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The World is my Fabric Store

You can make a lovely skirt from a 90" table cloth.

You'll have about this much fabric left....

...which is enough for a bodice, if you're careful!

So, what’s an enterprising sempstress to do when she wants
enough brocade to make a full underskirt, but really doesn’t actually want to
*pay* for enough brocade to make a full underskirt? Late night fabric store
heists, while terribly exciting, are probably doomed to failure — “Ma’am, step
away from the cutting table and put the scissors down!”. The first cop that
tried to separate me from the velvets would probably suffer damage, and that’s
never a good idea. So I keep my eyes open for alternative means of getting what
I want without ending up in prison. While I was shopping with my mom before
xmas, I found a really nice brocade table cloth in a clearance bin in a Value
City store (underneath and behind all the xmas table cloths. I don’t know how
I developed the ability to see costumable fabric straight through solid objects,
but it’s mighty convenient). What can you do with a table cloth? I figured I
could make a forepart, and it was 7.99$, which is pretty good for a forepart,
so I bought it. After getting it home (where the lights don’t flicker and no
one is trying to take off half my exposed backside with a deadly shopping cart
while I dive through bins), I noticed that I had a 90″ round grey brocade table
cloth. Primo! I had just finished a little looking through Alcegas <insert
words in spanish that I always mumble because I can’t pronounce them and therefore
can’t remember them> pattern book and determined that circular (full, semi,
or just plain gored) skirts were a lot more period than I ever would have believed.
The process of making my 8$ table cloth into a skirt went something like this:

Spend three weeks feeling really cool since I know I just have
to cut the table cloth in half and cut out a waist. Spend two days panicking
after doing enough math to realize that that only works for a waist roughly
the size of my thigh. Become very very pissed about work one day and decide
that, hell with it all, I am making a damn underskirt tonight. Table cloth is
conveniently heavily creased at the halfway point, and has seriously period
piecing to make the full circle. Take folded-in-half table cloth and begin pinning
to janey. Pin until the the edge of table cloth is more or less floor length
all the way around. Transfer pins so that they mark the waist line, rather than
holding it to the dummy. Feel very good about it all. Forget to take skirt with
me over the weekend. Get cold feet. Get very pissed about work one day and determine
that I am going to make an underskirt up, bugger it all anyway. Cut an inch
or so about the pins. Throw unfolded table cloth over dummy, pin in place. Notice
that the waistline has suddenly become rather bigger than it should have worked
out to be. Shrug. take roughly 1/4 of the circle out of the back (cut out a
pie shaped piece). Start setting up sewing machine to sew it into a skirt. Notice
that cat has peed all very ribbon needed for this process. Curse a lot. Wash
evil smelling ribbon. Leave ribbon to dry. Read book.

I made an executive decision that I should really wait for
the ribbon to be extra dry, and read a book the next night too. ;) Yesterday,
I got pretty well bent over some stuff at work, and somehow (I’m really not
quite sure how this happened) the idea of a grey brocade skirt turned itself
into a grey brocade kirtle. Er, or maybe it’s a petticoat and bodies. I really
get confused over some of the terms, I have to admit. I have a sneaking suspicion
that I can blame my costuming buddies. It sounds like something they would have
gotten me thinking about, at any rate…. I went home with every intention of
having a nice glass of port, and got so busy with my sewing that I never got
to my port (I did wave to it, from the sewing machine, when i remembered). I
started the kirtling of the skirt by making sure I could match up the brocade
at the center front and still have enough fabric to make the rest of the kirtle
top. That worked, I marked where the brocades had to match, said ‘hell with
the pattern in the back’, and cut the lining as the pattern on janey. That’s
just like cutting a pattern, but I had to remember to add the seam allowance
(which I promptly forgot on the straps, which made them very very skinny). Er,
then I cute the brocade, sewed it all up, sewed the skirts to it, and pinned
it back on janey. Cake, right? I have less than 2 square feet of table cloth
left. I still need to put in button holes or something so I can lace the kirtle
(it laces on the sides, btw. I’ve never tried that before, but it looks like
it should work. Only the bodies are lined; the tablecloth came prehemmed, and
I’m not about to redo it. :)




  1. Suzanne
    Suzanne May 5, 2010

    Just wondering what your height is, for this to work. I am hoping you are my height or taller :)

    Thanks, you have a wealth of knowledge on here which has proved useful on many occasions!

    • missa
      missa May 5, 2010

      Hi, Suzanne,

      The important thing is to find a tablecloth that is a more than twice your waist->ground measurement. In this case, my waist->ground is about 40, and I had a 90″ tablecloth. That extra 10 in the middle gave me room for my waist. I’m glad the site’s been helpful!

  2. Paige
    Paige April 19, 2013

    This is a beautiful piece of work!
    I am about 5’6″ with a 39″ waist, and have the option of a 90″ round or a 108″ round. Which size would you suggest?

    • missa
      missa May 26, 2013

      Hi, Paige – sorry for the slow response. I would go with the larger size. You waist diameter (circumference divided by pi) is about 12.5″, leaving you with a 38.75″ long skirt from a 90″ table cloth or a 47.75″ from the 108″.

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