Friday, January 27, 2017

Modesty for the Active Woman : Farm Work / Gardening, Part 2

Hey y'all,

First things first, as of January 18, Frugally Fancy has a Pinterest page! Since my next few posts for the Active Women series require a large number of examples, I figured that this was the best way to do it.
Here is a link to the page :

Here on the second part of the first installment of Modesty for the Active Woman, I'll show the actual skirts that I've used for farm work and my groundskeeping job. I'll tell the pros and cons of each of the skirts I've made and some tips for creating your own work skirts.

The first work skirt I created from denim scraps. I took old pants legs and created a patch-work tiered skirt. Unless your ideal work skirt is similar in shape and stiffness to a hoop skirt, I would not try this. This skirt was NOT a success. Stylistically, it didn't drape at all (think I was kidding about the hoop skirt bit?). It was stiff as a board and didn't move with me at all. I was also forced to make it tight, which only made it worse. For lack of any other skirt, I was forced to use it for work, but now the only work I wear that old thing for is painting the house. (I have no picture of this skirt, and frankly, I wouldn't put it up if I had.)

The second work skirt I created was much better.

Front View - Upcycled
Side View - Upcycled
Back View - Upcyled

This is a typical upcycled skirt. I had a whole bag of jeans donated to me a year or so after I embraced modesty. Since I knew that I would not wear them, why not make something useful out of them?

When I first made this skirt, I made it much narrower than you see here, and had a split going up the front. Bad mistake! I soon discovered that the snaps that I used were almost useless for keeping something closed. It soon was more of an overskirt than anything. I had to deal with it for a few months until I could get more scraps. The first thing I did was move the split panel to the side (less likely to snap open, therefore less revealing) and opened up all the seams and further than I had the first time, adding new panels to give it extra width. Now, years later, I've discovered that I really don't need the split; but I won't overhaul this skirt again.

So a few tips:
1. If you absolutely need a split, never put a split in the front (or frankly in the back either).
2. Use whole (or at least 2/3) pant legs for panels. Sew a few together in order to widen them out if needed. Cut off any extra fabric with pinking shears, in order to reduce fraying.
3. Use jeans that fit you well around the waist. Waistbands are among the hardest things to alter. Everything else can be torn apart rather easily.

Notice the drape of the skirt? It does not curve around my rear end. That's because I tore the seam nearly all the way up to the waistband and widened the skirt as far as I could without causing strain on the fabric. As it was I did have to tailor it a little to fit me again. Why did I do this? One thing that ticks me off about upcycled jean skirts (besides the crotch seam being used on the front) is the fact that most end up revealing the curves of the hip and rear. I wanted to avoid that, hence the extra effort.

More Tips:
1.  Don't be afraid to experiment with the width. Pull the entire piece apart if you have to. How do you know when it is too wide? When the original fabric buckles or wrinkles.
2. Try on the skirt multiple times while making your skirts. This will help with any draping issues.
3. Use heavier cotton thread if possible. Less mending.
4. Try to use heavy metal buttons (like the buttons on regular jeans) if you need to use buttons at all. Snaps are useless and traditional buttons are not much better.  

The other two work skirts I bought from a thrift store. They were old and tough enough to withstand farm and heavy garden work.

Skirt 1
I prefer Skirt 1 to Skirt 2, for a variety of reasons. Skirt 1 has metal buttons and very little distance between the last button and the hem. Therefore, it is less likely to bust or lose buttons. While Skirt 1 is a bit on the short side, there is a nice flare to the skirt, and two tiny pleats in the front. Skirt 1 has two side pockets, fairly deep. It also has belt loops, perfect to support a belt (on which you can put cellphone holders, knife cases, tools, etc.) Unfortunately, the person who had this skirt last had cut off the tag, so I don't know the brand or who made it 😢
Skirt 2

Skirt 2 is longer, but has a thinner waistband (not very conducive to a regular heavy belt). The pockets are also around the same size as Skirt 1. This skirt is also thinner than the other, making it much more likely to snag and tear. This skirt also has regular buttons. Regular buttons tend to slip out of the buttonholes, especially the lower ones. I actually lost the bottom button and nearly tore the next one off this skirt entirely. Hence my distaste of actual buttons on work skirts. This skirt was made by TravelSmith.

