Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Holiday Legacy 1 – Step-In Skirt


For people who sew, no trip away from home is a complete success unless you manage to bring home fabric! Agreed? This is our version of the holiday souvenir.

In Scotland, I visited the Harris Tweed shop but they had so much choice that I couldn’t decide on the day. Added to which £40 for half width/ £80 for double width per metre means a simple straight skirt would cost in the region of £100 including lining and zip etc. TweedsIt was also quite difficult to choose a winter weight tweed in temperatures of 24 with clear blue skies and practically 20 hours of sunshine. A skirt well made in Harris tweed would last at least 30 years and I don’t know if I have 30 years left…..

In Mexico, fabric shops were sadly obscure and the pickings meagre. Thankfully, I was staying with a sewing friend who had boxes and boxes full of stash and I went gleaning. There were also patterns galore with which to pair the fabrics.

I came home with a Japanese print cotton (subject of this post), autumnal coloured silk chiffon and dark brown gabardine. I had selected others but weight restrictions and space in my luggage prevented me from bringing any more home. More about the other fabrics as I sew through them……..

Patterns included:Vogue 2625 – Michael Kors dresses (2002), Vogue 1467 – Lauren Sara suit (1994) and Vogue 8499 – Marcy Tilton skirt and trousers (2008).



I bought a “designer” linen skirt in Mexico, which is not really a skirt. I don’t know if this item of clothing even has a name, so I’m calling it a step-in-skirt. The linen isn’t the finest nor the best, even for the price I paid but it creases beautifully and looks like linen.

As soon as I came home, I copied it or at least made a similar version – let’s call mine a cousin.


To cut a long construction story short – make a skirt and sew in between the legs at the hem. Here’s a crappy sketch No 1:


The RTW one has has a wrap front and tie.


But I didn’t have enough fabric for a wrap so my version is just sort of a skirt shape with side pockets as pleats at each side and the waistband split and attached one to the front and one to the back.

With only about 1m of fabric to play with I laid the RTW skirt flat on top of the Japanese print and drew around it with some chalk – yeah I know, the technicality and precision is astounding you! Cut out two pieces exactly the same. Here’s another crappy sketch No 2:


NB: slice through the fold – it is not necessary to the pattern. I cut my fabric in two first because there is a directional design, so just treated it like a nap.  The only critical measurement is the top (waist) of the skirt; it must be your waist measurement + ease + seam allowance: err on the side of way too big. The waistband must be longer than the waist measurement by at least 2″ .

Practically a no-waste pattern, the two pockets and waistband can fit around the pattern of the main skirt pieces on what would otherwise be left-over or dumped.

Flip the pocket pieces and sew to the front and back skirt pieces with the narrowest part close to the waist. Stitch the pocket bags together and sew up the side seams. these will form not only pockets but pleats.

Attach one waistband piece to the front (both front and back are exactly the same) and attach the other to the back. Check for fit and mark buttonholes. I made two button holes on either side of the front section and sewed buttons on the back section which makes a very suitable in and out system. It’s absolutely fine if there’s a bit of overlap – you’re just adding to the design feature pleated sides.


Mark how wide you want the leg holes to be at the sides, obviously, they need to big enough so that you can get your legs through: leave this open and sew the hem in between together like a normal seam and finish the hem edges around the legs bits. See crappy sketch No 1 above.

DSCN7774There are however, a few experienced disadvantages:

  1. It’s difficult to cross your legs as this not a pair of trousers nor a skirt.
  2. Bodily functions require perfect timing and clean floors – the whole thing has to drop down like a jumpsuit, or whatever the modern day name for they are.
  3. Climbing up step ladders could be problematic so don’t wear this while doing DIY.

Otherwise, it’s easy to sew, uses the most of limited fabric, relaxed, wee bit weird and the Step-in-Skirt is truly comfortable to wear.


I also added a little fabric stay inside to hold the pockets together, pulls them towards the front and adds to the pleated sides (see, there was a wee bit of posh sewing knowledge used).

The Step-in-Skirt could also be classified as a pair of trousers with the lowest crotch seam ever!


Thanks to you all for your ever encouraging and supportive comments and messages.

And a very warm welcome to all new readers and sewers.


23 thoughts on “Holiday Legacy 1 – Step-In Skirt

  1. Looks great. Very creative.

  2. The print for your newest step in skirt is just gorgeous.

  3. most intriguing! I can see Dawnie rocking these…

  4. What had languished in my stash for years destined to be a boring blouse has become an amazing skirt in your very talented hands. Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of my fabric!

  5. Just wonderful use of a lovely fabric. Bravo !!

  6. It’s a cool idea Ruth and well executed too. I especially like it with the soft pink cardi. And while I like the look of the tweed it really is very costly for a scratchy skirt that reminds me of my grandma.

  7. I have seen similar skirt/pants in stores this summer and even dresses (jumpsuits of course). I think that your version is better than any I saw. I wonder whether one could ride a bicycle in such a skirt? It might have to be hoisted up a bit but I think it might work. I love your blogs!!!

  8. Love love the Japanese print fabric. Such a pretty skirt. Not sure about the sewinbetweenthelegs style idea thing, tho, yours is lovely. Your pretty skirts make me sigh and wish I once again had a life that included skirts.

  9. You wear your clothing styles beautifully! I am considerably shorter than you (5′ 0″) and would be overwhelmed by certain styles but with careful fabric choice and pattern I can be successful. I love the way you can layer and layer and layer and still manage to move. Thanks again for your great!

  10. Very interesting design; love something different like this. The fabric is gorgeous!!

  11. A friend of mine bought a similar skirt in India. Nice thing about this style is it doesn’t blow skyward in a wind.

  12. Love the skants!

  13. Thanks for this great post Ruth! I’m definitely going to try this skirt. I also went to Scotland recently and on Lewis came across Annie of watched her weave in her shed!). She sells some lovely tweed at £20pm per half width. I ordered from her website and it arrived in 2 days-would thoroughly recommend her.

  14. Well that is interesting!? Great fabric.

  15. Love it. It’s a smarter version of what I made and The Management called ‘scrousers’. Lovely fabric too.

  16. A friend bought a similar gorgeous printed linen garment here but made in Denmark I think. The space between the legs has a semicircle cut out which perhaps would give you more ability to move, maybe even cross your legs.

  17. Hi Ruth – I am not sure where you saw the Harris Tweed but at prices like that is sounds like some kind of tourist trap that you ended up in. It is a shame that there places like that with such a cynical approach to the tourist trade. The standard price for Harris Tweed is £20.00 per metre for single width ( ie 28 inches ) and £40 ( approx) per metre for double width ( ie 56 inches ) . It is still expensive – but as ever, you get what you pay for ! Check the website of Harris Tweed Hebrides or the Carloway Mill for the correct prices. The prices that you saw are a shocking rip- off and I am glad that you avoided buying !

    That apart – thank you for more gorgeous photos of gorgeous clothes – as ever !


  18. I love the idea of the step in skirt and yours is fantastic. As always, you continue to inspire me to add to my styling quotient.

  19. This is great, the ultimate hammer pants !!

  20. Just saw a pants pattern drafting site and she calls your garment harem pants.

  21. This is called a sarouel, I bought one from a French website to see how it was made. After wearing it a few times I decided one was enough, getting in and out of cars was difficult! Yours looks lovely and there is more fabric than the one I bought.

  22. I love your fabric! I don’t know if I could get used to these though. I’m a bit of a stumbler in trousers or skirts! Nice work figuring out how to put all this together.

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