Hot! The Vintage VIP Poodle skirt

Fabric: The most amazing piece of pre-printed vintage fabric (almost) ever!
Pattern: None
Year: Most likely mid to late 50’s
Notions: 1 zipper, I hook-n-eye, 8 buttons from stash for grey sweater
Time to complete: 1.5 hours
First worn: April 2012
Wear again? Yes but most likely without petticoat

Total Cost: NOTHING…although the sweaters worn with it came to a total of $15.99

This could have EASILY been used for the VIP challenge – this is a VERY PRECIOUS piece of fabric, I think I found it at the Peddlar’s Fair in Martinez years ago and might have paid $5. I liked the printed poodles on it at the time and thought maybe I’d use it for curtains or appliques…didn’t really know. It sat in a box (away from the sun, thank goodness) for years. One day I pulled it out, needing to decide whether to keep it or throw it away and I saw this:

This small white mark, near the selvedge..and there were two of them marking the middle of the poodles…I had someone grab one end of the fabric and hold the whole thing out and it hit me – this was a piece of pre-printed goods meant to make a CIRCLE SKIRT with poodles galore! SILVER poodles, with lime green bows and butterflies, how AWESOME is that!???! That’s when this went into the Revered pile, not to be touched until….

Now. Now it’s been transformed into all it’s fifties poodle glory : ) If you go by the technical definition of a circle skirt then this isn’t technically a circle skirt since there are gathers at the waist. Why? Because the basic skirt was HUGE. Here it is with the side seams stitched up and a preliminary hem cut, on a 5 foot round table:

If I were to have no gathers then the skirt would either be A) dragging on the floor or B) meant for a 48″ waist. So there are gathers : ) I made this backwards – after sewing the side seams together I measured from the bottom of the poodles, which was about 6″, and then cut the hem. Once that was done I measured from the hem UP and cut out the waist. It was VERY important that the full pattern of the poodles be kept intact as well as having a good even hem.

Now you can see the poodle glory : ) And that is one full skirt, let me assure you…

This was my original idea for this skirt – a nice crisp white blouse with green earrings and a silver belt. Believe it or not I do have my petticoat on underneath and I felt like I was about 5 feet wide. I also felt kind of blah. I had cut this out, including a cute little grey sweater (remodeled from a $3 silk/cashmere find from Salvation Army!) when it was about 68 degrees. While taking pictures today it hit 90. I had ditched the idea of the sweaters until I looked at these photos and then felt like I really did need to suck it up and change the look.

Silver sweater, black camisole, same silver belt and shoes, and a vintage green rhinestone pin and earrings from my grandmother and I’m feeling better…except for the sweat dripping down my neck and back : )

And now we’ve got the cashmere/silk sweater re-do with the black camisole and black belt. Still sweating but this is much more “me” than the white shirt. The “halos” in the photo are the result of near direct sun shining on the outdoor studio my daughter set up for a photo project for school. She was nice enough to take these photos for me at the end of a long, hot day for her. She says its called the “Madonna effect” and rattled off a way I could fix it in the Bridge section of Photoshop that made my eyes roll into the back of my head. I’ll just take the halo for now : )

Finally, when I could feel the sweat soaking through my waistband, I decided to ditch the petticoat and see how the skirt did on its own. I like it : ) I would totally wear this to work, on BART, without hesitation!

And since this is a circular skirt there was twirling…

And while I love those silvery Kazz-inspired shoes, at some point I’m going to need to be practical so I found a pair of lime green flip-flops to match the lime green polish my daughter brought me special for today.

I am SO glad I finally go to make this skirt! I used it as a table cloth for my blog here. As I was ironing the skirt to wear today my mother told me she met my aunt (and then my father) through her Girl Scout troop in about 1948. My future grandmother came to teach the girls how to make circle skirts and after they measured their waists it came time to figure out how big a circle to cut, she had to do the math for each girl since they were too young to have learned fractions yet! I’m sure she’d like this skirt today, not so sure she’d care for green nail polish but you never know…So thanks to a circle skirt my parents met, I came along, my Grandma Bertha taught me how to sew and here we are! Big circle of life.



