Felt cactus applique skirt! (using Simplicity 1659)

by tina vines on August 12, 2012 · 38 comments

in 1950s,Applique,Embroidery,Skirts,Vintage Sewing

Hello fellow sewers!

My boyfriend & I just took a road trip from Northern California to Austin, Texas and along the way we drove thru Arizona. I had never visited Arizona before and was extremely excited to see the saguaro cactus & gorgeous desert landscape! I instantly had the idea to make a cactus skirt for the occasion! I drew inspiration from vintage tourist items, especially the Mexican tourist jackets!

I used Simplicity 1659 (again) as my basic skirt to start out with…

Simplicity 1659

I knew that I wanted to cut the cactus from felt & appliqué them to the skirt using a blanket stitch. Here is my quick sketch of the basic idea…

Before i cut the cactus out of felt, i drew on my skirt with chalk to get a basic idea of the layout.

Next, I drew the shapes of the cactus on my felt with chalk & cut them with a rotary cutter.

Then, I pinned my cactus to the skirt over my chalk layout & began to blanket stitch them to the skirt. This was very time consuming, but also very relaxing.

Finally, I added some details to each cactus by top stitching with my embroidery floss.


Here are some finished shots!! I just loved wearing my skirt in Arizona! Some of these photos are taken at the Hotel Congress in Tucson, AZ…if you haven’t been there, i highly recommend it! It is decorated in an art deco southwestern theme & the rooms are as they were in the 1930s..amazing!


I can’t wait to use this technique for another project!


This post was written by...

– who has written 5 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

im a vintage-loving gal living in berkeley, california who runs a traditional, hand-painted sign shop with her talented boyfriend & loves sewing from vintage patterns! www.vintagelovingal.wordpress.com

tina vines's posts / tina vines's website

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadia Lewis August 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm



Parismegs August 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm



Bessie Miller August 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm

That is awesome! I love it! :D My husband and I traveled through Arizona last year, and I was blown away by how beautiful it was. Very different from the north Georgia mountains where we live!

Great job with your skirt!


Tina C. August 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

This is adorable and beautiful!


PepperReed August 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Fantastic! What a fun and interesting skirt! I love the color you chose for the ‘sky’ and the applique is really great.


Anonymous August 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

You absolutely nailed it. Applause!


Toni Gatlin August 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Super cute, and the shape is so flattering on you.

I’d love to know how you did your hair; it’s adorable!


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Thank you! As for the hair, there are some great tutorial videos on youtube. look for one featuring Miss Amanda Lee, she’s lovely!


Yasmine August 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Just darling!


Danielle August 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

That looks wonderful! How creative :)


amonik August 13, 2012 at 12:52 am

Love it! What kind of felt did you use and how do you wash it?


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thank you! I used the most basic felt that I could find at JoAnn fabrics. it is easy to work with & comes in lots of great colors. As for washing it, honestly I dont plan on ever washing it. If needed, I will spot clean it. However, I doubt it will ever need a full washing.


paloverde August 13, 2012 at 2:37 am

I live in Tucson (I’m a native) and I have to say that your skirt fits in perfectly with a 40s or 50s Southwestern aesthetic. If I’d come across the skirt for sale in a shop, I’d probably buy it in an instant. Love it.


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thank you, its great to hear from a true desert native that my skirt fits in! Hooray, mission accomplished!


mrburnett August 13, 2012 at 6:11 am

Awesome! ! Love the colors!


mel August 13, 2012 at 6:15 am

How cute! Would wear this for sure!


LittleBlackCar August 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

I think this might be one of my favorite We Sew Retro posts, ever. I absolutely love this skirt! What a terrific idea!


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thank you so much, thats really sweet!


Sarah August 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

This is fantastic! How you have worn it really makes the skirt, so appropriate!


Ju-Ju Swagger August 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

That turned out fabulous! Cute, unique, and it looks wonderful on you! Thanks so much for sharing it.


Lizzy August 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

Very cute skirt!


Joni August 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

This is the best thing. Congratulations. You win FOREVER.


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

WOW! that is quite the compliment!! Thank you..i’ll take it!


EmSewCrazy August 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Wonderful! How inspiring to take the time to do handwork! Fabulous job!


Charlotte August 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Too damn cool!

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha’penny Vintage


Cindy August 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Great job!


Dellis August 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Love the details of how you created this fantastic skirt.
Thanks so much for taking time for that, and for posting.
Great job!!!


Dellis August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

P.S. Specially love the giant rickrack on waistband!


Janey August 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Oh my gosh!! This is too fabulous!! I love novelty skirts and cacti! You have perfectly married the two!



tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Thank you so much Janey! I am totally inspired by your Disneyland skirt that I read all about on your blog & defintely had that in my mind when creating this skirt. I just love how yours turned out! :)


Zoe August 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

So cute! Well done for making such an awesome and fun skirt. I hope you get lots of joy from wearing it xx


tina vines August 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thank you all so much for the wonderful comments! Im really proud of this project & it means a lot to get such great feedback from all of you!!


Ande August 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

LOVE! Super cute and the embroidered details make it. Nice work! Now, tell me how you do your hair!


Janice August 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

Looks totally awesome! I love the cactus applique.


The Vintage Traveler August 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I just love this. Absolutely perfect for Tucson and the desert.


Patrice August 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

All I can say is…WOW!!


Housewife Betty August 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Any time you can use the word “cacti,” you know it’s a good day! We also visited Arizona last year and agree that it is spectacular. What a darling skirt! This skirt reminds me of a 1940′s or 1950′s vintage novelty skirt. I agree if I saw this in an antiques haunt, I’d totally buy it. I especially love seeing your progress from sketch to finished skirt. Fab!


tina vines August 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Thank yoy so much! I agree, you cannot go wrong with cacti!!


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