A Magical Tiered Skirt (Plus a Personal Update!)

Tiered Gathered Silk Skirt | Handmade by Closet Core Patterns

Holy cow. It feels like FOREVER (all caps) since I last wrote a blog post… Amy has been holding down the fort around here while I’ve been working on a huge project behind the scenes (more on that in a minute), and it feels oddly comforting to be talking to y’all again, especially about a sewing project I actually made for MYSELF, JUST FOR FUN.

The past year has not been very friendly to my personal sewing practice. Sure, I’ve made samples of upcoming patterns, and I’ve sewn a few too-boring-to-post-about basics, but the main reason I haven’t been sewing at my usual clip is the fact that I’ve been majorly preoccupied with first one, and then a second massive undertaking that basically stole all my sewing time. The first is an old pandemic story… after months of being trapped in my apartment last year, I expedited my plans to find a cottage. It’s been on my bucket list since pretty much forever. I grew up in a cottage family, with everyone having a little place near each other on the same lake during the summer, and being close to water is so deep in my DNA it’s kind of a miracle I ever learned to live anywhere else. Like everyone it seems, the forced isolation of the pandemic encouraged a lot of inner reflection, and one of the biggest realizations I had was how much happier, calmer and less anxious I am when I’m deeply disconnected, out in the woods surrounded by trees and water. I also really felt my isolation as a single person without children, and I was desperate to create a place where I could welcome friends and friendly outside my small city apartment, to make the kind of memories I cherish from my childhood… card games, gin martinis (forever the smell I associate with my grandparents at cocktail hour), midnight swims, big elaborate dinners. I’ve been half-heartedly looking for the right place for the past few years, but Covid lit a huge fire under my butt. Like everywhere else, the real estate market here in Quebec has been out of control, but I lucked out and found a very cute place in need of a lot of TLC well within my budget. A few hours from Montreal, it’s on a gorgeous lake near a very charming town, and I spent the better part of the winter living up there and fixing it up while working remotely. It was truly the ideal situation since Montreal was the Canadian  Covid epicentre and we had 8pm curfews and stringent lockdown measures all winter long. I was so grateful to have a big project and an escape from everything going on.

Naturally, spending a lot of time deep in the woods during a long, cold winter leads to a lot of thinking. Whether it was the solitude, the quiet, or simply the time to think about the bigger picture in a way I’m not always able to do when I’m in the thick of it, I started having a Big Nagging Idea. It was an idea I had been carrying around and kind of ignoring for a while, but out there walking around in the woods with only my dog for company, it started to really take shape. Eventually, I couldn’t really ignore it anymore, which lead to the biggest, riskiest and most exciting development in this business since I quit my job and started working on Closet Core full time. Over the past 8 months or so, behind the scenes, we’ve been working on something Really Big, a new sister brand that will let us think about everything we do from a much deeper, full circle and sustainable way. Not only did we move into a much bigger studio and hire a bunch of new staff, but I have a new business partner, a whole new set of anxieties keeping me up at night, and so, so, so much excitement about the future and what we have in store for you. Next Tuesday we make the big announcement, and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been cooking up… if you want more details, newsletter subscribers will be the first to know!

Tiered Gathered Silk Skirt | Handmade by Closet Core Patterns

All this to say, personal sewing has taken a back seat to starting a new business and single-handedly renovating a new home. I’ve been missing it really badly, and last week finally found myself in the city for the weekend with nothing much on my to-do list. I started by cleaning out my home studio – it was Closet Core HQ for a lot of the pandemic and was piled with invoices, fabric and assorted detritus. At the bottom of a drawer I stumbled on this half-finished skirt I started a few years ago. It was inspired by a RTW number I saw in Austin TX on a sewing bff reunion with Sallie. We were doing that sewist thing of trying on clothes in fancy stores and then taking secret pictures of the ones we liked best to recreate later. This skirt was a tiered, gathered maxi made of a vibrant yellow silk print with buttons down the front. I think it was around $400 which made my laugh right out loud, since I knew I could recreate it for a tiny fraction of that if I could find the right print. On another trip to NY a while later (hey, remember when we went on trips and travelled and stuff? LOL!) I found a lovely floral silk that was just right and proceeded to self draft the skirt when I got home.

Now, this is a pretty easy garment to make. I cut a waistband one inch bigger than my waist (you need that inch for ease) and then cut four panels. The first was 1.5 wider than the waistband, with each successive panel 1.5 wider than the one previous (at least I *think* I used a 1.5 ratio – this was a while ago!) This ensures the skirt gets wider and flowier as it proceeds down. If memory serves, I cut the panels in the direction of the grain since 45″ silk fabric isn’t wide enough for the widest panels. I attached all the panels together before attaching a separate button band to each side and hemming.

When I first started working on this (ahem, two years ago) I discoverd my waistband was actually a bit too loose, so I had to rip it off the skirt. I think this is when I threw the whole thing in the naughty corner. At the time, I hated gathering (I have since turned the corner on this as you’ll see with our upcoming pattern!) and lost the momentum to finish it. Fast forward to last week when I found it crumpled in a drawer and decided it was finally tine to finish assembling it. For all of you out there who may have lost your sewjo this past year: finishing projects like this is a great way to get going again. Often all you need to do is finish a simple task like, say, re-attaching a waistband, to realize how happy you are when your sewing machine is humming. I also added buttons and buttonholes of course, which was made easier with the use of some tear-away stabilizer. The button bands were lightly interfaced but that tearaway stuff really helps to stabilize buttonholes on fine fabrics.

Tiered Gathered Silk Skirt | Handmade by Closet Core Patterns

I am SO happy I finished this skirt! It’s so twirly and floaty. When I walk it kind of trails behind me like a chartreuse cloud. I’m going through a bit of a 90s phase right now so I paired with a cropped baby tee, but I could see it working with an oxford tied at the waist, or a lightweight top tucked in. All in all, a very fun, summer-appropriate garment that also helped jumpstart my sewing. I spent all of last weekend working through my pile of mending, and even cut and sewed a quick pair of elastic waist linen pants. I’m back baby!

Tiered Gathered Silk Skirt | Handmade by Closet Core Patterns
Tiered Gathered Silk Skirt | Handmade by Closet Core Patterns

Best of all, we shot this in our new office. Going back to work has felt SO AMAZING. I love getting dressed up every day again, and it’s been so lovely to have this big change of scenery and a fresh start after all we’ve been through. In the meantime, check your inboxes Tuesday for our big announcement (or sign up here if you’re not subscribed). I’m not sure how I’ll sleep for the next few days! It’s finally happening!

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Hi! I'm Heather Lou, a pattern designer and sewing educator for the modern maker. At Closet Core Patterns, we transform your imagination into step-by-step implementation that helps you create a wardrobe you love - not one you're limited to buying off the rack.

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