A Navy and Red Plaid Skirt

The almost-finished Classic French Jacket hanging on my dress form must be getting a bit impatient with me at this point.  I switched gears and decided to give the Jacket (and me) a rest while I took on a “small” project.  I had purchased this merino wool from Promenade Fabrics last Fall.  It was a “remnant,” but one I knew would be ample enough for me to make a straight skirt.

What better month to have a red and navy plaid wool skirt than February, with its heart-colored hues and chilly temperatures?  And after the nubbiness of the French jacket boucle, I was ready for some soft, finely woven merino wool.  What is it about merino wool that makes it so lovely?  The description in Fairchild’s Dictionary reads: “High-quality wool yarn made from fleece of merino sheep, which has short, fine, strong, resilient fibers, and takes dyes well.”  ((Page 326, The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, by Charlotte Mankey Calasibetta and Phyllis Tortora, Third Edition,  New York, New York, 2010.)  Made in England by Butterworth and Roberts, this fabric has all those attributes and more.

Plaids are always interesting to sew.  Obviously the plaid has to be matched, but as important is determining the placement of the plaid, both on your body and on the pattern.   Most plaids have a dominant color or block, and this is a good starting point.  With this particular piece of wool, I wanted to emphasize the navy rather than the red (even though the red is dominant).  I first thought the best way to do this was to place a navy block/stripe down the front middle of the skirt.  I quickly discovered this actually emphasized the red instead of the navy.  When I placed a red block/stripe in the center, the red receded, and I had the look I wanted.

I also wanted the reveal of the plaid on the front center of the skirt to match the reveal of the back center seam.  This enabled navy to predominate the side seams of the skirt, framing the front and back.  Perfect!

This shows the back vent folded back, but you can see the back seam is sewn so that the front center block and the back center block match.

One of the side seams.

I used Susan Khalje’s straight skirt pattern which I had already used last Fall, and which needed no alterations in my existing muslin. (YAY!)  While laying out the muslin pattern, I realized if I was careful, I would be able to save enough fabric to make a matching scarf.  That would also mean that practically none of this beautiful wool would be unused.

The scarf is 60″ long and 9″ wide. I fringed the short edges, to make a nice finish.

Here are a few tips I used for sewing this plaid skirt:

1) In sewing the seams together, in order to match the lines of the plaid exactly, I used my walking foot.  This helped to keep everything perfectly lined up and eliminated slippage of the fabric as I sewed.  (Forked pins are useful in this application, too, but I found the walking foot to be just about foolproof.)

2) Even though the front center of the skirt was easily discernable because of the placement of the plaid, I still marked that line with a running stitch.  I find that helps to eliminate mistakes!  That was the final bit of basting thread which I removed from the skirt when it was finished.

Here is that front center line, marked with a running stitch. You can also see the Petersham ribbon I used to stabilize the waistband.

3)  I angled the back vent out about 1/4 inch on each side to help it hang straight while being worn.

4)  I faced the waistband with the lining silk, which makes it comfortable to wear.

With much of Winter still to come, I suspect I will have numerous occasions to wear this wool skirt.  And now I can get back to that French Jacket with at least one thing to show for the year so far!



Filed under couture construction, Straight skirts, Uncategorized, woolens

32 responses to “A Navy and Red Plaid Skirt

  1. Mary B.

    I simply love plaid and this is no exception. It looks gorgeous!! I appreciate your tips as well.

  2. alaniasheeley

    Your skirt is stunning. I love plaid skirts.

  3. Rita

    Beautiful…as your work always is!

  4. OHhhMY

    Just gorgeous and oh that scarf! OH that fabric, too!

  5. Beautiful skirt – mostly just as a perfect showcase for this wonderful fabric. So pretty to have a scarf to match it at the neckline too. The silk lining was a perfect colour choice too 🙂

  6. Dianne Frazier Gaines

    Simply beautiful!! I just adore the way you sew!!

  7. I love the red and blue plaid. Lovely that you were able to use all of it up! Beautiful work!

  8. Mery

    So pretty and so perfect! Your choices for the plaid placement are just right. Your plaid matching looks more like fairies darned the threads together than sewn seams. Most of all, it is pretty on you.
    I finally bought my first wool melton this fall and I am well pleased with it. I had heard of its softness and concur. I had previously always chosen heavier wool, often with mohair, alpaca or angora for warmth. For lighter weights I wore mostly wool crepe or wool jersey to work and church. My melton is a lightweight knit cardigan in stripes of brown and tan with an occasional Prussian blue, so it coordinates with much. I wear it over a sleeveless shell so its wool touches my arms and keeps the chill off for wide range of temperatures. It has been ages since I’ve enjoyed a piece of winter clothing this much. May you enjoy your lovely skirt every bit as much as that.

  9. Heather Myers

    This looks fabulous!

  10. Merino plaid, nothing better than that! Thanks for sharing how the center color can completely change what color dominates, it is a good reminder and a great aha for many. Your skirt looks just beautiful on, the navy is perfect with it!

  11. Thank you for this post. I bought some tartan from a scottish artist about 6 months ago and have so far not dared to cut it. The walking foot method to line up is brilliant and I would never have considered doing that. I am still not sure what to do with my tartan but the idea of offcuts made into a scarf is also a very useful idea. Its especially important I do not ruin this fabric because I generally buy cheap fabric and I actually spent a lot on my 2m of tartan this time hence its still unused despite the cold weather we have had in the UK. I always thoroughly appreciate what you sew so keep up the good work.

    • Well, sometimes it is good to live with a fabric for a while before cutting into it, especially one that is expensive. I wish you lots of luck with your decision and your eventual sewing. I also made sure I pinned really, really well, too, before stitching those seams together with my walking foot.

  12. Peggy Warren

    The beautiful fabric looks so soft and easy to work with. I’m impressed with your skill in matching the plaid. The best part is the wonderful scarf and how you use all the fabric and didn’t waste an inch! You look divine in the skirt.

  13. Hi Karen,

    A gorgeous plaid skirt — I love it!!! And the fabric looks so soft… I must try the merino wool version, and thanks for providing the source and where it’s produced.
    I’m just gearing up to get back to my MacQueen tartan skirt after a bout of hectic times — I’m half-way through the process.
    Enjoy the Dior exhibit (lucky lady!!) in your fabulous couture skirt!


    • So glad you like my skirt – I know we share a love of these tartan plaids. I’m sure I’ll be posting about the Dior Exhibit. I do feel lucky to have this opportunity to see it!

  14. Aud Steier Griem

    Hi, Karen.
    What a lovely skirt! Would you tell me how long the vent is? Is it just a slit or does it have an underlay? I also love facing the waistband with the lining silk. Soft and comfortable to wear.
    Greetings from Norway

  15. Donna

    I love the skirt but I am in love with the shoes! Perfect. Full confession,,,I like shoes more than I do clothing ( said the woman with 30 plus pairs of shoes).

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