Hot! A ‘Labor of Love’ Skirt

Fabric: 1 1/4 yards of double knit crepe
Pattern:  Complete hijack of the BurdaStyle Skirt Pattern #115A
Year: c. 2010
Notions: 1 regular zipper, my mother’s trim
Time to Complete: 3 months
First Worn:
February 2010
Wear Again:
You bet!
Total Price: $4 for the (remnant) fabric, everything else from stash


The first thing you may be wondering is why I titled my UFO themed skirt A Labor of Love… In order to explain I’ll have to start at the beginning of my sewing adventures a year and a half ago.

Last May my mother was on a spring-cleaning kick and was determined on cleaning out our attic of all of my (and my sisters’) childhood items.  Dutifully I came back home, knowing full well that I could only take 1 box, maximum, since I have little storage in my apartment building.  I found loads of notes from 5th grade to all my friends, assignment notebooks, favorite old T’s, concert tickets, etc.  It was not a happy task since it was hot, I’m 100% allergic to dust, and silverfish were aplenty. *shudder*

Seizing the opportunity, my mom had me bring down an old sewing chest and that my grandfather had built for my grandmother as well as an odd box or two so that we could look through the contents together.  I had just learnt how to sew 6 month’s prior so I was happy at the thought of any sewing related item, but having it be vintage and my mother’s was even better!

My grandmother was an avid sewer and crocheter and my great-grandmother was an avid knitter, tatter, crocheter.  My mother had the opportunity to be taught many of these crafts by both her grandmother and mother when she was younger and I look back quite envious that I didn’t do the same.  Looking through these old boxes, we found scraps of yarn, pieces of crochet, and tatted medallions from when she first learning these crafts in her youth.  She had held onto these items for over 30 years and for me I felt like I had just found little bits of gold!  I wasn’t holding a simple tatted item, instead I felt like I was holing a bit of my mother’s youth, my great-grandmother’s knowledge, and it was all being bequeathed to me.

Many of the crocheted and tatted pieces are one of a kind, examples where my mother was experimenting or learning a new technique, complete with mistakes.  While I was going through these items, I don’t believe my mother thought that they could be put to any use besides occasionally admiring them, only to put them back in a box for safe keeping.

Fast forward to a few months ago…. I began working on BurdaStyle’s Wool Skirt #115A and it looked really bad on me (due to my poor fabric choice for drape).  I decided to let it simmer for a few months while I worked on other projects and pondered how to fix it.  Ultimately, I decided to remove the gathers and turn them into 2 tucks on either side of the skirt front.  But it still needed something…

Envisioning appliqueing my mother’s crochet/tatted medallions onto a circle skirt, I randomly decided to look into the baggie of notions that came from that wonderful day when I went through the old boxes in my mom’s attic to see if there was anything that could be spared.  It was at this moment that I found the most perfect, long tatted trim and knew just what to do with it and to complete my UFO.

My ‘labor of love’ was to hand stitch down the delicate, tatted trim (for an entire evening) that was loving made by my mother at least 40 years ago, which was no doubt, even more lovingly taught to her by my great-grandmother.  I’m so happy that I’ve been able to bring life to this little trim which would have languished in a box for many years to come.

In addition to my skirt, you may have spied I have something in my hair….

I thought what better way to do my hair than to incorporate another piece of my mom’s lovely tatting, to play off the skirt.  I did a chestnut bun and delicately pinned down the conjoined tatting medallions using 3 bobby-pins as not to damage it so it remains usable for another project.  (This is now one of my favorite, super easy hair-dos.)

Many times I feel like we (myself included) save our best notions, fabrics, trim for that ‘perfect project’ only for it to never come.  Once in a blue moon does it get used…  I still know I’m a culprit of fabric hoarding stashing but how wonderful would it be to have a garment made with your lovelies than having it in a forever-unused state in a closet.  I think it’s far more special to have a finished garment where each time you wear it becomes the constant reminder of how special the trim/fabric is to you.

I’ll leave you all with a quick detail-shot of my Labor of Love skirt trim:

If you’re interested in reading more (or seeing more pictures) about that wonderful day at my mother’s click on this link to be taken to my blog post.



