{case study} the making of my new favorite skirt

an excerpt from my {classic wrap skirt} book

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summary

Hours of hand stitching
to create a replacement
for a neutral gray maxi skirt.

A waste of time? Or a wise investment?

backstory

Last summer
I practically lived in
a particular gray maxi skirt.
Obviously, I liked the skirt,
but there were certain things I didn’t like about it.

It was made of a thin jersey knit fabric.
Not as thin as some, but thin enough
that it clung awkwardly to my legs when I walked.

I knew it couldn’t be my go-to this season,
because it was wearing out already;
it’s starting to pill
and some of the stitching is coming out.
Now, I could easily mend the stitching,
but these loose stitches are simply signs
of more wear to come.

Rather than continuing to rely on this as my go-to skirt,
I decided to make a better one.

problem

I knew what I liked about last season’s skirt:
the practical length and the neutral light gray color.

I also knew what I didn’t like:
the fact that the fabric was both flimsy and wearing out quickly.

I wanted to keep the skirt lightweight,
but substantial enough that I felt protected,
and I wanted a fabric that would stand up to many wearings.

Another requirement for my fabric
was that it be at least 53" wide,
otherwise the skirt would be too long to fit on the fabric.

If I was going to be wearing this skirt
as often as I had worn the knit one last season,
I wanted to take my time making it,
and really invest in making it beautiful.

solution

I found two linen blend fabrics online.
One was linen/rayon,
and the other was linen/cotton.
Both were labeled machine washable (cold)
and dry-able (low).
I ordered three yards of each.

After washing both of them,
the linen/rayon blend fabric
was clearly the right choice for this skirt.

First of all, the linen/cotton blend fabric shrunk so much in width
that I would have been unable to make a skirt as long as I wanted.

But secondly,
I absolutely fell in love with the linen/rayon blend fabric.
It drapes and flows so beautifully,
yet it has enough body to hold its own
and not stretch out of shape.

When I cut out the skirt, I hadn’t yet decided
exactly what methods I would use for each step of the process.
I used the scraps to experiment a little
and quickly found that I loved stitching this fabric by hand.

I decided to stitch anything visible by hand -
the hems on the straight sides of the skirt,
the inside of the waistband,
and the hem.

It was so easy to manipulate this fabric in my hands
that I didn’t even have to press the hems before stitching them.
I simply rolled the hem with my fingers as I went.

It took a while, yes,
but it was so worth it.

I took the project along with me on a road trip,
so I was able to keep sewing even though
I didn’t have access to a sewing machine.
In a way, this made the project go faster
than if I had opted to stitch it by machine!

outcome

I haven’t touched the old maxi skirt since making this one.
The old one will come in handy as a back-up, I suppose,
but so far I’ve only wanted to wear the new one.

I love the practicality and versatility of this skirt,
but more than that,
I love all of the positive associations that it carries.

When I wear it, I remember the road trip,
the places where I sat and stitched,
and the people I was with while I was stitching it.

I smile, knowing what I invested,
both time and talent,
to craft this perfect skirt.

The other night I wore it to dance practice.
I’m no professional dancer, and I don’t do anything fancy,
but as I danced the old traditional middle-eastern steps
and felt the skirt swish, I felt an extra level of joy,
knowing I had made this beautiful thing with my own two hands,
in the same way that women made their skirts ages ago
when they danced these same steps in ancient times.

reflection

One might say that I wasted time
hand-sewing a skirt
to replace one I bought
ready-made.

I would ask what was meant by the word “wasted”?

Is it really wasting time
to create something both beautiful and useful
while among friends and family?
Is it wasting time to spend it doing something that brings you joy?

I don’t see it as wasting time,
or even spending time,
so much as investing time.

The investment has already paid off, in my estimation.
I’ve had hours of pleasure and can look forward to more
as I wear this skirt that carries in it memories of beauty and joy.