Tag Archives: skirt

Self drafted A line skirt with pockets

At the end of my spiral into so many toiles that I nearly lost the will to sew, I started drafting an A line skirt.  Following my Belcarras reset (here and here) I thankfully had the confidence and motivation again to continue with the skirt.

Needlecord A line skirt

I started drafting this skirt from a basic pencil skirt, rotating the waist darts to create the A line shape (I calculated it so that I could remove the front darts entirely) then added in hip slant pockets using the same pocket shape as my Ginger skirt.

A line skirt hip pockets

There were a number of new to me techniques with this make, but I was able to take my time and enjoy the learning process.  The fabric is a lovely soft needlecord from Goldhawk Road and I had a go at flat felled seams as I felt they would work well with this fabric.  I did take a photo to show these seams off as I’m very happy with them, but the fabric doesn’t do detailed shots well, so you might have to trust me that there are two seams here (achieved a nice neat finish at least!):

flat felled seams

The bit that probably took the longest (but also what I’m most pleased with) was the zip.  I thought a lapped zip would work best with the fabric and wanted to try it out.  It is easy to find plenty of tutorials on how to sew a lapped zip, but I struggled to find one that explained how to get the neat finish with a facing that you see on ready to wear lapped zips.  I’d been going through a process of trying to reverse engineer this, when I happened upon this tutorial which got me on the right path much quicker.  Again, the fabric doesn’t work too well for detail shots, but hopefully you can just about make out the neat finish at the top of the zip:

Lapped zip detail

As I think this is likely to be more of a cooler weather skirt, I lined it with a pink/green acetate also from Goldhawk Road (I drafted the lining to be a little bit wider than the skirt around the hips to be on the safe side since the needlecord should have more give than the acetate).  For the facing and pocket linings I used some cotton from a decent stash of fabric that my grandma kindly gave me.

Needlecord skirt

Overall I am very pleased with this skirt – I enjoyed taking my time over the new techniques and getting a neat finish. Plus, the fabric is lovely and soft to touch, it has pockets and I think that the shape of this would lend itself well to a few more skirts in different fabrics/colours that could become easy work staples.

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt with buttons

The original intention for this fabric and wonderfully matching buttons was a Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt with button tabs instead of the waist ties along the lines of this.  However, when Sewaholic started converting their existing patterns to PDF, I decided to make things easier for myself and go with the Hollyburn skirt which had everything I wanted from the skirt already in the pattern.  I purchased the PDF and starting putting it together within 24 hours of release!

Fabric and buttons

Since the skirt is only fitted at the waist, I didn’t make a toile.  It fits pretty good although if making again I’d probably change the waistband so it is slightly curved as I’m generally not so keen on the look of straight waistbands on me, maybe because I tend to prefer wearing skirts lower than my natural waistline.

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt

I went with view B for the length/flare as well as the button tabs.  I thought it was likely I’d want my skirt a bit shorter than this, but view C looked likely to come up too short on me given my height.  I ended up cutting 6.5 cm off the hem and using a 2 cm hem allowance.

The fabric is a lovely soft cotton drill/twill (I’m not quite sure of the difference yet!) from the same shop on Goldhawk Road that I got the fabric for my Miette skirt.  The buttons are from John Lewis – I was so chuffed when I found them as the small bit of pink is a near perfect match to the fabric colour.

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt button tab and top stitching detail

I decided to try top stitching instead of slip stitch around the waistband.  I’ve seen a tip on a few blogs to use a blind hem foot to help keep the stitching even.  This worked a treat and as a bonus means I’ve now used all the feet that came with my sewing machine!

Another first was inserting a regular, centred zip (I’d only used invisible zips previously).  I didn’t practice on a scrap beforehand and did end up unpicking and starting again, but that was more me being a bit picky and thinking I could do better rather than there being anything especially wrong with my first attempt.

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt back with centred zip

To finish off I decided to use one of the decorative stitches on my machine while hemming.  There’s something about decorative stitching in a shade to match the fabric that I quite like – maybe it is the added texture or maybe it just feels a bit more luxurious.  Given the width of this hem, I was quite happy to be finishing it by machine!

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt hem with decorative stitching

Overall an enjoyable make resulting in a skirt I can definitely see getting a good amount of wear.  And to finish, I couldn’t resist trying out a twirling shot, partly to see how much the skirt flared, but mainly just for the fun of it!

