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Sewing the 209 walking skirt by Folkwear

 
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This is about sewing the Folkwear pattern 209 Walking Skirt.

After many years of searching for a practical skirt, I finally caved in and bought a Victorian Walking Skirt pattern.  



Elements I really like about this pattern.
  • it's long - I like ankle length skirts
  • it's designed to be sewn with woven fabric - not stretch (my machine only does straight stitch)
  • it's flat at the front (the gore is centred on the front) which makes a skirt much easier to work in


  • The biggest problems are
    1. I'm not much of a sewer
    2. My sewing machine is 100 years old and only does one stitch - straight
    3. I don't know how well this skirt will look with modern shoes and tops.



    It's going to be a week or two until the pattern arrives, but I think I could start preparing now.  Maybe I can find some old fabric in my stash that I can make my first skirt from - that way I can familiarize myself with the pattern before spending money on new fabric.

    In the mean time, I'm looking for accounts of other people making this skirt so I can read about what it's like.
     
    pollinator
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    I have a couple skirts that are similar, but they were goodwill finds.  I love the skirts for easy movement, but I find they sometimes trip me up due to length.  Its probably just me, but I find when I am crouched down, the material gathers by my feet and I have repeatedly torn the bottoms of skirts when I stand.

    In the case of one with an elastic waist, I stood up too quickly, not realizing I was standing on the hem and essentially pantsed (deskirted?) myself in public 😳 More than you ever wanted to know, but figured I would throw it out there as a warning😀.

    I usually wear them with just a basic black or blue t-shirt and whatever shoes are closest to the door.  

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you create!
     
    gardener
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    I have not sewn this specific pattern. However, if you are troubled by the pleats in the back you could change them into gathers. Assuming your fabric is of the drapey variety, ummm... not stiff. The gathers would however, be distributed over a wider area at the waist.
     
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    As long as they are measured correctly and pinned pleats are very easy. I would consider making the waistband a bit wider (2 inches or so) and then adding some elastic to the very back portion so there is a little "give" especially if your weight fluctuates 3-4 lbs up and down.

    As far as it looking okay with modern clothes, that depends on the type of material you choose and what you wear with it. I wear jeans 99% of the time so i could see a skirt like that done in denim or a solid canvas type color (that dirt can be "brushed/wiped off of" so it doesn't constantly need to be washed). If it was paired with low heeled boots and a fitted top I think it could be cute. Course if you want to have any "shape" you will want tops that are contoured to your waistline (historically women that wore these full skirts always emphasized their waistlines).

    Maybe you can check the thrift stores and see if there are any sewing machines? The hemlines of those skirts are very wide, I can't imagine making one (or more) without a reasonably fast machine that could do zig-zag to finish the edges and the hemline etc...

    Also if you have very little sewing experience maybe look up youtube videos for things like "sewing pleats" and "sewing a waistband) so you see it being done and visualize what you are doing as you make this. You don't want to just follow the pattern directions blindly, you want to visualize how the piece will fit into the finished product so things aren't sewn in reverse/wrong side out.
     
    r ranson
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    I was so excited when my pattern arrived this evening.  Ten days early!  Well done.

    Only... hmmm... this pattern envelope looks a bit beat up.  I suppose it could be old stock that got bashed about a bit.  But it's a bit bulky for a new pattern.  

    And I open the pattern and it's not new.  It's all cut up, with pinholes and perforations.  Torn in places.

    I got a used pattern for the price of a new one (I triple checked the listing and it said "condition: new" in several places).  It doesn't even have all the sizes of the current pattern.  It's certainly vintage.  

    After shipping and everything else, that pattern cost more than I usually spend on groceries for a week but I thought it would be worth it because Here is a pattern I could treat gently, trace onto tracing paper and make last the rest of my life.  I am disappointed.  It's taken the joy right out of the project and I don't know how to get it back.

    Thankfully I bought it on amazon marketplace and they have a good history of resolving issues like this.  I'm in communication with the seller to see what solutions they can come up with.  Even if they take it back, it would cost an extra twenty bucks to get the new pattern from the source.  I don't know if it's worth it.

