ukiyo-e skirt

Digging into the sewing archives with today’s post. I made this one in June 2009.

The fabric

I love this fabric and have never seen anything like it before or since. It’s indigo printed on white cotton, and the images in the little medallions are from Japanese ukiyo-e prints. (At least I assume they are. I do recognize “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, at least.)

Ukiyo-e print. Apologies for the lack of focus.

I bought 2m of the stuff from the bargain section of the local chain fabric store when I went looking for a cool print with which to make pyjama bottoms for a sleepover-themed house party. (You wouldn’t want to see me in what I usually wear to bed; the fantasy is much more attractive than the reality.) This fabric is basically quilting cotton. A day or two after I bought it I decided I wanted more, but it had sold out by that time. I wasn’t too happy with the resultant pyjama bottoms so after the party I relegated them back into the stash.

Thus when I started out on this (pre-blog) skirt project, I didn’t have a lot of fabric, and some of what I did have was already in pieces.

The design

I started out with the basic idea of a flaring knee-length skirt that I could wear as “real clothes” as opposed to some kind of costume, which was the vast majority of what I was making prior. A circle skirt was a possibility but I quickly decided that I wanted to work with rectangles and pleats more than I wanted to cut arcs and worry about grainlines. Having made a few full-length tiered skirts for dance, I had a brainwave to simply make a shorter skirt using the same basic design elements: pleats,  rectangles, a yoke.

This skirt is essentially one “tier” plus the yoke, with the fullness controlled using box pleats.

I basically built up and down from the horizontal hip seam. Because I didn’t have much fabric, I rotated it 90° (lengthwise grain – ordinarily vertical – is now horizontal) to make best use of what I had. I put selvages at the hip seam (on both the yoke and the “tier”) to avoid the necessity of seam finishing there.

Yoke seam of ukiyo-e skirt, with box pleats below. Hard to make out with this print.

The yoke is a cylinder just big enough to get on over my hips, with the one (French) seam at the right side. I scavenged part of a pant leg for this piece.

The “tier” is a rectangle: I took the remaining uncut fabric (about 1.2m long and 115cm wide), cut it in half lengthwise, and French seamed the pieces together to make one long, narrow piece with the selvage all on one side. It was quite long; when I hemmed it to knee-length, I folded up all the excess fabric into a fairly deep hem (2 1/8″/5.5 cm). This had the effect of giving the hem good weight and, because the hem was doubled, a little extra body.

The last step was to mark the waist and make a casing. I used the drawstring I had originally made for the pyjama bottoms.

ukiyo-e skirt

The results

Having grown up tomboyish and riding bikes, I’ve never really been into skirts. Nonetheless, I quite like how this one turned out. I’ve worn it numerous times and I’m happy to say it goes with pretty much all of my dressy shoes. It’s also machine washable and super comfy – I can sit cross-legged in it, which is a necessity if I’m going to wear it to work. Most versatile. (Well, as versatile as an ukiyo-e print can be. Can’t say I’ve seen a lot of this stuff on the street.) The only possible drawback is that it has to be quite warm out before I can wear it without feeling too cool!

Skirt, in front of "borrowed scenery".

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About Zena

I sew sometimes.
This entry was posted in stash, wearable and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ukiyo-e skirt

  1. Big in Japan says:

    I love ukiyo-e and I love your skirt too! Definitely one-of-a-kind.

  2. Pingback: navy pleated skirt | Blood, Sweatshop & Tears

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