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!
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.
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.
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!