Category Archives: Skirts

Paper Bag skirts

Clearly I was going to be at a great disadvantage in sewing my own clothes if I could not do zippers and with my zipper foot a long way off on the horizon, I scoured the internet for ideas for clothing that didn’t need either zippers, nor buttons (too advanced for me !)

Most elasticated waist skirts are for little girls and simply look too frou frou for the more mature lady ūüôā but then I came across the paper bag skirt. ¬†Not actually made of paper or bags but cinched in at the waist, top of paper bag style. ¬†Perfect, no zipper needed.

I found the very best example for ladies and a great tutorial here at The Sewing Dork.

The example in this tutorial is a really eye-catching striped skirt but I settled for another brown remnant for about $4 and used existing thread left over from the Nancy dress and the unfinished A-line brown pinstripe skirt.


Paper bag skirt

The instructions are super easy to follow, with great photos on the tutorial all along and again with this skirt being basically more rectangles, it was finished and wearable in no time at all.  I did make some belt loops to go with it to hold the belt nicely over the elasticated waist which I think looks better again.  These too were rectangles which I just sewed on either side of the elastic casing and tried to get them fairly even.

Success – even my husband was quite impressed although he didn’t think the look was very flattering on me. ¬†Like most men, he prefers a more fitted or closer style and thinks this makes me look rather heavy in the waist. ¬†I actually agree with him there – most ladies will agree that this is another reason the gathered waist skirt is not the most flattering – too much fabric all bunched up there.

Paper bag skirt

But I wore it to work the very next day and got lots of compliments. ¬†I enjoyed wearing something I had made so much, that I made another than evening – using a cream remnant. ¬†I think this fabric was rather on the heavy side and was probably intended more for cushions and curtains than clothing, but it does emphasise the shape and the waist nicely. ¬†I certainly don’t have any other clothes for my bottom half in such a light color so I think I am liking the change.Paper bag skirt

Included is my attempt at some photos of the finished product Рself timer photos were never my strong point Рand I also attempt to emulate the stylish poses of other sewing blogs.  Except I just look awkward and embarrassed Рwhich I am !

Paper bag skirtPaper bag skirtsPaper bag skirts


Making a pencil skirt sloper

Have you EVER owned a pencil skirt that fit you properly? ¬†I find¬†the¬†ready to wear either gape in the waist, or are too tight across the hip or thigh or the darts aren’t right. ¬†I guess perhaps my waist to hip ratio does not match the ideal hourglass figure. ¬†Neither is my widest point in¬†the¬†regular hip – I am a true pear with my thighs wider than my hips.

Now that I can sew (a little) I thought it was about time I tried to rectify this with my own pencil skirt. ¬†But buying a pattern would not solve the problems and would require so many alterations and I don’t know how to do this to get a good fit. ¬†So drafting my own pattern from scratch seemed to be the way to go.

I found a brilliant description of how to take your measurements and draft a pencil skirt basic pattern sloper here.

It starts with photos of how and where to measure and takes you step by step through constructing your very own pattern for a skirt based on your own measurements. ¬†There are recommendations for ‘ease’ so that the skirt isn’t skin tight! ¬†It took me a couple of hours after I went wrong once and had to start again, but at the end I had a pattern all of my very own.

But I’m still very new to this – would it work? ¬†I had to test it right away, and I grabbed some navy blue satin from my stash. ¬†So far, I’ve only ever bought remnant pieces, never anything from the roll, because I still don’t trust myself to make something worth wearing and would hate to waste the fabric (and the money) if it turned out wrong.

So I carefully cut and marked my skirt, stitched the darts, and pinned for a first fit. ¬†Not bad ! ¬†But hard to really tell without sewing it all together. ¬†Ah – and it was here I forgot that I was running before I could walk, and of course a pencil skirt in a woven fabric needs a zipper – and I don’t have a zipper foot and can’t buy one here in the Cayman Islands. ¬†Damn it.

So, the pattern and the fabric has been carefully folded and labelled and put away in a zip loc bag ready for the heavenly day I can continue on these ‘zipper needed’ projects. ¬†One day (soon) I’ll return to this project and reference this post and hope to show my perfectly fitting pencil skirt.

My first real limitations

I am heady with excitement as I head back to my sewing machine for my next project. ¬†The ‘Cute dress !’ comment about my Nancy dress leaves me salivating for more new clothes courtesy of the remnants bin.

I read all over the web about making clothes from your existing ready to wear favorites.  I actually have a really well fitting simple a-line skirt which I had made to measure during a trip to Vietnam (I am such a lucky girl) so I tried to give this one a go.  I pinned out the skirt, drew around carefully and made my pattern pieces.  I checked the measurements, everything was good.

Ah, then I ran into my first difficutly – this skirt needs a zipper. ¬†I rummaged around in the box the borrowed sewing machine came in, found nothing, called my friend who lent it to me. ¬†No, she doesn’t know where the zipper foot is. Damn – on an island with only one small sewing shop I knew I was in trouble.

Saturday comes, and my trip to the shop is unsuccessful – they don’t stock any of these sort of accessories – there just isn’t enough demand. ¬†And although I can find plenty online, the international shipping fees are ridiculous – $35 to ship a tiny presser foot ! ¬†I think I will wait until someone visits from the US.

So I make up the skirt as much as I can, and I sew the side seam closed, basting at the top where the zipper will (eventually) go. ¬†I can’t even try it on to see if it fits, but to be fair, it looks like it won’t. ¬†I probably need to concentrate more on¬†the¬†size of the seams I have made if I want it to be exactly the same as the original.

Oh, and I also managed to make it much more difficult than it needed to be by picking a striped material. ¬†Its way difficult to make a¬†triangle¬†shaped shirt with lines – how can you get them to match? ¬†If they match in one place, they won’t match in another. ¬†Hmm.

I think this may be my first ‘wadder’. A term I see online for things you made that are failures, don’t fit or aren’t right for one or more reasons. ¬†Totally my fault – poor seam allowance control, picking the wrong fabric, probably poor pattern drafting, beginners over confidence, and the lack of proper tools (a zipper foot) all lead to this one being put aside for one day in the future.

If the road to success were easy, it would be crowded with people all heading in the same direction. ¬†I guess they can all travel on that road without me today……hmm, but what next?

%d bloggers like this: