Joan C.’s flannel skirt

I’ve been sewing slowly so far in 2015. Thinking about my two coat projects, taking my time, and just knitting more, I guess. But I finally finished up a skirt I’ve had mostly done except for the hem for nearly 2 weeks! This is my first pattern for Marie and Kerry’s Vintage Pledge. I pledged to sew from 5 vintage patterns this year, which should theoretically be easily do-able!

This is McCall’s 3853 from 1956, a nice full skirt with inverted box pleats front and back.

McCall's 3853

I made it up in a kind of 50s-looking Robert Kaufman cotton flannel. I thought the cozy flannel and picking a slightly longer length than I normally sew would be perfect for winter! Joan C. was the original owner of the pattern, so I’m calling it Joan C.’s flannel skirt. Or at least, Joan was a previous owner. She wrote her name on every single pattern piece. Maybe she took it to a sewing class? Fun to guess!

Joan C's flannel skirt

I must say though, Joan C. didn’t take very good care of her pattern. Many of the pieces had holes and huge rips, and the waistband piece was cut into 3 pieces with a couple of partial index cards thrown in. Huh? I don’t know, maybe she changed the size of the skirt by letting out the pleats and thus the waistband, although none of the waistband bits were attached together. It took some doing to iron and piece things together in order to trace the pieces, but worth the effort.


I went with a narrow machine-stitched hem like you might do on a circle skirt, since this was quite full—I used nearly all of the 3 yards it called for! I was kind of dreading the hem for a long time which is silly, since I ended up doing about the simplest one in the world. I closed it with a great navy blue vintage button.

vintage button closure

There’s something funky going on at the side seams though, and if I sew this again, I want to try and address it. I’m not sure, but I think it relates to the darts which are on either side of the pleats, both front and back. Between them and each side seam, things just lay a little funny. And it’s not a matter of expected petticoats puffing things out… I’m wearing one in these photos but even a second doesn’t change that.

So basically, the pleated bits are lovely, it’s everything else that’s a little questionable. Maybe next time I’ll just incorporate the darts into the pleats, not sure. At any rate the fabric is so busy it’s not like you can really tell, anyway.

side-view(I’m an idiot and forgot to close my zipper all the way)

But those pleats, I’m loving them! I was a little unsure about halfway, through. When I first tried the skirt on before hemming, I noticed that the folds of fabric were catching on the rest of the fabric on the outside of the skirt, since flannel is kind of sticky. But I chopped a few inches off after letting the hem hang, and finger pressed and steamed the pleated until about 5″ down from the waistband (I didn’t want to crease them too hard). After wearing it around for a day and even outside in the wind, I can say it was totally fine!

Confirmed by the below photos, where the skirt got picked up by a big gust on the left, and came back down to earth properly on its own. (The expression on the left is my “Come on, not again!!” look because this just. kept. happening. 😛 )

wind gust and a flannel skirt

The outfit I wore ended up looking a bit like a skating ensemble. Since it was snowing and cold (I’m actually standing in the alley by our neighbor’s fence, ha ha), I opted for gloves rather than my hangs getting progressively colder and more red. These are a nice warm pair of vintage opera-length gloves that are great for some of my coats with bracelet-length or three-quarter-length sleeves. They were inexpensive when I bought them some time ago, I think mainly because they had several holes, but I darned them and have given them lots of life since.


I topped it off with a scarf I knit several years ago, in a Blue Moon Fiber Arts sock yarn. I don’t wear it very much but I dug it out of the back of the closet and it was a great match for the chartreuse in the skirt!

pond scum ribbon scarf

Overall I’m quite happy with the skirt and I imagine I’ll wear it a lot! I wish you could find more printed flannel that didn’t have kids or sports team themes, but hey, at least I was able to find one that has a nice vintage feel. Three cheers for trying to stay warm in style!

