Hot! The “Lee Krasner” Circle Skirt

The Facts

Fabric: Black velveteen from Jo-Ann’s, 3.5 yards for $25
Pattern: Basic circle skirt
Notions: snaps, fastener, fabric paints, $10
Year: c. 1950s
Time to complete: About 7 hours
First worn: March 2012
Wear again? Yes, after finishing the painting.

Total Cost: Originally $35

It’s a pretty good guess that whenever a Sew Weekly Monday post is this late, there is some frantic rushing going on in my corner of San Francisco. This week, I didn’t start my creation until last (Sunday) night. A bunch of events came up during the week and I completely budgeted my time wrong. And, yesterday, my couple hours I planned to spend at the Alameda Antique Fair turned into about seven. So no, not a good time budgeter.

And now, a little about this week’s creation. After a suggestion by a friend to use abstract artist and wife-to-Jackson-Pollock, Lee Krasner, as my artist, I almost immediately knew that I wanted to use Untitled, 1948 as mart inspiration.  There’s just something about this work that screams “puffy paints!” I knew I wanted to make a border print circle skirt, although I wasn’t sure just how I was going to replicate the art onto the skirt.

After toying around with the idea of using iron-on decals and embroidery, I decided to simply use fabric paint and freehand it as more an inspiration than a direct copy. The fabric of the skirt is black velveteen, just like the painted Mexican tourist skirts of the 1950s. If I hadn’t started last night, I would have made the border even thicker. Who knows, I may actually go back and add to it.

Thankfully, the abstract nature of the art gave me room to make this whole thing look a little like a hot mess. It works, though.

And although I ran out of time before I could finish the back of the skirt’s border, I think it looks fine as a semi-circle. I will get to finishing the rest of the painting. Eventually.

I’m kind of surprised I didn’t mess this whole thing up.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Oh my golly gosh! I love this skirt! A mexican tourist skirt AND some fabby puff paint art that looks so perfect! I would complete the circle too and then wear it a swish around all the time!

  2. You are the Guru! I am in awe! It’s sublime. Got to try that. So not a hot mess.

  3. It’s absolutely beautiful and it looks fun to wear. Interesting technique wi the paint.

  4. Only had a few hours and turned out something amazing…again! I’m also in awe Mena, you are truly a master.

  5. Wow! I’m stunned. I thought it was a border of really nice fabric that you sewed it on. To think that you not only painted it but painted it in the style of Lee Krasner is so delightful!!!! As in: I am filled with delight and lots of it!

  6. The velvet makes a great canvas – a wonderful idea for creating a border print. Lee Krasner’s art works beautifully for this.

  7. I knew you would pull it off!!! So wonderful! It is nothing like I imagined it was going to be when you described it to me at the Flea Market!
    Great to meet you!

  8. Wowsers! That looks intricate and time consuming, but fun and festive too. Very cute look on you.

  9. What did you get at the Alamdeda Antique Fair – do tell!

  10. Such a great idea! It looks great and the inspiration is spot on.

  11. This is one of my favorites ever! (Up there with that red border print dress a while back, in the beginning.) Simply lovely!

  12. Such a lot of work involved in that – deceptively simple and effective!

  13. That’s fantastic! I thought it was a separate panel of fabric you had sewn in at first.

  14. Wowsers that’s an amazing paint job! Wonderful!

  15. Very pretty.. Love the free hand painting.. Happy sewing.

  16. This is adorable beyond words. (And yet I still waffle on). Art, inspired by art! Beautiful, and the shape and luxury of that skirt?! Want!

  17. I never realized I needed a velvet circle skirt until now (minus the painting, of course, althogh you did a lovely job on that). ;-)))))

  18. Wow Mena, what an amazing interpretation of Lee Krasners work, Love it! I envy your patience.

  19. The best application of puff paints to fabric I’ve ever seen! Very inspiring, Mena. Really dig it.