    I know this is such a little thing to get down about and there are plenty of possible solutions - but this little thing brought the weight of a really bad day down hard.  Like dropping a fridge on my big toe.  I'm sure things will look brighter in the morning.

     
    gardener
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    Bummer Raven! I think the seller will make good on it, perhaps even offering something more than you expect. The seller likely needs shoppers like you, and probably needs amazon and I doubt they want unhappy customers and a not-so-glowing review.

    I bought a book on Amazon last year. It was advertised as new, sold as new, and I got a dinged up used book. I contacted the seller, they apologized, refunded all my money, and said keep the book. I left them a very nice review.
     
    Lucrecia Anderson
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    That is too bad. If I really wanted to use the pattern personally I would find the pieces closest to my size and iron them on the wool setting to flatten the paper out. Then trace it onto other paper. The only important marks that need to be included would be the special marks like the pleats, zipper, center back, and of course the name of each section. You don't need the actual instructions as there are lots of tutorials online.

    Since this skirt has a bunch of pleats you don't need to worry too much about the pieces all being the right size, just make sure the waste band is big enough and if you use different size pieces make sure you cut them all the same length (or cut them all x-long and fix it when you hem it, which is what I always do). The skirt width can be adjusted later, that sort of pattern is very forgiving since there is lots of extra material.

    After tracing it then it could be returned and if it was advertised as "new" I wouldn't feel guilty about returning it either! Especially if it was over $10.
     
    Joylynn Hardesty
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    Have you considered Butterick patterns? Today's the last day of a sale, US $3.99 ea. https://butterick.mccall.com/b6537



    It has the same look, but with modern sewing methods... For example, Folkwear pattern 209 Walking Skirt looks like it doesn't have a zipper, just a foldover. Butterick would have a zipper.

    I would shorten the back hemline to avoid dragging the hem.
     
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    I was really excited when I saw your original post - it looked like a perfect loose skirt for those really hot, humid days of summer. But the price of that pattern was more than I could justify as a learn-to-sew project and I didn't want to wait for shipping.

    I ended up buying this pattern https://www.scrooppatterns.com/products/fantail-skirt-historical. You print out the pattern and then glue it together. I ended up making the skirt out of a king-sized egyptian cotton flat sheet from value-village. It takes a LOT of fabric. I haven't put the waistband on or hemmed it yet, but it has been reasonably easy to sew so far and seems to fit well. It has a button  closure (which is a plus to me, as I hate sewing zippers).  I did have to read some of the instructions 3+ x before understanding it, and the placket was a bit of a challenge.

    As far as making it look modern enough for everyday wear - mine's probably not, but it might be if you used a different fabric and hemmed it to the right length.
     
    r ranson
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    Well, this is getting worse.

    After careful consideration, I sent an email to the seller basically saying I don't think it's right that they hold my refund until I promise to give them a five-star review.

    Kind of cheesed off today.  It's like I ordered and paid for a new Tesla with all the trimmings and they send me this

    I'm sure amazon.ca will find a suitable solution if I escalate to involve them in the conversation.  I'm giving the seller one last chance to make things right.  

    Talk about a way to suck the joy out of a project.  
     
    r ranson
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    Things escalated and I ended up reporting the seller to Amazon for bullying and attempting to intimidate me.  The seller called me unreasonable for expecting them to deliver what I bought.  Sigh.  I suppose I could leave a bad review, but I know that would hurt their business more than some coaching from Amazon.  

    I know this isn't about sewing the skirt, but it is about getting the pattern.  I don't feel comfortable using the pattern while the issue is still under dispute.  Acquiring patterns here is far more difficult than it should be.

    And I'm still confused as to what fabric to use.  

    I really wish my Grandma was still here.  She would take me out and help me buy the fabric I need and I could visit her twice a week for help with the difficult bits of sewing the pattern.  I really miss my Grandmother right now.  She was a seamstress and her speciality was in high-end garments.  Customers that were a different shape (like hunchback or suffering from childhood polio).  They would borrow the dress from the shops and my grandmother would take the dresses apart, trace the pattern and hand sew them back together in about an hour.  Then she would take the pattern and make a dress that fit the customer.  

    I really miss her right now.  I wonder if the city has a grandmother I could rent for a day and have her take me cloth shopping for my first attempt at this skirt.  

