Friday, January 4, 2019

Winter Riding Skirts, An Experiment

So horseback riding in the winter can be really fun and beautiful, but it can also be really physically taxing and exhausting. Even with fancy fleece breeches, my thighs often get really cold, to the point where when I shower after riding, the water hitting my feet is cold after it runs over my legs from a hot shower spigot. If I don't soak in a hot shower, I'll be chilled for hours. Not really very fun!

I'm not really sure how or when I heard about this company, but Arctic Horse out of Alaska makes all-weather riding skirts that are super cool! But they're also quite pricey, which I don't fault at all because that's definitely what they're worth in terms of materials and labor. Unfortunately, I can't shell out $300 or so for a single garment at the moment. (I spent twice that on a saddle for Duncan, but shhhh!)

Anyway, there are a few people out there that make/have made similar garments, and I figured, hey--I can do that! This is for riding astride, so it needs to split in the front and either have a split in back, or have enough fabric to cover the horse's hindquarters without bunching up or pulling the front slit open. I wanted maximum warmth factor, and a back slit seemed like it might be drafty, so I opted for a full circle. I used this website to do my math for me, and craftily got my coworker to volunteer to be my guinea pig.

Things I knew I wanted:
Decent overlap in front to prevent drafts
Maximum warmth
Adjustable fit

So first time around, I made a skirt to my coworker's measurements. It's wool coating (Fabric Mart Fabrics) with a fleece lining (JoAnn). The fabric choices are good, and the pockets worked great! I traced a pattern off an eShakti dress that I like, but I did end up setting them too low. I did my math wrong when I calculated overlap + front facing, so the overlap is bigger than I wanted, but it's also not the worst. I tried adding elastic through buttonholes in the back to make the fit adjustable, but I either would need SUPER sturdy, SUPER firm elastic to make that work, or a much less bulky selection of body fabrics. So that was a good idea in theory but not great in execution.

Pocketses! (upside down in this photo)

Super happy with how the pocket openings came out!

Cute elephant fleece lining for coworker's skirt.

Second time around, I did the math right and allowed for a wider facing in the front with a smaller overlap, and a smooth fitted back (as opposed to a bit extra for adjustability/elastic).

I also cut a separate facing following the line of the hem, so that's what the double line at the outer edge of the circle is. The skirts are cut in three pieces for each layer, with the back being a half circle and then two quarters for the front. The pockets are fleece for extra coziness, with a wool facing around the whole opening. They are set in the side seams while the pieces are all still separate, and then the skirt assembled. The lining is sewn in the same minus the pockets, and then I basted the whole shebang with wrong sides together at the waist. That way, the pockets and raw edges are completely enclosed inside the skirt.

Cute nordic print for my lining.

Instead of trying to put stretch in my waistband, I plan to put a single buttonhole on the outer closure and three buttons at separate increments to account for layering underneath the skirt. Or weight loss (I hope!) Inner closure will get a skirt hook with corresponding bars at whatever intervals will make the skirt front lay flat once the button is done up.

For coworker's skirt, I did topstitch the waistband down but decided I didn't like the look (even though my machine sewed through a billion layers of wool and fleece like a champ! I just am not used to machine top stitching in my own work and prefer a smoother look. So mine was attached by machine with right sides together, flipped to the inside, and the inner edge attached with a fell stitch.

And that's as far as I've gotten! I let both skirts hang and next will be hems. Coworker's needs the fleece trimmed and a turned (and steamed!) edge on the hem. Mine will get a facing, and I cut the fleece shorter to account for that. We'll see which goes better for me!

Once Lucie lets me have my fabric back, I'll do the hems.

Coworker's skirt hanging.