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. I have a 48″ waist, slap on a new waistband and bring that sucker over. Mama needs some new clothes. Oh and loving the green pin.

  2. This is so beautiful Loran! You have such great style too!

    • Thank you so much Gina, that means a lot! I also totally agree with your cupcake-to-frosting ratio : ) Love you blog, you are very inspiring.

  3. I love the understated glamour and beauty of this piece, Loren!

  4. It’s like you stepped out of a Disney movie with those cute little birds flying around you!!!! Love the skirt! Using a table cloth is a grand idea!

    • Thank you Tracy : ) I pulled the butterflies from the skirt and photoshopped them in there. The fabric was actually meant as skirt fabric, I just used it as a tablecloth first and then made the skirt. I think it’s much happier as the skirt!

  5. Love, love, love that post and the journey of this piece (especially the circle of sewing life). Also, I am an expert at the rolling back of the eyes and glazed look when my daughter starts telling me anything technical about photoshop or photography….but isn’t it fabulous they’re learning these wonderful creative skills….she would be SERIOUSLY jealous of that outdoor studio set up!. This has been a really lovely read. Thank you.

    • You are absolutely right, Ms. Tempest, it is great our kids are learning these skills. They SHOULD be smarter than us but do they have to learn such complex (to me) stuff so easily?? Sigh…

  6. What a great sewing journey! I hope you totally rock this on the BART ;)

    • I am wearing this today : ) But because its raining I wore it with boots and am missing the fun of the heels. Ah well, spring is just getting started so I’ll have MANY more opportunities to rock this on BART! Thanks Liz!!

  7. I dearly love how much twirling is going on in your life. :-D This is a great project; so cool to see how appearance is transformed by different tops, shoes, and the petticoat. LOVE these photos, particularly the one with the sunglasses/head tilted up.

  8. What a skirt! So cute! I especially love it with the darker ensemble.

  9. Hi Loren, I love the darker assemble and what a beautiful table cloth aka perfect circle skirt. I want it, yes I do. I think I need to start searching for some vintage tablecloth.

  10. Loran! You look fabulous! This skirt is surprisingly so versatile. And those shoes are hot to trot!

    • Thank you Bethany, I love the shoes too! Wouldn’t you know the first day I decided to wear this it rains? Ah well…summer will be here soon enough: )

  11. Oh I just love your skirt!

  12. Wow! It’s amazing. I love the grey colour. My favourite look is definitely the black camisole a dark grey cardigan and the flat shoes! Brilliant! And who ever heard of a poodle table cloth – really! It’s a far more sensible skirt!

    • Thank you Trish : ) I wore the dark look to work yesterday and LOVED it. I know, I know…poodle tablecloth is silly, poodle skirt is MUCH better!!

  13. Wow! That is so cool! I loved reading about the history of that piece. It’s so beautiful on you. My favorite pictures are with the dark sweater and without the crinoline, however I really like the twirly ones with the crinoline. I have a daughter who also tries to show me things in photoshop—I can relate.

    • Yes, Barbara, our kids are smarter than we are : ) I’m fine with that but I wish I could “get it” as easily as they do. Thanks for all your kind words, we should try to get together sometime when you’re down this way, dress up and go fabric shopping!

  14. Life does **not** get any better than this!! Vintage poodle charm, sweaters. WOW!! Super-heart!! You look amazing!

    • You are absolutely right Joann! My boss LOVED this skirt when I wore it the other day and now wants me to wear something like it every week : )

  15. Fantastic post, Loran! I wasn’t sure at first, but the more I think about it, I like the grey cardi outfit the best. Nice job :)

  16. This is such a charming fabric in a lovely grey! Love those butterflies and the skirt is ADORABLE!

  17. Definitely like it best with the black and dark grey on top.

  18. What an amazing, feature worthy skirt! I love your skirt paired with that adorable black bow? belt and the dark top to match the belt.

    I’m going to have to keep my eye out for tablecloths when I go to my local flea from now on! :)

  19. So cool! You have a for real poodle skirt! Totally jealous of the fabric find but love your gorgeous creation!

  20. Loran, the most perfect butterfly circle skirt out there and I just love all the versatile shots you wowed us with especially the Kazz inspired shoe shot ha ha. Great story too.