The “Nominally Plaid” …Uniform

The Facts
Fabric: Belt: Wool necktie, refashioned, gift so free / Skirt: Beige home dec cotton, refashioned from an old skirt, so let’s say also free / Blouse: Well, that was already a blouse, also refashioned; again let’s say free.
Pattern: None
Year: N/A
Notions: Covered buckle kit, from Knittn’ Kitten, $1.00 / Belting, from SCRAP, $0.03 (yes, really–and I rounded up) / Bias tape, from an estate sale, $0.25
Time to complete: Overall–five hours, maybe six?
Sewing soundtrack: The Rolling Stones (only Between the Buttons) and The Twilight Sad.
First worn: Just for photos.
Wear again: Yes to all three, but never together.
Total cost: $1.28

Finally a challenge I actually managed to complete! And, since I wanted to take pictures in advance, in a special, rarely visited out-of-town location (where I did visit, but did not in fact take any photos), I also actually managed to complete it in time. Whether what I completed actually qualifies for a plaid challenge is debatable.

So, yeah, I made a uniform. This was totally not my intent, and I didn’t fully realize what I’d done until I’d put everything on together and… oh. This is, interestingly, my first school uniform–I don’t think there even were any uniform-wearing schools in the town where I grew up. I’m not sure if that makes it more or less weird for me.

Because this outfit is just barely plaid, and because it’s mostly refashioning rather than new sewing, I’m going to be less long-winded by only talking about the plaid parts. (However, if you do want to know all about my one-third circle skirt, or how and why I chopped the sleeves off this blouse, and possibly also see a few more hilariously awkward playground photos, I’ll put that up on my blog in a bit.)

This outfit started with the belt, which is entirely plaid. Last Christmas, my boss received a tartan wool tie as a gag gift; knowing he’d never wear it (I’ve seen him in a normal tie only once), he gave it to me to see if I might use it for something. Ties don’t have much fabric, so my options were rather limited, and it’s been languishing somewhere in the back of my closet for months. When this challenge came up, though, I immediately thought ‘belt.’

That said (regarding the size), I must have been thinking I had a Gargantuan necktie on my hands, because the belt I initially envisioned was at least twice the width of the actual one (which is exactly an inch wide). I also imagined a brass buckle, but the only ones I had in my stash were far too large, so I wound up doing a covered buckle, which I don’t dislike. I left the prong off almost entirely because, to be honest, I didn’t want the silver to show.

I cut the belt length to be worn midway between my natural waist and the widest part of my hips, to suit the skirt. But–good news, since I’m likely never pairing it with the skirt again–it’s not too long to wear at the waist, and it’s also long enough to wear with jeans, so I’ll probably get a lot of use out of it.

But that’s not all! The skirt is also secretly plaid. Yes, it’s just a boring beige home dec cotton–but both the waistband and hem are finished with lovely double-wide plaid bias tape. Hopefully no one will see the inside of the waistband, but my skirt hems get flipped over pretty frequently when biking, so that plaid will get seen.

And that’s all. I’m happy with all three of these things, and I’ll wear them all again–just not ever, ever together. I do think it was a bit easier and less self-conscious for me, taking photos, since I was wearing something that was so obviously costumey. That said, hopefully the somewhat bashful expression in the photo reads more as ‘child who is reluctant to return to school and accept summer’s end’ than ‘oh my god, can those people over there see me?’. Costume or not, I still felt kind of ridiculous.

But it could’ve been worse–at least I didn’t have enough fabric for a pleated skirt.

Author

Z.

Z. has, much to her surprise, been sewing since 2007. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and uh 1955-fantasy-land. In addition to sewing, she likes words, music, and old things. Her life is a story.

13 Comments

  1. That belt is super awesome! And the whole ensemble looks great together, I must say. Love the skirt.

  2. I love the peep detail on the skirt! Fab job with the whole thing, it’s super cute!

    • Even when I can’t see it, I do like the skirt better knowing that’s there. Usually I’ve tried to make my bias tape as close a match to the fabric as I can get, but I think I’m going to have to start finishing all my skirts with different colors and patterns now. Thanks!

  3. Saddle shoes!!! Love this outfit.

  4. Cool belt! Where did you get that belt kit? I’m having a hard time finding those. Love the surprise hem tape. Nice to see you again.

    • Oh, yes, they are hard to find. I’m lucky–almost all my belt stuff comes from two thrift stores in Portland that’re almost exclusively sewing/crafting. I’ve gotten to the point that usually buy whatever belt-making things they have when I’m there–I’m starting to have this fear that the world supply will run out… And before I figured out I could get them vintage, I remember trying to find belt kits in “normal” sewing stores–it was a nightmare. Good luck!

  5. Love this, and the hem tape is just gorgeous!

  6. Plaid is involved, so it counts! That is a great idea of using the tie for a belt. I’ve a heap of them so now I have an idea of what to try with them.

    • I love ties, and used to (attempt to) wear regular, unaltered, ones as belts in high school. I must say this way works a lot better. Go for it!

  7. I think it’s cute, and I love the hidden plaid goodness at the hem.

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