Dear Joan C.,

I wish I could have seen your version of this skirt. I hope I did well by your pattern! 😉


Joan C's skirt

outfit details

1950s skirt: made by me
vintage cardigan: misc.
scarf: made by me pre-blog (pattern is Lace Ribbon Scarf)
vintage earrings: misc.
faux-fur trimmed boots: Dollhouse

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , , , ,

Golly, 38 Comments!

  • This is SO great! I love how your outfit matches so well, and the colors are fabulous.
    The darts are kind of strange. I can see one on the pattern envelope on the left view, and it does seem like an odd placement.


  • This is a really great winter look! I love that it looks a bit like a skating outfit. It’s perfect for the season. 😀


    • Thanks, Michelle! I should have headed to a skating rink. I don’t think I’ve been on skates since I played ice hockey (poorly) in college! lol


  • The flannel print really makes the skirt! I love the pleats but agree the darts seem a bit overkill for the pattern? Okay maybe not overkill but just unusual when you already have the box pleats (which look so awesome, btw). I love that Joan wrote her name on all the pattern pieces! Maybe she did take it to a class, or to school back when you could take Home Ec. I think my generation was the last to get Home Ec in high school! Or maybe she had 7 sisters at home and they all had the same pattern haha! One can only speculate, and that’s definitely fun to do with vintage stuff.

    Love the skirt, love the scarf (fantastic color!), and your gloves adorable!


    • Thanks! And yeah, same thoughts about the darts. What’s the point? It doesn’t really need shaping there since there’s so much fabric, there’s plenty of easy for the hips. Very fun to speculate what may have been the reason behind writing her name on all the pieces! I love that kind of stuff.


      • Looking at the pattern image, the darts may be there so the large pleats in the skirt fit in the waistband? It looks like the designer is trying to fit a large amount of fabric in that are, and the dart fits it without compromising the fullness of the skirt further down?
        Maybe? 😀


  • I’ve been looking for a pleated skirt pattern! Last year, I had a thing for shirred, but pleated has a more sophisticated vibe that I wanted to get into this year. If I make my own version, may I call it the Tasha skirt? 🙂

    Regarding the petticoat – is it self made or store bought? Would love to know about about it.


    • know more about it*


    • Aww, you absolutely may call it that if you do! 😀

      The petticoat is a vintage one I bought on Etsy. I’ve had a dickens of a time trying to find ones that aren’t too full, are just the right size… it’s like the Goldilocks snydrome of petticoats. But every time I contemplate trying to sew one, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Only laziness to blame, I’m afraid! So I rarely wear them. At least this one meets almost all my requirements. It’s three tiers, the top being smooth, and then the second and third gradually getting fuller, but not too full. It gives a nice shape without feeling costumey, you know??


  • Your skirt is lovely, but I am IN love with those gloves! Don’t you just love finding clues about the pattern’s previous owner?


    • Thanks, Lisette! I’m in love with those gloves, too. Now if I could just get myself to finish the second of a pair of opera-length gloves I started knitting ages ago…!


  • I have seen that sort of tearing happen so often with patterns! It’s always heartbreaking. I used to fix tears before listing them, but after I royally screwed up repairing two patterns, I stopped, just noting tears in the descriptions, and leaving them for the new owner to repair at their discretion.

    I love the body the flannel gave to this skirt! And it looks absolutely perfect and cozy for a cool day of snow!



    • Thanks, Janey! I know, it’s so sad about patterns in that kind of shape. Fortunately I’ve had pretty good luck with the patterns I’ve purchased, this was one of the worst ones. But the great thing is if the new owner can mend it or trace it off, they can sew with it and give it new life for as long as they’d like! 🙂


  • I laughed out loud when you said she’d written her name on every piece..I found a box of old patterns at an estate sale and YES each pc of every pattern had the owner’s name on it. They must have loaned them out and shared!


