Sweet and Honourable skirt

Here we continue in the ‘more skirts, bigger skirts’ theme with some sateen from Spotlight. I bought this intending to make another gertie skirt but then I wondered if perhaps two was enough. After my Lennox skirt I kept thinking of Jo’s wool circle skirts – I love the way hers fall and of course mine don’t hang like that, as my torso has a larger circumference.


I figured to get that I’d have to have more degrees in my ‘circle’ so one night I traced off the pav skirt and slashed and spread it as wide as would fit on my the last piece of tracing interfacing I had left – a very arbitrary measurement.


I probably could have made it a full 90° but then I would have had to make it shorter, or use a lot more fabric. I could have, as I have a metre or so left over. I am toying with maybe making another pair of gingers or perhaps a bomber jacket out of it. What do you think, matching pants or matching jacket?


Anyhow. Apart from a wider bottom circumference, it is the same as the Lennox skirt, using the gertie skirt waistband etc. However, UNLIKE the Lennox skirt, it didn’t all go smoothly – when I sewed it up I felt like it was perhaps of an unruly size, so instead of sewing the waistband on as usual I basted it on to check. Good instincts, it was significantly too big! When I held it closed at the back in such a way that it fit, the side seams were way to the back, telling me that the pattern piece was too wide.

This is my ‘you’re a kitty!’ face

I suspect partially that I made an error when tracing it and made the waistline too low – I thought it looked too big but I measured it a couple of times and the measurements matched the original pav pattern. I should have listened to instinct and made it higher regardless, as it’s much easier to lower that waist and give yourself more room in the skirt than it is to bring that in. Especially when you’ve already top stitched the pockets.

Strike a pose

Long story short, I unpicked everything and took it in two full inches on either side (!). The fitting is still a bit iffy – today and two weeks ago it’s about an inch too big, a week ago it fit perfectly. I think I am just going to have to resign myself to a fluctuating waistline and either add in a second hook, or add elastic. Or both. I definitely need to go back and take some room out of the centre back of the Lennox skirt, as even at the peak of my waistline flux it’s big enough that I have to pin it. Bodies! So tricky. It sits maybe a little high on my waist but if I have it sitting lower, the back droops because of my swayback.

Strike a different pose
Strike… of the cat hair all over me.


For the insides, I lined it again with taffeta, leaving the lining open at zipper part of the back seam. I find with my skirts where I’ve tacked the lining to the zipper, they eventually tear since that area gets a lot of tension as I slide in and out of car seats, etc, so I’m better off leaving it floating. It’s overlocked to finish.

I hand stitched the hem, and on what is almost a double circle skirt, that’s quite a lot. It only took me about three hours, which is comparatively quite fast! I think practice is speeding me up. I hung it for a week or so before hemming in case it dropped. It didn’t do so in that time but I noticed today it is a little bit lower at the sides. If it drops much more I’ll have to rehem it. (noooo!)

As I stitched, I thought a lot about war, and colonialism, as one does. When I first tried the skirt on I was struck by how much the poppies look like splashes of blood, or gorey wounds. In a good way, I guess? I was intending to make a valar morghulis joke but then the association with poppies lead me down a more serious path.

I work in the centre of the city and am lucky enough to be close to quite a few green spaces. I try and go for a bit of a walk every day, and one of my favourite walks takes me past the war memorial, down the newly installed Anzac memorial walk down the side of the governer’s house, which lists all the major fields of war where Australians have served. There’s a stone in the corner of the governer’s grounds memorialising the first gaol in my state, which is also where the first people hanged are purported to be buried (the link goes to the very first but next were some un-named (of course) aboriginal people and then someone who stole clothes worth two years’ wages from an inkeeper). On the other side of the road is the Migration Museum, which used to be a lying-in home and destitute asylum. Then I take a left, past the original army barracks and parade ground where my maternal grandfather used to work, down a leafy walk lined with memorials to specific squadrons and battles, and back up the other side of the governer’s house. Sometimes I walk back past the statues of Matthew Flinders, who ‘discovered’ much of South Australia. There’s a lovely patch of grass there but most office workers avoid it because often there are aboriginal people sitting there, sometimes drinking. There’s also the statue of Dame Roma Mitchell, who was a real tough,  smart lady and went to the same high school as me (not at the same time, obvs).

Adelaide’s war memorial – this side is called ‘Spirit of Duty’

So there’s a lot there, to make a person dwell on war and patriarchy and imperialism and colonialism, and the violence and misery all of those things bring.

I also think of my family history, of my paternal grandparents particularly, who trod this same ground as me when it looked quite different, and who both served in WWII – my grandmother staged a one-woman sit in in her seamstress job which she wasn’t allowed to quit as it was essential services. Finally they gave in and fired her and she became a drill sergeant. My grandfather was a rear gunner in a weather scouting plane, a precarious position. He saw some combat and later suffered a long breakdown which I don’t know the details of because nobody in my family really talks about it. I think about how I never really got to know my grandfather very well (he’s been dead a decade or so), and how I regret that because while I adore my grandmother I suspect I more strongly take after my grandfather’s side of the family and the older I get the more I understand him, as well as my own father, and wouldn’t it be nice to have them both still there to have that be a conversation, not just me thinking in my head about people who are gone?

