Hot! The ‘Turn’ skirt

It’s been a while since I posted a garment with a soundtrack, but this skirt definitely has one.

The title comes from The Byrds classic cover of Pete Seeger’s ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ which is mostly taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  I sewed the skirt to Great Big Sea’s ‘Feel it Turn

Why?  First, the skirt is made for turning in, with the added bonus that doing that will make both the turner and the watcher dizzy.

Second, for everything there is a season, and in NZ, this is the season of freesias and peonies, of Labour weekend garden planting, new leaves and spring gales.  It’s not the season for autumn tones or a fall palette.  Sewing autumn colours would be depressing.  So I wanted to find a way to combine a traditional autumn colour with a spring aesthetic, and this golden-orange & white diagonally striped canvas seemed just the thing.

I had plans to try to fake an ‘autumn’ photoshoot in spring NZ with yellow broom flowers, but the skirt ended up looking stupid with the few autumn toned tops in my closet, and perfect with this green sweater, the broom shots didn’t turn out well, and how could I miss the chance to play sleeping beauty in fields of spring flowers?


I feel the skirt will transitional well from spring to autumn: it’s long enough to preserve my modest in the worst of the spring gales, and thick enough to be worn with tights as the weather cools in autumn.

Except for the pattern matching, the skirt was a breeze to sew up: two full selvedge-to-selvedge widths of fabric, a waistband, pockets.

The pattern matching killed the easiness though.  The fabric is just loosely woven enough that the stripes aren’t exactly even, so every.single.stripe had to be individually matched, basted, checked, adjusted, and then sewn.  I’m tickled pink with the result though, even if the fullness of the skirt means that you loose the effect of the chevrons at the pockets.  I’ve got just enough of the fabric left to do a pencil skirt, and I think I’ll repeat the exact same effect with it, and really capitalize on the pattern matching.

The best part about this skirt is the photoshoot.  A friend and I spent an entire afternoon driving round the Miramar coast taking photos of it.  We had a blast, and I ended up with 247 usable photos.  I’ve tried to keep this down to the 10 11 best!

My favourite series:

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.5 metres of orange & white diagonally striped canvas

Pattern: None

Year: 2012 does 1955

Notions: 1 vintage metal invisible zip, vintage thread in ‘saffron’, vintage bias binding & bias hem turning in ‘gold’, interfacing.

And the insides? bias bound pockets, bias-turned hems, and selvedge to selvedge construction = interior happiness

Hours: 7.  Matching not-quite-even stripes is time consuming

First worn?: Sunday 21 October

Wear again?: Yep.  This is going to be a spring to autumn standby

Make again?: Yes!  Such an easy skirt to make up (except for the stripe matching), and so fun to wear.

Total cost: $0  – entirely from inherited stash

Let’s finish with another favourite photo.  I’m standing in front of the old navy laundry, ‘washing that man right out of my hair’.


Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


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  1. Your skirt is adorable! I really like how the stripes go around. You look very pretty in all of your photos. I can tell that you had a really good time out and about in your pretty skirt.

  2. A very flattering use of stripes, lovely chevron detailing, and nifty reference to South Pacific. I wonder why we upper-midwesterners go to Arizona rather than NZ in the US winter months. Gorgeous scenery.

    • Thank you! I think probably the winter migration to Arizona instead of NZ has something to do with cost ;-). Also, the NZ summer tends to be…unpredictable, and it’s probably more fun to go somewhere where it really is sunny all the time. NZ is AMAZINGLY beautiful though.

  3. such a pretty skirt.. just a really cute outfit.. Love the shoes with it..
    We are so into fall …really close to winter..It is cold out today.. So strange
    to hear you talk about spring and garden planting.. Technology has put us so close, that it seems we shoul all be having the same
    Happy sewing.. Great photos..

    • Thank you! It is amazing how the world has come together – things happen and we instantly know about them. I’ve got friends in NYC, the UK, CA, the midwest and here in NZ all sharing the same (photoshopped) image of a storm over the Statue of Liberty within a few minutes on Facebook. And my sister in SF can give me fashion advice (she also approves of the blue shoes) about this outfit via skype. And we can all share our stuff here!

  4. I had to look carefully to find the pockets and am glad I did, so cute!!! Please make another skirt so we can see the lovliness of the stipes without getting dizzy : ) Don’t you love it when you have TOO many good photos instead of sorting through the pile for ones that don’t make you look like you’ve aged 20 years overnight? Great shoot, I can tell you were having fun.

    • Thank you! It was a great photoshoot (so much better than the ones where I am raising my eyebrows in every.single.shot), but the one thing it missed was a good close-up of the pockets! I guess we were just having too much fun ;-)

  5. thats so beautiful and the photos are really high energy! I love it

  6. The photos are beautiful and so is your skirt. It’s a really cute outfit combined with that green top and the blue shoes. It’s so wonderful to see you finally enjoying warmer weather.

  7. Nice! What a happy skirt and photos. So that is the proper way (baste, check, etc.) to deal with stripes, huh.

    • Thank you!

      I find baste-check-adjust-sew the best way to do diagonal stripes – with those taking in a tiny bit or letting out a tiny bit can make the stripes line up perfectly, so I basted the whole seam, and then checked and re-basted each stripe. I do straight stripe a bit differently.

  8. You are so much fun. The perfect skirt to photograph I bet your friend was getting dizzy taking photos with those stripes turning in circles on the swing. Great photos what fun day.