Nautical Housewife skirt

The Theme
This week’s Sew Weekly theme was Nautical – red, white, blue, anchors, boats, etc.

If only this had happened about four weeks ago, before the ‘Sailing Away’ Wednesday Wardrobe Challenge, which as it turned out I had nothing at all suitable to wear for. But now I’m all set for the next time that challenge comes around!

The Facts
Fabric: Approx 2.8 metres of navy blue cotton drill from my stash. Been there for, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 years? At a guess, it would have been around $6 a metre from Spotlight.
Notions: 8 burgundy buttons from a mixed pack I bought years ago for around $5 for about 200 buttons. Hardly any in the pack match, and none of the 8 I used on the skirt do, but hey, who says the world has to be symmetrical, right? And a vintage snap fastener as well.
Pattern: Simplicity 3462
Year: Early 1960’s
Time to complete: 5 hours
Will I wear it? Yes, actually, I think I will!
Total cost: Around $17

The Story
I must admit, nautical isn’t something that’s ever inspired me all that much. When I see it in fashion magazines, I kinda think “oh, here we go again”. But recently the super-fantastic Charlotte over at Tuppence Ha’penny did a 5 part series on the evolution of nautical fashion. And that series changed my view on nautical quite a bit – I never knew it was so embedded in fashion history from the past century! (If you haven’t seen Charlotte’s blog yet, I highly recommend having a look – she posts the most gorgeous images of vintage fashion, historical notes, and even ways to wear certain things. When I grow up, I want to have Charlotte’s knowledge of vintage fashion.)

So I thought, hey, why not give this nautical thing a whirl?!

My first thought was to make a nautical inspired dress. It turns out I’ve got about 5 patterns in my stash that reference nautical elements, such as wide collars. Sadly, it also turns out that I don’t own much woven fabric that’s in nautical type colourings or prints. I vaguely recalled having some navy blue cotton drill in my storage unit (one day I’ll have made it through enough of my stash that it will all fit in my house again), so Steve kindly drove me there so I could have a look. Sure enough, there was some navy blue cotton drill on a bolt, just like I’d hoped! Yay!! A sailor style dress would happen! :-)

But then I got it home and unrolled it. Exactly three metres. Which was a good 1-2 metres too short for all of the nautical inspired dress patterns I had. Drat. Thankfully then this little beauty from the early 1960’s called out to me – Simplicity 3462. Those models just look like they’re ready to hang around on a yacht – the sunglasses, the straw hat, the straw handbag, the blue and white fabrics. Cute! And I had just enough fabric to make the skirt – clearly, it was meant to be.

So, how did it go?
This pattern was nice and easy to put together. It was an unmarked one – lots of cute little holes that need to be translated. Which I nearly prefer to marked patterns I think – there’s so little information that they just tell you the bare essentials and no ‘clutter’ gets in the way to confuse things! (Plus, there’s something I really like about the idea of all these little holes being punched in patterns. Maybe I’m just strange like that. *shrug*)

The pattern itself was two sizes too small, so I simply added 4 inches around the skirt (1 inch at each side seam on both front and back pieces) and around the waistband. All of which was very easy to do, since this skirt is just made up of rectangles.

After seeing all the gorgeous vintage techniques lots of the lovely blogging sewing girls are using, I’ve been starting to feel a wee bit guilty about all the shortcuts I take, so this time I was a good little sewing girl and actually did some hand stitching where I was meant to – on the top of the pockets and the centre fronts of the skirt, to keep all three facings down flat. My slip stitch is definitely improving, I’m pleased to say! Although it still takes me forever, hence the 5 hours making time on a simple pattern. One day I’ll be brave enough to slip-stitch the entire hem as well – the circumference of this skirt scared me so I got lazy and machine-stitched it.

This skirt has gathers. Lots and lots and lots of gathers. Far more than you’d expect when you look at the picture. When you’re pinning the waistband onto the skirt and it says ‘adjust gathers to fit’, what it really means is ‘pull gathers as tight as you possibly can and then maybe you’ll have compressed it enough to fit the waistband’. So be warned – don’t try this in a heavy fabric. I used a light-medium weight cotton drill, and I think anything heavier would result in far too much bulk around the waistband. Next time I make it up, I’ll be using a soft, lightweight fabric, to see how that goes.

When it came time to put on the buttons, the only matching set I found with large enough (and enough) buttons was a set of white vintage buttons. I debated about it for a while, but in the end I just couldn’t do it – for some reason, white buttons on a navy button-up skirt reminds me too much of outfits that the mothers in my village used to wear when I was at primary school – visions of bad perms, Miami Wine Coolers and dances in the local hall. Yeah, I just don’t think I could make myself wear a skirt that reminded me of those times…. So I sifted through a stash of multi-coloured buttons, and found 8 burgundy ones that were more-or-less the same size. They’re all a little bit different – some have two holes, some have four, some have flower designs, one has super-sized holes, some have different textures. I quite like the variety. :-)

The verdict
While it makes me feel slightly nana-ish, I actually quite like this skirt! Because there is so much fabric around the waistband, it kinda needs to be worn with a top tucked into it. Which means I’ll probably only be wearing it during summer, which is a bit of a shame. But still, it’ll be nice to wear then! And those crazy large patch pockets will be useful – gotta love pockets in a skirt. Even super-large ones like this pattern has.

And now, the photos…
I must admit, I once again underestimated how long it would take me to make this skirt. Turns out I’m still not that fast at hand sewing, and it takes me a lot longer than I expect it to. So by the time I finished the skirt, Steve was off seeing a movie, and by the time he got home it was dark. So all those plans to go down to the marina were scuttled. But hey, all is not lost! Remember being a kid and playing with boats and rubber duckies in the bathtub and being captain of a toy tug boat? Exactly! It’s possible to be nautical within your own home.

And so I present to you – the Nautical Housewife skirt, all ready with a bathtub and a rubber duckie!

(PS I must admit – the top isn’t a me-made one. It felt like cheating to wear it, but at the same time it kinda completed the outfit, so I went with it. :-) )

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7 responses to “Nautical Housewife skirt

  1. Pingback: Simplicity 3462 «

  2. Your skit turned out fabulously! I love nautical!

  3. I adore your photos!! The bathroom and rubber duckie make for a perfect setting. I love the skirt, and bravo for avoiding the white buttons!! Burgundy works so well and just pops on the navy! Excellent job!

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