’t know if that’s actually true.)

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