Brumby skirt, now with extra sailboats

I was flattered awhile back when Megan Neilsen asked if I’d like to try out her Brumby skirt pattern. She was right on the mark in thinking I’d like itโ€”Brumby is totally up my alley.

Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsensource: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen

Out of the envelope, perhaps it wouldn’t necessarily scream “me”, but if I can look past modern styling and see a bit of a vintage twist, then I’m in. So a gathered skirt and big ol’ pockets? Not much twisting of my arm needed. Yes, please! So Megan kindly sent me a copy of the pattern to review.

And when you get down to it, the pockets actually reminded me of this 1940s play suit pattern:

1940s Anne Adams playsuit, via So Vintage on Etsy1940s Anne Adams pattern, via So Vintage on Etsy

So here’s my version!

Brumby skirt

(You’ll have to pardon my disappearing/reappearing torso in these photos, obviously white top + white garage + bright day = bad choice. Oof.)

I made a few minor modifications to Brumby, not because it needed it! Mainly because I’m mostly incapable of leaving well enough alone. I knew I wanted to sew View 1, with the big pockets and slightly less width for thicker fabrics, since my cotton was rather heavy. (Not quite upholstery weight but heavier than quilting weight for sure.) But I didn’t want a mini length, and I wanted a touch more fullness. So I added 5″ in length to the front and back pieces, cut the width of the XL instead (gathering it down to the XS size, which requires literally no effort other than more gathering), and omitted the center front seam since I didn’t want the bulk of another seam. Which is super easy to do, you just cut the front on the fold and let the seam allowance (5/8″ in this case) hang off the edge of the fold line.

Brumby skirt

Brumby skirt

I also changed the zipper application. Exposed zippers are cool and I think kind of trendy right now (though you’re looking at the wrong person to ask about trends), but they aren’t my thing, so I did a lapped zipper. Of course about 30 seconds before cutting my waistband pieces I realized I needed to add length to do an underlap, which is a scary point to realize this when you’re skimpy on yardage! But I remembered just in time.

By the way, nothing wrong with my zipper below other than forgetting to zip it all the way. ๐Ÿ˜› And I closed it with a lone leftover vintage button from a dress I sewed ages ago and have since gotten rid of.

Brumby skirt with lapped zipper

If you’re familiar with the pattern you might notice I also swapped out the waistband. I know that’s kind of cheaty since Megan designed a nice curved 3-piece waistband, but I was a little hesitant of a wider waistband on a summer-only skirt (let’s face it, I won’t be wearing these boats with dark tights in winter). I mean you need to fit in all that grilled food, ice cream, and cocktails on the deck, after all! I’ll have to give the original waistband a whirl on a cooler-weather version sometime.

Brumby skirt

I really love those pockets! Since my fabric was rather heavy, I used a brown cotton lawn for the pocket facings which I think was a good move. They’re actually deep enough that I can stand with my arms fully down at my sides with my hands in my pockets! I can also fit in a plethora of things… a phone, keys, kittens, you get the idea.

Brumby skirt

It’s funny as it took me awhile to sew up Brumby because I was hemming and hawing about doing something really special with it. I had all these ideas for modifications, and then outfits, and finally made the matchup with this fabric. And just before starting in on the project, I had a brainstorm. A matching bolero in the same paprika red-brown would be amazing with it! Except, once I had the skirt finished, and the fabric arrived for the bolero, I changed my mind. It just felt like too much brown to me, so I skipped it. I might change my mind in the future, but for now just decided to leave this project as-is. Can’t always listen to every brainstorm!

Brumby skirt

There’s definitely part of me that feels suspiciously like this fabric, a Japanese cotton from Kokka, makes it look like I stole the curtains from some stereotypical 1950s father’s lounge, where he smokes cigars and drinks brandy and talks about sailboats and fishing. But I kind of dig it!

I knew I’d want to style it with a lot of white, so I paired it with a top from Oblong Box Shop and white patent sandals I got in the little girls’ section of Target due to funny sizing. Then I added great earrings from Luxulite, several of my favorite root beer Bakelite bangles (the wide one I picked up cheap recently at an antique mall!), a white scalloped resin bangle I made (cast from a Bakelite one), and finished off with one of my favorite summer necklaces featuring bananas, in the style of 1940s chain necklaces, by Idaho Reds (her shop is on hiatus but she makes great stuff).

Brumby skirt

Brumby skirt

The pattern is really well written and I think all experience levels could sew this up easily. Even if you’re not comfortable going rogue on a pattern like I am, among the three different views, you have lots of nice options, all detailed in the pattern. Megan also gives some great construction tips in the instructions, something I love and appreciate when indie designers include. A little, “Hey, here’s the hot tip of the day!”

One tip was that if you don’t want the pockets to gape too much, sew down the first couple of inches at the side seam, just below the based of the pocket opening. I went one further and actually lined up my stitches exactly with my pocket topstitching, so those 2″ of stitches are completely invisible! And it gives a nice shape but without them falling too open.


She also gives a different method of gathering the waistband if you’re using heavier fabric (which View 1 is designed for). Originally I was cocky and thought “this isn’t too thick, I’ll just do it the normal way” which resulted in much swearing and pulling out of mangled basting thread. I then dutifully followed her instructions to zigzag over a piece of string (after thinking “wait, I don’t have string! Oh…. I can use yarn”), which worked perfectly! So thumbs up to that tip too, I’ll definitely use it next time I’m gathering a heavier fabric and I might even try it on a mid-weight fabric. Because as much as I love gathered skirts, I detest the act of gathering. (Coincidentally Elisalex just posted a tutorial on this technique, if you haven’t tried it. And of course, the Brumby pattern gives full instructions. Easy peasy.)


All in all, Brumby was an easy skirt to sew up in a fun summer style! If I were into minis more, I think View 1 would be particularly adorable as shown, like how Megan styled it with dark tights for winter. Perhaps if above-the-knee lengths once again strike my fancy this fall like they did last fall, I’ll sew up a shorter version. But for now, I’ll enjoy my summer weather and my sailboats!

Brumby skirt

outfit details

Brumby Skirt: made by me (pattern courtesy of Megan Neilsen)
top: Oblong Box Shop
shoes: Target
Bakelite bangles: misc.
white scalloped resin bangle: made by me
earrings: Luxulite
necklace: Idaho Reds

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

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