Hot! the “marian the chanel librarian” skirt

The Facts:

Fabric: chanel-style wool woven from mahlia kent in paris
Pattern: self-drafted skirt, originally based on simplicity 2099
Year: 2011
Notions: zipper, 2 1/2″ grosgrain ribbon, skirt trim
Time to Complete: 3 hours
First Worn: February 7, 2012
Wear Again: Yes.
Total Price: 8 euro from mahlia kent remnant box, ~$15 for trim and notions
Challenge Theme: UFOs

earlier this fall i had a chance to go to paris, which obviously meant two things: window shopping (or, in french, faire du lèche-vitrines, which translates to window-licking. awesome!) and fabric shopping. i went for a double-whammy when a chanel boutique and one of the top shops in paris were directly across the street from each other, only the skirt i liked cost about 2500 euro and the fabric (chanel-branded, biensur) was more than 100 euro per meter.

erm. no.

fortunately, i had susan khalje on my side. prior to my trip she had mentioned a great weaving and textiles shop in a far corner of paris that often made fabric for chanel–and had an amazing remnant policy. so late one afternoon, there i was, in a bit of paris i had never been to before, lugging around 3 huge bags of fabric and frantically digging through boxes. i did come up with a wonderful gem that closely resembled the coveted chanel fabric, only in a cooler color (periwinkle/lavender) and with some kind of furry trim that made it seem extra fun.

i had just enough to squeeze out a skirt and have the pattern of the fabric make some kind of sense. it’s not quite the same as the original chanel, but c’est la vie. i did include some hand-stitched details to channel an appropriately french petits-mains approach. also, i faced the skirt in grosgrain ribbon instead of self-fabric to reduce bulk. the center back of the skirt has two pleats on each side for some extra fullness.

for my look today i was really feeling some kind of strange vibe that i categorized as “rockabilly librarian” because of the ponytail, and my original blouse, which had a peter pan collar and a pussy bow. but then i remembered that i hate that blouse, grabbed the one i am wearing in the photo, and was already running late for work so i didn’t get a chance to swap my blazer for a comfy-er sweater option. not so much marian the librarian, but that’s where i was going…



Devra is a New York-based photographer and sewer who tries to find time to do her day job in between bouts of crazed sewing.


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  1. I love the print! Great skirt!

  2. Very cute! Love your photos with all those books. You look the part!

  3. Great skirt and even better story!! I’m VERY jealous of the causal mention of visiting Paris, lol!

  4. Wow great skirt. Your sewing machine looks quite unique, is it for a left handed sewer?

  5. That’s some very awesome fabric! I love the story behind it.

  6. Your skirt looks great, but I couldn’t help but be distracted by your adorable cat: pic 1 – I’m tiiired, pic 2: what are you DOING?, pic 2 – I’m going to sleep now, BYE!

  7. What a fabric find! This is really cute and fun!

  8. Ooh, love what you did with the lavender/periwinkle (a nickname of mine, no less) houndstooth!