As much as I love Christmas trees, I am always so drawn by what is under them…and I don’t just mean the presents! I mean the displays of nativity scenes, tiny winter dioramas, scale train sets, or even just a tree skirt that is made out of a fantastic material. Every tree is as special and wonderful as each one of us are! So here I am imitating the tree as well as staying warm “in the bleak mid-winter”, all the while finding a way to be fancy for the big holiday with this ankle-length, uber-full, 3-tiered, velveteen skirt. It is a plush forest green color accented with delicate gold mesh ribbon trim…to me, a wearable version of all the glitz and glamour I love about a Christmas conifer! Worn with a metallic yarn sweater (not made by me), poinsettias, and even ornaments, I am the second tree, I suppose.
This over-a-decade old skirt project is something I am quite proud to still be wearing. This was a something I made for a Christmas circa 2006. I realize it is often frowned upon to both keep and wear clothes for this long, but my skirt is made so well (not specifically meaning to brag), nicely treated (it gets worn maybe twice a year around Christmas, thus in newly made condition), and is a such a basic design that I feel is perennially elegant. Besides…it still fits me anyway!
FABRIC: a cotton blend velveteen lined in pastel mint green poly
PATTERN: McCall’s #5005 pattern for skirts, year 2005
THE INSIDES: cleanly serged (overlocked)
From what I remember this was an easy make that became challenging due to the copious amount of fabric (3 yards in total) and all the gathering. How I afforded that many yards of fabric back then I don’t remember so I must have found it at a steal of a price or convinced my mom to pitch in for me. This is a really nice, heavy, fluffy velvet that makes you want to cuddle up with it. I was on a velvet “kick” back then (see this wine velveteen skirt I also made way back) and I still have some of my acquisitions from that fabric buying high sitting in current stash, so one winter yet I will go on another spree of sewing more velvet creations.
As usual, I adapted the pattern. My change only was to make my life easier back then because I was not 100% comfortable with zippers, much less invisible ones. I went a size up higher for what had been a faced, form-fitting waistline of the top panel so that I could add elastic to make it a pull-on skirt instead. There is a casing to my skirt with elastic for only the sides and back ¾ of the waistline so that the center front over the belly could be smooth and bulk-free. In hindsight, I am glad I made a waistline that is adjustable – because of it I’m probably able to wear this for 12-something years. However, I did not bother to finish off the top edge of the waistline because I really never tucked things in to my skirts or pants at that time (I mostly liked to wear stuff at my hips as a teen, anyway). Now that I do tuck more tops in and am not as afraid of a defined waist, and wish I had bothered to take the extra time to do that art of my skirt better “just in case” my style changed. Oh well, the rest of the skirt was done nicely!
My second major change was to make the bottom third panel of the skirt longer. I did not like the idea of the bottom tier being an obnoxious ruffle, which is the way it would have been had I stuck to the pattern as-is. By lengthening the third row, it appears to be more like another panel to the skirt rather than a hem ruffle, besides making it the elegant ankle length I wanted. I am so glad I made this adaptation. This skirt brings out the inner princess in me the way it swoops, swishes, and covers a staircase when I walk down steps. When I hold my skirt up to turn or walk sometimes, it reminds me of the way Cinderella or Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” hold their dresses up while dancing. Twirling is especially great in this skirt…the sweep is tremendous! I suppose I’ll never grow out of my old childhood dress-up dreams!
As velveteen (just like corduroy) has the tendency to “stick” to other materials worn both over and under it, I fully lined the inside of the skirt with a slimmer two-piece bias skirt out of the mint colored polyester. The lining’s A-line shape does not match the width of the velvet skirt, I know, but a full underskirt would have only poufed out my velvet skirt in a way that would not have made it as wearable, only more costume-y. The slim lining skirt underneath lets the gathers hang on their own and actually keeps my body heat in nicely. I can totally wear some skinny knit pants under this skirt when it is really cold out and no one would know the better. Between the poly lining and velvet, dressing up doesn’t mean I have to compromise class.
I don’t exactly remember how I cut the velvet out, but I must have cut each of the tiered panels on a different nap. This is something I would never do today, but I do quite like it on this skirt. Because the plush of the velvet brushes a different way, each panel has a slightly variable color to it. The middle panel especially has a frosted overtone to it that I love because it reminds me of the most picturesque part of winter – snow!
I really don’t frown upon my older and earlier makes even though I shake my head to see how far I’ve come and smile at the same time to see how I appreciate my work at any level. I like them nonetheless for not being up to my current sewing standards. I’ll admit, I had a “thing” in the 2000s for skirts that were flowing and feminine due to bias cut panels, ruffles, gathers (like this one), and all in longer lengths, more so than today. However, three rectangles of fabric can’t be that old-fashioned (can they?) and the 90’s and 2000 look is coming back today in conjunction with the 70’s hippie style, anyway. So here’s to rocking your own personal style in handmade fashion from whatever skill level you are! You made it…be proud of that and own the fact you created something wonderful. Respect those older sewing makes. Christmas is a time (besides many other things) for me to celebrate family and memories, and wearing this skirt lets me dress up in comfort while remembering my past and ruminating over the present.
I hope all of you had a wonderful, joyous Christmas that filled your heart and your mind with good memories, peace, and happiness. From my family, to you and yours – warm Holiday wishes!