Actually Finished Object: Waltzing Matilda Skirt

Today is Australia Day.  I forgot about it- my husband and I kind of live in our own little world of writing things, reading things, painting stuff and playing with our little girl.  I never saw it coming and had a full day of work scheduled.  Except today is a public holiday so not much of it got done.  I’m not exactly sure what Australia Day means (I am also still hazy on the term “bogun” “bogan”), except that the day commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in 1788 and became a holiday in 1935.   Australians, enlighten us!  What does Australia Day mean to you?  How do you celebrate it?

One of my goals today was to get some decent shots of the “Pirate Skirt” refashion– in which a formerly smart pencil skirt gets a second shot at life as casual-wear.

Do you ever finish a garment and tell yourself it still needs one last thing before it’s finished?  Perhaps some embroidery, a bit of lace, an extra hook and eye or even a hem but somehow you never get around to it and wear it anyway?

(I’m fond of that pleat- reminds me of certain late 40’s styles)

Yep, that’s me with this skirt.  I had visions of cool whale embroidery on the hip above the ruffle like the inspiration skirt.  First I tried the simple outline of a humpback whale, then the more cartoony Oh Fransson! style embroidery.  I hated both.  They felt contrived, so I unpicked them.

Still married to the whale-embroidery idea, I picked up this fusible whale patch from my local Spotlight.  My thinking went like this- the white whales were alright, but they looked too “serious” for a flippy little skirt.  A smiling whale covered in sequins is just the thing!

Um.  No.  I don’t know what possessed me.  I blame the heat.  Lila loves this little fellow, so I have a feeling he’ll find a home on her next pair of jeans or a plain t-shirt.

(I’m not sure what I was doing here, I think I was starting to jig but we didn’t get the shot!  I’m much more comfortable sewing than modeling.)

So with that, I declare this skirt finished.  I rather like it with the Sailor Sweetheart Tee as well as with most of the red, white, blue and black blouses I own.  Versatility and whimsy in one garment!  Her name is Waltzing Matilda, which is a famous (and rather charming) Australian folk song.  Now every time I wear this skirt, I’ll remember the Australia Day I forgot.

(Lila, fashion photographer, strikes again)

I did not get the chance to finish the instructions for sewing the Sweetheart Sailor Tee today, I will try to have them finished by the weekend- in case you would like to sew one yourself.

Tomorrow- Pants Block Testers Announced!


  1. Ah I LOVE your creations and wish that I could start making clothes as quick as you do! Bring on the adult sewing classes so I can start getting the skills necessary for me to start making these things!!!

  2. Oh and for Australia Day, it usually means listening to the hottest 100 count down on Triple J (radio station), having a BBQ, having a meat pie or a sausage (snag) on bread and lazing by the pool. In all honesty, for this Australia Day, we just stayed at home! I wonder if Australia Day will ever get as popular as July 4 in America.

  3. My brother called yesterday, as they were off to a barbie at his GF’s parents with kangaroo bangers and… I forget what all else but I told him he’d gone native. ;)

    In my hometown, we’d always go out to the fireworks on Canada Day. The best thing about it was running into people. Well, and fireworks. Since we moved away, I can’t really motivate myself to go out for it, as we don’t know people here—it just wouldn’t be the same.

    The skirt looks awful cute, even sans whale. Whimsy and practicality are the perfect combination, in my opinion. :)

    • Oh wow- kangaroo bangers. Kangaroo meat is quite good for you, but I don’t particularly care for it. Stephen cooks up a roo steak every so often and the smell kills me.

      I miss fireworks and things too.

    • Aw thanks!

      We’re *thinking* of getting her one of those semi-decent, very tough little kid video cameras for her birthday.. She’s always been so fond of photography… :)

  4. Love the skirt, it suits you well and looks more like a dress with the sailor top than separates. The whale will have a wonderful life on something for Lila.

    David Ross MacDonald does a wonderful version of Waltzing Matilda. He’s fantastic live if you ever have a chance, I loved hosting him. He is Australian, but a couch surfer so he wanders. He comes to Canada for 4-5 months every year or two, we make an effort to see him every time.

    Canada Day (July 1st) for me is much like Tanit-isis. Some years we have caught fireworks, more often than not we’re visiting in laws in the next province. They do a pot luck at the lake, people chip in for fireworks. It is fun and low key. If we stay home and it’s over a weekend, we go camping.

    • Thanks. ;) I thought “faux dress” too.

      I haven’t heard of David Ross MacDonald, I’ll have to go check him out.

      Camping- now that sounds fun. We may need to go do that next year.

      • Folk is like that, you kinda have to know someone who knows someone. There are lots of youtube videos of him live, free instrumental version of his cd if you sign up for his mailing list. It’s quite soothing, but his voice is worth the investment. And he’s just a flat out nice guy.

