Revisiting the Zinnia

Isn’t it good to be on holiday? I’m just coming to the end of a lovely week off work. Chris and I went to Madrid for a few days over the Easter weekend (two words: Iberico ham *drools like Homer Simpson*) and we’re now sitting on the train to Bath to see some friends and watch some rugby. In between we’ve played some laser tag, got a leak fixed and I’ve even managed to squeeze in a couple of makes. The first was my nautical Scout t-shirt, but today it’s all about my new skirt – a Colette Zinnia.

Front view resize

Now that the weather’s better, one of the downsides of taking photos outside is squinting into the camera cos the sun’s in your eyes.

I’m still (mostly) dedicated to my stash-busting mission, and this make uses up some fabric that’s been lurking in my flat for a little bit too long now. I bought this navy blue stuff from the shop in Balham well over a year ago now, and its first incarnation was the skirt for my contrast Grace dress which I made for a wedding. I ended up with about 1.5m left over. Then I took the Vintage Shirt Dress class at Sew Over It (the product of which needs to be photographed and written up), so I bought some more and used it for the skirt on that too. Again, I ended up buying more than was necessary so I had another metre to add to the pile. I obviously like the stuff (decent weight but with a nice drape), but it was getting a bit silly. Something needed to be done.

I sewed version two of the Zinnia about two years ago and I wear it pretty regularly to work. The other week I noticed that it had a small yet unmendable hole next to the zip. Unsurprising, really, since inserting that invisible zip caused many a tear and tantrum before I finally got it right. It’s pretty sad – that skirt is nowhere near perfect, but it was time to make up a new one, especially since I’ve been lurking Version One on Pinterest for a while now. The navy blue fabric sprang to mind – more than enough for a full skirt and just the right colour for a good wardrobe basic.

I’m happy to say that sewing up this gathered skirt was nowhere near as fraught as its first incarnation. The instructions were really clear, but after a while I stopped referring to them and got on with the job.

Although it’s a seemingly simple gathered skirt, there are a few nice details to keep things interesting. The pleated patch pockets are fully functional, but require a steady hand and eye for top stitching. I think they’re pretty nifty – I probably won’t be putting anything in them, but I like the extra bit of give that the pleat lends, and they sort of remind me of the pockets you see on khaki safari shirts (like this one). I told Chris this and was met with a blank look.

Pocket resize

A slightly wonky pocket, but I love the look.

I’m also a big fan of the placket. The skirt pattern is only two pieces (front and back), but the placket on the right is heavier than the one on the left, so you have to trim a thin strip off the left piece to compensate. You then fold the fabric in on itself and top stitch it down to form the plackets. I really like the look you end up with – it’s thin and neat and really pleasing when you’re sewing. Only trouble is, in this fabric it makes the placket quite thick, so when I came to open up my buttonholes it was really difficult to get my seam ripper through it.

Placket resize

Placket close up. So thin! So neat!

I was in a bit of a rush to finish this one (I had a pancake party to get to), so I dispensed with turning and pressing the hem, and just overlocked it and stitched it down. Since the hem is slightly curved anyway, this means that easing in the excess was much easier and I made it to the pancake place on time. (I had a Greek pancake. I thought I was getting something relatively healthy – you know, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, maybe a bit of feta. But no. It came with ALL THE CHEESE – halloumi, feta and the Greekest of all cheeses, cheddar. I like cheese as much as the next man, but I couldn’t finish it.)

Back view resize

Back view, with an idea of the skirt’s fullness.

Anyway, when this pattern was released I remember seeing a few negative reviews from sewists across the Internet. It was too simple, the pattern was boring, and nothing much of a challenge for the more experienced out there. But I think Colette actually played something of a blinder with the Zinnia. Over the last few years I’ve seen loads of similar skirts on the high street, so if you can make one pretty quickly and save yourself some cash, why wouldn’t you? I think this one cost me about £1.50 for the buttons, and everything else I had in my stash.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?



5 thoughts on “Revisiting the Zinnia

  1. Caroline says:

    I think this skirt looks great on you. A brilliant wardrobe staple as you said yourself. Perfect for Spring weather as you could wear it with sandals, pumps or boots (if the weather turns).

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