close up of embroidered flowers on the edge of a linen skirt

How I Made A Linen Wrap Skirt With Rainbow Embroidered Flowers

Functional and beautiful, all in one!

Women's clothing and shoes can be either functional or pretty—rarely both.

Often, I opt for functional. My last pair of winter shoes were 8" high waterproof combat boots—highly functional. Never had wet or cold feet even ankle-deep in slush. They were awesome. But they were blocky; not sleek in the slightest. (I've switched to exploring barefoot/minimalist styles now, which seem like they may have a better balance of function to fashion than your typical shoe.)

When I choose pretty, I end up with a closet full of more skirts than I can wear in the season (I thrift them all), but none would last more than a season or two of heavy wear, anyway. Fast fashion ruined functionality.

Why can't I have both? A skirt that will last, but is also pretty?

Maybe I can. If I make it myself.

Designing a skirt

For this project, my inspiration sprouted from several garden plots: First, as mentioned, a dissatisfaction with modern quality of goods. Second, the Jan Brett books we've read with our children—fantastically detailed illustrations, often of traditional dress, with traditional embellishments and detail. And third, the various Jane Austen screen adaptations that Randy and I watched last year (what's not to love about the BBC Pride & Prejudice?), with delicate lace dressing gowns and young women constantly stitching away while gossiping about fine young men who make five hundred pounds a year.

This skirt project was going to be the opposite of fast fashion. Made from natural, strong materials; high quality; beautiful; detailed. Something I could wear for years and years.

The skirt, I knew I could make. The details? Guess I needed to learn embroidery, too.

Making the skirt

I looked up tutorials on making wrap skirts. i used their rules of thumbs for size and length and amount of fabric. My goal was a mid-calf skirt. Mine has four panels, each semi-wedge shaped, with two long ties.

a linen wrap skirt laid out flat on the floor
The skirt—with embroidery already, because I forgot to take a picture before that.

I found a nice brown linen at Jo Ann's. I considered denim—known for its functionality—but decided against; it didn't have the lightweight, natural feel I was going for.

I remembered to prewash my fabric, and learned that linen frays like an Arctic hare shedding its winter coat. I read up on sewing with linen. Apparently I needed to learn how to sew flat-fell seams, which tuck the raw edges inside the seam, so it won't fray.

a two-page spread in a sewing book depicting a bunch of different types of seams
Seams, in one of my sewing books!
flat-fell seams on the edge of linen fabric, with the raw fabric edges folded and tucked under inside the seam.
Some of the skirt's seams, with all the edges tucked in tight.
brown running stitches in circles around a wrap skirt's button hole where one of the wrap ties goes through to wrap around
A buttonhole in the waistband allows one of the ties on the skirt to thread through, making the tie neater and flatter.

Eventually, I had a skirt!

Embroidery: Practicing flowers

The next step was embroidery. This was the part that would take a long time! Fortunately, I could work outside on the picnic blanket while the kids played in the yard.

I decided to embroider flowers, a rainbow of roses, lilies, lavender, and whatever other flowers I dreamed up dancing along the skirt's hem. I looked up tutorials on different embroidery stitches, how other people liked to stitch flowers, then went to town trying each and making up my own.

Here's the sampler I made to try out different stitches and flower styles:

little red embroidered flowers on a square of linen, with an embroidered circle going around them
The sampler.

But that was enough practice. On to the skirt!

The skirt's flower hem

I didn't plan this out at all. It may look like I planned it—after all, there's some symmetry and pattern, some repeat colors.

But my process was this:

I stitched a flower. Then I stitched another, until it seemed like I had enough flowers of one color. Then I added stems, and leaves, until it seemed like there were enough. Then, I started on the next flower, in a different color.

Flowers, in progress!
The hem of the first panel of the skirt, all decked out in petals!
linen wrap skirt laid on the floor with a hem of embroidered flowers
The completed skirt! (Forgive the wrinkles; I washed it and haven't ironed yet.)

Other embroidery

When one of my nice sweaters was snagged in the washing machine and got a hole, I decided that instead of tossing it, I'd try fixing it—after all, it was still a perfectly fine sweater, apart from that one little hole. I used a light yellow thread to pull the edges together and embroidered a little spray of purple flowers on top, neatly hiding and reinforcing the repair.

small purple flowers embroidered on a light sweater
Flowers fixing a sweater!

I did the same with a pair of jeans with holey knees. I sewed rectangular patches on the knees, then embellished them with embroidered flowers.

embroidered yellow flower with a brown stem and yellow dotted swirl around the flower over a rectangular patched knee of a pair of blue jeans
Jean knees, all fixed up.

It's a fun new hobby. I'm happy with the results!



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About

We're Jacqueline and Randy, a blogging duo with backgrounds in tech, robots, art, and writing, now raising our family in northern Idaho.

Our goal is to encourage deliberate choices, individual responsibility, and lifelong curiosity by sharing stories about our adventures in living, loving, and learning.

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Curious about our life and journey? Here are some good places to start reading:

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