Where I Aim to Redeem Myself

comments: 125

Oh, people, you make me laugh. I think the comments on yesterday's post were the funniest things I have read in I don't even know how long. Oh that was funny. Action — or even alteration — by consensus doesn't seem like it will be an option here: "Cut off the sleeves!" "Don't cut off the sleeves!" "Gather it!" "Do NOT gather it!" "Cut it off!" "Wear a belt!" "NEVER EVER WEAR THAT."

Oh, man. It was like being back in the fiction writing workshop (but much, much funnier and without cigarettes). I think my favorite suggestion was to keep the "dress" and just look at it before going to the fabric store next time. I think I might do that, but I'll let you know. . . . Still giggling.

Now. Let's move on. Here is my Clafoutis Wrap Skirt. I'm very happy with it, so if you think it is hideous, do not tell me.


Cute! The wrap skirt is an awesome invention. I have several and I love them. I wanted to make a few that were A) reversable, B) didn't have a tie at the waist, because I don't like the way that looks under a shirt if you're wearing your shirt untucked, and C) just fun and colorful.

To make a pattern, I used an old wrap skirt from Boden that fits me just the way I like. But then, just because I wanted to see if the pattern would match the formula, I pulled out my copy of Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics by Francesca DenHartog and did some calculations based on the book's instructions for the Breezy Beach Wrap (without the ties). And it matched almost exactly (mine had a curvier waist, which gives you a bit more flair). The book is really cool. Filled with simple instructions for designing customized patterns for just about every kind of basic skirt, it's got lots of great information for both beginning and experienced sewers. Once you've taken your measurements, the book makes it easy to draft all sorts of waistlines, amounts of flair, styles, and various lengths, and then you can just have fun choosing fabrics.

For a wrap skirt, you have three pieces — a back and two sides/fronts cut with extended front panels that overlap. I made my overlap a bit more extended than suggested because I didn't want to worry about the skirt opening in a high wind or when I sat down — so instead of extending each front piece by six inches past center, I went with seven. My dress form is both broken and smaller than I am, so the buttons are more in front on me. To make the skirt reversable, I made two identical skirts, one for the "front" (which is actually blue, not black) and one for the "lining." I cut the waists and the hems of the pattern to fit exactly, with no seam allowances. (I used about 2 1/2 yards of fabric for each — that's probably a generous estimate, but I don't mind having leftover calico around; the amount of fabric you need will depend on your size. Bring your pattern pieces with you to the fabric store if you don't want to buy too much.) Then you just place the wrong sides together, pin, baste the edges, and finish with about 5 1/2 to 6 yards of 1" double-fold bias binding (get a little extra and make a pocket). Add two buttonholes on the front panel, add two buttons to the underlapping front panel, and voila: skirt. To reverse it, I just turned it inside out, buttoned it on the inside, and added two decorative buttons to the reversed front panel. These don't do any work (the functional buttons are on the inside, now), but they just sit there and look cute.


What I like about lining the skirt is that it is heavy. It feels very substantial when you put it on, and I personally really like that in a skirt, especially an A-line, because it makes it hang properly and keep its nice flair, without allowing the flair to all fall back in on itself. That's just me. I like to feel my skirts when I'm wearing them.

Before basting the pieces together or attaching the binding, however, I would absolutely allow the skirt to hang (baste it across the waist, first) overnight. This way it can relax and you have a better chance at making sure, once you've put the binding on, that the panels truly match up. Trim them if they don't. I didn't do that because I was too impatient, and the navy blue side of this skirt is a teeny bit longer than the yellow side, so you can see how it sort of billows on the left (in the top photo)? It doesn't take much for it to billow a bit. I pre-washed and dried all of this fabric, so we'll see what happens when it is washed again, whether it gets better or worse. Pre-washing and drying would be imperative if you are going to bind the skirt. Otherwise, things will shrink a bit at different rates, and get very puckered and wonky.


Here it doesn't matter so much, since the patches are all wonky on their own already. This one I call Country-Club Mom. It's patchworked Madras plaid (already patchworked when purchased) and the lining is nothing special, just more homespun check, so I didn't make this reversable, but it could be. The pocket is gathered at the top with a little bit of elastic. I like pockets on my skirts. I like running out of the house with a key, a driver's license, and a ten-dollar bill tucked in there. That's my little Lulu Guinness cherry-topped straw bag in the background which I've had for years and years but I don't think I've ever actually taken out of the house. I should, though. It's cute.

These are inexpensive to make (especially if you make your own binding and use buttons from your stash, though I was hard-pressed to find pairs of buttons that matched in mine — I have about four hundred non-matching buttons) and they don't take long at all — the binding takes the longest, and you could always skip that entirely if you just added seam allowances and stitched the pieces right sides together, and turned the whole thing. Though I like the outline of the binding myself. Anyway. So that's it. No squirrels in sight, right? Unless they're on the golf course. Wait, those are gophers.


