1950s | Applique | Embroidery | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Felt cactus applique skirt! (using Simplicity 1659)

August 12, 2012

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!


  1. That is awesome! I love it! 😀 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!

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

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

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

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

    1. 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! 🙂

  5. 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!!

  6. 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!

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