or The Skirt I Simply Had To Make.
Fumeterre Skirt by Deer & Doe
I simply love maxi skirts. Adore them.
Someone commented on Instagram that this was ‘very you’ and indeed it is. There isn’t too much to say about this skirt… it had eight gores with a button front, it’s flared and long. It’s simple, a bit retro and I liked it immediately.
I managed to resist a few days before I gave in and ordered it from Deer & Doe. I’m not a ‘fan girl’ as I’ve never made a Deer & Doe pattern before. I do own the Datura & Pavot patterns but not made them up yet – they were purchased in Paris several years ago.
You could probably find a similar design in the Big 4 in a sale… however I love to be swept away when inspiration hits – and I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use. Tracking down a Deer & Doe ‘bricks and mortar’ supplier in Australia and then phoning to order it was just too complicated for me. I’m a ‘click and go’ girl so I ordered online. The postage from France isn’t horrific and it arrived within a week.
Fumeterre Skirt: front view. While it looks like a floor sweeper, it’s slightly off the ground – I’m barefoot and slightly sinking into the sand here.
This is a fairly simple pattern and is described by Deer & Doe as “High-waisted maxi skirt. Version A is buttoned at the front with belt hoops. Version B has a fly front zipper and patch pockets“. I made Version A.
The skirt has eight gores and there are two pattern pieces for these. The side front and back pieces are the same (the back panels are the same as the front panels, minus the button placket). There two pieces for the waistband (which is straight) as the waistband has seams at the back where the elastic is inserted. There is a small pattern piece for the belt loops and a piece of hem facing) the facing is in four pieces.
The pattern is printed on sturdy bond paper and not overlapped. It comes in a nice large envelope with two instructions booklets, one in French and one in English. There are plenty of diagrams to accompany the instructions. When making garments purely for myself, particularly simple garments, I tend to gloss over every single detail in the instructions. I refer to them for order of construction rather than word-for-word guidance.
I would advise cutting the notches on the skirt pieces to ensure you piece them together correctly.
The instructions are adequate – it’s not a difficult project and you don’t need a huge amount of instruction. While Deer and Doe give it 3 stars out of 5 for difficulty I think it would be a good beginner project (OK the hem gave me a headache but flared hems are often like that!). I often think ‘beginners’ are far more capable than companies, and the beginners themselves, give them credit for.
The Fumeterre Skirt appears to be drafted for someone MUCH taller than me. I am 5 foot 4 (about 164cm). I took the skirt pattern pieces up 4 inches below where the buttons finished rather than taking it from the hem. I did this to preserve the flare of the skirt which I think is the lovely graceful feature of the pattern. I re-drew the pattern piece from where the length was removed to the hemline. I cut off approximately another 1/2 inch during the hemming process. It’s turned out the perfect length for wearing with flats – or barefoot.
I’m not a huge fan of how the waistband is attached. You sew it to the inside and then turn it over to the front and top stitch it down. I prefer to sew it to the outside, turn it to the inside, slip stitch it to the inside by hand and then top stitch it. I think it is easier to achieve a neater finish. However that is my personal preference on construction – not necessarily right or wrong.
I only used the belt loop pattern piece for width reference. I cut a much longer strip and then cut it into four pieces – rather than making four individual belt loops which seems excessively fiddly to me.
Fumeterre Skirt: back view – it hangs softer than that, I live with a permanent sea breeze it seems.
I did use 25mm (1 inch) elastic in the back waist as recommended but it was a very neat fit in the casing, so I removed the piece of elastic and put in 20mm wide elastic and I much preferred the finish. I know people are put off elastic in the back of waists – however, in my skirt, the elastic seems to be more about providing a little ease than being gathered.
I French seamed the skirt panels and then top stitched them down.
