Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Bed Sheets and Circle Skirts


Linen loom – Getty Images

There was a time in living memory when Northern Ireland was a place that made things – manufacturing, engineering and weaving. But, like so many places today, the factories and looms have closed down and are lying silent. One such example of this decline is just down the road from where I work – The Ulster Weaving Company was originally founded in 1880 and throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, they continued to spin, weave, bleach and finish high quality Irish linen. But alas no more. The company is still in operation but production has moved across the world to cheaper employee markets and the company specialises in small items such as linen and cotton tea towels, aprons and oven gloves. Lovely stuff but not the large king size bedsheets and bolts of fine shirt linen that I used to buy in their factory shop on the way home from work. You can see the products here and by royal appointment too no less.

Anyway, things change.
When the company was still operating I bought all our linen bed sheets and pillow cases. I think they were woven and produced for a posh hotel chain and what was sold in the factory shop were either over-runs or slight seconds, though I’ve never found a fault. Even in the factory shop the sheets were not cheap, if memory serves me right. StephC wrote a great article earlier this week all about linen – its wonderful properties and heritage, ecology, care and sewing. I have to contradict her on one small point however, she said linen goes on and on and on and never wears out – without going into too much detail, 18 years of marital bliss have most definitely taken their toil on one of my linen sheets. A huge hole just about foot level appeared along with a distinct wearing thin of the fabric in the same general area. I’d thought of repairing the sheet but to remove the worn section and sew the two halves together would have resulted in a too short sheet and us lying on a seam – not comfortable. Much better that I take it into the sewing room and make some clothes!

The sheet has a beautiful edge to the top that I would like to incorporate into a garment somehow.


Sew Weekly was setting a full circle skirt challenge that I didn’t participate in but it did set me thinking. Take a moment to go look at all those swirling skirts – fab! I don’t think I’d suit a full circle – too much hanging around the hip area and somewhat limited in length too, but I do like a partial circle 🙂

I reached for TNT Paco’s half circle skirt. Designed for knits and jersey like fabrics, I’ve had relative success with this pattern made up  in cotton, so figured the linen would drape even better. Wrapped around Doris for a test run – you can see the folds from DH’s perfect ironing. Why iron a sheet with a whacking great hole in it? Who knows?  But I was grateful that he did and I was encouraged by the freshness and simplicity that this skirt was already promising me.

I cut the longer length of the skirt and I added a white cotton satin lining cut to the shorter length that is included in the pattern. The lining was attached as per Paco’s instructions.

The picture of summertime – white linen and bright red and white stripes.

Blinded by the bright April sun, but the temperature was low – hence the boots and not open toed sandals; my white linen skirt was surprisingly insulating. I’d heard that linen (and silk) keep you cool when it’s hot and keep you warm, when it’s cold. I can testify to that statement.

Worn with StephC’s kimono wrap top: this time made in the red & white stripe same as the Three Bears T. And just look at those chevrons down the back – impressed? More pics soon. I think I might be turning into StephC – stripes, linen and her wrap top pattern! Could do a lot worse mind you.

There’s enough linen left for a pair of trousers, if I can manage to cut around the hole. Now all I need are tanned and shaved legs, open toe strappy sandals and about another 15 degrees C on the temperature and I’m nearly set for summer.
Finally, yes it does wrinkle.
Thanks for reading. Ruth

23 thoughts on “Bed Sheets and Circle Skirts

  1. You look so summery and the red and white is fabulous.

  2. We could almost call this skirt: "Sun circle skirt". How beautiful sunny day, you look beautiful.!!

  3. What a lovely skirt, and how clever to make it from your sheet, it is probably just at the perfect stage of softness.

  4. fantastic use of the fabric – looks great

  5. Oh, my…so lovely and flattering. I hate to see the mills being closed. I grew up in Deckerville, Mighigan (a Village of about 1,000 now) and shopped at Yale Woollen Mills, Yale, Michigan, which closed in 1963.

  6. Oh that is absolutely gorgrous! Somewhere I have a piece of Irish linen given me by a friend. I am now inspired……

  7. It was just too good to throw out, at least the bits around the hole!

  8. It definitely is a summer fabric, especially white – if only we had a summer!

  9. Thank you Sassy, your new red and white bag is just what I need too

  10. A sunny but cold day. Thank you Paco. This skirt is becoming my signature style.

  11. Such are the times we live in – nothing stays the same.

  12. Ruth! Wow! This top looks amazing, I love it!!!! And the long white circle skirt is just completely fabulous on so many levels.. It looks great, and it's a refashion and and and it just looks amazing. Great ensemble, and I'm sure you'll get heaps and heaps of wear out of it.Well, I know linen *does* wear out, but it's very difficult thing to quantify, isn't it? Much simpler to stick up a few pictures of mummies and offer anecdotal evidence about how my linen clothes keep on going on… 😉

  13. The wrap top mixed with this circle skirt are very great on you !! I love this look !!

  14. Yeah, I figured 18 years of nearly constant wear and tear is as close to indestructible as we are likely to get – and of course as a skirt it will go on for more years to come.

  15. What a fabulous save and a great story.

  16. Great choice of fabric. Thanks for sharing.

  17. oh,it's a marvellous look:i like circle skirt too,it makes us slimmer!And the top is a lot of work.Waiting for sunny days now!

  18. I am still stuck on the fact that linen sheets actually exist. I have heard of them, but never seen them for sale. They lasted 18 years!! That is amazing, I can barely get 5 years out of the sheets I have. Count me as officially jealous.Now onto the skirt. This is glorious, I love the drape and length and everything about it. Please send it to me immediately. Of course I am kidding.

  19. There are several weavers that make the extra wide width [300cm] of Irish linen needed for bedsheets.,, and not cheap but can be got for around £30 per metre depending on how much you order. Its important to remember that thats a fantastic price for the width of the cloth.

  20. Lovely! I'm hosting a 1950's theme party next month and am having trouble find fabric wide enough for a 29 inch length full circle skirt, so I've begun looking at bedsheets. 🙂

  21. Pingback: Dior-esque “17 | corecouture

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