I didn't post yesterday. My mamma always taught me, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Since I see that you took the negative comments of others about your dress in good humor, I feel safe in saying that now. ;-)

As to the wrap skirts, wear them all proudly. They are ADORABLE! I have no waist (in that I go out instead of in), but if I did, I'd live in those things. I love the fabrics and colors you chose. They really are just the very cutest! :-)

I love them! They must be flattering: A-line skirts always are. Great choice of fabrics! :)

Why is it that I loathed madras as a child and it was everywhere and now that I've reconciled with it I can't find it anywhere? Sigh.

I think I will have to make my own skirts this summer. The skirts available in stores now are much more suitable to be belts.

I love the wrap skirts! They are so pretty and I will be copying them in the near future.

Today I am wearing an A-line skirt that I made from the Sew What! Skirts book. What a great book.

Oh! These are adorable! You are totally redeemed!

In fact... the total cuteness of *these* skirts makes me wonder if you reeeally made yesterday's Lumberjack Dress or if you found it at the thrift store and posted it here just to see what we would say.

The madras plaid is divine -- great work!

make a creamy cord / flannel lined wrap skirt that will go with the shirt you need to make out of that Daniel Boone nightgown from the last post

Super cute! Love all the photos with the purse and the tiny view beyond and of course you!

Those are so very pretty!

These are adorable!

I still like the dress from yesterday though. Just think of the money you would save in gas when you traded in your car for a wagon! Oh and all of the bonnets that you could make...

Oh So Nice! Thanks for sharing your methods and insight as well.

Oh no! Didn't mean to say mean things yesterday- I just started sewing a few things for myself, and think it's fun to look at clothing and see if it could be anything else. Love the skirts today- I need to learn how to make bias tape :)

Total Redemption!!! Girl, the skirts have it goin' on. Perfect in every sense of the word. This is on my oh so long to-do list. Hmmm, now if I could only sneak that bag away from you.

Oh, these are much better. Much. The madras is adorable. I have that book and I look at it constantly. It's so well written. Of course, I haven't made anything from it yet. But I'm going to steer clear of daniel boonesque plaids when I get to the store. xoxo

I've had the skirt book out on my table for a week now, making calculations and sketches and scratches but not actually sewing anything yet. I'm glad you showed your wrap - the reversible/lining feature solves my problem of liking something more substantial in a skirt so as to obscure excess curviness here and there. Awesome!!!

These skirts are wonderful, and very inspiring, make me want to go sew some for myself, since your clear directions make it sound so doable! I recently found your blog, and now want to go back and read everything you've written...

Very cute! I need to make one of those for myself.

I do think I would go with adding seam allowances & flipping the whole thing, just because I am more comfortable with that method, and you could easily add a cute ruffle around the bottom (and maybe down the front side) that way.

Your skirts are simply wonderful. I just love the ease and casualness of a wrap skirt. And bless you for being such a good sport about the comments yesterday. We are an opinionated lot, aren't we?!

Yep, you're totally redeemed. :) I can't tell you how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE these skirts. I'm crazy about that madras patchwork one. Now you need a BIG wood-paneled station-wagon and toe-ring sandals and you're all set.

So frickin' cute.

maryellen says: June 24, 2008 at 09:53 AM

Wow. I love these. My mom and I both had a zillion of these in the 70s, but with the annoying string tie. We wore them with scoop-neck short-sleeved tees and macrame necklaces (like everyone else!).

I am lucky to live near Francesca's shop "Valley Fabrics" in Northampton, Mass., and I'll tell you that she is as nice and as helpful as can be. There is some truly mind-blowing quilting going on in that shop!

Well I think its just darling. You are very colorful and how great is that!!! You should model for us though.

Skirt #3, would you please marry me?!

Perfect timing! Thank you so much for the skirt tips. I can quilt in my sleep but this clothes making thing is new to me. I've purchased some great books and am making my first skirt. That little purse is too cute. And you have the exact same old doors and heater vents as my little cottage! Love old houses. x

You are redeemed. These are gorgeous! Enough to make me consider sewing my own clothes. Funny, I knit, crochet, quilt even, but the idea of making clothes freaks me out a little. Thanks for the inspiration!

Lovely - now I feel like I should revisit my sewing nightmares and try for redemption myself

Thank you for this post! I've had two skirts sitting on my sewing table in varied states of completion and you helped me identify why I'm so unhappy with them. It's the weight! I'll have to fiddle around with them and see if I can put in a lining to give them some heft. After that, I'm definitely trying out one of these wraps!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.