Hot! ‘Witches britches’ and other stitches

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1 vintage 3/4 length kimono jacket, repurposed

Pattern: Roughly based on my tap pants pattern and 1890s drawers

Year: ca. 1895/2012

Notions: Bias facing for the waistband, drawstring, lace for the hem

And the insides? Flat felled seams & selvedge to selvedge sewing

Hours: 2

First worn?: Sat 13 October by a friend, and then on Mon 29 Oct by me for the photoshoot

Wear again?: Yep.  Drawers get a lot of use in my house.

Make again?: Yep.  I can never have to many drawers – as pyjamas, tap pants, or proper historical drawers.

Total cost: $5 (+ $2 for the hat for the photoshoot).

OK, these aren’t actually witches britches (a peculiar antipodean fad of the 1960s – tight mid-thigh knit knickers with lace trimmed hems meant to be seen under miniskirts), but what to wear under your dresses is obviously an important question if you are a witch.  After all, you need to be able to maintain your dignity and modesty as the wind whips around your broomstick as you fly off to your coven meeting.

Granny Weatherwax recommended thick woolen numbers with padded bottoms (broom handles don’t provide a lot of perching surface), and Nanny Ogg probably went without and took every effort NOT to maintain her dignity and modest in her youth, but I went for the type of britches that Magrat probably longed for – purple satin and lace.  Just the thing for the lady witch to wear while eating chocolate and reading the latest witch fashion magazine!

The britches are made from a repurposed vintage kimono jacket which I picked up for $5.  I really liked the bright aniline purple colour – a very unusual shade for me, but a great illustration of aniline dyes and the fad for coloured drawers that happened in the 1890s. The lace that trims the bottom is something I inherited from Nana.

They britches were a quick project done a bit in advance because I knew the weeks around Halloween would leave me little time for sewing.  The university semester is almost over, and I’m shin-deep in marking papers.  Also, I have no Halloween plans this year, so no reason to make an awesome costume.  The best I could do was to spend $2 on a witch hat, pull out a black top and a lace negligee and try to make my light-filled blue & green & white house look a bit gloomy and witch-y.

To add extra witchy-ness I pulled out my Pratchett witch-novels and my magic wand (the evil red-dot creator) to tempt my familiar to pose with me.

And the other stitches?  Ah, that would be my costume for the dress-up event that I did have this week: Windy Lindy, the big Wellington swing event of the year.  I made a dress from Simplicity 3446, which was my Grandmother’s wedding dress pattern (the pattern still has all her alterations) out of vintage fuchsia brocade.  I don’t actually like the dress and it seemed a bit of a cop-out for a Halloween outfit for Sew Weekly, but I thought you might enjoy the photos:


Happy Halloween everyone!


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. “I went for the type of britches that Magrat probably longed for” love.this. :)

  2. My mother had some of those! Never her saw her wear them. They were red polyester with black lace – horrid things, like bike shorts. I didn’t realize they were an Antipodean thing. Yours are delightful however!

    • I can imagine if you were wearing the full 1960s miniskirts witches britches might have come in handy ;-). Hopefully they made non-polyester versions! I’m assuming they are Antipodean, because I’d never heard of them before coming here, and I’ve never found a mention of them in a magazine/website/article from anywhere but the Antipodes. They may have had them by another name elsewhere.

  3. Lovely britches! I can see how comfy they would be to wear around the house. They’re a lot prettier than jogging pants or flannel pjs. I can imagine how great they must feel underneath historical costumes. Looks like you had fun at your party. You look very pretty.

  4. OoOooh I love those britches, I agree with Barbara much better than Pj’s or jogging duds.

  5. Perdita would love those but Agnes Nitt would over rule her.

  6. Lovely britches but that dress is a stunner : )

  7. Very cute – will you be heading over to Nullus Anxietas IV?