Circle Skirts and Vertical Stripes? Ask the Sears Catalog!

March 19, 2010

What was I thinking? Last night I sat down to wash the fabric and tape together the skirt pattern for my mini-wardrobe contest entry–it’s an elastic-shirred waist circle skirt in a purple lawn print, which I planned to make reversible by lining with a black dotted swiss cotton lawn. Here are the flats and planned fabric again:

Burda 7910 flatsMaggie London Purple, Black and White Cotton Lawn

As I ironed the fabric dry last night, I realized that the bold motifs ran in vertical stripes down the fabric–how would I ever lay this out with my bagel-shaped pattern pieces?

In my doubts I turned to one of my favorite fashion reference books, “Everyday Fashions of the Fifties: As Pictured in Sears Catalogs” (second in my heart only to “Everyday Fashions of the Forties”). My worst fears were confirmed–there was nary a vertically-striped (or otherwise vertically patterned) circle skirt in sight, though there were a few horizontal or chevroned striped numbers. All the vertically-striped gals were wearing full or fitted skirts:

I trust the Sears catalog ladies, so I’ll be “drafting” a full skirt (i.e. taking a big rectangle and gathering it around my pregnant “waist” with shirring elastic.)

As a bonus, how much fun is the 1952 children’s circle skirt spread the top image came from? If I ever do make any circle skirts, I will be sure to take every opportunity to pose sitting on the floor with my perfect circle spread out around me!

I’d love to be proven wrong here, by the way–have you ever made or seen a workable vertically-striped circle skirt? Am I just not thinking creatively here?

Cross-posted to my blog.

  1. I have never seen pictures of children sitting with their skirt all fluffed out-this is tooo cute! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I know you're talking about vertical stripes, but View A on the women's page looks like a circle skirt with the stripe on the cross-grain, so if she held it up by the side seams, the stripes would go across. I'm PRETTY sure it's a circle skirt–I could be wrong. 🙂

  3. I don't care for the look personally but it was very fashionable in the 40's/50's. My 1950 copy of "Sewing Magic" has an illustration of a circle skirt made from vertically striped fabric.

    And the next time you watch "Casablanca" look out for one of the extras; a woman customer in the cafe who is wearing a similarly-striped skirt.

    (She has no lines and only appears for about six seconds in one scene as she walks past one corner of the frame, but I remember that skirt! I know I'm not the only person here who watches TCM for the clothes).

  4. It works fairly well if you do at least 6 gores in your circle. You'll get a little chevron effect at the seams, but it blends decently when the skirt hangs. I've done this with directional prints and it works well if the stripes aren't extremely pronounced (your fabric would work fine because it doesn't have very bold, sharp straight lines).

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