Nel Nan and Nora’s High Waisted Skirt

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Do you have a default colour for clothes? Mine is definitely blue. Apart from a handful of colourful dresses and tops, it definitely dominates my wardrobe, with splashes of green here and there. This does make getting dressed much easier in a morning – usually in a hurry before the school run – because pretty much anything can be combined with anything else!

So yes, it’s a blue skirt that I’ve been working on this week. I enjoyed looking through the Simple Sew patterns to see what I hadn’t already made and what would fit well in my wardrobe, then chose this and next month’s pattern to fill a couple of gaps.

The fabrics are both from local shops: blue Italian wool suiting from Fletcher’s Fabrics in Leeds Markets and washable silk lining from The Shuttle in Shipley (Bradford). We’re very fortunate to have some excellent sources of dressmaking fabrics in this area, many of which are ex designer or high street, but often rather mysterious both in terms of source and fibre content! Fortunately with these two, I knew exactly what I was buying.

I won’t run through the construction in great detail as the instructions are clear for this skirt. The only unusual detail is the pleated panel in the back, which came together very easily. I don’t have a seam clapper (wooden aid to pressing wool fabrics) but improvised with a spare bed slat to help press the pleats and seam in place!


Once this part is done, the rest of the skirt comes together very quickly. I interfaced the waistband with tailoring interfacing from Sew Over It, which was left over from coat making. It is soft and bonds well to wool fabrics but gives just the right amount of structure.

The most significant change that I made to the skirt was to add a partial lining. I chose to use the length of the upper back panel as a guide, so I cut two back skirt pieces from lining fabric and folded the front pattern piece to the same length and cut that accordingly. I then constructed the lining in the same way as the rest of the skirt, with the darts, side seams and back seam, and overlocked the lower edge with a 3 thread narrow stitch (which I may alter in future to a neater rolled hem).

I’m 5’4” (162cm) and like my skirts to fall over the knee but not too far down my calves, so

I shortened the skirt and lining by 2cm overall by folding a 1cm pleat in the front and back pattern pieces just above the lower notches.

Once the main facing, skirt and lining had been constructed, I sandwiched the facing between the skirt and lining and stitched them together, understitched along the facing, then inserted an invisible zip, using a roller zip foot and quilting clips.

Rather than machine stitch the facing edges in place, I chose to slip stitch them by hand – which I find gives me more control – and then tried the skirt on. As I suspected (as this often happens with skirt and trouser patterns) there was too much space at the hips, where I do not curve out much at the sides.  I marked the upper and lower limits with pins, straightened out the side seams where there was too much curvature, unpicked the original stitching line and pressed the seams open again, using a tailor’s ham to help press around the curves.

Finally, I stitched the hem by hand and gave the skirt a thorough press. I’m really happy with the fit and love the pleated detail!

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