On a side note, those are regular jeans underneath all of those skirts. I've paired them with hiking style boots with the upcycled skirt and my farm boots with the others to give you an idea of how they would look in each setting. (Please refer to Part One for my comments on skirts-over-jeans).

One thing that I didn't get to discuss in great detail in the last post was the idea of tunics-over-jeans. My personal response is that don't go this route unless it is absolutely necessary. By this I include activities that require you to lift and climb (unable to lift your skirt) and the your-boss-or-relative-refuses-to-let-you-work-unless-you-change deal. Most of the supervisors I've had have been very accepting of my style of dress (I think they respect me more because of it, to be perfectly honest with you). However, I know enough of the world that not every supervisor does. If that is the case, try to maintain your dignity as much as possible by covering as much as you can with the tunic. Short denim dresses over jeans may be the best route, as most tunics that I've seen in the thrift stores would not be able to stand up to farm work.

If you would like more examples of skirts to wear for farm work or gardening, please refer to my board on Pinterest.

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Modesty for the Active Woman: Farm Work / Gardening, Part 1

Hey y'all,

This is the first part of the first installment of my Modesty for the Active Woman series. Any suggestion by me is purely from my personal experience, which is fallible.  

One of my greatest dreams as a child was to work on a farm. At the time, I had not embraced modesty, I had no worries about my feminine dignity. There was no question of what kind of clothes I would wear.

All that changed after the age of 16, when I was introduced to the concept of modesty via the example of Catholic women at my parish and more specifically by Colleen Hammond and Rita Davidson's works. Suddenly what clothes I wore and how I wore them became VERY important.

That being said, the idea of a farm life still drew me. However, farming can be a very laborious line of work, requiring lots of movement. I knew from research that women before the 20th century and Amish women could retain a good example of modesty and still operate small machines and do various kinds of manual labor. I thought, what more proof do I need?

That being said, some members of my family looked upon askance at the idea. They were mostly concerned about my safety, that a skirt would impede my movement to the point of danger. (Valid point as that may be, there are ways to work around it.)

So I started experimenting with upcycling jeans and styles of skirts. By this time, I had a part-time job as a groundskeeper. This job, and later a farm internship, proved to be a great testing ground for do's, don'ts and iffies when dressing modestly for farm work.

The Don'ts:
  • Make/Buy tight skirts for outdoor work!!!! 
You need to move and move without restriction in a farm setting. Honestly, the wider the skirt, the better off you will be. How can you tell if a skirt is too tight in this case? Run as fast as you can for a short distance. I'm serious!!! If the skirt is going to impede you at all, it will be when you are trying to outrun an animal. Another way to test this is to climb in it. If you can climb into a high truck or wagon without lifting the skirt to your knees (or worse, thighs), you should be good. If you want a specific skirt circumference to aim for, go for wider than 80" if possible.
  • Have the skirts go longer than ankle. 
Again, mobility issue. Also, your skirt remains cleaner longer if it is not dragging in the farm muck.  Ideally, I would have the skirt around mid-calf, maybe a little longer.

The Iffies: 
  • Petticoats....
I have never worn a petticoat with a work skirt, unless it is a short wool one to keep warm in winter. Personally, I think it may be more of a hassle (one more article to get dirty, etc.) but I won't stop people from wearing them otherwise.
  •  Have some way to get out of the skirt in a hurry....
This is a really iffy personal rule, but it wouldn't hurt to mention it. I mentioned earlier that I had some family members raise some safety concerns. One of their biggest ones was the fear of my skirt being caught in some piece of machinery and me going with it. I honestly don't think that will ever happen. Anyone with common sense would use some safety precautions when operating machinery. I'd rather let the men handle the machinery anyway, I'm scared of breaking something. That being said, I tend to stick to skirts that are button or snap downs to give them peace of mind. (Disclaimer: I have lost multiple (especially bottom) buttons and I have had trouble with poor quality snaps opening during work. I may eventually ditch this 'rule' should more experience prove this to be the case.)

