Friday, April 26, 2013

2nd Generation DIY Hiking Skirt

My old DIY hiking skirts have been getting heavy use, and this latest design has been in the works for a few months.  I sewed up a prototype with some inexpensive navy ripstop material and tested it on a few trips before making this latest version out of Durastretch camoflague fabric.  I'm thrilled with the result!  The main improvements over my first DIY hiking skirts are the zippered side pocket and more minimal, drawstring waistband. 
Introducing... my 2nd Generation Hiking Skirt in ACU camo.
A skirt as part of my clothing system:
Like any piece of backpacking gear, I use a skirt in conjunction with other items and it's important how it fits in with the rest of my clothing system.  I find skirts more versatile than pants and they make changing fast and efficient.  In colder weather, my long underwear goes under my skirt, and I can layer my rainpants over the skirt, tucking the extra material down into the pant legs.  So I didn't want it too long or too bulky.  But I also wanted a drawstring so I could adjust it when I'm wearing long underwear.  I wear tall DIY gaiters with the skirt in cooler weather or in brush/briars/buggy areas, so the skirt only needed to protect to the top of my knees.

Designed for function:
The design of my skirt was all about how it functions for backpacking.  My priorities were as follows:
    -Lightweight.  The total weight was 4.6 oz, which is lighter than my old 6 oz skirt.
    -Cut to allow freedom of movement.  Plenty of material in front, with a flare at the bottom so it doesn't restrict my legs climbing hills or taking large steps.  It's got less material in the back where I don't need it. 
    -Minimal wasteband so I can't feel it under my pack hipbelt.   No buttons, elastic, or zippers to be lumpy.  Rolled hem top is simple and the drawstring allows easy adjustment.
   -Large pockets on the sides where they don't interfere with movement.  The right quick-draw pocket holds a camera and map within easy reach.  The left zippered pocket holds chapstick and my tiny pocket knife.  A second layer of fabric gives the pockets added stability. 
I like securing a few key items in a zippered pocket for the things I always want on me even when I put down my pack.
I was also looking for material that would be stretchy, abrasion resistant, and wouldn't chafe even when soaked.  While my other DIY skirts have been made out of old clothes, I've been running out of material.  So I splurged and ordered a yard of Durastretch in ACU camo, with DWR finish, for $19 a yard from Rockywood.  Turns out it's not as stretchy as I'd like, but hoping it'll make up for it by being more durable.

I made the pattern myself, and have modified it slightly from the previous design to add more flare to the bottom.
Cutting the fabric for the prototype, using my homemade pattern.
One pocket was a simple slip pocket following this design.  The other pocket has a zipper that I made like this.  The zipper was salvaged off an old pair of zip-off hiking pants. 
Attaching the pockets to the side panels.
Next, I made a button hole in the front center for the drawstring.
I use any excuse I can to use my Magic Key button hole maker attachement for my sewing machine.  It's so much fun!
Showing off my buttonhole maker.  On the prototype skirt, I got carried away and put a buttonhole on the other pocket too.
Then, I used my serger to attach the side panels to the front and back.  My serger has differential feed which prevents puckering on stretchy fabric.
My serger cuts and wraps the edges of the fabric in thread at the same time.  Here I'm making the prototype.
Finally, I did a rolled hem to make a drawstring channel at the top.  I then threaded the drawstring through and add stopper knots to the drawstring.  For the bottom hem, I used this small handkercheif hem- basically making a narrow hem twice. 

Now that I've got the design down, these skirts are really fast to sew up.  I'll be on the lookout for new materials to test out.  Especially if I can find something even lighterweight.
Up on Pinnacle Knob off the Bartram Trail.  Photo by Sandy.


  1. This looks great- I'm so impressed with all the little details you were able to incorporate to suit your specific needs. Thanks for the gear sewing inspirations, I'm getting up the nerve to sew some gear myself.

  2. Oh, what a great design, and talented execution! My grandma had that same buttonholer...thanks for that memory :-) I see a project in my future!