Red Mini skirt

I made this skirt back in August out of a very small piece of fabric from my stash, hence the length! It was only ever intended as a (hopefully) wearable toile to test out a skirt pattern’s fit and learn some new techniques. It’s been a mixed success…

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This is my best “I’m not sure about this skirt” face

Pattern:

On Safari Skirt by So Sew Easy. I bought this pattern a while back after searching for a pattern with the features of my favourite ready-to-wear denim skirt. I thought this would not only give me a great skirt I’d love to wear, but would also allow me to practice some of the techniques needed for making jeans as I intend to make a pair at some point in the next year or so.

Fabric:

Half a metre of wine red cotton twill from my local fabric shop, Steve Bane Fabrics in Frome. This was originally bought for something else but never got used. It’s fairly lightweight for a twill, so it’s easy to sew although it creases horribly.

The skirt pattern called for more fabric, but I laid out my pattern pieces creatively and worked out how much I’d need to shorten it to fit everything on. As it was I used quilting cotton for the inner waistband and cheated with the pockets. Here’s my layout, should anyone else be attempting to make this pattern with very little fabric:

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New skills learnt:

  • Sewing a fly front zip.
  • Topstitching with proper topstitching thread. I did this on my usual Bernina and used my mother-in-law’s vintage Singer to do the main seams. Much fun had with threading that old beast up, I can tell you!img_6202-copy

Changes I made:

  • Instead of doing true jeans style flat-felled seams with double topstitching I cheated a bit. The pattern already showed one cheat technique for double topstitching without the hassle of flat-felling, but I went a step further and simply overlocked the seams and folded them over with just one line of topstitching to hold them in place. I did this purely to save time as I get so little sewing time these days. It didn’t seem worth going the whole hog on something that was only a toile.
  • Because of my fabric shortage I chose to make the pockets in true jeans pocket style, by cutting just a small amount of the twill for the visible part, overlocking the edge, using temporary spray adhesive to stick it in place and sewing it onto the lining as shown:

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  • I chose to use a popper rather than a button. I’ve used this type of popper before–they’re the kind where you have to apply them with a metal tool and a hammer–and I love them to bits. They feel super sturdy and look fabulous. Here’s the pictures to prove it!
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Okay, the popper isn’t actually attached here, but you can see the topstitching really well so I’m using this pic anyway 😛

 

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What went wrong:

I had so many issues with this pattern that I’m bulletpointing them!

  • Printing out the PDF was the first hurdle as I just couldn’t get test square the right size. I contacted So Sew Easy who tried to help but nothing worked. In the end I had to reduce the pieces on the library photocopier, so ended up spending more money.
  • Couldn’t line up back panel seamline with pocket. These are meant to intersect at the side seam but I have at least half an inch difference between them.
  • Couldn’t line up front and back hemline. There was a difference of almost an inch! I will admit that these last two points could be down to me somehow messing up with the pattern copying/assembling/sewing, but I’ve assembled a fair few pdfs in my time and this has never EVER happened to me before.
  • The next two points are definitely drafting issues: the completed front is wider than back. This seems crazy as everyone–EVERYONE–is bigger round the bum than the front (especially me, ahem). It means the side seams don’t sit where they should.
  • The waistline pieces are inaccurate-way too long and this is acknowledged in the instructions, which tells you to cut them down once you’ve stitched them on. I can see why this might be necessary if you’d messed up the seam allowances when stitching other pieces together, but I’ve never known a pattern to do this before. It seemed ridiculous: a waste of time and fabric.
  • The pockets gape quite badly, as seen in all the pictures, but here’s a particularly good illustration:img_6318-copyYou can see the pocket lining-gah! I followed some Instagram advice and tried to correct the problem by letting out the side seam in that area, but this only made it worse (you’ll have to take my word for that as I didn’t take a picture). In the end I just had to sew it back how it was. I think perhaps this problem could have been averted by making pocket stays, which is basically joining the pockets to the front fly. I tried to wrap my head around retro-fitting them but decided it was too much hassle for something that might not work anyway.

What went well:

The fly front zip was surprisingly easy to do. I don’t know why I got it into my head that they’re difficult. I suppose I do have plenty of zip insertion experience, though, as I’ve tried just about every other kind there is. It probably also helped that it was a nylon rather than a metal tooth zip. However, I must give the pattern credit for explaining this part of the process really well.

I also love my popper fastener, and am determined to use them on more garments in future. So much easier than making button holes, and so much nicer to use!

Overall verdict:

I have to admit, while I’m really proud of my sewing on this skirt and I’m thrilled to have picked up some new skills and stretched myself, I’m not overly happy with the final result. Yes, I love the colour and it’s wearable (I wore it yesterday), but the front always looks horribly crumpled and I’m aware of the pocket lining showing. Part of the problem could simply be that this fabric creases too easily (need something thicker? More polyester content?)

I’m not overly impressed with the pattern drafting, and I think this will be last time making a So Sew Easy pattern. Yes, they are cheap, but you gets what you pays for sometimes.

Changes for next time:

I’m not making this pattern again, but I do still want a skirt in this style. Just, you know, longer. And better. As this pattern is so very similar to the Grainline Moss Skirt I think I’ll just bite the bullet and fork out the cash for that pattern next time. In paper, so there’s no pdf assembly involved 🙂

Costing:

Pattern: £4.58, plus £1.20 photocopying

Fabric: £5.50 per metre. Used 0.5m, so £2.75

Notions: Regular thread £1.75

Topstitch thread £2.24 inc postage

Zip £0.39 clearance from Minerva

Total cost: £12.91

Not a bad price for this skirt, but I doubt I’ll wear it all that often.

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2 thoughts on “Red Mini skirt”

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