Week 4: The skirt
Frida wore alot of skirts, and they are one of the defining features of her look.
Undoubtedly the choice of a long, floor length skirt was in part due to Frida’s desire to cover her legs – one was underdeveloped due to polio. But she also chose a version of Mexican national dress. Frida was about 5″ 3″, with a beautiful, shaped figure. She has a nice waist, and often she tucked her tops into a waist band. However as she frequently had to wear a corset to support her back she also wore her top out, and I feel this is the more identifiable Frida look.
I have made four or five long skirts for this challenge, and have been wearing them constantly, especially during my annual leave. I have enjoyed the experience. Here are a few reflections.
- They are very quick, easy and satisfying to make
- There is no waste. Also the skirts can be unpicked and made into something else at a later date.
- Many have a lower flounce. You can achieve this look with a longer petticoat underneath a knee length skirt or attach a separate section. Just gather up a longer, shorter section and attach to the hem.
- It is nice to wear a long skirt, and it swishes around your legs in a pleasant way
- You may worry about looking like a hippy or an Edgware Road beggar woman, but you will actually look tall, strong and beautiful
How to make a Frida skirt
I have three methods which you might like to consider. None needs a pattern, and the only measurement you need is your waist. You can make the skirt with relatively little fabric, but if you are short of fabric consider the two part skirt with a large flounce in different fabric. If you have lots of fabric a full, gathered skirt is nice and dramatic.
This is the most basic skirt, a “beginners project”, but an utterly satisfying way of wearing a nice piece of cloth. I timed it – these skirts take about ten minutes to make. I used the selvedge for the top and hem. You sew the fabric into a tube (using a French seam is even better). Press open. Sew up the hem on the machine (or by hand if you want finesse), and press. Now make a folded down a channel at the top, leaving a small opening, into which I threaded 1cm wide elastic with a big safety pin. Stitch the elastic together on your machine. The maroon silk blouse was made for Sewing with a Plan a couple of years ago, using McCalls 7938 and some artificial sweet peas.
Pleated into a waistband
This pattern is in my book, Making Life more Beautiful. It is a no-waste skirt (all of these skirts are no waste). You insert a zip into a tube of fabric and pleat it into the waist band. I used a lovely piece of white linen that I dyed with Indigo. Instead of hemming it I used a lace edging, stitched with a narrow satin stitch on my machine. I am wearing it with an embroidered blouse I made some time ago. I enjoyed doing the embroidery.
Gathered into a waist band
The final skirt is the most sophisticated of my skirts, but it too is very simple. I wanted this one fuller, so tore my fabric in half and joined it together. This gave me an opportunity to add pockets. I dyed this fabric too, again with indigo. I tied lots of chickpeas into the white cotton, in three columns. This took forever. I haven’t used the fabric before as it felt a bit precious. I used it all so it is nice and full. For the belt I used a piece of yellow linen that was left over from my painted huipil. The green huipil is made from a piece of silk I spattered with batik wax and did a few doodles. It’s just the same pattern as I used before.
If you want to make this skirt, just cut out four pockets pieces (use a pattern if you have one), join them to the side seams at the right position, sew up the side seams of the skirt. Now you have a tube. Divide at the CB, insert a zip and complete the seam. Put two layers of basting stitch in the top of the skirt, pulling it up to your waist measurement plus a centimeter or two of ease. Make a waist band that fits your waist plus a little ease; mark where the side seams and CB and CF will go. Ease the skirt onto the waist band. Baste by hand and then machine stitch. Finish the waist band by hand and use poppers or a button to close.
A couple of other ideas
A few of the #DresslikeFrida team believe that a full, long skirt will not flatter them. I am not sure I agree. But here are a couple of other ideas you might consider;
- If you have slim hips but not much waist consider a pencil skirt and attach a flounce, so that you get a neat look around the waist and hips, but still lots of drama
- If you don’t care for the hippy look try shorter skirt – whatever length you like – but as full as you dare
- If you have short legs, compared to your torso, you will probably want to tuck in your huipil
- You could use a 1970s petticoat pattern.
- Use a textile printed with Frida motifs and just make your favourite skirt or dress shape
- And then, of course, there are trousers! The last few weeks I have been wearing my huipils with shorts. Ideal over swimwear or gym kit on holiday.
What sort of skirt are you planning to make? Which styles suit you best? Are you going to use a printed fabric or something plain?