    That's the thing about being bullied.  It's designed to make you doubt yourself and feel alone.  Make one feel that they are being unreasonable for standing up for themselves.  It makes me want my comforts of my family.  

    At this point, I would be very happy to buy a skirt if I could find one that matched my needs.  


     
    gardener
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    It sounds like this is exactly the kind of behavior that deserves to hurt the business.   How many other people are receiving unusable products for full price from these people?  I even think handicrafts like sewing tend to attract a disproportionate quantity of very gentle souls who are most likely to take the abuse quietly. It's the kind of hobby that keeps someone busy and gives satisfaction with minimal human interaction. It sounds like you are in exactly the same boat. When even positive interactions can be overwhelming,  bullies impact can feel magnified.
     
    Casie Becker
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    Years ago I was invited to a week long SCA event. With very little sewing experience I stumbled across this article http://forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/Tunics/TUNICS.HTML and was able to construct multiple outfits I comfortably wore during that week of camping.  I think adding a solid band across the waist with buttons on the sides might make a good skirt.  You could probably even add deep pockets at the side seams to further increase functionality.

    Mind you,  I never seem to follow instructions on any handicraft that doubles as art.  It's why I am not a baker.
     
    r ranson
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    Maybe it's just living this far north with the darkness of two more months of winter before me, or maybe it's just I was disappointed in myself for having such unreasonable expectations of being able to get what I bought.  This whole project got me in such a funk that I couldn't do anything on this project.  So today, I opened up the pattern and started trying to find some cloth that I could use to make a mock-up.  

    And I discovered that there is no size chart in this pattern.  The large makes a size 14-16, which means nothing because these aren't standard sizes in North America.  The pattern that I actually got is older than me, so it only has the three sizes (instead of the 6 sizes I was expecting).  I did some research and it looks like what was Large back in the 1970s, is insufficient for me now.  I'm not getting huge, but I am no longer malnourished with a less than healthy, very tender to touch, Crohn's belly.

    Long and the short of it is, I can't make this skirt.

    If I knew how to sew, I could probably just take what I have and draft a new pattern that fit me.  But I don't.  





     
    Catie George
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    Raven - I saw you are still having difficulties the Amazon seller of the walking skirt pattern. That's really frustrating!!!  I am going to be optimistic and hope you will eventually get to do this project. I had a lot of fun with my version

    If you ever get your money back, I'm still really pleased with the pattern I linked to. The woman who made it is a historical costumer/works in a museum, so it's based on a bunch of period skirts made with the same era of sewing machine you have. The instructions are very detailed and have diagrams/sketches of what to do, and the size range is good, with a clear sizing chart. I am not small, and there were still a few sizes above me. I like it enough that I am thinking of trying to figure out how to make this skirt into a dress pattern to wear to an event!

    I saw that you were worried about fabric choices and wishing for a sewing-grandmother for advice. I'm not a grandmother, or a great sewer, but I'll pass on the advice I got from my mother while making this!  My mother sewed most of her clothing in her teens and twenties, did formal lessons, and is a perfectionist with sewing. She helped me with my skirt, and showed me some techniques to get a nicer product.

    For fabric choices - anything without an obvious plaid/check/large scale pattern/directionality will be easier and cheaper for this pattern. If you start having to match fabric/patterns it will take even more fabric. I'd suggest making a muslin of the skirt before shelling out for 4+ m of expensive nice fabric. I used a thrift store bedsheet because I liked the fabric (a bit heavier than most sheets) and it was cheap. It required pretty much the entire king sized flat sheet to make it.  A nice linen, heavier cotton, or woven wool would work well, esp. if you line the wool (pretty much any medium to heavy weight woven fabric, except thick denim).  This pattern wouldn't be great for stretchy fabrics, knit fabrics, fabrics which are really loosely woven, or fabrics without body. I used a sateen cotton, and don't like the sheen of it.  You may be able to piece the fabric and significantly reduce how much fabric this uses.  

