Vintage sewing: Wool houndstooth skirt (and matching cushions…)


This skirt suit pattern was one of the first I ever bought, McCall’s 7501. It was one of three vintage patterns I bought online a few years ago when I planned to learn how to sew, but hadn’t actually started yet. If I had been dressmaking at the time, I’d probably have known a little bit more about pattern selection and about vintage patterns in general – especially in terms of instruction detail.

Once I started sewing, I found the instructions for this pattern really vague and I basically made up how to do go about it, so the ‘vent’ is a back split instead. Also, I didn’t realise just how much ease they allowed for in the pattern. Quite a lot, it turned out. As in, inches and inches! Which is not a bad thing in a very fitted skirt (who wants to be trapped in a below-the-knee skirt they can’t walk or sit in?), but it did result in wasted fabric as I hacked into the side seams to make a neater fit.

Vintage Skirt Pattern

If I was making this now, I’d go for an invisible zip at the back (and measure the pattern pieces before cutting any fabric!) but I am really fond of this skirt. The fabric, in hindsight, is really not dressmaking material at all. It’s a fairly heavyweight 100% wool in a red and cream houndstooth pattern, which means it weighs a tonne to wear but is the cosiest thing in winter and looks great with a smart shirt or a warm sweater.

I like the below-knee length and the darts in the back worked perfectly in shaping the skirt towards the waistband:

Skirt back detail

Skills learned: How to adjust a skirt for a better fit; making a skirt slit.

Recommend pattern?: Yes, but it’s really not a beginner pattern. Or at least, not for the complete beginner who decides to have a lash at making a simple skirt and seeing how it goes. Otherwise, it’s a lovely pattern to use. I would love to make the full suit, using the pleated skirt option once I have a bit more experience – the red one on the pattern cover is gorgeous.

Well after the fabric cutting/hacking, I had some oddly shaped bits and pieces of this lovely wool left over. I’ve recently been trying to make our living room more coordinated and more cosy, and thought that this fabric would make some lovely cushion covers. I didn’t really have enough for a full cover so I cheated. Twice.


The first is an envelope-style one, but I’ve only used the red wool on one side (there wasn’t enough for a full side panel, but I could manipulate it to make the envelope opening) and grey polycotton on the other side. I feel I should point out that the envelope ‘flap’ closed over better before my cat decided she would squeeze herself inside for a cosy nap.

The second cover is a side-tie one inspired by this how-to guide from the British Sewing Bee. I decided to use what I had left of the wool as a contrast stripe along one end of the cover and to use a grey polycotton for the rest. Only, it turned out that I didn’t have much left of that either, so instead of fully lining the cover, I just created a false lining effect by making a kind of fabric lip attached at one end to the cover. It’s just tucked over the exposed end of the cushion insert and remains concealed once the ties are closed:

Cover cheat detail

The cushion inset does fit inside the cover shell, I’ve just pulled it out here to better highlight the ‘lining’ flap which encloses it.

What kind of fabric ‘cheats’ have you used to get the effect or finish that you wanted? I’d love to hear more tips for using spare bits and pieces!