By day Liz Holder works as a research analyst where she plays with data and charts, but by night she becomes a create-a-holic. She loves creating and learning new things which is why her favorite craft is sewing, which she’s been doing in full force after taking her first sewing class a year and a half ago. There is an endless array of skills, tricks, and techniques for her to research on any given project and at the end she's ecstatic o have created a unique garment that she can then celebrate by sharing it with the blogosphere after which she wears it to work where she crunches more numbers and starts the cycle all over again.


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  1. Those crocheted circles really are beautiful, as well as the trim around your skirt. I have to say, though, I’m in love with your cardigan! Did you buy it or make it? Are there any more pictures somewhere?

    • Hey Hannah! I bought my cardigan from Anthropologie last winter. I believe they have decided to remake it since I recall seeing one in a lime green around Christmas time.
      I do have a few more pictures of me and the cardigan on my own personal blog if you want to see more.

  2. Fabulous from start to finish! Isn’t it great when you find something like that. I’ve been looking at my mother’s sewing machine from the 50’s and found some fabric stored in the casing – busy wondering what to do with it now …

    • Thanks so much Marguerite. Dependingon the size of the fabrics you found, I’m sure they could make lovely fabric roses, or could be used as linings in purses, and other small, meaningful projects.

  3. Your skirt looks wonderful! I love how you have styled the whole outfit and using special trims has become something I am making myself do more and more as otherwise they just sit in my sewing room and no ones sees them!

    • Thanks! Isn’t it great to be able to repurpose and use up fab notions! I, too, am pressing myself to try and incorporate more of them in my sewing.

  4. What a lovely skirt and even better story!

  5. Gorgeousness! And such a charming story. Love how you repurposed the vintage trim. And those shoes…those shoes are hot! Me likes very much.

    • Thanks Nijah! I actually bought the shoes for this skirt…kinda. As I was initially making this skirt some 3 months ago, I realized that if I ever wanted to wear it I would have to find some shoes I could wear with it. It was a 3 month search for shoes since I have such small feet (size 4). Generally I can only find black shoes…

  6. Love the trim and how the pleated skirt sits great on your shape. Thank you for sharing the story, it brought back found memories. I miss sewing with family members but sew weekly is filling the void. Happy sewing and good luck with next week’s challenge.

    • Thanks so much Krista. I love the online sewing communities that Mena and other fab ladies have founded. Everyone is always so nice and supportive. :)

  7. The trim so makes this skirt! :)

  8. Beautiful! And I love your shoes. :)

  9. This outfit is to die for! Great job as usual!

  10. Positively lovely and the story behind the trim is wonderful!

  11. That’s such a lovely story – I love how you’ve incorporated family history into a skirt! Gorgeous. :-)

  12. You went and did it… You made me cry! This is such a lovely story, lovely skirt, and lovely way to remember. Great!!!

    • Oh dear, I’m sorry I made you cry… Thanks so much. It really was such a wonderful treat to have a few notions with such history in my collection. I don’t have much in that way, but what I have I truly cherish.

  13. i looooove that trim! it’s beautiful. and thanks for the hair tutorial link!

  14. What a lovely back-story to a truly gorgeous outfit.

  15. You’ve given me so many ideas about what can be done with tatted pieces – this is a simply lovely skirt that has gone from a pleasant piece to an amazing piece with the addition of trim. And the hair piece is inspired.

  16. Love your skirt and your story. I feel exactly the same way.. discovering things that nobody else sees the value in… yet you find yourself with such a deep connection and compulsion to find a way to use it. I hope you’ll finish that apron.. reading that the needle was still threaded touched my heart.

    • My mom really thought they wern’t useable. I can’t wait to show her my new skirt! :)

      I still do have that apron unfinished! I think I may wait until this summer/fall and try to work on it together with my mom.

  17. Your skirt is gorgeous – so simple but so pretty. I love your shoes too!

  18. STUNNING!! What a fabulous way to use trim and honor the handiwork of the generations before you. It is truly precious.

  19. I just wanted to leave a general comment to everyone who left me such lovely comments from last week! I truly appreciate all of your kind words and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond individually to you all before now.

    I’ve been sick over the end of last week and over the weekend and I’m just starting to catch up on everything. So thanks for your patience and thoughtfuk comments!

  20. Oh dear, I just realized that it says I first wore my skirt in Jan. 2010… It should be Jan 2012.