Introduction: I Sewed My Wife a Skankette (It's a Skirt! It's a Blanket!)
A few weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook saying "A friend of mine in graduate school spent the winter in Sweden. She came back with something I can only describe as a winter wrap skirt-coat. It wrapped around her waist and reached the the tops of her feet. This one was water proof and lined with down. I've never seen anything like it in the US, but if I found something similar, I'd wear the crap out of that thing."
My wife, of course, said "Me toooooo!!!" We hunted around on the interwebs and found something at REI called the Skhoop that almost fit the bill. But not quite. So I said "I'll bet we can do better. Let's make one from scratch! We'll make it waterproof and warm and wrap around like the Swedish inspiration, but we'll make it beautiful so it suits outdoor dinner parties, not just hanging at the campfire post-hike."
My wife was stoked and immediately dubbed it the "Skankette! It's a Skirt! AND a blanket!!"
So we got to work. But before we dive in....
A note on pronunciation: The name is as versatile as the garment itself. Sure, you can toss it on over your jeans for sitting round the campfire toasting marshmallows. In this context, we recommend emphasizing the first syllable: SKANKette. However, when wearing to an outdoor dinner party (like the ones you can't escape on Pinterest where they've hauled a banquet table with candelabras in to the middle of a field), we recommend the French pronunciation: "SkankETTE". ;)
Ok, enough. Onward!
Step 1: Wait, How Do Skirts Work?
I have some experience sewing. But I don't have have a clue about skirts.
So Step 1 is: If you are not a skirt wearing individual, ask your wife (or other skirt-wearing individual) how they work. For this teachable moment, I recommend finding a sexy shaped flower vase, and the nearest cloth napkin with no pizza stains. This made for an excellent mini dress form.
I asked my wife all about how pleats work, how a wrap works, how the strings should tie, in what direction it should wrap, etc. etc. etc. I learned a lot about how the skirt might work, how it should drape, and tie.
For this Skankette, we decided the wrapping should start on the left hip, and wrap left (counter clockwise) and tie on the left hip. We picked knife pleats spaced at 2", and decided the skirt would fall just below the ankles.
Then it was time to shop for fabric.
Step 2: Shopping for Fabric
Outer Fabric: The purple outer fabric is waterproof. I got it at Wazoodle Fabrics: http://www.wazoodle.com/fabrics/pul-fabric/1mil-pu...
Details: ProSoft® Waterproof 1 mil PUL Fabric. Color Aubergine. 2 yards. $8.75 per yard. From their website: "We laminate our premium ProCool® Interlock fabric with a specially-treated 1-mil polyurethane film."
Inner Liner Fabric: The inner fabric is for warmth. I used felt but there are many options. I got it on Amazon, sold by: Nu-Source Incorporated
Details: 100% ACRYLIC FELT-1163, 72" WD X 1 YD - LT GREY. 2 yards. $6.75 per yard.
Next up, pleats please!
Step 3: Cutting Fabric to Size
We found that buying 2 yards of fabric was the perfect amount in this case. The 2 yard measurement is the direction that wraps around the waist. Keep in mind that the pleats will drastically reduce the final waist size, which is why 2 yards of fabric worked well. Also Keep in mind, this is a wrap, so you'll need extra fabric for the overlap. Depending on waist size, you might consider getting 3 yards of fabric so you have enough to play with if needed. For vertical length, just measure from waist down to ankles, or wherever you'd like the skirt to hang, and then add one inch in order to finish the bottom seam.
Hold on to the strip that you cut off the bottom. This will later be used for the belt.
Step 4: Pleats
We decided to use knife pleats, spaced at 2". In order to make 2" knife pleats, mark the edge of the fabric at 4" intervals. The edge that you are pleating is the long edge, that measures 2 yards. Pleat across the entire 2-yard length.
At each of the 4 inch marks, use a ruler to make 1 inch folds and pin it. See video below. A 1 inch fold uses 2 inches of fabric, leaving 2 inches between pleats:
Once the pleats are pinned, just go through and sew straight across them. I used a wide straight stitch.
Step 5: Attaching the Liner
To attach the felt liner (gray), spread the felt down on a large table or the floor, and lay the waterproof outer layer (purple) on top. Trace the pattern of the outer liner on to the inner felt liner. Once you have traced it, cut the inner liner 1 inch smaller than the outline you traced. This will give you an extra inch of outer liner fabric on each edge, which you can use to fold over and create finished edges.
To finish the edges, place strips of 1/4 bias tape 1.5 inches from the edges of the felt, and fold the edges of the (purple) outer liner over twice - first a half inch fold, and then another half inch. Do this on both side edges of the skirt, and the bottom. Do not finish the top pleated edge yet. Once you have folded the edges over, sew across the edges and you're set!
Step 6: Making the Belt
For the belt, you will need two pieces of the outer liner fabric. Each should be 2 yards long, and 4 inches wide. This should be easy to cut from the scrap left over after cutting the outer liner to the right length back in Step 2.
First, sew the two long strips together, forming one long strip that is 4 inches wide, and 4 yards long.
Now you will fold one inch toward the center from each side, creating 2-inch wide strips. To do this, place a 3/4" wide strip of bias tape down the center of the strip. Then, fold the edges toward the center so they meet. Now the strip is 2 inches wide.
Folding the 2 inch strip in half again will form the final 1 inch wide belt. However, the belt also forms the finished edge of the top of the skirt along the pleats.
Fold the belt in half again so it is 1 inch wide, and start sewing down the edge to create the final 1 inch wide belt. Position the belt so that it seals the upper edge of the skirt, covering the pleats.
TIP: I love using binder clips to hold things like this. It's quick and easy and doesn't leave any holes. It's also great for holding things that are very thick.
Position the belt so that about 70 inches hang off the left of the Skankette and about 30 inches hang off the right. This will allow the final bow to tie over the left hip.
Finally, sew and cut a 1.5 inch button hole 12 inches from the right edge near the waist. This will be used to pass the belt through when putting on the wrap.
Step 7: How to Put It On
- Start on the left hip, and wrap left, counter clockwise.
- Pass the belt through the hole.
- Keep wrapping so the Skankette ends in the center, or over the left hip.
- tie a bow.
- Stay warm, dry, and toasty, so you can watch the sunset with your husband instead of going inside because you're too cold.