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt twirling

A-line skirt: The Purple Ginger

For my next skirt I thought I’d go a-line – clean and smoothly fitted around the waist but more room for movement than a pencil skirt, and hence much more likely to get worn.  The Colette Ginger skirt gets pretty good reviews and I thought the instructions for their Sorbetto top were excellent, so this looked to be the clear choice.  I also liked the fact that it uses clever shaping instead of darts.

Purple Ginger skirt front view

“The purple ginger” reminds me of a fun weekend in Paris a few years ago with some friends as they took to calling me “purple carrot” (I have no idea why), maybe it is just my weird brain that makes that connection, but it makes me smile 🙂

Ginger skirt with pockets front view

Anyway, the main downside of the pattern was no pockets, but that’s one of the big joys of learning to sew – I can adapt the pattern to suit me!  I was particularly inspired by this version with side slant pockets (I also really like her use of piping and was tempted to add that too, but decided to leave that for another version).

Ginger skirt with pockets side view

I used the pocket pattern pieces from the first trouser pattern of Dressmaking: The complete step-by-step guide as a starting point.  Those slant pockets were straight but a lot of similar pockets I’d seen on skirts were curved, so on my toile I made one side pocket straight and the other gently curved to see which I preferred.  The curved version was definitely better as it sat flat against the body while the straight pocket stuck out and distorted the skirt shape.  For a fun hidden detail I used some of my London fabric for the pocket lining.

Ginger skirt pocket pieces

This skirt is designed to have a pretty high waist, but that really isn’t my style so I went up a size so that the skirt would sit lower.  However this meant that the straight waistband left a lot of gaping around the waist so I adjusted the waistband to be curved as per the explanation given by Mrs C in the comments of this Scruffy Badger post.  I quickly learnt the importance of keeping the fold line and edges at right angles though when I opened up the first front waistband piece:

First attempt at curving the waistband

Other adjustments I made to the pattern were:

  • Removed the curve near the top along the skirt centre front seam
  • Shortened the skirt centre front seam by 1.5cm at the top
  • Lengthened the skirt centre back seam by 0.5cm at the top of the skirt piece
  • Removed the curve near the top along the skirt centre back seam

I found it amazing how much of a difference just a small adjustment can make – initially I was getting some very unsightly diagonal lines from the centre back out towards the side hem, but lengthening the centre back seam by just 0.5cm sorted this out.

Ginger skirt with pockets front view

The fabric is a cotton drill from Goldhawk Road.  It is fairly thick and sturdy so not entirely sure it was the best choice for this skirt as the waistband stays upright and thus gapes at the front when I sit down.  I love the colour though.

I wanted this to be a skirt for all seasons, so as I was making it up I tried it on with tights – as soon as I started to walk I could feel it doing that annoying climbing up the legs thing, so the skirt had to be lined.  The lining is acetate from Goldhawk Road that I already had as it was originally intended for a cord skirt (that I won’t make before the autumn), but I liked how the colour worked with the purple shell.  It was a nightmare to sew!  I now know what people mean when they talk about fabric slipping all over the place.  I hand basted every seam before taking it to the machine which seems to have worked, well enough for a lining anyway.

Ginger skirt with lining

For the invisible zip, I referred to Sunni‘s Craftsy zipper class and Lauren‘s Invisible zipper tutorial along with the pattern instructions and am pretty happy with how this turned out both on the outside and inside.  The zip isn’t completely invisible at the waistband join, but I think this is due to the fabric being so thick.  I’ve since noticed that a lot of more experienced bloggers don’t use invisible zips with thicker fabrics, so I’ll remember to use a regular zip with such fabrics in the future.

Ginger skirt back view

This skirt actually took quite a long time to make with all the pattern adjustments and figuring out how to work with the slippery lining, but I’m very happy with how it has turned out.  Despite loving the colour and the finish, sadly I don’t think this is going to become a frequently worn skirt as it just feels a bit too stiff (hopefully it will feel so bad in colder weather), but I’d definitely use the Ginger skirt pattern again with a different fabric.  I’d like to try out the bias cut version too in order to create the chevron effect, especially after seeing Caroline’s lovely version.