  • Hi Tasha,

    Great skirt. I really love how you reached out to Joan C.–such a lovely touch. I imagine her saying–“now where did I put that skirt I made from that pattern, I bet its in the attic somewhere”. 🙂


  • I adore this, and just bought some of the Kaufman Mammoth flannel in plaid right before Christmas wanting to make a skirt, and have been arguing with myself about since November. My argument has been about wearing something with a plush inside against leggings with a slip not being the best use of inside plushiness, but man, the plaid I bought is BEGGING to be a full skirt with pleats. Thanks for demonstrating that my instinct can be correct, and I don’t have to be such a silly rabbit. Your skirt and outfit, is fab.


    • I totally know what you mean about the inside plushness, but the time I’d be able to wear it on bare legs odds are it’s no longer flannel season. But if you do go with a full skirt, when you sit down it’s like wearing your own blanket. It’s awesome. 😀


  • Oh, very cute! I love a good flannel skirt in the winter (so cozy), and this pattern is really divine. Great match with the scarf as well.
    Also, gloves and no coat is probably the best way to go when trying to take outdoor outfit photos in the winter. I think it actually looks really cool when the gloves match my sweater, but your white ones are so pretty.


  • I love the whole outfit and that scarf is great, I’m glad it got to come out of the back of the closet ;o)


  • There’s absolutely nothing questionable about this skirt Tasha…it’s super cute and snuggly! I never knew that flannel could come in such great prints :o) I particularly love the pleats, makes a change from a circle or gathered skirt and so much more flattering in my opinion! I just adore your entire outfit and I’m so pleased you’ve taken the #vintagepledge! I’ve pinned your first make here


  • I’m in love with flannel, full skirts in the winter. Especially in such fun prints. I especially love how your scarf brings out the chartreuse in the skirt. This is just lovely.

    She Knits in Pearls


  • Oooh, flannel cotton skirt! It looks so cozy and warm. I think I need one or two myself now… ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill


  • Looks fantastic, and it’s close to the Seahawks’ colors. I need to find that skirt pattern.


  • That’s great fabric, it really matches your style so well. Love the box pleats, very elegant


  • This makes me think – and wish – that there were flannel vintage style/repro skirts on the market for non-sewers (and of course, sewers, too) to avail of come the icy cold winter months. I have seen a small number of genuine vintage flannel skirts over the years, but not many and I bet there would be a major market for them, if one or more folks or companies launched lines that included such.

    Fabulous skirt, styling and cold weather fashion inspiration!

    ♥ Jessica


  • What a great skirt. I love the fabric and the skirt style. IT’s never crossed my mind to make a skirt out of brushed cotton, but what a genius idea! I’ll have to keep that in mind for any future wintry skirts I want to make.


  • Tasha,
    I’m loving everything (it’s not only due to a super-strong cup of coffee I just had). 🙂
    The design is amazing – it truly is, since it’s something I’m looking out for myself. Sadly, I have to find a pettern, since I can not make a pattern myself — I’m one of those she-sews-from-patterns kind of gals out there. 🙂



  • This is such a great shape! Love those big pleats! And I always love finding patterns with someone’s name on them… it’s fun to think about who might have owned the pattern before me!


  • I have said it before, but one day I just want to come and play dress ups in your wardrobe! I love this skirt, looks amazing on you!


  • This is a lovely skirt, great shape and fabric. I like how you have styled it.


  • […] much less fuzzy than most flannels… even the Robert Kaufman flannel I used in January for my Joan C skirt, which I liked a lot too, but this is even better. For some reason the bodice ended up a bit looser […]


  • Mary Harris July 13, 2016 at 10:10am

    I just found your blog and all I can say is wow. I am 63, born in 1953, and you really take me back. You look so much like my Mom and all her “lady friends” or “gal pals” did then. Although I do admit that I am having a hard time reconciling your tattoos with the clothes though. lol

    I am sure you have one but if not, you need a vintage Mexican tooled leather purse in brown with the flowers all over it. It was THE handbag that everyone carried back then. I can still smell that leather. I promised myself that I would have one when I grew up. Oh and if you smoke be sure to get the matching cigarette pack holder.


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