About 15 years ago I found some linen-cotton blend woven fabrics on the $1.00/yd sale table (solid colors in black, navy, red, light green, off-white) and decided to make four-gored flared Swishy** skirts with as wide a hem as I could manage, given the width of the fabric.
Now it’s been decades since I took a geometry class, but I figured if I made the bottom of the skirt the width of the fabric minus the selvedge, measured the length I wanted and added extra for a machine-stitched hem and a fold-over casing for the waist elastic, and made the top measurement my hip measurement divided by four, I’d be close to the desired shape. (Vertical grainline centered on the pattern piece. And I personally scoop out an inch or two from the back center of the waistband to keep the back hem from sagging.)
What I found was that one skirt like this would take a purchase of nearly 6 yards of fabric! The linen/cotton blend fabric did shrink some when prewashed and machine dried. It softened up beautifully. The weight of the skirt helps it hang in soft folds and I rarely have to iron these skirts unless they are packed tightly in a suitcase for a long time.
After making 3 black skirts, one navy and one light green skirt from this fabric (which is similar to the Essex blend sold at Dharma Trading) I started to think this was the ideal skirt pattern for everyone.
So I hit all the Walmart stores within a 60 mile radius and then cranked out a bunch for gifts. All 6 of the adult women in my family got one. That’s how I learned to THINK before doing such a project again! lol.
The actual drafting/cutting and sewing was really not an issue. I was using the 4 thread option on my serger for all the seams and the edge finishing before folding the hem and casing and machine stitching them. I never ‘thread’ elastic, but add it as I sew the casing.
The problem was that most of the women were not flattered by a skirt with that long lower-calf length and flared shape. No doubt those gifts hit the thrift shops or rag bags many years ago.
A couple of mine have been cut up for rags too, since I actually wore them out. I’m pretty hard on clothing – these tend to get caught on nails and other stuff and get holes torn in them.
However, the design is still a favorite of mine, although sometimes now I sew the hip portion a little narrower and flare the bottom out to my preferred circumference. I’ve contemplated changing the style to add godets. Rusty Bobbin has a blog tutorial on how to draft your own multi-gored skirt with more accurate calculations that would make it easier to follow than my description above.
I’ve used 100% linen a couple times; I love the soft sueded look the linen gets as it’s worn. Luckily that softer look/coloration is flattering to my low-contrast eye/hair/skin colors.
These are quite comfortable to wear in warm weather and are opaque enough (in the darker colors) that no under layer is needed. They can also be layered with cotton tights and underskirts/slips for cooler days, although that adds some apparent bulk to the hips.
I guess I should check through my fabrics and see what could be used for a new skirt. I think I’ll try more gores this time. Or I’ll change the 4 gored skirt so the center back is not on a seam, but rather is the center of one of the panels; I think the skirt will hang more closely over the hip area with this change. I’ve also considered painting some sort of design on the fabric itself.
**Swishy skirt: So named by my husband’s aunt Betty. Whenever she catches me in pants, she laments that I haven’t worn one of her favorite ‘swishy’ skirts. lol.