I’ve always had a real soft spot for tartan. I love the idea of skirts, jackets, coats and dresses in it. Funnily enough, I never wear button up shirts and I don’t possess a single one so I wouldn’t wear a tartan patterned shirt, but any other garment is fair game. Even more strangely, for someone who loves tartan, there was very little represented in my wardrobe apart from one skirt. I was therefore pretty excited to find this lovely pure wool fabric in Barry’s Fabrics last September when I attended the SewBrum meet up in Birmingham(UK).
Before I go any further I just want to add that I’m fairly certain that I can call this fabric tartan because I decided to have a quick look online to find out the difference between ‘checked’ fabric and tartan. What I found out was that apparently tartan has multiple lines and colours crisscrossed in horizontal and vertical bands whereas checked is made up of intersecting horizontal and vertical stripes (so I understand checked to perhaps be slightly simpler in design). Many traditional tartan wool fabrics are woven in Scotland and have clan names given them. If you know more about tartan feel free to tell me a bit more in the comments section.
Anyway, back to my fabric..I bought just one metre as I knew I wanted to make a skirt, but it wasn’t until just after Christmas that I found a style I fancied trying. I had an image saved on my Pinterest sewing inspiration board of a skirt by a designer called Christopher Esber that has an interesting flared and asymmetric hemline, and in my mind I imagined it looking a bit Vivienne Westwood in the lovely tartan fabric. I thought I’d better do a toile mock-up of the skirt first though because I anticipated a bit of trial and error before cutting my precious fabric…I was right!
I started with a simple pencil skirt pattern but with a bit of ‘A’ line shape added to it. I then marked and cut the curved seam line where the flared panel was to be attached. I marked, slashed and spread the pattern shape for the lower section until I felt it had enough fullness, then I made a pattern piece for it. The tricky bit was deciding where to have the grainline for the flared piece and I’m afraid the rule book got completely ignored at this point….all I knew was that I wanted the longer part of the panel to be on the bias. I managed to cut the piece from the main fabric and with a bit of tweaking and adjusting and an awful lot of luck, it ended up mostly matching apart from where the tartan goes bias….result! After that, the rest of my skirt was fairly straightforward to sew as long as I was careful with matching the tartan lines up at the back and sides. I used a concealed zip fastening at the back and I fully lined my skirt with some lovely satin viscose lining. An extra finishing touch was to add four small lead curtain weights (found in my button box) to the hemline of my skirt which helps to hold down the hem and make the folds lie better and not act so bouncy. I feel that they really do make a big difference.
All in all, I love how luxurious my new skirt feels and being wool it’s really warm too. I expect paired with a warm pair of tights it will be perfect for colder days, but I don’t have a suitable pair in the right shade at the moment, so I must hunt some down. Funny how fabric shopping always comes first!