Francine ‘Eff’ Rothmere – Sensible Walking Skirt



Mary Wirick

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

Eff appears in three stories by Patricia C. Wrede in the Frontier Magic Series, I focused on the last as she was more sure of herself and her abilities by the end of the story. I figured as her chosen life was frontier research in a magical world, a simple walking skirt would fit her personality. Most likely for a daily wear skirt she would choose a durable fabric with a harder to stain color. Being that she was the 13th out of 14 children she had lots of hand-me down clothes, so in the first book she wouldn't be dressed as much as herself as in the later two.

Based on info in the story it took place in late 1860s and the timeline was slightly different than in real life so I took liberties. For inspiration I watched a lot of videos of sewing especially rewatching Costuming Drama's vlogs, Bernadette Banner's Lady Sherlock, and lots of Abby Cox's unboxing vids where she goes over the inner working of many original Victorian skirts, bodices, and gowns. My original plan was to make the whole costume, a vest and skirt with a simple white under blouse but unfortunately with issues I settled on a completed skirt - although I originally intended it to be lined with tarlatan as Bernadette's videos did prove it made a major difference in flow of the skirt. At the same time I think that frontier ladies may have used less structured skirts as they needed washing due to mud anyways.

Outline the construction…

The main part of the skirt is a cotton fabric, specifically it is a sturdy utility fabric intended for upholstery or drapery. I knew I wanted a cotton or wool but was unable to find a wool in my price point for the fabric requirements I needed, and the quilting cotton was way too thin for my needs. I actually self drafted a 4 panel pattern, 2 rectangles and 2 triangular side panels. I also have a self drafted vest that I will be completing when I get lining and boning. The long seams are machine sewn in a navy blue thread, as the grey I purchased was too much for my heavy duty machine so I made do. The waistband is a grey grosgrain ribbon - it is unfortunately a synthetic cotton blend as I wanted a wide ribbon and had to settle for what I could get. I hand stitched it down with the thick grey thread in not so neat whip stitches as well as finishing the seams. After seeing some of the skirts on Abby's channel I figured that better to go for what I could, than not finish due to imperfections. The hem is currently only basted in as I plan on removing it when I can get some proper lining to refinish it, but honestly it is wearable as it is. I have two skirt hooks and bars to fasten it around.




  1. Avatar Inge Sahuleka on March 11, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    You’re right there’s nothing wrong with imperfections, and usually the maker is the only one who notices.. Smart to leave it basted only until you have the lining you want.

  2. Avatar Wendy on March 11, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    Drafted yourself — way to go!

  3. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    Great work and lovely interpretation from the book. Well done!

  4. Avatar Manon L'Hostis on March 13, 2021 at 10:05 am

    This skirt is a great base ! The final look is going to be wonderful !!

  5. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 13, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    I like your thoughtful interpretation of the character’s needs, and I bet that skirt will be great to wear!

  6. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:43 am

    Imperfections are indeed very period, and I love all the character here! Excellent choice of fabric within budget constraints – you can trust this to look and move very similarly to the ideal you had in mind.

  7. Avatar Sarah on March 16, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Wow! You really went for this! Drafting your own patterns as a beginner is no simple task! I also love that you were very particular about your details, such as the use of grosgrain in the waistband. That’s miles above where I was as a beginner. Great job!

  8. Avatar Rebecca Foust on March 18, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Following in the footsteps of my grandmother… I love it! She would see or envision a dress she wanted then go home and make it.
    No pattern? No problem- make your own.
    Fabric? chosen for garment’s purpose.
    Ideal item for construction not available or obtainable? – What is available that would work.
    Perfection? That is only for show anyway. The main thing is to be sure it looks good on the outside. The inside is only to hold the outside in place securely and neatly.
    Unable to finish now? Make it wearable now and finish later when you can.

    So according to my grandmother’s principles, your garment is historically accurate.
    Well Done! Your skirt should serve you well for years (BTW, I find those uneven stitches hold the garment together without needing repairs better than any perfect stitching I have ever done.)

  9. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 5:02 am

    Wow, such a great garment. I would love to be able to draft something myself! I will one day, I know, I have confidence! Well done, I love it! Thank you!

  10. Avatar Peta Pendlebury on March 22, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Goodness! Self drafted? Well done! And yes, even with lots of experience buying fabric online is just plain tricky. And no one but you will know (well, and the rest of us Stitchlings!) that the hem is just waiting for the right fabric to be finished – absolutely the right decision.

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