Spring Pending -- Wearing Wool in the Interim
In this Post: The (temperamental and unpredictable) transition from winter to spring and why to choose wool to help you through it.
Also: some couture sewing techniques to make your own wool projects last longer.
It’s only February, yet the sun is smiling long enough for one to read a chapter of a novel or finish a pot of tea on the ‘stoop” while watching the neighbor girls run barefoot in their yard. Oregon is one of the handful of states in the country where one could get by without a parka the past few days.
I was talking to a friend in New York who is actually working from home right now because of the freezing temperatures. She’s probably not going to be out in a T-shirt anytime soon, but it help to remember that every February is followed by a welcoming March and the promise of Spring. Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley we have been granted a sneak-peek of Spring, accompanied by the soft puffs on Pussy Willow branches and the hurried preparation of birds at their nests. Winter is still fully upon us, but her shining Mars dims from view as the sunshine spreads itself into longer ribbons each day.
We like to define the year’s seasons by boxing them up into four tight bundles of three months. Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. But there are far more shades of Winter than one. For example, seasons fade into each other the way that colors do. Winter may be blue and March may be yellow, but in order for one to reach the other there must be green. There must be transition.
Fabrics and colors that designers work with can also be generalized and bundled in to tight little seasons. There are rules, of course, but as with any rules, once you’ve learned them you have the freedom, and the tools to properly break them.
In terms of Fabrics, wool is usually left for Fall and Winter clothing. When paired with something light, however, such as cotton jersey or a flowing rayon, wool is suitable for any season. This is when an array of layering techniques come unto play, but that’s another topic for another post.
The Wool Skirt Solution
Cold, dreary rain yesterday. Warm sun today. What to wear? I paired a heavy vintage-style wool wrap skirt that I made for my friend, Julia, with a cotton off-the-shoulder tee and some cheerful dragonfly earrings. God designed wool to keep livestock warm and protected from the elements. It is a natural insulator and even after being shorn, processed, woven, and sewn, it retains its ability to keep heat in and water out.
Due to the high quality and durability of wool fiber, Julia’s granddaughters will still be wearing this skirt in their day if they care for it properly. I still wear a Pendleton wool coat that my great grandmother wore in the 1970’s.
Making the Skirt
In addition to the quality of the fabric I chose for this skirt, I also took care in making it with couture techniques that will prevent the it from taking on a new shape or becoming distressed in areas of greater wear.
I marked the seamlines with chalk and measured 1.5 inches around each pattern piece before cutting. I basted the side seams before stitching, carefully matching the pattern’s seam-lines as I went. That extra step made the skirt lay exactly straight and even. Then I trimmed the seams to one inch seam allowance, finished the edges, and used a herringbone stitch to hold the seams open and flat against the skirt to prevent unwanted stretching or catching. I also took care with the closures to ensure there would be no extra pulling at the waist by adding two buttons and a hook and eye to the inside of the waistband. I used waxed thread and a hand buttonhole stitch over machine-stitched buttonholes to prevent tearing.
In few days there will be snow sticking to my neighbor girls’ eyelashes and we will all either be bundled in coats with boots or under blankets with books. Today I can wear the skirt with a T and light cardigan, but a chinky sweater and boots with leggings will look just as good on the cooler days. Transitions aren’t always smooth or dependable; that’s what keeps things exciting. The gift, in my opinion is being able to choose how to smooth them over with a cheerful outlook and the perfect outfit.
Blue to Green to Yellow, to Orange, to Red, and so on.