Zinnia muslin, or how I learned to love my seam ripper

Zinnia muslin resizeWith no sign of the Zinnia sewalong speeding up any time soon, I decided that I would push on with my muslin over the weekend. I read a lot of blogs by people who are considerably more proficient than I am and the Zinnia would take them an hour, maybe two, tops. It took me TWO WHOLE DAYS. That might include cutting and transferring the markings (a particularly tedious task on this project), but the real issue was the invisible zip. More on that later.

The fabric I’m planning on using for my finished project is a lovely green chambray. I’d like to be able to wear the skirt to work, so I really want to make a decent job of it, but there are a few things in there that are new to me (pleats, zips, buttonholes), hence the muslin. I figured that since Colette list the Zinnia as a beginner’s pattern, I should at least be able to fashion a wearable garment on the first try and hang how it looks on the inside! I used some floral fabric I’ve had in my stash for about a year. It’s not something I’d usually choose to wear – it’s a bit too girly for my liking, but it could be ok in the summer…

To begin with it was plain sailing sewing-wise – I’d marked up my fabric pretty accurately so the pleats were easy to do and ended up evenly spaced. Sewing the side seams and pockets was easy enough too. But the problems came with the invisible zip.

Zinnia muslin zip (2) resizeInvisible zips – my new nemesis
I’ve never done one of these, and to be quite honest, I’m not exactly overjoyed about inserting ordinary zips. I bought an early version of the pattern which omits instructions on how to insert it on Version 2 (I believe it has since been corrected), so I got out my Colette Sewing Handbook, cos that’s got to have some sort of help in it, right? Not so much. I followed the instructions, putting the right side of the zip to the right side of the fabric, and ended up with a zip on the inside of the skirt. Argh. I tried different instructions and ended up with the zip the wrong way round, twisted, one side correct, but the other side wrong… You name it, I did it. I started off calmly ripping out the stitches, but after a while my frustration turned to anger and I ended screaming profanities and throwing the skirt across the room. Chris made me some eggy bread halfway through this debacle, which did help, but for the most part he very sensibly stayed away. Eventually I managed it by laying out the zip on the fabric in some semblance of what would be it’s finished state. Unfortunately having ripped it out about eight times, the fabric was looking in a sorry state and I’m not sure how secure it’s going to be in the long run. Anyway, I’ve fathomed out a method now, and hopefully it’ll go in ok when I do the real thing.

After I managed that, the rest of the skirt was straightforward. The waistband went on really easily because my pleats turned out to be pretty accurate (*smug face*), and I managed to work out how to do buttonholes on my machine without too much bother. I was even really very careful about measuring an even hem!

Now it’s finished, and I’ve tried it on, there are a couple of things that I’d change/do better.

  • Take an inch off the bottom cos I’m pretty small.
  • Insert bias binding on the raw seam edges – I do like it when all the raw edges are properly enclosed.
  • Make sure the seams are pressed appropriately. The pattern instructions don’t tell you which way to press.
  • Understitch the pockets so there’s less chance of them gaping out.
  • Potentially extend the stitching on the pleats by half an inch or so, but I will take a judgement call on that.

Next step – cutting and marking my chambray ready for the real thing!

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3 thoughts on “Zinnia muslin, or how I learned to love my seam ripper

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