• JoJo

The Skirt of Spontaneity

I’m not a very patient person. When an idea digs its way out of my brain I’m almost incapable of not immediately following up on it. This tendency led me to abandon the work I should have been doing on my psychology degree this Saturday in favour of throwing together a little sewing project.

What can I say? I simply felt the spontaneous need to sew.


I got this fabric in a job lot from Freecycle and, amongst some very garish curtains and splendidly clashing floral prints, this sort of tribal black and brown geometric print stood out as one of the gems of the bunch. Continuing an ever-present theme of my relationship with fabric I adore, I had no idea what to do with it. It sat in a drawer for about a year, which is a relatively short amount of time compared to some of beautiful fabric I’ve acquired in the past, then on Saturday I thought “fuck it, it’s going to be a skirt”.

I’d originally planned to make a full circle skirt but when I pulled the fabric out of the drawer I realised I’d wildly overestimated the amount of material I actually had to work with. It may look like a reasonably big piece of fabric from this photo but it was actually only about a metre or so of material. In order to preserve as much of the material as possible (and because I knew it save me some time!) I slightly tweaked the plan and went for a handkerchief skirt instead.


This wasn’t a major swerve of direction as the two designs are very similar.

A circle skirt is exactly as it sounds. It’s a circle of fabric with an opening down the back and a hole in the middle for the human to fit into. A full circle skirt hangs very pleasingly with soft folds due to juicy volume of fabric involved and flairs out in a very entertaining fashion if you spin around fast enough.


A handkerchief skirt is basically the same except that you start with a square rather than a circle. You still end up with a flowy voluminous skirt but the hemline features several points instead of a continuous smooth edge.

Neither of these types of skirt are usually my kind of style as they’re a little on the, for want of a better word, ‘girly’ side for my taste. However, I’ve been dabbling with some floaty rather than fitted garments lately and thought this would be a fun way to continue the experiment.


So, I abandoned the loftier subjects of banal sexism and social identity theory and got to work on a floaty skirt instead.

I did very little to alter the shape of the fabric as I was trying to use as much of the material as possible. Aside from cutting a circle out of the middle to fit around my waist, the only other material I cut off was a slither from the raw edges so I could do a straight and simple double turned hem on two sides of the square.


I decided to leave the other two edges of the hem as they were for various reasons. Firstly, it was the quickest and easiest option. Secondly, they weren’t going to fray because they were already finished with the selvedges (the tightly woven edges) of the fabric. And thirdly, because I thought the selvedges were actually rather interesting. If the print on the selvedge is to be believed, this fabric came from Liberty, the fancy department store in London. Rather than tucking this detail away by rolling it up into the hem, I thought it would be fun (and efficient) to keep this little detail in the design of the skirt.

I didn’t have any spare fabric to make a matching waistband so I obviously stayed true to form and made one out of plain black fabric. I’ll always enhance the black parts of a pattern over the colourful parts when given the opportunity. An exposed zip and a few belt loops later and the skirt was complete.


For now.


I’m happy with it in its current form but I would like to play around with it before I declare it officially finished.


Buried somewhere in the moving boxes is the petticoat I made to go with my wedding dress, which has a similarly shaped skirt (try saying that after a few gin and tonics). I’m wondering if this petticoat could add a bit more poof and circumstance to my new creation. I won’t be able to assess the quality of this idea until we finally get to the new house and unpack the boxes we’ve been living out of for a year and a bit.

I’m also considering adding a plain black square of fabric underneath the patterned top square. This bottom layer would be positioned so the black points and the patterned points alternate around the hem, creating a more jagged edge and adding yet more poof to the skirt.


This was certainly an enjoyable way to avoid more serious topics for three or four hours of my life. Sadly, I must now return to more academic pursuits and put the sewing machine to sleep again for a while. I’ll see you on the other side of statistics for the social sciences and inter/intragroup relations.

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