  • Durable fabric, such as denim, heavy broadcloth, etc. 
Can't stress this enough. Any outdoor clothing really needs to stand up to branches, brambles, thorns, fence, and other snaggy things. Otherwise you'll be making/buying new work clothes every few months.
  • Wear thick leggings/jeans underneath your skirts. 
Now I know what you all are thinking: what heresy is she spouting???

Trust me, there is a couple of very good reasons why I say this.

First things first, wearing jeans will protect your legs from being scratched up and filth, as well as limit creepy-crawlies. Stockings do not do anything to protect your legs. One day during my 2016 internship, my jeans were in the laundry, so I was stuck with wearing thin black stockings or nothing. Turns out that day, one of the draft horses lost a shoe. Let me tell you, weeds up to your knees will stick up under your skirt...and scratch you...and leave holes...and leave you itching the entire day. My legs were filthy by the end of the day and I was pulling seed pods out of those stockings for a solid week.

Jeans on the other hand, give a thick layer between you and Mother Nature's barbs. Filth will stay on the outside. There is one disadvantage of jeans-under-skirts that I discovered fairly recently. In the heat of summer, these two layers of denim are extremely warm. Sweating can be a problem, as air flow under the skirt may not be felt as easily. I'm still stymied on how to solve this particular problem. After I noticed that stockings by themselves didn't work, I tried pairing them with long socks, but even that idea has been met with very limited success. Right now, I'm offering the discomfort of wearing jeans in summer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory until I can find a better solution.

Second, should (heaven forbid) you get parted with your skirt in an accident, your dignity is still somewhat intact, as no skin will be showing.

Now some people think that wearing jeans/pants under skirts is just plain weird. I personally don't think so. I wear sweatpants under my skirts all the time, especially when I don't feel well or it's really cold outside. I also have never lost the habit of wearing at least a pair of shorts underneath my skirts. I just feel more comfortable that way.

In the second part of this installment, I'll go through some styles of modest skirts that I use for farmwork/heavy gardening.

Old-fashionedly yours,

Farm Lassie 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Modesty For The Active Woman: Introduction

Hey all,

I'm going to change it up here at Frugally Fancy. I'm going to start writing some themed posts. My first theme is one very closely tied to my heart and the crux of femininity: modesty.

However, this and later posts are not a rehash of the modesty guidelines. They in themselves are very simple. Longer sleeves hide the underarm, long skirts hide the upper leg and hips, and collarbone-high necklines hide the chest. A lot of writers have beaten this topic out backwards and forwards, so I will refer you to writers such as Colleen Hammond (Dressing with Dignity) and Rita Davidson (Immodesty: Satan's Virtue) for more information.

I have noticed, however, that there is a lack of information on how to remain femininely dressed while maintaining an active lifestyle. Activities such as swimming, hiking, camping, other outdoor activities, and horseback riding are ripe ground for controversy when it comes to modest dressers. When I was a child (before I embraced modesty at the age of 16) I was active in all of the above and more! And I still enjoy them! I wasn't going to give those up, besides my brothers would have left me behind and I wasn't going to stand for that no how.

Being of the innovative mind, I decided to create my own solution to this problem. I broke out needles, scissors and started designing. Eventually I came up with a few ideas that have worked well and some that should have stayed in my head. In the next few upcoming posts, I'll outline some of them.

Seeing as how I know in advance that I'm going to be delayed in publishing the first of these, I'll leave you with some thoughts for purchasing outdoorsy clothes:

1. The no-tight-clothes-rule really applies in all situations involving physical activity. Any restriction of movement is not only going to slow you down, it could be potentially dangerous.

2. Select durable fabric. No cheap cotton. Get something that will hold up against branches, burrs, thorns and anything else that Mother Nature will throw at you.

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie