I’m a sewing Ninja.
I talked about these skirts in this video (I threw one in as a bonus). In actuality, I’ve been “planning” them for a couple years but some other project has always gotten my attention. I also said I could probably sew them all in a day if I set my mind to it.
Famous last words. Technically I could have done it if I hadn’t chosen to hand sew the hem and waistband. Still, a skirt a day is pretty impressive, in my opinion.
Let’s break them down, shall we?
Skirts 1, 2 and 3
The brown/olive skirt was the first one I made because I had black thread in my serger and all the other skirts required white (I use only black or white serger thread – black for dark fabrics, white for light. Serger thread is not cheap and you have to buy 4 spools so I don’t bother matching colors.)
I made it to wear with this sweater:
Unfortunately I was less than thrilled when I tried them on together (I wish had taken a picture). The sweater came down too far and hid my waist. It didn’t look bad, it just didn’t wow me and it took a bit of the wind out of my sails. After mulling it over for a couple of days I decided to redo the sweater. I unraveled it to 2″ below the armhole, which was easy because I knit it top down. I shaped the sides to take away some of the bulk and define my waist. Also, I’m short waisted so I took away four inches of length going from a side seam of 13 inches to about nine inches. Looking at the two pictures side by side doesn’t seem like that big of a difference but when paired with the skirt the proportions are spot on!
I realized that’s been part of the problem with my wardrobe – I’ve been settling for “good enough”, instead of insisting on only having pieces that look and make me feel great. More importantly, I understand my proportions better and can see the (sometimes subtle) changes needed for a garment to flatter my figure. We should take the time and effort to make it right because we are worth it. I noticed a discernable shift in how I was carrying myself when I put on the revised sweater.
This made me rethink some of my yarn stash. Because the waistband on jeans fall below my waist, I want sweaters that are longer so they cover my stomach. But these skirts fit me at my waist (which I want to highlight) so I don’t need all that length, which means I don’t need as much yarn. I can make “skirt sweaters” from those yarns I have less of.
Okay, back to the skirt. I put a diagram below to show you how I drafted the pattern. Make sure you add your seam allowances and cut your pattern on the fold. You’ll need to cut out eight gores. I wear my skirts so the zipper is in the back.
What went well:
- For the waistband I cut a 3″X 29″ (my waist measurement + 1″ ease + 2″ to finish at zipper opening) rectangle and interfaced it.
- I used the same pattern I used to make the dress in this post. It fit me perfectly, sitting at the my waist and flaring out.
- The fabrics I used were a bit more shifty than the quilting cotton I used for the dress so interfacing where I put the zipper was a big help and made insertion much easier.
- I learned my lesson from the dress and made sure each side of the waistband lined up at the zipper so no more uneven zipper openings.
- I serged all the seams after I sewed them as these fabrics tend to fray.
- I got a lot of practice inserting zippers and hand sewing.
What would I do differently:
- The light blue fabric, while having a beautiful shimmer, was not a good choice for a skirt. Not only is it very sheer, it was also surprisingly scratchy. There night be some metallic thread running through it. I barely lasted eight minutes in it, I couldn’t imagine wearing it for eight hours. I won’t be wearing it until I get a slip.
I didn’t mention this skirt in my video because I was in the process of knitting the top and I wanted to reveal them together. I got the fabric from the thrift store and I think it’s a silk sari as it’s very narrow.
I didn’t use the gore pattern because it would have distorted the stripe, which pulls in the color from the top. I decided to make a dirndl skirt instead. A dirndl, or gathered skirt is basically two large rectangles (mine were 28″ X 31.25″) gathered up into the waistband (I made the waistband the same as the gore skirts).
I squealed when I looked at this outfit! I am absolutely in love with it, which was a bit of a surprise. I thought the gathers would make me look poufy. And if I used a heavier fabric it would have, but this is light so the gathers drape nicely. I get a 50’s vibe from this look. All those vintage sewing videos seem to be rubbing off on me. Not that I mind. I think the 40’s and 50’s silhouettes are flattering to my shape and plan to reference them more in my designs.
The sweater is my own design. I had only three skeins of Red Heart Luster Sheen (I don’t think they produce it anymore but you can find some on etsy or ebay). I planned on making it a raglan tank top but couldn’t figure out how to finish the neckline in a way that I liked. I didn’t want to do a rounded neck either, thinking that would make it to “vesty”. I settled on this wider neckline which suits the whole 50’s vibe of the skirt. I will be getting a lot of wear out of these two.
If you are new to sewing, these two skirt designs are easy, not only to sew but also to draft yourself. Buy some cheap fabric (check your local thrift store for fabric and/or bed sheets) and test the fit of your pattern as well as work out construction details. Zippers seem intimidating but like everything else they become easier with practice. Invest in a good sewing manual (I like the one Reader’s Digest puts out) or Youtube for tutorials.
Once you’ve sewn a few skirts you can play around with the details on these skirts by adding tucks, pockets and other embellishments
Now that I’ve tested these two designs, I’ve added other fabrics to the queue. But first I have to find a knitting project since I finished all of my UFO’s. I have several yarns that match the red poppy skirt and a basic black sweater would also be a welcome addition. I just have to figure out the designs, which is always fun.
Out of the four outfits, which one is your favorite?