Second skirt

First, I need to make a confession – this skirt isn’t quite finished.  All that’s left is to hem the shell, but it has been sitting like that for a while now so it is time to admit that I’m unlikely to finish this any time soon.  However, I learnt a lot while making this and feel it was an important part of my learning to sew journey so want to blog about it.

pencil skirt front

The pattern is the Naughty Secretary skirt from Diana Rupp‘s Sew Everything Workshop book, which I discovered when I took her Craftsy Sewing Studio class.  I really enjoyed the class, which features two projects – a simple cushion cover and this skirt.  While pencil skirts are not my usual style, I had enough fabric left over from my Miette skirt to make this so thought I’d give it a go.

pencil skirt side

Making the shell went pretty smoothly.  I’m quite happy with the invisible zip – helped out from the extra practice I got while struggling with the toile zip!

pencil skirt zip

There isn’t a waistband, instead bias tape is used as a facing.  I’d recently brought some navy blue cotton with a strawberry print so decided to make my own bias tape using this for a fun detail on the inside.  I understitched the facing so that it would lie flat and not peak out.  This little detail is my favourite part of the skirt.

pencil skirt bias facing

I definitely wanted to line this so I could wear it all year round and not get annoyed by the skirt riding up when wearing tights.  Initially I brought a fairly cheap lining fabric from Goldhawk Road, but it felt horrible when I was pressing it in preparation for cutting – very clingy and lots of static, definitely wouldn’t do.  So instead I ended up buying a lining fabric from John Lewis that cost as much per metre as the main fabric, but it feels lovely and was easy to work with.

The class goes through making up the lining in the same way as the main skirt, which is obviously fine, but I didn’t want to have the lining showing through the slit.  So I was very happy when I found this tutorial on sewing a vent lining.  I’d gone through all the steps for drafting the lining including adding a bit of extra room around the hips, so it was disappointing when I tried the lining on and found it was too tight.  I guess my main fabric must have a bit of give, but the lining doesn’t.  I unpicked the seams and sewed again with as small a seam allowance as I could get away with, so it is now wearable but still a bit tight when sitting down.

pencil skirt lining

I tried to sew the curves above the lining vent by machine, but was having such a hard time getting the concave and convex curves to match properly that I ended up hand sewing this bit.  I am happy with the end result of the vent though – the lining is nicely attached and is unlikely to show when wearing.

pencil skirt vent

So why don’t I just quickly machine hem the skirt and be done with it? – I’m afraid the perfectionist in me won’t allow it!  I’ve finished the waistband such that stitching is not visible on the outside and feel the hem ought to get the same treatment.  If I think I’ll wear this skirt (or a friend would like it), I’ll be more than happy to take the time to slip stitch the hem, but for now I’d rather spend my craft time on other projects.

Plenty of things learnt with this project:

  • Inserting an invisible zip
  • Fitting a skirt
  • Making sure you check the fit of tight skirts sitting down as well as standing and walking
  • Using bias binding as a facing
  • Understitching
  • Lining a skirt
  • Sewing and lining a vent

Making a garment: My Miette

Ok, Kindle cover happily completed, it is time to venture into the exciting world of garment making…

Before I was able to buy my sewing machine, I spent a lot of time on the internet getting inspired thinking about all the beautiful clothes I wanted to make and learning the theory of how to sew.  Without doubt, the best resource I came across was Tilly and the Buttons, in particular her learn to sew series.  So Tilly’s Miette skirt (specifically designed to be beginner friendly) became the clear choice for my first garment make.

Navy blue Miette front

I would absolutely recommend this pattern, especially to beginners.  Tilly has provided very clear step by step instructions with pictures to guide you along and what’s great is you can review these before buying the pattern so that you are confident you’ll have everything you need to put it together.

Navy blue Miette side

The fabric is a lovely soft navy blue cotton twill from Goldhawk Road.  Very happy with the fabric, but it took two trips to buy it – on my first trip I was so overwhelmed by all the different fabrics and lack of labels that I came away empty handed! I top stitched the pocket openings with a short and narrow zig zag stitch in white for a bit of contrast detail.

Miette pocket detail

While the waist ties mean this is not my usual style of skirt (since they force you to tuck tops in), I love the shape of this skirt and will definitely get good wear out of it.  I’m keen to make another version converting the waist ties into button tabs so that it is more versatile in my wardrobe (but need a bit more practice of the basics first!).