Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Tartan A-line Skirt

So here's the deal. For many years I had worn jeans, jeans and nothing but jeans. They were comfy, they were safe, they went with all my tops and jumpers making wardrobe choices easy. Then last summer, feeling a little guilty for the small collection of skirts gathering dust in my wardrobe I decided to give them an airing. To my greatest surprise I discovered I now love wearing skirts (quite a change from last time I'd worn them). To top up my collection I had a go at making one - and it went well, then I made a second - even better.

By the end of the summer I didn't want to go back exclusively to trousers for the winter months so I stocked up on tights, packed away my brightest summery skirts and bought some material to make another skirt that would be suitable all year round.

Have you guessed it yet? Yes, it's March and I still have the material and no skirt.

Until now...


I had two main dilemma's that had stopped me progressing with this project. Firstly, that I wanted the tartan on the diagonal, which meant dealing with the material on the bias - something that sounded very scary. The other problem, was when I got it out and looked at it closer (about November time) I realised that the squares on the tartan weren't, well, square. This meant that I couldn't get my head around how the pattern was going to meet at the side seams and I packed it all away for another day.

After watching the Great British Sewing Bee episode on patterned fabrics a couple of weeks ago I felt it was time to go for it. No more faffing, or dilly dallying. The material was £5/mtr so if it all went horribly wrong it wasn't going to break the bank (I was still going to try my darned hardest to make sure it didn't of course).

The grain runs top to bottom (ish)

I took the pattern I'd started from when making my previous a-line and used my quilting ruler to mark on the 45 degree line. Then lined this up with the grain on the material, made sure that the pattern was fairly central, took a deep breath and cut out the first piece. Phew. Then matched this piece up exactly on the fabric pattern and cut a second one. I realised my saving grace was that this material looked identical (to my eyes at least) on the back and the front, so I didn't need to flip one of the two pieces in order to have "right sides together". I could use them both as I'd cut them which meant everything would meet at the sides after all. Hooray!

Knowing that no matter how well I pin things they have a tendency to shift a little as they go through the sewing machine I decided to take my time with this one (very unusual) and tack it all together before I sewed it properly. It would only take the pattern to be a little bit off and it was going to show - not a very forgiving project, and I wanted it to stand up the scrutiny of the more experienced dressmakers around me.


Side seams tacked, zip tacked, darts tacked. Time for the machine. A few minutes later and the main body of the skirt was done and pressed. The zip took a couple of attempts to get close enough, but generally time spent tacking really paid off. It's not 100% perfect, but I'm pretty pleased with it.


Then I spent a while trying to decide whether to line it or not (you'd think I'd make these decisions sooner in the process wouldn't you? Maybe next time...). I tried it on as it was and came to the conclusion that it was clinging to my tights rather a lot so lining was the way forward. I ordered some online and then progressed as far as I could with the waistband while I waited for it to be delivered.

I used the same technique here as my first skirt attempt; making the waistband into a tube for the first couple of inches, complete with button hole; sewing the length of it to the top of the skirt; pressing it in half; pressing a seam allowance under at the bottom and (later) stitching "in the ditch" all the way round to finish.


When the lining arrived I made a second copy of my skirt - this was nice and quick, no pattern matching to do here! I then popped this into the waistband before doing the final "stitch in the ditch" to secure the two parts together. I decided to leave it loose at the bottom.


Finally there was just the hemming to do. (Ha ha. Just the hemming - what a laugh. Must have got close to spending more time getting the hems right than the rest of the skirt put together. Remind me of this next time I get that "it's almost finished" feeling and I still have hems to do). I went for a blind hem on the outer skirt in the end and Joe kindly made me a rolled hem on the lining. Joe also did the buttonhole, it's his machine and apparently it makes buttonholes only for him. When I try it just ties me a beautifully huge knot!


I'm so proud of myself for actually tackling this project. I'd bought the material in a fit of skirt making enthusiasm but bottled out of making it on several occasions. When it came to it my original mental picture of how it would come together worked out perfectly - I should have had more faith!


Sneaky photo of Pepper...


10 comments:

  1. Well done with your latest creation. Are you not tempted to apply for the Sewing Bee yourself?

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    1. I think I have a lot to learn before I could think of such things - not least how to sow things without needing to use the stitch ripper to redo them every few minutes!

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  2. Having had experience of joining lengths of tartan fabric (on the straight!) I now how difficult that is. Well done!

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    1. Thanks. I avoided this project for so long on that basis! Tacking it all in place seemed to work best for me in the end - and there's still one or two points that are slightly off (but thats nit-picking!).

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  3. I am so impressed. I would have been in a panic trying to figure all that out. It looks great with the pink Crocs!

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    1. I was in a panic about it all - in November! I stared at it, rearranged it and couldn't bring myself to take the plunge with it, so it was all packed away for a better day. The crocs make a stylish addition don't you think? :o)

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  4. It's a lovely skirt and it really suits you. I am really impressed how well the tartan matches up...excellent job! Loved pepper too!xxx

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    1. Pepper steals the show of course! Thanks :D

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  5. Brilliant, you've made a lovely job of it. I'm always impressed when I see how clever people are with a needle and thread, not my forte at all.

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    1. I've only made a few projects myself, but am surrounded by more experienced sewers who inspire, help and intimidate (in a "I'd never be able to do that" sort of way) in equal measure!

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