Tag Archives: plaid

Genealogy circle skirt of awesome tartan

tartan 9Apologies in advance as this is going to be picture heavy.  It deserves to be you see because this is possibly the MOST EXPENSIVE fabric I have ever sewn.  Or very close to my Harris Tweeds at any rate.  And once again this is as a result of my Dad’s tremendous generosity & love of quality.  Yes, he has struck again & for my last birthday in February, after checking with me & finding how much I wanted, my Dad bought me a length of proper Scottish 10oz wool tartan.  But not just any wool tartan, this tartan, as you have probably guessed from the title has family connections.  This is the Kincaid clan tartan, which relates to my great great great grandma, Jessey Kincaid, born in 1807, dying just 30 years later.


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My Dad had actually asked me if I wanted some tartan (to make a kilt perhaps!) after the adventures on last seasons Great British Sewing Bee.  I politely declined, not really seeing that the cost of this type of fabric would be justified in the amount of wear I would get out of a kilt.  But then half a year or so later, he must have thought of it again & found some Kincaid tartan on the Scotland shop.  Sending me the link, I was able to check it out, make sure it wasn’t lilac (or other colours I really wouldn’t wear) & then do some visioning.  The good news was that it was a tartan that I really liked & that would be compatible with my usual colours & style.  But knowing that I would never make tartan trousers or anything that involved too much check matching, I was thinking along the skirt route.  Did I really want to repeat the lovely Harris Tweed pencil skirt?  It was an option.  However, having rediscovered circle skirts back in January, I started looking up inspiration.  Lauren’s plaid circle skirt was all the convincing I needed, & I sent the link off to my sewing Guru mother for her opinion, having also calculated the yardage required using the By Hand circle skirt calculator app.


tartan 1

We had a bit of an email debate about weight of the fabric & how it would hang… & I did not want to rush into the decision because this was expensive fabric & I wanted to get it right.  In the end though, I needed 1.5m for the full circle skirt which would give me plenty for a different kind of skirt should the fabric arrive & not be suitable.  The website did have plenty of information about the different weights of tartan though & what they can be used for, so I felt reasonably confident.

My Dad conjured up delivery on the day arrived last time I visited.  I think we were all really excited.


I was determined to make this skirt for wearing this season, not to let it linger, so I got stuck in last month.


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This precious fabric needed as good a finish as I could muster.  But I needed not to be scared of it.  I used the skirt pattern from the Sew Over It Betty dress (slightly adapted to give me a quarter piece), placing it on carefully folded fabric, using the vertical & horizontal lines as right angles to then flip the quarter over to cut the mirror image, thereby cutting a complete circle.  I had cut a separate circle according to the waist curve I wanted to cut out.tartan circle skirt

Unlike the knit circle skirt I made, this skirt needed a zip & despite being cut out as a whole circle with a hole in the centre for my waist (slightly smaller than my actual waist measurement to allow for some natural stretching along the bias) I did need to cut a single vertical seam- a centre back seam, so that I could add a zip. (I also stay stitched the waist seam).

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I finished the edges of this freshly cut vertical seam with bias binding, kind of Hong Kong seam, before inserting the zip, that way the edges are all finished neatly & in the same way.

Sewing a lapped zipper felt authentic & more easy to control pattern matching than using an invisible zip.  I think it might be a millimetre out in certain parts which is irritating, but not visible in usual wear.

I used waistband Vilene to create a nice neat crisp waistband.  I do love this stuff & always use it for skirts with waistbands.

I left the skirt to hang on my tailors dummy, Barbarella for the best part if  week I think.  I recognised that once I set the hem, I would need to devote enough time to actually sew it….there would be a lot to hem !  Once I had marked the hem I used my overlocker to cut & finish the new finished edge in one pass.  That way the wool fabric wouldn’t fray as I was working with it around the hem.  I liked keeping it under control!

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You can probably imagine that sewing a round hem would bring all sorts of challenges, not only the distance.  Early on I decided that the best way for me to sew the hem would be with a bias hem, attaching bias binding by machine, right sides together, then turning the bias binding to the inside then hand sewing this as the hem.  And this would also look neat with the honk Kong finish on the centre back seam.  Of course I chose satin bias binding for something a bit swish!  I bought far too much because I couldn’t be bothered to test my maths out …I should have exercised the grey cells though, shouldn’t I?

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I am not saying it took a long time to hand sew the hem, but two beers & two episodes of Game of Thrones later, it was done.  And I am pleased with the result.  The bias binding was easy to manipulate around the curved edge & I think I can get away with such a shallow hem because the fabric is heavy enough.

Now initially I had thought I would line it.  But after a while I realised that even if I line it, I would still wear it with a full slip because a wool waistband is too itchy not to.  And so I didn’t line it.


tartan circle skirt

It really has a feel of luxury to it – the volumes of beautiful wool….

I think that because this fabric is so very expensive and makes this skirt the most expensive skirt item of clothing I have, I want it not to be hanging idle & reserved for special occasions, but something that can be worn out & about in every day life.

