Look mum, I made a skirt!

Zinnia frontAfter weeks of talking about it, I finally made my Zinnia this weekend. And do you know what? I’m pretty damn pleased with it. And do you know what else? Since I made it in March, it still counts to my tally of sewing projects for the month!  *Hi-fives self*

Ooh lovely fabric
I want to update my work wardrobe for Spring/Summer as everything I have is just a bit too wintry and dark, and it’s time for a bit of colour. Although I work in a professional environment, thankfully I don’t have to wear a suit to the office (thinking about it, not a lot of people do – male and female), so I can wear what I like as long as I’m smart. I chose Zinnia Version 2 with its lovely sewn down pleats and not-so-lovely invisible zip as an office-appropriate start.

I picked a lovely emerald green chambray and pre-washed it as soon as it arrived. Unfortunately I forgot to switch off the tumble dry function on my washing machine – when I pulled it out I found that it had frayed. A lot. Plus because it was bone dry getting the creases out was a right pig of a job. However, the fraying let me see how the fabric is constructed – with lime green threads crossing with royal blue to produce the deep green colour. I just ended up with piles and piles of green thread sticking to everything else in the machine.

Pattern alterations?
The pattern is easy enough to follow and having made up my muslin last week it wasn’t as if I was going to come across anything brand new (though I still did a couple of practice buttonholes before the real thing), and I knew it would fit me OK. So, no alterations to the pattern itself, but I did make a couple of tweaks to the instructions:

  • All visible stitching was done with black thread to provide a contrast. I had to be super-careful with this ‘cos every single mistake would stick out like a sore thumb. So that includes the stitching on the pleats, the waist band, the hem and the buttonhole. That’s a lot that could go wrong, but didn’t really. Thankfully.
  • I understitched the pockets to the side seams so that they wouldn’t roll out. I’m pretty pleased with the results here – you can’t really see them unless you’re looking for them.
  • My muslin is ok, but one thing I did notice was that the hem puckered a bit, even though I measured it. I did some Googling to see how I could prevent it and found Colette Patterns’ tutorial for curved hems. It produces perfect results! Basically you baste the bottom of the skirt at a specified width from the edge (I did ½ inch), use the line to fold the hem up and press, then fold it over again and press. I measured my hem to make sure it was even as I was pressing and pinning, then I stitched it, holding the fabric taut as it went through the machine. There is NO PUCKERING and for the first time ever my stitching is just about even. Yay me!

I still hate invisible zips
However, despite some real triumphs on this project, I still had a few issues. Once again the invisible zip proved to be problematic. The difference is that this time I stayed calm. The first side went in perfectly, but the second side just wouldn’t go in at all. It took a bit of wrestling and unpicking, but I eventually managed it – after about an hour and a half of trying (compared to three or four for the muslin). We’e just not going to look at it that closely.

Zinnia frayed seamsI also didn’t finish my seams in the way I wanted to (plus I managed to sew one side seam into the waistband the wrong way so it tries to pull the wrong way. Need to watch that one for the next time). I bought some bias tape for the purpose, but maths and spatial awareness have never really been my strong points, and I couldn’t work out whether it would show through on the seam if I went ahead and stitched it on. As a result I erred on the side of caution and zigzagged up the seam allowances instead. The seams now fray a bit, so I might go back and pink them to reduce the amount of bright green threads sticking to my tights.

Would I make it again?
These issues are not insurmountable, and I’m really happy that I’ve got a skirt that’s good enough to wear out of the house! I will make another version one day, perhaps in red or a plain black or grey, though I am wondering if that will just remind me too much of school uniform… Anyway, it’s time for something different and I have my sights set on the By Hand London Anna dress for my April sewing project.

This skirt was brought to you by the Stuff You Should Know podcast. I found out all sorts of things – from who really shot JFK (it really probably was Lee Harvey Oswald), to the representation of werewolves in other countries, to how they train guide dogs, and came out better informed at the end of it. Check it out!

Zinnia side view

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13 thoughts on “Look mum, I made a skirt!

  1. Emmely says:

    The skirt looks very good on you, love the colour!
    I usually zigzag the edges of fraying fabric before I put them in the washing machine. I hate those threadnests that you otherwise get. I do this by sewing with a wide and long zig zag stitch on the edge of the fabric. When the needle swings to the right it hits just outside the fabric edge and when it swings to the left it hits in the fabric. That way the fabric edge gets encased in the stitch and can’t fray anymore. You can also use this on seam allowances to prevent fraying.

    • jocala42 says:

      Thanks, I’ve had lots of nice comments about it at work too!

      That’s a great tip about zigzagging before washing – will give it a go. I’ve tried it for seam allowances in the past but I always manage to mangle the fabric while doing it, so I tend to prefer French seams or sticking some bias binding on it if I can. I’m not sure whether it’s me or my machine (it’s probably me) but I will persevere!

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