My “Portmans Skirt” – pattern drafted from a Portmans Skirt op shop find

14 Jan
A few years ago as a result of severe illness I lost a lot of weight. Scary (honestly). Too ill to sew new clothes that weren’t falling off me, I went op-shopping. Just for the record, the best sizes to be when it comes to clothing availability and variety at op-shops, are (Australian) 12-14. Size 8, as I was is reeeelly reeelly hard to get decent stuff in, 10 is better but nowhere near as good as 12 or 14. (Friends who are larger sizes tend to have less luck at op-shops too) One of the few skirts I found was a gorgeous little Portmans number, brown with a very subtle pinstripe, cut on the bias, asymmetrical hemline. Perfect.
When I recovered somewhat and went back to a more normal weight, it got too small for me. A very sad realisation (even though I was glad to be so much healthier!) But… I had a brainwave! I copied it and enlarged the pattern to fit me now, before I sent it back to the local op-shop (I guess I sort of hired the skirt – $4 for a year, not a bad hire rate at all!)
I soon found the perfect fabric on special at Spotlight – a natural but unknown fibre (likely linen cotton mix) in a purplish brown just begging to be made into the Portmans Skirt. Here it is!

Not sure how easy it is to see but there is a diagonal seam running from the top of my thigh on the right of the picture, down to the mid-hem on the left.
It is a very simple style, two pieces front and back, both the same size and shape but the asymmetrical hemline minimises any potential odd look from it sitting differently front to back. The top piece is on the true bias, the bottom one almost on the straight grain, the different grainlines working together to create a lovely fall to the skirt. The original skirt had a faced waistband (I didn’t bother with that, simply stay-stitching the top of the skirt to stabilise it, then folding the top of the skirt down in a narrow hem. Because it sits on the hips and is bias, it has very little shaping along the top so this worked fine.)

This diamond stitch is one of the very few decorative stitches on my beloved but very utilitarian sewing machine. I embroidered along the diagonal seam to give it a subtle highlight (Normal polyester sewing cotton. I know very little about embroidery, machine or otherwise so I just pretended I knew what I was doing and gave it a go. I am pleased with the results)

A postscript to this skirt: not long after I made it, the colour started fading fast. I was pretty upset. The colour is one of the things I adore about it. One of those garments that is a great fusion of colour, style and fabric. And the colour was going! Wagh!
I was doing some dying of dark purple a few months later, and threw this skirt in as well. It didn’t change the colour much, happily, but evened out the fading, and hopefully made the original colour more colourfast as well. However when I saw some more of the same fabric on sale at Spotlight after christmas this year I didn’t grab any more, too unhappy with the fading to waste either sewing a garment that doesn’t last, or have to fiddle around redying it.

Cost: Fabric $6, cotton $2.80 zip $1, redye a portion of $14, pattern $0 = approx $14
RTW price equivalent (from Portmans website) $80
Time guestimate* Pattern drafting 1 hr, cutting and sewing 4 hrs

*It is only ever a guess because I usually sew in little bits and pieces amongst all my other daily life.

3 Responses to “My “Portmans Skirt” – pattern drafted from a Portmans Skirt op shop find”

  1. kbenco January 15, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    >That is a terrific skirt. Very clever reproducing. How annoying about the Spotlight fabric. After a few similar experiences I have stopped purchasing fabric from Spotlight, as I no longer trust it. 2 years now, and I still have some left in my stash! I must have plenty of fabric 🙂


  2. Anonymous January 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    >I love the cut of that skirt, as well as the colour. It is lucky that you were able to salvage it when the colour faded.


  3. Thread of Light January 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    >Kbenco: sadly there are almost no other fabric shops in Darwin than Spotlight. I have gotten fairly good at working out which fabrics are worth getting from there or not, as they do have some good stuff as well – thankfully.Josie, I am glad I could salvage it too, as it works so well with my wardrobe and is always in the dirty laundry pile as it is always worn the moment it is clean!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: