garment bags, round 2: for long, full skirts

I have two very full, ankle-length tiered skirts for dance. In my current group, black is verboten, so my black skirt gets very little use and has been starting literally to collect dust. My red skirt gets used regularly, but that still means a maximum of about once a month. I rarely wash them: I always have an under layer, which keeps the skirt away from skin; they’re linen and washing changes the finish; and they’re rather a bother to dry (definitely not going in the dryer!). Also, packing them in my trunk with my other (cotton) costume skirts would leave me with a wrinkled mess.

A garment bag like the ones I made recently (edges straight down from the ends of the hanger) wouldn’t work because of the fullness at the bottom of the skirt. They’re both 12m around the hem. I wanted the minimum of fabric around the hanger, but I needed more at the bottom so as not to squash the hem. I measured loosely around the hem of the skirt as it hangs on the hanger and came up with a measurement of roughly 45″/115cm. Around the top of the hanger plus a bit of ease worked out to 30″/76cm.

How then should I go about widening from 30″ to 45″? I took inspiration from my own skirts. I did a yoke piece with the smaller measurement and sewed on the bottom piece, controlling the (limited) fullness with pleats. Although I used knife pleats in these skirts, my non-costume skirts use inverted box pleats. I pinned the pieces and found that the fullness was easily controlled by a single set of inverted box pleats.


The length of the bag was again dictated by the width of the fabric. I put one selvage at the hem. Because of the yoke piece, I had a choice of whether to put the other selvage at the top edge or the yoke seam. I chose the latter, then used the selvage to self-bind the yoke seam.


stash -2.3 m

purple floral skirt

This is version 4 of my pleated skirt design. Another quilting cotton print what was I had in mind before I made the navy one, but quilting cotton wasn’t in the stash and navy linen-cotton was. See how far that got me.

I can’t remember when I last deliberately shopped for “fashion fabric”. My usual MO is deliberate shopping for notions and serendipitous fabric finds in the store (usually in the bargain section, but sometimes merely slightly reduced). These days I’m making every effort to shop the stash first.

The store I went to has a good selection of quilting cotton, but after scoping out every bolt, I only found one in a colour that would suit me and with a print that I liked. I was in a crappy mood by this time, which impairs my decision-making ability, but I did come home with a piece of fabric. The good news is that I like it even more now.

As usual, I’ve stopped at “wearable” before getting all the way to “finished”. I’ve roughed in the waist casing so the skirt is a touch shorter than the others. Also, I’ve been finding that where the waistline wants to sit is sometimes different than where I intend for it to be, so I’m paying a little more attention to that this time.

My wardrobe is red and black heavy and I’ve come to the conclusion that these colours are not the most flattering on me. It’s nice to introduce a new colour, especially one that’s better suited to my colouring. When I eventually get around to making tops in better colours, then they’ll probably match the skirt nicely. It seems to work well with most of the tops I currently have, which is a bit of a relief.

I put in a side-seam pocket, this time straddling the yoke seam and with the pocket top caught in the waist casing. The construction worked OK but it gapes a bit, revealing the black broadcloth I used for the pocket. I may revise this in future, but it’s good enough for the moment.

I still like this skirt design, I’ve got another in planning stages, and will almost certainly make more in the future. This is kind of funny because I’ve never been a skirt person. I think that when I was a kid and riding my bike everywhere, I removed skirts from the list of clothing options mostly for practical reasons. When I got into historical costuming during university, I discovered that I was really resistant to skirts and dresses: they made me feel deeply uncomfortable. Maybe just too far out of my comfort zone at that moment, because I’ve had similar experiences with certain office wear.

Have you ever excluded an entire category of clothing from your wardrobe? Was it a comfort and mobility thing, or the failure of RTW to fit your particular body type, or something else entirely?

gold silk pantaloons

I got something finished, woo! The colour and texture of this fabric makes me think of flattened Ferrero Rocher wrappers.

gold silk pantaloons

These pantaloons are for tribal bellydance. We generally wear ‘loons under skirts, but I’m not sure I want to hide them.

They’re based on rectangular construction. The only curved seam (such as it is) is the waistband. There’s a self drawstring. The legs are full selvage-to-selvage widths, with the selvages running vertically and knife pleated to a somewhat fitted yoke, shaped using a diamond-shaped crotch gusset. The bottom of the leg is pleated to an inch-wide band. Because the pant leg was so wide and the band so narrow, it was a little difficult to get the pleats on the bottom clean and even – but as you can see, that’s not likely to be an issue. French seams throughout. I like to finish all raw edges anyway, but with this fabric it’s essential as it frays like mad.

I start teaching a 4-week dance class tomorrow, and part of my justification for making these pantaloons was that I could wear them for the class. But then it occurred to me that I’ll be sweating in them. Hmm. You’ll have to wait and see whether preening vanity wins out over practicality.

As for the stripy trousers, they’re on hold for the moment. I inserted the petersham waist facing, which then made the pants look like they didn’t fit again. My current theory is that this is due to a disagreement between the stretch of the fabric and the non-stretch of the petersham.

red linen skirt progress

I’m pleased to report that the red linen skirt project is proceeding nicely.

I last made one in 2008, and I seem to recall thinking at that time that I wouldn’t want to make more than one per year because of the labour involved. I doubt it’s gotten any easier in the interim, but somehow it seems like much less of a chore this time around.

Perhaps that’s because I spent as much time dicking around with the fit on a couple of recent and theoretically straightforward projects (the purple trousers, and an earlier iteration of that same project) as it takes to construct a whole pleated skirt.

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