Admire, Sewing

A 1900s English Wool walking skirt

Exoticism and romance is a funny thing isn’t it?  It’s so dependent on place and perspective.  Hawaii, is, for many people, the very definition of an exotic, romantic destination, and everything from and about Hawaii is coloured in that rosy glow.

Growing up in Hawaii, and growing up on Bond, Boston, Burnett, Lewis, and Wynne Jones, and later Stevenson & Austen (and even later, Rowling), England and Scotland were my idea of exotic, romantic locations (sorry Ireland & Wales, somehow you got shafted in the romance stakes when it came to my childhood literature).  Mackintoshes and golashes sounded thrilling, and Guy Fawkes was fascinating.  I wanted to do all the weird British things I read about, and all the weirdly British things that my family did anyway (tea, baked puddings, but sadly, not Christmas Crackers, which my mother had as a child, but which we could never figure out how to import into Hawaii (they won’t ship them because of the firecracker component)) were that much better.

Perspective is everything though.  I met some lovely older ladies of Scottish origin (but who had clearly spent a good portion of their lives in NZ) a few months ago, and when they found out I was from Hawaii they said “Oh, how exciting!  How exotic and romantic!”.

I laughed, and said that when I was young, Scotland was the epitome of romance for me.

They took my use of ‘romance’ quite literally, and one said, quite decidedly “Oh no!  Scotland is the least romantic place on earth!”

The other chimed in with “No Scotsman was ever romantic!”

Her friend concurred “True, I dated far too many of them, and not one was….oh…wait…there was Tom, he could be a bit of a gentleman…oh no, he was English.”

“See!  No Scotsman was ever romantic!”

(hah!  I knew Cross Stitch was a lie!)

No Scotsman may have ever been romantic, and modern English TV a harsh disillusionment (nothing could be less romantic and exotic than Coronation St!), but there are still bits of the British Isles that cause that old thrill (as Anne would say).

One of these is English wool.  New Zealand may make technically better wool, but there is just something just so evocative about a length of good English wool.  Proper Harris tweed is a wonderful thing, but my sense of romance isn’t as strong as my senses of smell and touch, and so  a bit of soft fulled woollen fabric that doesn’t come with scratch factor and a whiff of urine is always going to make my heard beat just that much more.

Last Christmas the wonderful Lynne gave me a particularly lovely, pet-able length of English wool:

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

It immediately spoke to me of long walks on the moors, springtime strolls through the bluebell woods, secret gardens, yew hedges and, while not exactly English, Golden Picnics.  So naturally it had to be an Anne skirt!

There was almost three meters: enough, if I was clever, for a 1900s skirt and a 1930s skirt.

I cut the 1900s skirt first, and sadly, due to pattern matching (even on such a subtle check, I couldn’t resist), it took a little more than I expected, so I think I won’t manage a ’30s skirt.  Maybe a matching 1900s bolero jacket, if I’m very clever.

The end result is rather nice though.  A trifle long for a walking skirt (I just can’t resist giving my skirts the longest hem possible), but perfect for the principal of Sunnyside High School.

It’s a simple 5 gore skirt, with fan pleating at the back, giving it a nice end-of-the-1890s A-line silhouette, transitioning to the more serpentine Edwardian silhouette.

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

The wool is delicious isn’t it?  The way it looks grey in some lights, and brown in others, and the way it falls, and the slight sheen.  It’s completely un-pressed in these photos because we were staying in a cabin with no electricity, and it had spent two days shoved in a trunk, but that seems very appropriate for the period!

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

This post is dreadfully late, but I did actually start this in September, and finished it in early-ish October, so the garment was for Colour Challenge Brown

The Challenge: #9: Brown
Fabric: 2 1/2 metres of English wool
Pattern: None, but based on period 5-gore skirt patterns
Year: ca. 1900
Notions: cotton thread, buttons
How historically accurate is it?: Pretty close to 100%.  The materials used, fabric, and construction are all very close to period originals.
Hours to complete: 5
First worn: Sun 25th October, for an Anne of Green Gables inspired photoshoot in New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park
Total cost: Under $5 (thanks to Lynne’s generous gift!)

A 1900s Anne of Green Gables skirt thedreamstress.com

21 Comments

  1. Lynne says

    That is the perfect use for that wool! It works so well! I couldn’t think what wool it was when I saw the earlier photos, but the close-ups make all clear.

