Pleated Wool Skirt

My three daughters participate in a special choir, and they each needed a dark-colored skirt for their January 21 event.

My husband and daughter found a very nice Pendleton wool skirt for my oldest daughter, Hannah, but nothing for sizes smaller than our oldest.

So, what’s a mom to do?

Tucked in my memory was an article in Creative Needle magazine by Carol Harris from October of 2004 with instructions for making a sweet grey wool pleated skirt that was combined with a pretty light pink jacket.

I called Ginny at Ginny’s Fine Fabric in Rochester, Minnesota. I had a delightful time finding the right fabric with Ginny. Following our phone conversation, she sent a wonderful letter with a few samples of wool fabrics that she carries in my price range. When I was ready to order, she handled everything via the phone and sent the yardage I needed to my home.

I have to say, since this was my first skirt of this kind, I studied everything that I could. I found several resources online. Particularly useful was an article from Threads magazine. I found Claire Shaeffer’s writing in her books, Couture Sewing Techniques, and Fabric Sewing Guide to be very helpful. A friend from our local smocking guild chapter also gave me a few tips from her experience and encouragement, and loaned me her Rajah Cloth for setting the pleats permanently.

My husband and daughter delivered the wool to our local dry cleaner for a preshrink treatment. (I have read there used to be professional “pleating” services for this type of skirt.) It came back nicely pressed and draped on a hanger, ready to go.

I was able to rip two lengths of fabric on grain and then mark where I wanted the pleats with tailor’s chalk. Working from the hem line, I folded and gently steamed the pleats and hand-basted them in place up to about 7 inches from the waist. The pleats needed to be tailored in (reduced in width) from my daughter’s hip measurement to her waist measurement, meeting the waist band appropriately. When everything was in place, the final step was setting the pleats permanently.

Lydia wore her new skirt again on Sunday. There is no better encouragement than to see her wear something that is pretty and that fits her well. My next project is one for Madelyn.

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