I did attempt the hem facing as per the pattern… however in a soft rayon it was a complete nightmare. I couldn’t see the point in weighing down the hem of a flowing skirt with a rather wide piece of hem facing – perhaps I might have thought differently in a heavier fabric. I took it off and hung it overnight again. The hem dropped all over the place. I hung it on a coathanger and pinned what seemed to be a straight hem line, put it on and got my daughter to check the pins where the same distance off the floor. I trimmed it again and then used some readymade bias tape to turn over a narrow hem.
I used the reverse side of some buttons I found at Lincraft as they seemed to blend better with the fabric. I didn’t want feature buttons as I love the fabric’s shifting tones and colours, I didn’t want distracting buttons.
I suspect this may be the sort of fabric that people either like or loathe. It’s not conventionally pretty and I love its swirling tie-dyed tones and the barely-there floral overprint.
I had this fabric in The Fabric Library (aka stash). I purchased it from East Coast Fabrics when shopping with Lizzie in Brisbane in March. It’s a lovely soft rayon, that’s not too light or transparent – it seemed perfect for a maxi skirt. It also doesn’t crush too badly (enjoyed this recent post from SunnyGal Studio Sewing about fabrics and pattern matching – I am definitely a Scruncher). However when it does crease, the tie dye pattern disguises creases beautifully. When you get close to this fabric, it’s got a delicate floral overprint. It reminds me of the grunge fashion period of the 90s… which I loved… and still love.
Fumeterre Skirt: I stopped the buttons just above my knee
I think this would photograph much better in vivid sunshine however I couldn’t wait, I haven’t blogged for a few weeks and I wanted to share this – so it didn’t end up in my pile of unblogged things – yes, we all have them! The colour is actually a lovely soft mossy slightly-greyish green… which is not great to photograph on an overcast day (the current weather is forecast to last for at least another week). As an editor I used to advise our commissioned project makers against selecting mauves and colours with grey in them as they were often very difficult to light, photograph and print to capture their true colours. Clearly I don’t listen to myself :-) I’m ok with that.
Fumeterre – a nightmare hemming experience (this is post hem facing removal) – however this is a better shot of the skirt’s true colour.
I was curious about the pattern name – so I looked it up while writing this blog post. The Free Dictionary tells me it is a “delicate European herb with greyish leaves and spikes of purplish flowers; formerly used medicinally” and the word originates from the “Middle English fumetere, from Old French fumeterre, from Medieval Latin fūmus terrae : Latin fūmus, smoke + Latin terrae, genitive of terra, dry land, earth;” ‘aka smoky earth’.
It seems like a beautiful twist of coincidence that my swirling tie-dye mossy skirt has a delicate overprint of a flowering plant. Perhaps it is a pattern/fabric match made in heaven.
The Fumeterre Skirt is easy to construct, nicely presented and it has two quite different closure options (buttons or fly-front with pockets).
This is a simple skirt pattern. There are plenty of flared and/or maxi skirts on the market across many of the pattern companies, independent and Big 4. I think it comes down to personal preference which pattern has the features you are after. This one immediately appealed to me and I didn’t try to resist it, I like the flare over pleats and gathering. Waiting for a Big 4 pattern sale in Australia for a particular company can be a tedious experience.
I enjoyed making this and will no doubt wear it a lot.
Pattern: Fumeterre Skirt, Deer & Doe
Size: I ummed and ahhed about the sizing and decided to made 38. I didn’t want a super neat fit or any strain on the buttons as I hate it when there is pulling at a button closure, it looks awful.
Also see: Very Kerry Berry | Attack of the Seam Ripper
Location: Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie
Random useless fact: This skirt makes me want to sing Sweet Child O’ Mine… random but true. I love it when clothes bring back memories, they seem the sweetest garments of all. I loved the grunge fashion period and this skirt feels like a step back in time… or perhaps I never really left this style behind…
“She’s got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky”
My skirt also appears to be also handy for camouflage purposes… plus if you look carefully you can see the bias hem tape. I admit – this fabric was impossible to match with anything, thread, buttons or tape!