Self-stitched September: Day 23

Today I finally wore this grey wool skirt, which is refashioned. Now, clearly instead of blogging about what I wear I should be searching ‘photography’ in the library catalogue, because I can only achieve two main looks in my picture taking lately. Super dark, or super light. In this case I think the super light photos actually do more justice to the clothes, although they obliterate part of me.

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Let me tell you the story of this. A while ago, I was strategizing about the Perfect Winter Grey Skirt.

In this case, I was daydreaming about a cozy skirt with an elastic waist. Yup – elastic, just wondering if it would be possible to do without looking frumpy. I was inspired by a dress I have which, although it has a rather fancy fine herringbone texture, is actually a heavy knit fabric, meaning it looks smart but is so very comfortable. But knits of that type are often polyester, which isn’t my favourite. I began wondering about the possibilities of wool. But, in the end, not having worked with it enough, I was unsure about trying to order any fabric online and unsure if I could even find what I was imagining.

Then, one day, I was snooping around our local charity shop. I spied a skirt that looked like wool, and checked the label to see that it was. Moreover it was from Hobbs. (Pause to drool.) It was too big for me, and it had an asymmetrical water-fall drape down the front, but the shape and fabric were really beautiful. I believe it’s boiled wool, which is originally a knitted fabric which is then felted in hot water, making the fibres bond together so the resulting fabric is thick and felted, but with some residual give from the original knitted structure.


I decided to chance it, paid a few pounds for it, and took it home to alter. I did three main alterations:

  • Cut off the top, which was elasticated, and then skinnied up the side seams to make it fit my waist.
  • Re-attached the cut-off top as a waistband.
  • Pulled out the front seam, where the drapery bit was attached, cut off the drape, and re-sewed the seam as a plain seam.


Above you can see the seam down the front where the drape used to be. It’s not centred – the triangle yoke at the top is asymmetrical and the seam goes straight down from there.

There is no zipper or anything – it’s so stretchy it just pulls on. Which of course means it is also stretchy enough to accommodate some enchiladas and nachos for dinner, or some lazy slumping on the sofa. Success!

This is probably an inverse example of something I mentioned before – a smart style in casual fabric. Here, I would say that boiled wool was a smart fabric, but in the form of a comfy elastic-waisted skirt it’s essentially a casual style, though it might not look it from a distance.

Finally, I want to say a word on behalf of wool. I think it gets a bad rap – I certainly used to think of it as 1) scratchy and 2) dry clean only and hence a hassle. But the scratchiness is really a factor of the quality and type of wool – at least have an open mind. And most wool clothes don’t need to be worn next to your skin anyway. Additionally, as for the dry-clean factor, I never bother. In my experience a gentle hand wash in lukewarm water, with a drop of dish detergent, and some gentle rolling up in a towel, works fine. I never launder wool every time I wear it – maybe once a year, or twice if it’s a sweater. Obviously I don’t have small children getting me dirty every day, but for my life right now, I have no problem with the occasional hand washing. Finally, wool is naturally fire-retardant and slightly water-resistant (it keeps sheep dry, after all), and dries quite fast.

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