        I’m a fan of comfortable camping. I’m not a portage 3 nights only to turn around and spend 3 days coming back. To me it’s a great way to get away from the house, computers, email and the phone for a couple of days. Very good for our relationship.

  5. Your look is certainly unique…old fashioned and yet so modern.
    Celebrating independence in any country is a big deal…do it…eat hearty and be merry and celebrate the freedom to marry who your please and live wherever you want.
    My hubby is British so he has no special day to celebrate, my first husband was Canadian but lived in the US so we just did the fireworks box thing on July 4th.

    • Thanks, I take that as a compliment.

      July 4th is cold here! Or cool, rather. And no fireworks allowed. In fact, my husband looks upon my love of fireworks with a great deal of skepticism and suspicion… Like it’s a bit of a disease… ;)

  6. To me Australia Day was always sprinklers on the lawn, watermelon seed patooie contests and pavlova. This year I am celebrating by homeschooling the kids – so I guess I’ve officially assimilated over here? Will probably go get some tim tams, bundaberg ginger beer or cadbury this weekend…

    • That sounds lovely.

      Homeschooling? You know I was homeschooled…

      I do love ginger beer. Apparently it’s easy to make, I keep meaning to make some and share the process…

  7. Oh yay! This skirt turned out so cute. Lots of fun with the sailor top, too. Happy Australia Day! Here in Austin, I’m still waiting for July 4th to come around again. Is it summer yet?

    • I think summertime in Austin is one of my favorite memories… Tubing and cooking out and barton springs, hiking through the greenbelt and having picnics… Corona (it’s SO expensive here!), tacos, margaritas on the Trudy’s patio… Sigh.

  8. No enlightenment on Australia Day, but I do love the song Waltzing Matilda. Took me the longest time to figure out what it was about.

    I really like this combo of sailor tee and ruffle skirt, although it seems like it needs a pop of color…maybe some red shoes!

  9. OMG! The skirt is wonderful, at first glance I thought that was a whole dress, what love that. You are right, the ruffle at the hem is a great touch to the skirt.

    • Rosy! How the heck are you? (I’m going to run over to your place now!)

      Thanks… I could see you wearing this outfit, for sure. Except you’d have awesome white gloves and a pretty hat and matching bag. :)

  10. Kinda ambivalent about “celebrating” Australia Day, as it is considered a day of mourning by a lot of indigenous people.

    I used it to finish sewing a dress! I cut up an old chambray-blue sheet, and it looks like a cross between a costume from Prisoner (’70s Aussie drama, set in a women’s prison) and something I imagine a Mennonite might have worn in the 1980’s, so it won’t actually be leaving the house.

    But I like it. And I learned how to use interfacing, gather-stitch, set in sleeves, and sew darts (all pretty badly; I hope when I make it again in decent material it will be a reasonable enough to wear in public).

    • Yes- I think that’s probably why we don’t pay a whole lot of attention in our house… But then, I respect that people like it as a day to get together and eat, too. Sticky.

      Oooh! I love sheet-dresses!! And Mennonite-chic! Really. Especially since it’s a “sampler” of your skills, that’s so cool. :)

  11. I think I celebrated Australia Day by going to a really irreverent dress up party when I was in Oz. Something about wearing your tackiest Australia t-shirt. Mine had a koala drinking beer with “G’day” written on it. I still have it somewhere….

    Love your sailor tee and skirt. They were made for each other.

    I’m sorry if I quadruple emailed you. Something weird was going on with hotmail.

  12. Ah. Being in NZ I think of Australia Day as “Well, by comparison it makes Waitangi Day worth celebrating.” :-/ It’s a rather dreadful though.

    But really, neither of them is a ‘celebration’ holiday. The Aborigines see Australia Day as Invasion Day, and Waitangi Day celebrates the signing of a very vague, poorly thought out, and even more poorly translated, treaty, that wasn’t even signed by everyone.

    And both holidays end in protests more often than not.

    ANZAC Day is a much better holiday – at least there is something there for everyone to be proud of, and it’s a day that brings people together, not just Kiwis, but anyone they interacted with in WWI & II.

    Oh, and love the skirt! It’s so Steph!

  13. Love the skirt and ditto what Leimomi said – here in NZ we don’t get all into a national day though enjoy the long weekend that it ’causes’. I remember in London so may of the Ausis and Kiwis got into Australia Day with pub crawls and parties. All good.

    Cute skirt too – please don’t add the whale!!!

  14. I love the skirt and the frill – its really fun. I bet you feel like dancing and swishing about all the time instead of walking! Belated Happy Australia Day – sounds like a great holiday! xxx

  15. When you first mentioned the skirt idea, I wasn’t sold on it. But this is lovely, especially paired with the sailor top (which I thought would be too…costumey together, but somehow it’s not). Nice job!

    (I like the horizontal pleat on the skirt!)

    • Thanks! I was afraid it would be a bit OTT too, but sometimes I just have to try something anyway and end up pleasantly surprised. :)

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