I’ve been desperate for a good denim skirt for… ever, possibly. I can’t remember the last good denim skirt I had. There was the hideous one I made out of an old pair of jeans; the one that never fit quite right but I wore for 7 years anyways; the one that had a pair of shorts sewn in that made me feel so bulky and frumpy and old that I never wore it even though it was objectively far more flattering than the one I was trying to replace. I mean, I’ve come around to shorts (living in the Midwest wrangling children will do that to you), but not in my skirts. Just because I’m a middle-aged mother of children doesn’t mean I have to dress like one, right?*
This make fit the bill, but it has left me wondering if my denim skirt days are behind me. It feels like a throwback to my 20’s. That’s too far to throw back, folks. We’re talking turn of the century! Without realizing it I’ve been trying to fill a hole in my wardrobe that’s decades old and possibly irrelevant to me now. I may not want to dress like a middle-aged mom, but I don’t want to dress like I did in 2001, either. Let’s try to look grown up by wearing it with a blouse instead of a baby tee, shall we?
Pattern: Ginger Skirt by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Denim from Jo-Ann
I think it was the unconscious suspicion that this make was out of place and time that made me drag my feet every time I encountered a setback. First I had trouble with the zipper. The slider got hung up on the bulk of the lower waistband. It was months before I ripped it out to give it a little more wiggle room. Then I had trouble topstitching through all those layers of the waistband. This may seem like a single instance of a problem, but given how many times I sewed, ripped, and re-sewed I assure you it was numerous instances of the same problem with a broken needle and empty bobbin thrown in just to mix mishaps up a bit. I settled for imperfect. Good enough is good enough. By the time I was done I was d-o-n-e-DONE.
So, the fit. It’s an a-line skirt and I assumed fitting would be easy-peasy, but there’s something not quite right about the hip-to-waist ratio for me. In fact, tugging this supposed-to-be-high-waisted skirt down towards my hips so it lays better has made me realize that that’s exactly what I’ve done with every single a-line skirt I’ve ever owned. Note to future self: grading between sizes is a thing you need to do. Stop pretending you don’t.
*You don’t have to tell me that I already do; I know I do. It’s just built-in shorts under skirts is where I draw the line. Those and the elastic-waisted polyester pants Mom gave me. Those pants spent too long in my closet before I finally got rid of them whispering to me that someday I’ll be 60 and think they’re the bee’s knees. Shut up, elastic-waisted polyester pants! You’re not the boss of me.**
**I was wrong, I found those pants in my closet STILL. WHY.
I am really bad at stitching in the ditch. Really bad. I have no idea how anybody successfully achieves an even, invisible stitching line that does not wander with all the fabric you cannot see caught in the back, but not too much such that your elastic casing becomes too narrow for the elastic. Or, as is often the case, both, in alternating sequence on the same waistband.
I’ve learned a thing or two about coping and even more about avoidance so when I realized I could hand-sew waistlines and bias edging with far better results in not much more time than it was taking me to fix my mistakes all the while skirting (har har) the horrible feelings of frustration and inadequacy, well, that’s how I do it, now. The slow way. The in-front-of-the-TV way. The gee-I-thought-this-would-be-super-annoying-and-should-be-avoided-and-I’m-surprised-to-find-I-rather-like-it way.
I wrote all of that because I have not much to say otherwise about this skirt. It’s the same skirt and fabric as last time, different view and different color. View B-stands-for-Boring because it doesn’t have view A’s fabulous pockets in Boring Brown. We’re getting down to Basics here, folks.
The waistband really elevates this pattern. Even as basic as it is Hubs was surprised that it was something I had made and that’s 100% because the waistband looks complicated. It’s not – it’s just a wide elastic waistband sewing over a couple times. Which is great! It never cups or rolls and I find I really prefer the wider elastic to the narrower stuff. Unfortunately when I pulled this on this morning I realized that I hadn’t cut the elastic quite short enough. It’s driving me crazy and not as flattering as if it sat at my proper waist and to fix it I’m going to have to pick out all that stitching. So much for my quick summer-into-fall basic. Wah.
I’m hippy. I didn’t think big, wide pockets or a gathered elastic waist would work on me. I was seduced by the pockets on this pattern and decided I didn’t care and if I ended up with a loafing-around-the-house skirt then so be it. I’ve mostly eschewed elastic waistbands but it’s true what my mom has been saying all these years: they are comfy. And this pattern makes them cute, too! Unlike that pair of stretchy black old lady pants she gave me that one time.
The sage green fabric purchase was inspired by a pair of pants I adore but haven’t been able to wear since 2 kids and 10 pounds ago. Maybe just 1 kid and 5 pounds, I don’t know, suffice to say I held on to those pants that were making me feel bad long enough. Clearly I’m still psychologically holding on to them even after clearing them out of my closet.
Speaking of embracing elastic waistbands as a sign of aging, I see a lot of my aunts’ features in this photo of me. I see them in me more as I grow into the age I remember them as and the faces I remember them having from when I was young. Aging is a trip.
Back to the skirt: I LOVE IT. It’s fun to wear. It’s swishy. It’s comfortable. The pockets are the envy of any and all pocket-coveting skirt-wearer. A++. Now for some cropped shirts to wear with all these high elastic-waisted skirts and pants I’ve been making. Onward!
My friend told me that I have the most holiday cheer of anybody he knows. It was meant as a compliment (or good-natured teasing), but it made me feel misunderstood. Once October hits I get very busy. This is intentional. I do the things and I buy the things and I make the things. But to me it doesn’t feel like cheer. It feels like desperation. Not desperation to make all the things or do all the things or have a perfect holiday. It’s a coping mechanism. I keep busy while I feel like I’m heading towards a cliff I can’t see. I worry that I’ll careen off that cliff and I have to do as many things as I can before that happens. My avoidance masquerades as excitement. I let myself get lost in the trappings so I don’t have time to think about the spirit.
The confusion this creates is understandable. Look, for example, at the Christmas outfit I made this year. I’ve already talked lots about my new Christmas sweater, but I haven’t mentioned my new skirt.
Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.
Front looks the same as the back.
Back looks the same as the front
If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.
It’s more a costume than an outfit. You know how faking a smile will improve your mood? This is that in clothing form. But I’ll tell you a secret: there are moments when I wonder if my friend might be right. It may be that I do have a lot of holiday cheer. I tell myself that I’m faking it but maybe it’s that I’m finally letting that cheer assert itself a little. This year maybe there’s room for all the feelings the holiday brings.
My first skirt! If you don’t count the abominations my girl scout troop collectively made in 4th grade. We all wore those shapeless sacks to school on the same day and I wish I hadn’t gone along with the idea because that skirt was so ugly and I was so embarrassed and uncomfortable.
Let the healing from that indignation begin by reveling in our own autonomy. Nearly 30 years later I’ve made a skirt whose fabric and pattern I selected myself with much more positive results.
This is my first time working with a border fabric. They’re so pretty. I wasn’t sure, though, what to do about the hem. I didn’t want to lose any of the border, but it seemed weird to not hem at all. A cursory google search revealed no quick or obvious solution so I cut the pieces out less the 2″ hem and decided I would deal with a hem later if it needed one for weight or wear by adding and folding over a(nother) border.
Not hemming meant having to find a way to deal with side seam selvages that would usually be encased therein. Mitered flat-felled seams seemed to do well enough.
I would have preferred solid eggplant pockets, but I didn’t have enough fabric. They’re fine with some pattern peeking out.
It still feels weird to not hem. My 4th grade girl scout troop leader would be appalled.