    Some construction tips:
    - In general, ironing is key. You should spend far more time ironing than sewing.
    - Use the best quality thread you can. I used Coats, because it was on half price and I am cheap, but Gutermann sews much more nicely.
    - Make sure you prewash fabric to remove any starch/sizing before cutting it.  
    - While laying out the pattern pieces, rough cut them (bigger than the size you want) before pinning them onto the fabric. Make any pattern adjustments at this stage (for example I was a different waist and hip size, so graded between them - basically a straight line for this pattern). I like using a highlighter to mark the pattern I do want to cut to. You may, if you are short like me, take some length off the skirt if necessary at this stage  (or can forget like i did, and do it when hemming).  
    - Lay fabric all flat when cutting out, and line up the grain line markings to be parallel (or perpendicular) to the selvedge edges. I had to do this on the floor. Measure (repeatedly) to make sure that they are perfectly in line. Pin in one place, then rotate around the pin until in line, then pin down the pattern piece completely, smoothing it/the fabric out as you go. Repeat for all pieces.
    - Tailor tack/mark all pattern markings onto the pattern. For my fabric, I had to mark front/back as it was directional with a slight sheen, but really hard to tell.
    - Cut out the fabric pieces roughly around the pattern pieces, if desired, to separate them before doing the detailed cutting.
    - Make sure you iron EVERY seam OPEN before moving on to the next step (even if the seam is eventually folded over, this will look better.
    - For the skirt - make sure you chose one direction to sew from and stick with it (don't sew top to bottom on one piece, and bottom to top on another).
    - I top stitched my waist band, and used fusible cotton interfacing in the waistband + placket. This makes it stiffer, especially if you are using a loosely woven or lightweight fabric, and makes it look crisper. You could use a non fusible interfacing (or some fabric) for the same purpose, but my mother is very much of the opinion that fusible interfacing is the BEST THING EVER.  
    - When doing the pleats - make sure you mark the pattern with both bottom and top, and really well iron them. The top of the waistband should look like a straight line if the pleats are folded correctly. Pin these in multiple places to make sure they don't shift while you are sewing, then baste with the largest stitch length on your sewing machine to keep them in place before you attach the waistband.

    I am not sure what you have for tools, but all of the following were really helpful:
    - Seam ripper
    - sewing gauge (ruler with a slider)
    - Sewing measuring tape
    -Tailor's chalk
    -Lots of straight pins

    Potential things i would do if I were to do this again
    - Figure out pockets - there is a tutorial on the site I bought my pattern from on how to alter for pockets
    - Don't accidentally use a tiny stitch length, then realize that I made a mistake and need to spend half an hour with a seam ripper because the stitches are so small...
    - Get someone else to measure me so I don't measure wrong and have to adjust sizing halfway through sewing (changing the size of angled pleats is a pain!).

    I hope some of this is helpful!
     
    gardener
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    Raven - you could make your own pattern. Make it up in , say, sheeting or muslin first to check that its ok.

    measure your waist and hips, add on two inches to each of those measurements,  then measure the distance between your waist and hips at the widest point. Decide on the flare you want.

    fold a large piece of paper in half length wise and add your measurements as shown in the tacky drawing below.

    This will give you one quarter of the pattern, half when you unfold.  add 1/2 inch ll round for seams, fold waistband and thread some elastic through and hey presto! As I said, make it up in something cheap at first to check fit etc. When I want a skirt, this is what I do.  I am just about to make one for my nieces wedding in some gorgeous fabric I found online.
    For a walking skirt I think you could go for a suedette.
    20190222_101859.jpg
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    not an artist.....
    natalie-s-wedding.jpg
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    suedette.jpg
    [Thumbnail for suedette.jpg]
     
    r ranson
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    The trouble getting the pattern built quite a large emotional wall in the way of this project.  But I'm slowly climbing it.  

    My biggest problem right now is that I don't know what fabric to use.  

    But to help build courage here's a video.

     
    master pollinator
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    I think typical denim or canvas would be far too heavy for typical, day to day wear. Muslin, twill, chambray, or gaberdine would be would be a good spring,summer, early autumn weight; wool or a heavier weight muslin or twill, for later autumn, winter, early spring. But, if you want to go picking say raspberries or blackberries, doing much gardening, etc, I'd either switch to jeans or use a light to medium weight denim or canvas.
     
    Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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    How is the skirt going?
     
    Gravity is a harsh mistress. But this tiny ad is pretty easy to deal with:
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