I think about why I am drawn to retro styles, and whether that is a good or a bad thing, because I certainly am not comfortable with a lot of the associations and with the history of the period – but the same goes for this modern period, anyway. I think about how it makes me feel connected, and I think about gender performance and what being a woman means to me. I think about how 100 years ago, WWI had been going for two years and would go for two more, and about how technology had changed was and produced new horrors – and continues to do so.

A heavy burden for a sewing project to carry. Most days it’s just a skirt. But sometimes it’s a good reminder, too.

I’m not sure how to recover from all of that, so I suppose that’s the end of this blog post. What’s your personal relationship to your history like? Does it intersect with your sewing ever? Do you have any makes that carry more weight than is fair to put on an innocent garment?


8 thoughts on “Sweet and Honourable skirt

  1. To be honest, I am thinking about patriarchy, imperialism, the evils of capitalism, etc. literally almost all the time. Sometimes I just lie awake at night for hours, thinking about how much I hate the patriarchy. I had a long conversation about patriarchy & how the fight it with Ramona (my daughter) this morning–& remember, she is three. I like to listen to podcasts while I sew, & a lot of the ones I like are political to some degree, so I am always thinking about this stuff while I sew.

    I asked Jared (my partner) recently, “What percentage of time do you think about misogyny & feminism?” He was like, “I don’t know, maybe like 10% of the time? What about you?” I was like, “90% of the time, minimum.” But our percentages were flipped when he asked me how often I think about climate change & environmental catastrophe. (He’s an environmental historian, so that’s kind of what he does for a living.)

    1. S a m e. But then when you mention it people are so surprised but I just honestly don’t understand why people don’t get that this is everywhere, and insidious. I guess I am more radical than I realise? It’s a low bar. Yesterday I had a ‘small talk’ conversation at work that I ruined because someone was complaining about how fulltime work is terrible and I said ‘well you know, it was designed for people with stay at home wives… or to keep people too tired to think about how terrible capitalism is’ and the other person was like O_o and I was like ‘oh no not the right audience? But EVERYONE KNOWS THAT’ (they don’t)

      I woke up at 2am last night for no dang reasons and couldn’t get back to sleep until after 4 and literally all I thought about is how much I hate capitalism.

      10% feels LOW to me. And I initially thought 90% seemed high but then I realised that literally every single thing I think about or see I then run it through the ‘how does this relate to patriarchy, colonialism, racism, sexism or capitalism, what forces are at work here’. Living in a colonial country pretty much everything is related at least three ways, and that’s without digging deep at all! Interestingly I did think a lot more about climate etc but after my second actual panic attack on the train home I had to really work on not thinking or reading about it too much otherwise I feel paralysed and panicked. Probably that void is filled with more thoughts about sexism, so I’m not wasting my time.

      1. This is a fabulous comment and I completely relate. I often think about how I am where I am in part because of white privilege and a sequence of other privileges rather than much else….and other things, including how much I hate capitalism’s effects and how patriarchy still influences so much. Can be discouraging but nice to think that others do this thinking too.

    2. Also what are your favourite sewing podcasts? I seem to like factual type ones, I hoard Backstory episodes for sewing time and I also like Gastropod. Backup is Call Your Girlfriend. I am running out of archives though, I need some more history style ones I think. Any recommendations?

      1. Podcasts I listen to, divided by category:
        Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me
        Ask Me Another
        Judge John Hodgman
        Go Bayside (the woman who did this one is a friend of mine)

        This American Life (in America, anyway, haha)
        Mystery Show

        Thread Cult
        Sewing Out Loud
        Clothes Making Mavens
        Seamwork (even though it can be very annoying)

        One Bad Mother
        The Longest Shortest Time

        Stuff Mom Never Told You (this one is definitely worth checking out)

        JUST WEIRD
        Here Be Monsters

        Book Jawn (about books)
        Adult Crash (about being an adult punk)
        Sagittarian Matters (about queer stuff, comics, feminism, etc)

        I also have a bunch of episodes of “Politically Re-Active” downloaded because I love W. Kamau Bell (one of the hosts), but haven’t listened yet.

        Probably my top five faves are “Judge John Hodgman,” “Ask Me Another,” “Sewing Out Loud,” “Stuff Mom Never Told You,” & “Mystery Show” (there are only six episodes, but they’re great).

  2. This is such a beauty of a skirt and your talk as you walked is wonderful. I love to read your perspective- you are such a thoughtful, intelligent lady. Thanks for this. I have been wanting to make a circle skirt for a while…the urge has just been magnified!

Whadya reckon?

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