Such a backlog of sewing projects, hmmm, what to share next? It’s a denim skirt that started life as a dastardly princess line dress block a la uniform!

princess seam denim skirt
Very hot day spent sitting in the car, hopefully this denim will relax eventually and not wrinkle quite so much!

We are currently holidaying in Whistler, Canada, visiting the Princess and her boyfy. In the process we’re relieving them of their ridiculous mimimum wage existence and treating them to real food! I ask you, what is the point of a minimum wage at all, if it isn’t liveable? An unliveable minimum wage gives government endorsement to the ‘bar’ set lower than it should be? Here is an interesting comparison of mimimum wages around the world from 2016, JIC you fancy a working holiday – Rant over, but do chime in!

dastardly 'uniform' shaped princess block

Years ago when I embarked on my basic blocks I drafted a princess line denim dress thinking “oh well, if it doesn’t work – no loss”. Then I was told that everything I draft looks like a uniform!! Well, that may be because everything from a basic block is unembellished and well, straightforward – bare bones if you will. Which is essentially what uniforms are – functional, utilitarian pieces of clothing. But that comment stuck in my head and after quite a bit of soul searching, this sewist set about never making anything look ‘uniform’ ever again – when life gives you lemons and all that! As a side note, my intention had never been to wear this dress as is, it was a step in the process of designing the princess block.

I pined for that lovely piece of denim, gifted to me by Mohammed whose Dad sewed jeans for a top end Aussie denim designer. That was a long time ago and who knows what happened to that denim brand or Mohammed. Anyway, thanks to me, Mohammed managed to get through his patternmaking exams – he owed me big time!!

After only 6 perfect test keyhole buttonholes on the Bernina, yes she rose to the occasion 6 times perfectly then spat the dummy and so did I – off to Mr Quick Buttonholes with this skirt. He popped in the jeans buttons too. That man is such a treasure to us all here in Sydney, what will we ever do without him. A few weeks after we moved house I found myself wondering “what ever happened to that denim skirt?” and expedited it’s retrieval with a great many ‘sorries’ and ‘excuse my tardinesses’.

The (below) photo was taken to ‘audition’ buttons and rivets. Nope, more topstitching, more sandpapering for those seams, no rivets, yes to the buttonhole thread colour. Sometimes I find taking a photo gives me metaphorical distance to judge a design choice – do you do that?

auditioning buttons and rivets

Left the hem unfinished and look what happened in the wash, it unravelled just enough to make me look ‘un-uniform’! Kenneth D King points out that there is a difference between deconstruction and crappy finish posing as deconstruction in the first episode of Threads new podcast. I kind of fancy raising the hemline 1 – 1.5cm but that would mean somehow refinishing the topstitching, otherwise the distressed edge will unravel all the way. Pity I didn’t ‘track changes’ to the pattern, cos I won’t be able to replicate this denim skirt without retracing my steps – hmmm!

princess seam denim skirt back


And for those of you who found my last snake pic a little unnerving, how about a gorgeous King Parrot – these will eat from your hand, leaving the hand intact!

Kind parrot male



Add yours →

  1. Love it! I’m looking forward to getting my winter denim skirt with frayed hem out of hibernation soon.

  2. PsychicSewerKathleen 16/03/2018 — 1:59 am

    Your denim skirts is exactly what I had in my mind when I fantasized about finally having a denim skirt (it’s been years since I had one – RTW which looked a LOT like yours!) I have the Moss skirt pattern by Grainline (I’m sure I’ll have to lengthen it CONSIDERABLY) which is just the style I like. Love your denim! Lucky woman to get your hands on that and what a shame it would have been to waste it 🙂 I’m with you on minimum wage (I live in Victoria) – it’s ALWAYS been horrendous. But what about pensions??? They are shocking. There are thousands of widows in this country living on $500/mo. and living on pet food. And the gov’t for all it’s FEMINISM doesn’t give a whit about it. I could rant all day about that 🙂

    • The working poor are a presence in every country I think. But just like we go on about cheap clothing, we should be just as appalled by cheap labour of any sort. I was really surprised by the minimum wage table (linked). Pensions can no longer be considered an income for the elderly, I agree they’re barely liveable in most countries. Xx

  3. If you want to have the raw denim edge, trim the long pieces away and if you follow the horizontal thread it will not fray more! For Me, denim always looks better and better with age and wear!
    Minimum wage….crap everywhere

  4. Lovely skirt, lady. I hope you have a great visit with Princess. Why isn’t she working for tips? 🙂

    Minimum wages are tricky. A cross-country comparison should involve not only an exchange rate adjustment but an understanding of cost of living differences. Minimum wages are changing in some jurisdictions in Canada. For example, we now have a $14 minimum wage in Ontario and the minimum wage is en route to $15 an hour in Alberta. Depending on where you live in those provinces you will be very differently off on that wage in terms of purchasing power. Many economists these days are in support of raising the minimum wage, but the impact of the minimum wage has always been contested given the belief (sometimes empirically supported and a basic theoretical result in a competitive market situation, if the minimum wage is set above the equilibrium wage) that a minimum wage can result in more unemployment than there would otherwise be. (There has equally been compelling empirical evidence that that this is not the case, using natural experiments during periods of minimum wage adjustment, and the theoretical result changes with market structure.. it has been a battle in the profession for a long time.) In Canada we also offer a refundable tax credit to low income workers, so at tax time a worker earning minimum wage and working part-time can usually pick up a refundable tax credit/benefit to augment income (generally more money if the taxpayer has children/dependents). Any increase in the minimum wage tends to draw the ire of small businesses, so it is a difficult thing for policy makers to tackle. I would say there are more economists coming out these days in favour of increases in the minimum wage, but there is also renewed interest in the concept of a guaranteed basic income, globally, and there are experiments going on in several Canadian cities at the moment. This involves offering a guaranteed level of income individuals and families, regardless of employment status, provided that certain income conditions are met. This type of a policy is very expensive, but there is some empirical evidence that many social outcomes are better under this kind of a model, which is less stigmatizing than a social assistance one.

