Thursday, 15 May 2014

Almost a Vintage Scottish Pipers Skirt

When I say "almost", it's just because this skirt isn't really vintage. Well, but it IS, somehow. The fabric is a true vintage fabric from the 1950s. I spotted it when I was browsing Etsy for vintage border fabrics. Most of them were unaffordable for my small budget. Or they were too short to make a decent full skirt. First I was thinking about flowers, something not too bright, and certainly not on a white background. (I always feel fat when I wear white...)

But then I was hit by this beauty, it was really love at first sight. You may wonder, but Scotland is my favourite country. It' not just my preferred travel destination, it's a deep love I feel for this particular place on earth for it's history and culture and it's inhabitants. I used to travel there several times when I was much younger and always felt like coming home. If I had not married my husband, I probably would have left Switzerland to live there. Breed sheep. Grow turnips. Knit sweaters. Make whisky. Something like that.

Anyway, I have a good live here, I have a lovely husband and two marvelous kids. (I guess I mentioned it before.) But sometimes I'm a little bit homesick. And then I need something to comfort myself. Instead of drinking myself with a good bottle of single malt (believe me, I have a few!), I buy items that are Scottish. So I had to have that fabric. It was certainly a little bit more expensive than what I planned to spend on a border print, but then, it was just gorgeous. A truly Scottish-themed border print, vintage, unique! And despite the ecru background - well, at least there's some green and black on it, two of my favourite colours... The seller was delighted to hear I was going to make a full skirt. I think, it would have been a pity to cut this beauty.

When it arrived I was amazed how crisp it was. I would say it is a kind of pipeline, as the crispness remained after washing. It has some small greyish spots that didn't wash out, but I think this is part of this skirt's history, and it vanishes mostly in the fullness of the skirt.
The pipers and drummers are just fantastic! Have you ever seen a band of pipers and drummer perform? Of course they are in full gear. (I guess at this point I should admit that I think men in kilts are very attractive.) There are sketches of monuments etc., tiny drums and bagpipes, coaches, pedestrians with umbrellas (come-on, the weather is NOT that bad in Scotland...). The selvedges are done so well I was thinking about leaving them unhemmed to keep as much of the dotted border as possible. But then, after asking an expert, I decided to take it up one inch. The skirt would fall nicer than without hem.

I was uncertain about the pattern for this skirt. I didn't want just an average gathered or pleated skirt. And I knew I would make a black waistband, as I didn't want to waist some of the border print fabric to make the band of the same material, keeping as many of "my pipers" and making the skirt as full as possible!

Finally I found this pattern I had bought on Etsy for only a few dollars as the instructions were missing. It's a Butterick 7617 in size 12 from 1956. The same year as my wedding gown!

The skirt is made of a very long part that has several darts along the waist. The spaces between the darts are gathered. I made pleats instead, except for the front part so the belly would look a little bit flatter.

I took the lower part of the bodice pattern to create a pointed waistband.

I'm not sure if it would have turned out better by gathering the fabric, maybe I will undo the waistband and try it out, but I needed something to wear last tuesday for an event so I definitely HAD to finish the skirt.

That's how the print joins in the back middle seam. One drummer has 3 arms and is also a piper. How weird is that? But at least I didn't have to cut away the poor guy. :-)

I decided to sew in the zipper only in the skirt, not the waistband, and to close the band with some buttons. Mainly because a white zipper would be too visible in the black waistband, and buttons could be moved, just in case I lost or added some weight. Of course I had some black vintage buttons.

True vintage buttons. I bought them on Etsy.

After all I'm quite happy with the skirt. It's certainly a unique piece, and it's absolutely me.

Vintage and Scottish. My son was fascinated by the pipers and drummers. While the skirt was still put on my dummy (her name is Kunigunde), he was walking around and around pointing at each of the kilted men. Priceless!

Sorry about the blurry pictures. We have currently such a bad weather here in Switzerland... I will post very soon some better shots of me wearing the skirts with a petticoat. Promised!


  1. OMG!!! That´s.... wordless!!! That skirt is amazing and you should be proud of wearing a piece of history. I also love Scotland! I would like to go there sometime ....

    1. Rosy, thank you so very much. The skirt is OK, I mean, it's certainly not a masterpiece - but the fabric IS amazing! I often wonder who bought it, and why it was never used... But then, it's really wonderful to find such materials and make finally a garment from it.
      You really should go to Scotland! I imagine it will be quite an experience for you, especially regarding the weather. But Scotland is beautiful even when it's rainy, so all you have to have is the right gear. :)

      ♥ Doris


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