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And I have now rejoiced in wearing it on a blustery Spring day.  It felt so good.  I had lots of swish, but it was not toooo flashy for lunch with friends  & for an evening meal in a local country pub.  It looks cute with heels, but in everyday life I wear it with my boots this time of the year.tartan 12

I love this skirt & that it has family history behind it.  ANd this makes it even more special as it combines my passion for sewing with my Dad’s interest in tracing our family history.  He’s done decades of work on it & I am expecting this skirt to give me decades of pleasure (or is that a little optimistic?  Better keep the moths away & keep the running going!!!)

Outfit notes.  Also appearing with my tartan circle skirt are my Fleece Renfrew top and a new essential black SoZo Dolores batwing top (as yet unblogged).

what do you reckon to a bit of everyday luxury or would you keep it for specials?

Miette skirt of fabulousness

So happy new year one & all! No I have not fallen off the face of the earth at all, but was in danger of doing so -I was in desperate need of a break from all things over Christmas which means I have absolutely loads to catch up on now that I have had loads of good family fun, friend fixes & sleeeeep! I feel rested & fresh for the joys of 2015.

I do plan to write my mini review of achievements and goals for 2015, but do not have all the facts to hand & as I am dying to get blogging again, and have been very tardy blogging a lot of my 2014 makes, I will dally no longer and show you something groovy.

miette skirt

I’d been inspired by this version of Tilly’s Miette skirt, and so when venturing out into Goldhawk Road recently with the ever  wonderful Jane, had some checked/ tartan fabric on my shopping list.

miette skirt

By the time I had satisfied many of the other things on my shopping list (I had put lots of planning into this pilgrimage to Goldhawk Road, as you do) I was extremely pleased to discover a fetching collection of plaids in one of the last shops we visited.  Don’t ask me which shop I purchased this from, but I also purchased some navy viscose with amazing drape to make a 1940s tea dress  ( a snip at £2 per metre).  Anyway, this fabric is some kind of nice polyester mix suiting and I was instantly drawn to the colours: magenta and bottle green. The decision was easy, and I think this fabric was about £7 per metre. I bought two metres, planning to make a Miette skirt with a wrap but not ties. The ties can take up quite a lot of fabric, and in the winter, I felt that this skirt will be layered upon & so ties and bows would become squashed/ lumpy/ compromised (despite my original inspiration rocking ties big time).

miette skirt

It was important think about pattern and matching when I was cutting it out, so I cut each piece individually, laying out cut pieces against its pair to work out how the pattern would align. the Miette skirt has some cool chevron opportunities with diagonal centre front seaming. This check is a rectangular check, like many , and as a result you are never going to get each row forming perfect chevrons, but I did manage to conjure it up so that the green ones match.

Miette skirt

I wanted to experiment with the direction of the pattern on the pockets so also played around on position of grainlines as they would look on the cut out skirt pieces before deciding on how to cut them out. The pockets I also cut out individually to make sure they matched as a pair. The top of the pockets therefore are almost cut on the bias, and I considered adding a line of interfacing to stabilise the seamline here, but didn’t actually in the end, and it is OK as it the fabric is reasonably robust and not that drapey.

miette skirt

Out of sheer laziness I made the waistband half the width it comes up in the pattern. This was because I wanted to use that wonderful waistband vilene and it just happened to be this width.  All the foldlines and seamlines are incorporated into the vilene & it was just easier to go with that as it gives such a nice finish.  Due to the mechanics of making the wrap & tie waistband, the pattern is drafted with a six piece waistband – three pieces for the waistband front with three pieces for the waistband facing.  This is what the skirt looks like if you make the waistband by using only three pieces folded in half & omitting the facings.  (Apols if I have just lost you there in some waistband piecing vortex!  But you never know, someone might appreciate it!!)

miette skirtMaking the Miette skirt up is a quick sew. Very satisfying. It was a Boxing Day make.

miette skirt

I think making it without the ties saves a lot of time too, as I can remember they are very long pieces to turn the right way around.  I discovered these gorgeous vintage buttons in my button stash & made two buttonholes – both on the outside as i want to show them both off as a feature.

miette skirt

I’ve been wearing it a lot since. It’s a perfect winter skirt with tights and boots.  The first time I made it, I described it as “cute meeting utility” & have to say that I am almost taking the pockets for granted this time.  What this skirt does for me this time is to make me feel girly yet warm, which is often a challenge in the winter when you feel the cold like I do – trousers are often my first resort as I think they will be warmer.  It is so lovely to have a cosy swishy skirt to wear.

miette skirt

All I need to take me into deeper winter are some thermal tights ….M&S will be getting a visit 🙂

Glad to be back blogging again – I will probably be appearing a bit more frequently as I catch up on some of the things I have been doing over December (& possibly even November! yikes)

Happy New Year everyone – hope it’s filled with sewing, fun & friendship x