    I found it on eBay.co.uk, by the way. If you wool-seeking people run searches for wool in Fabric, lengths like this just keep popping up. Postage can be pricey, but the fabric itself is often cheap enough to compensate – according to my illogical idea of affordable shopping on eBay. I paid GBP 2.19 for this length. No, that is not a mistake.

    Much happiness!

    • Lynne says

      I just went onto eBay.co.uk to look again, and after a few years away, it is even better. More, and easier to find. For instance, there is 1m of 150cm wide dark blue Italian wool on a Buy Now for GBP 4.00! And they post to foreign places.

      I will be strong. I will not go back to buying lengths of wool I’m never going to sew. Breathes deeply. Gosh, it is tempting!

      • ebay is even worse for genuine antique garments. I advise you not to even look. I got a genuine Edwardian purple skirt and jacket for £10 admittedly sun bleached in places, but still! And many other bargains… until got a storage problem and had to go cold turkey. I have not looked all year!

    • I’m so glad you like it and approve! It does look quite different from a distance and in close ups, but that’s what makes it so interesting and dynamic.

  2. Sarah Grace says

    I absolutely love your ensemble, skirt, blouse, hat, everything about it I would wear in a heartbeat. I would love to recreate a blouse like yours. Could you tell me what type of fabric you used for it?
    I am a longtime Anne fan & everything about the photoshoot looks like scenes from the A of GG films.

    Have a blessed day,
    Sarah Grace

    • Oh, thank you! That’s very sweet! The blouse is made from the Wearing History Edwardian blouse pattern. I did alter it somewhat, but mostly just for fit. Here is my original post about it (though I’ve since added lots more tucks). The fabric is a fairly modern broderie anglaise. If you search for broderie anglaise fabrics you should be able to find something similar.

  3. Grace Darling says

    Actually, Murtagh in Outlander (Cross-Stitch) was deeply romantic. Still waters. run deep
    and make the best single malt whiskey. What about Rabbie Burns!? Deeply romantic – he
    wrote a poem to a moosie!

    • Burns seduced his mother’s servant while courting another girl, and then, while girl #2 was pregnant with his twins, made plans to run off to Jamaica with yet a third girl. That’s a kind of romance I can do without!

      • Grace Darling says

        Considering you are married, most likely you will!

  4. It’s a lovely skirt! In the photos of the outfit, it doesn’t even seem to be checked – interesting! You do mention it’s not entirely a walking length – do you ever give these modern outings, like I know you did/do with the red hobble skirt?

    Haha, yes, perspective. You do sometimes get the same when you are Czech – usually limited to Prague, although these days, thanks to the wonders of the internet and sites like Tumblr and Pinterest, other sights do pop up… And here I am dreaming of Wales (thanks to my father) and New Zealand (thanks to you) and Canada (thanks to a lot of things). Although I’m being disingenuous in that quite a bit, because I do love discovering my own country. 😀

  5. Elise says

    Super neato! I will admit that moving from Hawaii to Germany made it easy to make German friends–apparently Hawaii is the fantasy Disneyland of Germany, and made people want to talk to me. Interestingly, it was culturally far more easier to move from Hawaii to Germany than it was to move from Germany to Ohio! Hawaiians and Germans tend to share some fundamental values that translate easily.

    I hope that everyone here gets to go wherever they wish. I have been so lucky, and it’s great. Then again, with modern technology, TV and the Internet (as Hana said), can get us pret-ty close to sate (or whet, as Hana said) our ambulatory appetites!

    Lovely outfit. Lovely story.

  6. I’m loving your Anne of Green gables posts, now I really want to make an Anne outfit!!

  7. India says

    Actually I suspect that this is a Scottish wool skirt after all. Peebles is in the heart of the Scottish Borders where all the great old woollen mills used to be. Sadly all too many of them now gone. The “London” on the label probably referred to their retail outlet and, no doubt, added a touch of class. After all, not so many people outside of Scotland have heard of Peebles. (Now off to double check the facts about Eldeco and Lowe-Donald.)

    • Elise says

      There is a Peebles, OH. I’ve been to it. Rather…through it. It’s small.

      • India says

        Goodness! These Scots town names crop up everywhere. The original Peebles isn’t very big either but it’s a pretty town in a lovely setting with lots of interest. Some nice shops as I remember too.

  8. Wow! 2.19 GBP is a bargain! I’ve gotten some great wool on EBay myself, but I’ll have to keep an eye out for Scottish wool in particular.

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