As I’ve mentioned before, the majority of my sewing hardware has come from my Nana. My sewing machine is her 1968 Bernina Record, I use her shears, her needles and thread, and her sewing box full of odds and ends lives in my sewing space. Sometimes I feel quite sentimental about the whole lot (and this is one of those times). I’m not sure when I aquired this woolen skirt of Nana’s, but its been in my drawer for ages. It was always too big, but it was made from some lovely tartan wool so I kept it.
This is the original A line skirt. It had a side lapped zipper and a hook and eye, four darts in the front and two at the back, and had a facing instead of a waistband. It was also fully lined, and had a blind machine hem. The wool is Ross hunting tartan (Nana’s married name was Ross, and she’s a Scot), and was apparently purchased by a friend of Nana’s when she was in Edinburgh and brought back to NZ for her. I really wanted to remake the skirt into something for me, because the fabric is lovely and I like the connection it has with Nana. So I unpicked the facing and the darts and all the seams, and rescued the zip, and chucked the whole lot in the washing machine (on a cold delecate cycle with wool detergent, don’t fret!) to get rid of its musty wool smell and to try and relax the old seam lines. Then I gave it a good steam, and sat down to cut out a By Hand London Charlotte Skirt.
Cutting out took me hours! I was determined to match the tartan across all the seams and the waistband, and I had so little fabric to work with that I found it quite stressful. And I’ve just realised that I didn’t get any pictures of the side seams, so you’ll just need to take my word for it that they all match up… I ruled lines across my pattern pieces to make sure they’d match. Just as well its a PDF, I made such a mess of it!
You can barely see the cente back seam though, so I’m pretty chuffed with it. I had to piece the waistband, as there wasn’t enough fabric in the original skirt to cut it in one piece. I ended up folding the pattern piece into three, so that the joins would match up with the side seams. It all worked pretty well, I think! I do wish I had included a back vent, because its quite narrow at the knees, but I didn’t even have enough fabric for that. I decided matching the tartan was more important than being able to take the stairs two at a time.
This is my first ever lapped zipper! I hand picked the lapped side, which I think looks really nice. The hand stitches just sink into the wool and become pretty much invisible. The button came from the amazing collection that I was given by my friend Kelly a few weeks ago, which had belonged to her Grandmother, so its definitely a skirt made of vintage materials.
I reused the original lining by cutting out the skirt pieces again, but I turned the darts into pleats to allow for slightly more movement of the lining. The original lining was hemmed with a three stitich zig-zag, which was such a pain to unpick! I wanted to do the same for the new hem, but I must have selected the wrong stitch and ended up with the blind hem stitch. Which isn’t blind, because I don’t have the right presser foot, so it looks a bit odd! But its the lining, so nobody will care.
I really wanted to use the same techniques on my skirt that were used on the original, so there is a lot more hand sewing on this skirt than I would normally use. Aside from the zip, the hem and the inner waistband are both hand sewn. I finished the seams with a zig-zag stitch, which I would never normally do anyway, but especially not on fray-prone wool like this! But thats how the original was done, and it seemed to last well enough, so we’ll see. The hem is finished with some green vintage bias tape which I had in my stash, as it was going to be too short if I turned it up twice and stitched it down.
Here are some closeups of the innards. I really enjoyed taking my time over this skirt, I even enjoyed the hand sewing!
I’m really pleased with the fit of the skirt too, for the most part. The only bit that concerns me is that there appears to be some excess fabric pooling across the centre front between the points of the darts. Its something I noticed on my Brume skirts as well, so I might need to look up some pattern adjustments to see what I can do to reduce it for next time…
I wore it with my Nettie Bodysuit, which was a good choice. Usually when I wear pencil skirts I do up the waitband over my top, then pull the hem up to my waist and smooth everything out before I pull it back down, but the hem of this skirt is too tight to do that! Nettie means that I don’t have to worry about wrinkly tops making funny bulges under my skirt.