Tag Archives: paper bag skirt

Sew do la fa mi do re…

Before I launch into my usual spiel, I feel the need to offer feeble excuses for my absence.

A busy summer with mumsie visiting, vacations to New York, Bombay, Goa and Winnipeg and a busy work schedule left me little time to blog. I continued to sew and documented the process too, but actual writing took a back seat.
Cry me a river please. I had 4 vacations in total in 2010. I thank you in advance for your sympathies.

On to more pressing matters (ha!).

The weekend sewing blitz that produced my favourite red vintage inspired skirt was quite a prolific period for me.
I couldn’t stop after one successful venture and promptly started on my next project; a linen/cotton two toned ‘paper bag’ skirt. I noticed an influx of pleated ‘paper bag’ skirts with self belts in the stores and decided to make a drawstring version of my own.

I found some gorgeous natural coloured linen in the remnants bin of Fabricland for I think $2.50.
It was a sizable chunk and in retrospect I didn’t need to use it ALL in this skirt. A few slivers could have been saved since there’s a fair bit of extra allowances and folds in this project, as will become clear later on.

From Sew What

As pictured above, I also found some pretty small printed cotton on sale and used it as the second tone in this ‘two toned’ skirt.

I’m particularly proud of this next bit because it’s one of my first attempts at any sort of constructed design, so to speak, as opposed to my usual pleating or gathering.

I started by cutting out 2 simple rectangles, each half of the total length of my chosen circumference size. I think this was simply half the length of the remnant piece actually. Wastage was apparently no object!
I then chose one rectangle to be the front of the skirt, folded it in half and free hand drew a curve from the chosen top edge to the side edge/seam. Stay with me now…

From Sew What

I cut along my rather perfectly drawn curve, through both layers of the folded front piece and opened it out, so I was left with the above pictured shape of fabric. I then went over the raw edges of the curves with a zig zag stitch for proper finishing and achieved an even MORE amazing feat.
I managed to fold in the fabric about half an inch and iron along the curve. Bless linen for its give and forgiveness!

From Sew What

I then proceeded to tack it down to make sure it didn’t suddenly re-defy the physics I had already defied in getting it folded in the first place. After I machined sewed both sides in place I moved on to the next part of my increasingly fiendish plan.

The mysterious curved cut outs, you see, were actually to be part of rather large pockets and the windows to reveal the other tone in the garment i.e. the printed fabric.

I cut out two rectangles from the printed fabric, zig zag edged and hemmed them and placed and pinned them behind the curved cut outs.

From Sew What

I arrived at the measurements of the printed rectangles by first lining the fabric up with the other uncut linen rectangle, which would be the back of the skirt.
I then laid the front piece with the curved cuts on top and made some approximate markings, making sure the printed pieces that I would cut out would be large enough to fill in the curves and then some, but did not exceed the original, uncut rectangle. Get it?

Basically, I wanted to make sure that all told, I had two rectangles, identical in size i.e. the front and back of the skirt, pockets, printed pieces and all.

From Sew What

After that actually simple procedure, but rather convoluted explanation, the composite front piece pictured above was the exact same size as the uncut back piece of linen.

I then tacked and finalised the side seams. Both seams included the outer edges of the printed pocket pieces, except I left one side open from the top for about 3 inches and hemmed in the open edges.

From Sew What

I then zig zag edged and hemmed the top edge of the entire skirt, all the way around, at about a 1/2 inch. Normally I would not bother with a hem as this top bit would be covered and taken in with the waist band. However, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted this to be a drawstring skirt, so that the ‘paper bag’ effect was actually real, as opposed to achieved with pleats. So I folded over the entire top edge, about 3 inches in, sewed it down and then sewed 2 straight lines within it, at 1 inch intervals to make a channel for the drawstring.

From Sew What

I could have done a separate waist band and run a drawstring through it anyway, but that would not achieve the cinched look I was going for. I sewed in the 2 lines for the same reason – One, I wanted some of the fabric to stick up and ruffle outwards from the cinched waist that the drawstring would achieve. And two, I also wanted to make sure that the drawstring had a narrow channel to flow through and did not move around too much within it – that is what the second line of stitching achieves. I learned early on from mumsie sewing curtains that if you wanted that top ruffle, you couldn’t just fold and sew, you had to sew a channel.

I then hemmed the bottom edge, about 2 inches in.

From Sew What

I’ve always been partial to wide hems. I’m not sure if that’s an aesthetic choice or because I still cling to some misguided hope that I will one day need to let it out to accommodate my sudden miraculous height gain. Either way, once the hem was done I was in the home stretch.

All that was left was the drawstring.

I cut a two inch strip of printed fabric 15-20 inches longer than my waist measurements and sewed it into a tube.

From Sew What

I turned it right side out and pressed it with the seam towards the centre. I then cut the ends off at diagonals folded the raw edges in and top stitched them closed.

All that was left was to thread it through my super special channels. This is where those 3 inches I left open in one of the seams comes in handy!

From Sew What

I put it on, tied off the drawstring in a big bow, and it worked like a dream!

From Sew What

The drawstring allowed me to wear it either high up on my waist or lower down, something I could not manage with a fixed, pleated waist. The large amounts of fabric and the cinching at the waist coupled with the stiffness of linen made it flare out in that little girl style I adore and the pockets could not be more to my liking if I’d invented the concept of pockets!

I wore it in the summer with flats and a brown V-neck t-shirt and carried emergency candy supplies, random bits of string, a button and some pennies in my pockets. Yes yes.