Wow! I appear to actually be a Simple Sew Blogger. Yay!
I was so pleased to be asked. My first pattern to work with was the High Waisted Skirt. This skirt is going to be perfect for work, maybe even a night out. So useful.
White Tree Fabrics had some lovely pleather in and this was a great excuse to use it. Super soft and great to work with, though if I’m honest, when it arrived it was much softer than I’d imagined. It drapes beautifully. The skirt would have preferred a fabric with more body but this will still work.
I checked the back of the envelope to choose the correct size and decided on the 12 as it was closest to my size. These sizes are much more realistic for the modern figure.
This is also the time to check out anything else you may need.
- Fabric-depends on your size
- Pins-nice sharp ones
- Machine needles to suit your fabric- I used some fine stretch needles for this fabric as it’s a knit.
- Interfacing-choose a weight no heavier than your fabric. You don’t need much, just enough for the facings and a couple of strips down the centre back for the zip.
- Sewing machine feet-regular foot and zip foot.
I checked the size and fit with a toile. Always a good idea if you’re not sure how the sizing of a new pattern is for you. I had some stretch sateen left over from another project, if it didn’t need too many tweeks I’d finish it and have another skirt.
Turns out my hips aren’t as curvy as the pattern so I pinned to mark it and re-shaped the sides. It’s never easy to fit yourself so try and grab a fellow sewing friend and have a fitting session. You can pin each other to fit and then enjoy an afternoon or evening of sewing in company. Much more sewciable.
I followed the layout of the pattern and made sure the grainline was straight. As crucial on a stretch fabric as a woven to avoid it twisting when made up.
Once cut ( I’m a pins and scissors girl) I marked the ends of the darts with tailors tacks and made a snip into the seam allowance to mark all of the other notches. It’s a quick fix when matching up edges.
It’s easiest if you interface all of your pieces first. They’re ready to go when you need them then.
On the pattern it’s just the facings that need it but I like to put a strip along the Centre back where the zips going. This helps to stabilize the fabric making it easier to work with and less likely to stretch.
So, all the prep work is done, I can get on with it now.
First up are the darts, these are nice and thin. I do these all in one hit, front and back.
Match up the top notches, pin and continue the fold to the point and pop another pin in. If you’re new to darts or like a little guidance to get you going then draw yourself a line. Tailors chalk or a soft pencil if you’re not working on black. Just check that it doesn’t show through your fabric.
Try to keep the point to a fine edge to avoid it ‘poking’. I don’t double back on my darts. I run straight off with the stitch line and then bring the dart back under the machine to double back within the dart waste. Or I tie it off at the end making sure I don’t do it too tight to the end.
I use a tailors ham to press the darts out towards the sides. If you don’t have one then a rolled up towel works just as well. It just helps to press on a curve.
Now, this is where I go a little ‘Off pattern’. I changed the order in which I put it together. After many years of altering clothes for other people, I want to make this easy for me to alter in the future. (Or in real terms, in case I eat too many biscuits)
I do the zip next. Lay the zip, right sides together, so that the teeth sit at the 1.5cm seam allowance line. Pin and then stitch down using your zip foot. You’re only anchoring the zip so you don’t need to get too close to the teeth, just holding the tape.
Next, line up your zip teeth with your zip foot. I’m an invisible zip foot convert but it’s just as straight forward to use an ordinary zip foot. I did so for years before hand. If you’re using an ordinary zip foot curl the teeth back to make sure your needle can get into the groove. (did Madonna pop into anyone elses head then)
Don’t try to get too close to the bottom of the zip as the zip slider will be in the way.
Both sides are done in the same way.
To finish off the seam and avoid the hospital gown effect, fold right sides together and pull the end of the zip away from the seam allowance.
Pop a pin in, in line with the end of your previous stitching line. Put your zip foot on to get nice and close to line it up. It’s a bit fiddly but it’ll make sure you’re your zip lays flat at the end. Stitch from the zip down to close the centre back seam.
Press open to give a nice finish.
I decided to pipe the back seam where the pleat section attaches. As this was a stretch fabric I didn’t worry about cutting a strip on the bias as it would move nicely.
I stitched a guide line of 1.5cm on the bottom of the skirt piece and made up the piping.
I folded the fabric around the piping cord (quite a fine one as this isn’t a heavy fabric) and using my zip foot, stitched nice and close to the cord. I made sure the raw edge made up 1.5cm so that it should match the seam allowance of the skirt.
I then placed the piping onto the back piece and lined up the stitch lines. Stitched down the piping and can now treat it as one piece.
Before you go too much further, pull some of the cord from each end and snip off about 1.5cm.
This this will then flatten out again and go back beyond the seam allowance. That way you don’t have to stitch over the cord when it comes to the side seam.
Then I turned my attention to the pleated portion, I always do this sort of thing on the ironing board. I removed the paper but kept it near to remind myself of the pleat placement.
I folded the centre pleat first, matching my snips and pinned at the edges. I then covered it with a tea towel and pressed with a bit of steam. Always wait for the heat to disappear as it sets the pleats better. I then moved on to either side.
Once pressed, I wanted to make sure that the pleats stay in after washing.
I stitched on the edge of the pleat folds using my blind hem foot. It has a handy wheely guide to help keep the edge straight.
Then pin the pleats back into position and attach it to the bottom of your skirt.
You’ll need your zip foot again. Skirt back up, you can get nice and close to the piping and also see the stitch line made earlier.
Now attach the facings, I always leave the paper on the pattern until I’m using the pieces. It makes sure you keep everything the right way up and the centre backs together.
Have you spotted the deliberate mistake yet, I overlocked the wrong edge. So I attached them first and then overlocked the right edge. I trimmed back the seam allowance that was overlocked to give the seam an easier turn. No-one will ever know.
I then edge stitched, using my trusty edge stitch foot to help keep the facings inside the skirt.
I do the same for the front of the skirt. Yep, including overlocking the wrong edge.
We’re nearly there.
This is also when I make any adjustments to the hips, to match the toile. I draw a line with chalk with the help of a pattern curve.
I then stitch down in a long stitch to check the fit, this is when I make any other tweeks and adjust if need be. Softer fabrics will behave differently to those with more body so may need taking in a bit more. I then re-stitch on a normal length.
To hold the facings down I turn the seam allowances together and do a few stitches to hold them. Once turned back they are fixed.
I turn the seam allowances of the zip edges right sides together and stitch along the seam allowance and this fixes the ends.
Now to hem, I pressed up the hem and then folded over again to create a small hem and machined. I normally like to had stitch but this fabric wouldn’t have taken that so well.
I then press again to re-fix the pleats and stitching.
Now you can go wear your skirt. Enjoy