40 year old velvet

Recently I was visiting my friend, Nicole, when she casually handed me a length of beautiful, emerald green velvet. She told me that it was her Grandmothers’, and it was at least 40 years old! To my horror, she said that she was going to cut it up for some cushion covers…

Just… no.

MMM_Velvet Skirt 01

So I did what any sewist in my position would have done, I offered to make her a skirt instead. We talked about the different styles that would best suit her personal aesthetic and the fabric, and decided on a below the knee length pencil skirt.

MMM_Velvet Skirt 02

I started with the Erin Skirt by Sew Over It as a reference pattern. I made a simple toile and shaped it to perfectly hug Nicoles curves. She asked me if I could sew the button placket closed so she didn’t have any “flashy” moments. I split the back piece into two, and installed an invisible zipper, so she could actually get into the skirt.

MMM_Velvet Skirt 03

We decided to omit the front pockets for a cleaner look, and reduce bulk. I also drafted a simple lining pattern, for comfort, and to extend the life of the skirt.

Nicole was absolutely thrilled with her skirt, but she was even happier when I managed to squeeze another one from the offcuts…

MMM_Velvet Mini 01

I adore this mini! I used the same modified pattern as the pencil skirt, but I had to split the front into three panels to fit the remaining fabric (impossible to see on the above picture!).

MMM_Velvet Mini 02

To add a little visual interest, I used an exposed trouser zipper for the back closure. I didn’t want the zipper to catch on Nicoles stockings, so I hand sewed in some grosgrain ribbon to act as a zipper shield.

MMM_Velvet Mini 05

Winter outfit, sorted!


  • Pattern brand/name/number: Erin Skirt by Sew Over It (available in the City Break Capsule collection)
  • Style/size: Started with a size 16, but took it in a lot
  • Fabric: Nicoles’ Grandmothers’ 40 year old velvet, anti-static lining from Spotlight, fusible interfacing for waistbands
  • Notions:
    • Pencil skirt: 35cm invisible zipper, 10 x 3cm wooden buttons from eBay
    • Mini skirt: 18cm trouser zipper
  • Modifications/alterations:
    • I fit the toile directly to Nicoles proportions, so I can’t remember the exact measurements, but I did end up taking it in a fair amount
    • Tapered the hem of the skirt quite a lot, leaving just enough room to walk comfortably
    • I sewed down the button placket and left off the button holes (I was going to put them in to help with the illusion but my button hole foot left too much damage on the velvet)
    • Merged the front and the pocket pattern pieces to make a single piece
    • Split the back piece into two so I could add in the invisible zipper
    • Drafted a lining pattern
    • For the mini skirt, I traced the front pattern piece so it would be cut on the fold, then I drew in the panel lines and traced off those pieces so I could add on seam allowance
    • Used an exposed trouser zipper for the back closure, with a grosgrain zipper shield
    • Shortened the length drastically for the mini skirt and the lining

Much better than cushion covers, don’t you agree?!

Mitty x

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