Topstitching Detail

I got my new coverstitch machine for knits, but I couldn’t resist using it to topstitch the pockets on my new, brown wool skirt. Feeling bold, I went with denim blue thread. It was so quick and easy!

Lightbulb Moment With Lekala


Lekala 5088

In my quest to sew things that actually fit well, I decided to try out one of Lekala’s free patterns, 5088. It’s a three-seam straight skirt with a waistband. Lekala’s system drafts a pattern for you based on the measurements that you input, so ideally the pattern will fit you perfectly. I ordered through the Russian site, using a string order, which gives you more options in terms of saying what adjustments should be made to the pattern to get a better fit. 

However, I’ve never really had a grasp on what my proportions are compared to the average block. I’ve gathered in ballroom dancing that I have quite long arms, and I’ve gathered through sewing that I have narrow shoulders. The others measurements, however, baffled me. Do I have I long neck? No clue. 

I left the majority of the adjustments on “average” and printed my custom pattern. Since I was already cutting out Simplicity 1500, which I’m sewing up several times over, I decided I might as well squeeze a pencil skirt out of the remaining fabric. If it didn’t work out, it was no big loss–because that leftover denim was just going to be wasted otherwise. 

The Lekala skirt sewed up quickly (though adjusting to a 3/8″ seam allowance was tough!), but when I tried it on (sans waistband) I found the fit was rather loose. Considering how little ease Lekala is supposed to have, I was surprised. I tried the skirt on several more times over the course of the day, and again this morning. Finally, I realized that it seemed like the pattern was expecting the widest part of my hips to be higher than they are. The looseness is, I think, because the widest part of the skirt is a couple inches above the widest part of me!

It occurred to me that, perhaps, I needed to ask for an adjustment for being short waisted. I did some googling, and found a couple methods for determining if you have a short, long, or balanced waistline. Lo and behold, I am indeed short-waisted.

I will adjust this skirt to adjust for the actual location of my hips, and as it uses so little fabric and is one of the free patterns, order another one and test whether my adjustment fixes the issue. If I can figure out my body proportions and get Lekala to draft a pattern to fit me, it would make my sewing life so much easier.

Challenge to Self: Simplicity 2451 Complete!

Simplicity 2451

Pattern Description:
Gored skirt with a flare and a wide, curved waistband and center back zipper. View A is maxi length, View B is knee-length. Envelope also contains a pattern for a pleated-front pencil skirt with wide, curved waistband (Views C and D).

I sewed View B, without the tabs or running stitch.

Pattern Sizing:
P5 (12, 14, 16, 18, 20). I sewed a size 14. I should have listened to my gut when I thought that the finished hip measurement for 14 was too large. The skirt, of course, turned out huge.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Eh. Mostly. Because the size 14 had so much ease, I had to take it in aggressively (I removed 4″), and now it’s a bit more fitted than it should be. The fabric I chose, a khaki, is stiffer than the fabric on the sample garment, so the flare “stands out” a bit more, too.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were quite easy to follow, but I think that a step was omitted from them!

I have made similar Simplicity and New Look garments in the past, and so I felt comfortable with most of the construction. I did choose to sew the pockets to the side panels BEFORE sewing the side panels to the front, because I wanted to be able to pin-fit the skirt. The existence of those pockets means that the side seams can’t be taken in. So why do they have you sew the front and side panels together before the “side panels” are complete with the pockets attached? If I’d followed the instructions as given, I would have already sewn the seams that could be adjusted before I was able to try the garment on.

I had better luck than usual with the lapped zipper. In the past, these have always frustrated me. This time, I used a different online tutorial to walk me through the process. Unlike the instructions in Reader’s Digest, this method does have a layer of stitching visible through the top of the fashion fabric. However, since the lap covers that stitching line, I think it was a good choice for me. Lapped zippers give me a headache, and this method got me quick results without harming the look of the finished garment at all.

As for the missing step in the instructions: When attaching the waistband facing, steps 16 and 17 say to pin the facing to the yoke, then press the facing away from the yoke and understitch. Surely you have to stitch the facing to the yoke before you press it upwards!! Plus, they don’t tell you to trim the seam or clip the curves before pressing the facing up and understitching. I made sure to trim excess bulk out and clip the curves, and I don’t think my result would have been as good if I had not.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: nice shape, love the wide, curved waistband, and surprisingly, I like the pockets, which–to my surprise–do NOT mess up the line of the skirt.
Dislikes: Runs large. Faulty instructions that might trip up an even newer sewist.

Fabric Used:
Cotton khaki.

Simplicity 2451

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Since I am 5’3 3/4″, I shortened the skirt on the lengthen/ shorten line by 1 1/2″. The skirt now hits just a hair above my knee when hemmed. It might have looked a bit nicer if I’d made it another 1/2″ shorter–but then, this fabric is really firm and shortening it more also might have made the flare stand out really strangely.

Because it was overlarge, I took the skirt in by about 4″ (a bit too much), and the waistband by 2″. I think that if I had started with a size 12, I would have gotten better results.

I had some fabric bunching right under the waistband–which made me look like I had a weird tummy pooch. I more or less fixed this by pulling the center front up and into the waistband by about 1/4″. I am not sure what this alteration is called, but I have had to do it on other Simplicity skirts.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would probably sew this skirt again, this time in a softer, drapier fabric.

I had purchased it as a hopeful TNT, because I like gored skirts with wide waistbands. However, with the amount of flare on this skirt and the unusualness of the wide, curved waistband, it may be a bit too distinctive to have multiples of in my closet.

I sewed this skirt as a challenge to myself to make a skirt in one day. Although I didn’t actually manage to do it all in a day, it was a successful experiment in that I got a wearable garment in a much shorter time than it usually takes me to make something.

Challenge to Self: Update on Day 3

So, it is two days post “challenge” and, although I will not get this skirt finished until tomorrow, I am nearly done. This is probably the quickest I have made a wearable object. At this point, the lapped zipper is in, the waistband facing is attached and stitched down, and I’ve started pinning the hem. Although the sewing isn’t perfect, it looks really good! I’m pleased with the results of this experiment, and will definitely be wearing this in public.

Perhaps I will even issue challenges to myself more regularly!

Challenge to Self: Uh-oh.

Pattern runs large.

4:00 PM

I have discovered that this pattern runs large!

Although I made the suggested size for my hip and waist measurements, clearly it doesn’t fit. I wondered whether the finished hip measurement wasn’t a bit big for me . . . but I was worried that if I cut a size smaller, I would have too little extra fabric to adjust the fit.

Nope. I would have been fine.

Looks like I will have to take in every seam, perhaps by as much as 1/2″. I hope that won’t distort the skirt too badly.

I hate to pause on a down note, but as I mentioned in my last post, I have company to prepare for. I will have to come back to this later . . . if not tonight, then on Sunday.