    Phew. I figured I should say something, although I try to keep the professional and personal separate….

    • Thanks for that dear Steph, i was hoping you would! They can’t work for tips because they’re employed by the resort behind a cafeteria type structure on the mountain. I told them, challenge the local businesses who are all needing staff – advertise your rate. It’s a free market economy – let the need dictate the price. The signs shouldn’t read ‘help wanted’ but “help wanted $14.70/hr”. Then let’s see what the market makes of it! My MIL was all for the complete abolition of minimum wage and I recall a robust argument with her before I was married! She has a developmentally disabled son and it seemed to me he’d be the target of exploitation were it not for a govt endorsed price guarantee – she thought it would be better for manufacturing! Went XC skiing yesterday – yay – love it – so much better than throwing myself down a mountain! X

      • Lovely that you enjoy the XC skiing – skate or classic? Right now I am a bit fed up with winter. 🙂 Really, just fed up. It has been a long one. Off to Florence next week though.

        Re wages: It’s tricky, though I agree that if businesses can’t find labour they may consider paying a higher wage. That happened, even in low-skill jobs when the oil fields in Alberta were going great guns. The problem businesses often get into is that if the wage at the bottom goes up, they have to also give higher wages to people with a little bit more seniority or responsibility, i.e. it moves the whole cost structure. Labour tends to be a big portion of costs for many businesses that employ people in low-skill jobs. Honestly, one argument against tinkering with the minimum wage made by commentators has often been that many people who work for minimum wages are students from middle class or wealthier families, who have adequate income support and/or are only in these jobs transitionally. Looking at the data for the refundable credit/benefit I mentioned above, you do see that. Many recipients are people who were recently students and transitioning to the labour market (and to higher salaries). Add in the temporary, holiday-making thing and many think, why bother. When it comes to people chronically underemployed or working at minimum wage, the set of issues is entirely different and different policy approaches could be warranted. If you want to make money as an employee you don’t go to a holiday town, but you do go there to ski or snowboard! In any case, complicated…I used to think about these things a lot, but these days I’m mostly thinking about two things that start with p and how we will manage those issues and revenues from an economic point of view, going forward.

      • Well I am so far classic skiing but took the husband yesterday and so in the afternoon he hired skate skis and has officially upped the ante – dammit!
        Postage and packing? Power poles (that was a big one a while ago in Aus), porridge and poutine? Just kidding Steph, don’t want to get you into hot water!

      • Porridge and poutine work! 🙂

        If it helps, I was horrible at skate skiing when I tried it this winter. It wasn’t the aerobic aspect but the coordination aspect that got me. I really wasn’t dealing well with my left-hand ski. It’s weird as I generally have good balance, but somehow I was struggling to get good form. I think I need to try it again next winter with another course. Classic is fun because even though it is difficult to master, it is easier to move around without being great at it. Classic may be more my style.

  5. Remember seeing a video on YouTube by Silhouette patterns where she says about using a can of Coca Cola in your washing machine to soften fabric. In your case, now that your skirt is all finished, rivets and all might be a bit risky, but it’s a tip I will definitely try some time. What would we do without denim. It has the magical quality of going with every single colour.
    Bird photos – much better, thanks.

    • Only thought about adding something to a washing machine last night, but what about the washing machine damage? Or does she mean to extract the Coca Cola from the can first I wonder? I used to force myself to travel without denim, but there are just so many situations where it’s right, I gave in! You’re welcome! xx

  6. I hope you are enjoying Whistler – it sounds like you are. Minimum wage stinks everywhere. My daughter works in the charity sector for more than minimum wage but significantly less than she would get outside. A difficult subject
    Your skirt looks great. I understand what you dealt with using basic blocks and getting ‘uniforms’. It seems an easy thing to do, and until you understand ‘the rules’ difficult to break out from.
    The parrot looks delightful. I’m glad you clarified its capabilities in your last comment 😂.

    • Steph’s precis. is very interesting Kim and worth a read, I have some mixed feelings about the charity sector!
      Yes, it’s a major problem with learning to pattern make isn’t it. You can either go fit and flare – vintage-y or straight silhouette which really looks quite ‘uniform -y’! The addition of embellishment, tucks, gathers, drape, panel lines, all those things ARE the learning curve. For my money, copying designer RTW is a great way to push myself to think outside the basic block.
      Haha, the King parrots are delightful yet demanding! They sit on the back of the outdoor chairs and stare at us through the windows, sometimes knocking on the windows. We’ve developed quite a rapport! X

      • Being able to copy RTW (or get close to…) is worth learning pattern cutting for 😃
        The birds that visit our garden aren’t quite as pretty as your King parrot but we like them.

      • Your British birds have much nicer song though Kim, it seems we get squawk and colour, you get twitter and camouflage!

  7. Oh yeah – a save and a really good one at that.
    I am discovering that I can wear almost anything (including poor seaming and pattern matching) and no-one will say a thing because the general population have no idea. We are at the top of the clothes food chain….

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