Home-made 1960s skirt

As you all know I’ve been learning to sew for a few months now. My latest project, which I have just finished, is a pencil skirt based on a Simplicity 2154 1960s retro vintage pattern.

I couldn’t quite believe I made it, however there are a few errors, and when I think of them I know I did! I’m hoping it’s all part of the learning process. I’m sure CoCo Chanel took a little time to get the hang of it.

I found the fabric first, in John Lewis of course (well they are good at what they do!). I loved the colours and thought it would make a great skirt for the winter with a vintage twist. It wasn’t cheap but as it’s wool I thought it was worth it.

I found the pattern next (also from John Lewis- but purchased at a different time), they had an offer on all patterns by Simplicity and so I brought a few (I call this planning ahead, my wife calls it a shopping addiction).

I have some vintage patterns but some are so old parts are missing and the sizing is often different (usually tiny) so I thought getting new ones was a good idea, plus I love the pictures used. I can’t wait for the day I’m good enough to try a Vogue pattern!

I started the skirt in my lessons by cutting out the pattern and fabric. We had a long decision about which was the right side of the fabric and in the end I picked the one I liked – part of me couldn’t really tell the difference!

Then pinned and sewed together.

The skirt needed to be taken in from the pattern as I was using one a little bit big for me. So we decided to take from the back seam as the zip was going on the side. I was glad I had my teacher with me to help as I’m not sure how I would have done this on my own. So far it was going ok.

Then the zip was added in – I’m getting better at these but do have trouble remembering how to do them. I think I need to do 50 in a row so it stays in my head.

Then I was told I needed to line it – this was when it all went wrong. I bought some lining to match the skirt and was told to cut the lining in the same way that I had with the skirt, so I did. I added darts (which looking back I’m not sure was right and left gaps for the kick pleat and the zip area).

Lining matches the fabric
Lining matches the fabric

I sewed in the lining and was really pleased with myself until I went back to it a few days later and worked out I had done it the wrong way round – ahhh! You try unpicking cotton out of lining fabric NOT FUN.

Image from I want a Station Wagon 

Once that was done I sewed it the right way this time but then noticed I should have finished off the lining better before doing this – I had left some gaps. I managed to fix it so it looked ok but I know I could do better next time.

Then it was the waistband! I brought some iron on stuff to make it stiffen (stuff is a good description I know!).

This was really hard to pin and tack as it was so thick! I think I may have made it too high and used too much of the ‘stuff’.  This resulted in me breaking my sewing machine needle when I tried to sew it all together.

I wasn’t giving in as it was my Christmas homework plus I really wanted to wear it. So I sat and hand stitched it. My fingers were in pain after.

So the long and short of it was I had made a skirt. It looked wonderful and I was so happy until I put it on…..

Either I had too much Christmas food or my crazy high waistband meant I can’t do it up – it’s not far off but enough I will not be wearing it too work just yet! I could try and unpick the waistband but I just can’t bring myself to do that. Oh well I am learning!

Have you ever done anything like this? Got any tips for me next time?

8 thoughts on “Home-made 1960s skirt

  1. First of all, the skirt looks really well made and I love the fabrics you used.
    Too bad it doesn’t fit properly. Did you do a fitting before the sewing? I do it with almost every step I do. I start pinning my patterns together (sometimes I do some handstitching) – and then I’m running to my mirrow to see how it fits. When I did my first stitches – I run to my mirrow to see how it fits. When it comes to the zipper I do the same, as well with the waistband. But nevertheless, some fit issues can occur. And I just makes you become better for next time^^
    I did new trousers recently and had to do and undo that bloody zipper like a million times (even though I did this pattern before). So I thought the same as you did. Maybe I should be doing some more trousers right now, before I forget how to insert the zipper XD
    Greetings, Sandy

    1. Thanks for the tips Sandy, I did check it fitted right up to adding the waistband! Your idea of checking each step is really good as I did tack the waistband so if I had tried it on then I could have fixed it before all the sewing with the machine!
      I know my sewing teacher is going to make me un pick it to make it fit but i really don’t think I can face it. Will just have to make another!
      Good luck with the trouser zips!

  2. What a pity. The fabric looks really beautiful and I love the pattern you chose.
    But things like this happen to all of us, I suppose. I once made a skirt that fitted great, added a lining and was so proud of my beautiful seams inside. Then I had to realize the lining was too small and tore when first trying to sit in it. I never felt like repairing it so disappointed was I and I didn’t wear it much because of all the fraying and threads hanging from the inside.
    If you like the pattern I would advise you to fit it to your body using a cheap fabric (without stretch). You can copy the adjustments to the pattern (or use the cheap-fabric-skirt as a pattern, cutting the seams open) and have a pattern that really fits you (only theoretically spoken, I never do this and most of the time the fit is not perfect at all, the adjustments afterwards mostly kill the clean look inside I had been so proud of before, so this is how it should be done, not how I do it 😉 )
    And maybe a tip for the thick waistband: It doesn’t look as beautiful as your method, but when you serge the edge of the waistband (or use some bias binding) on the inside and don’t fold it to the inside you have one layer less, that might already help. Or you split the waistband into an outside and an inside facing and make the latter from a thinner fabric, for example cotton. Then it is far easier to sew all the layers together.

    1. Thanks so much for all the tips this is amazing!
      I think your right about working the waistband so it only has one layer, I have a feeling when I see my teacher she will say the same as you. Also like the idea of doing an inside and outside then sewing together.
      Think I’m going to have to use everyone’s tips to fix it and then blog when it fits! Thanks again for uour advice x

  3. Well Mrs Foxy I am the teacher and tonight we unpicked the waistband (too thick stiffner especially when doubled up) we now have a perfect skirt that can be worn. You did an excellent job and the only hiccup was the waistband which is now perfect – well done onwards and upwards xx

    1. Thanks Mrs R Teacher for your help to fix the skirt so it fits. I’m now wearing it to work today and am so happy with it.
      Thanks also for my new book its wonderful. Looking forward to showing everyone on the blog x

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