crafts · finished objects · Sewing

FO: A-line skirt


Pattern: A-line skirt from the book Sew U (Built by Wendy simplicity pattern) size M

Fabric: Patterned Corduroy from Hancock Fabrics

Notions etc: 7 inch black zipper

Notes: I can’t believe I actually managed to sew a garment – and it fits!   This will be a detailed review, because I know there are other knitters who, like me, are curious about going even further into making your own wardrobe.  This pattern is from Sew U, a book that I recommend if you (like me) are brand new to garment sewing.  It contains 3 basic patterns for a skirt, pants, and shirt, and shows many variations on those.    I made the skirt in a size medium, because I found the sizing confusing – it isn’t the same as regular pattern sizing, and I don’t think it shows finished sizes, just recommended sizes.   I probably could have made a size smaller (I am a size 4 in ready to wear clothes for reference) but I think it would have fit higher on the waist, which I don’t care for.  I learned how to fuse interfacing, make facings, install a zipper, and sew darts.  I already knew how to hem and sew the pieces together, but the instructions for those were detailed as well.

One thing I didn’t like – the instructions for various parts of the process were all through the book, forcing you to use the index and flip back and forth.  It was a little confusing, but I figured it out.  The hardest parts for me were the zipper installation and the darts, since previously I hadn’t given much thought to what they actually were (sections of the fabric removed in order to shape the flat garment to your body.)  I actually did not follow her installation for the zipper, which suggested just taping the zipper in place and then sewing it in.  I have a hard time sewing a straight line  without a seam guide (yes, I know, but I think maybe it’s my machine) and I don’t like to sew blind, so I needed a visual.  I instead taped in the zipper (with blue painters tape) and then machine basted it in with a contrasting thread.  I flipped it over and topstitched (that is, stitched from the right side) following the basting lines.   Then I removed the basting, and it was securely in place!  The darts were hard until I broke down and bought a fabric marker – my chalk lines kept rubbing off!

The whole time I was making the facing (the pieces that form the waistband here, and reinforce it on the inside) I thought there was no way it would work out, but I trusted the pattern and it turned out perfectly!

After the skirt was finished I was unhappy with the length – it was sort of mid calf, which isn’t flattering on anyone.  I reminded myself of Wendy’s encouragement (in the book) to make things work for you, marked a new hem with chalk, and chopped 5 inches off that baby before the final hem went in place.   Now it’s the length I like my skirts, and this also had the effect of reducing the A-line.  I know everyone loves an A-line, but I don’t like them on me all the time.  I think I’m not curvy enough.

I bought fabric to make another built by Wendy pattern – number 3835.

I’m making the mini dress, the view on the left, and I plan to wear it with leggings, since apparently I have decided to give up and just embrace that the 80s are back – after all, much as I deride them, leggings are darned comfy.  As long as they aren’t stirrup pants.  I can’t handle that again.  I bought an Amy Butler print, but I’m going to make it up first in some cheap fabric from the $2 table at Joanns, to make sure of the size.  I’m not yet certain of the amount of ease I want in things that aren’t knit!

So if you want to learn to sew, I recommend the Sew U book, along with the S.E.W workshop.   It may n0t supplant knitting or anything, but I’m sure I’m going to love making my own clothes!   And right now, between my studio recital and some big concerts I’m performing in, I haven’t exactly had oodles of knitting time – but I made this in 2 nights!

I have worked on the quilt, and it is now to the point where it needs to be quilted, so I have been practicing machine quilting.  I expected it to be impossible, so I’m surprised by how easy the quilting is coming – I’m not having tension problems, and if my patterns aren’t perfect oh well – it will look great once it is washed.

Coming up: my thoughts on the new Interweave Knits and twist collective, and progress on Salina (aka the world’s most boring knit that had better be totally worth it!)

32 thoughts on “FO: A-line skirt

  1. That’s a gorgeous skirt – and a perfect match for the cardi! I’m new to sewing too, (actually haven’t sewn anything for years am and psyching myself up to start) so it’s great to see what you’ve done here.

  2. love the skirt! i have that BBW pattern and it’s great but check the fit of the sleeve cuffs and neckline. they were both way too tight for me (felt like i was being choked).

    also, check the finished measurements. simplicity patterns have a ton of built-in ease that is too much, imo.

  3. The skirt looks so nice with your minimalist cardigan. I have materials for that same minidress pattern, but haven’t been able to work on it since there’s no way I can fit it over my 8-months pregnant belly. It’ll be cute for spring, though! Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  4. Great job on the skirt! It does work well with your minimalist cardigan.

    Your next project should be a good one, too. I have that pattern, but have yet to try it. I have seen some lovely version on – and I’m sure yours will be just as fabulous.

  5. Looks great! I was a long-time sewer (seamstress?) before I became a knitter.

    For these types of patterns, if you do like a little negative ease, remember that fabric has two directions (imagine it like north-south, east-west). In one direction is the “bias” – the stretchy direction – and in the other direction is no stretch at all.

    If your pattern directs you (or you just decide you prefer to) you can always cut your pattern pieces on the bias so that they stretch a little. To find the bias, grab your fabric at east and west and pull it. If it stretches, that’s your bias side. If not, try north-south or even some diagonal angles when you pull against the fabric until you find the direction that stretches nicely.

    This probably won’t be needed for your mini-dress, since it doesn’t look like a too-close fitting design, but with a-line and pencil type skirts, a little stretch around the hips can be a god-send!

  6. Your skirt looks really pretty – and it really sets off the Minimalist cardigan.

    I recommend the Sew What! Skirts book for a relaxed approach to skirt sewing – it encourages you to make your own basic skirt blocks and then adapt them to whatever style you like.

    The best source of inspiration for me at the moment is – it has the Ravelry-esque factor of checking out other people’s lovely creations, and they have a variety of print-at-home patterns which are pretty cool (provided you can cope with sticking together all the pages before you cut them out…)

  7. I have that book, but I’ve been afraid to try any of the garments. I think you’ve just inspired me to try some garment sewing over winter break. Such a cute skirt!

  8. Nice job! I’m not a sewer, either, and a bit fearful of it, yet have a drawer full of cool fabrics I want to use. Perhaps I should invest in a copy of Sew U – I really appreciate your detailed review.

    And what a perfect outfit!

  9. Love the skirt! I just got that book out of the library and I’m happy to hear a review of the garment-making process from someone who is also just learning to sew. I think I may have to add that book to my library. 🙂

  10. Love the skirt and the cardigan too. I got that book recently and am looking forward to sewing from it, so thanks for the detailed review!

  11. I love it! Very cute. I was at the fabric store last night and pickup and then put back two patterns. I’m still kicking myself this morning for not buying them both (on sale for $1.99 each). I’ve never made clothing before but I’m sure with a little trial and error I could learn to do it. I really need a sewing teacher!

  12. Beautiful outfit, you look great! And so perfectly matched with the gorgeous fall backdrop as well. The skirt is just perfect and I love your minimalist cardigan. I actually have the Sew U book, but I’m still feeling rather intimidated by sewing. I think it’s the prospect of spending my money on beautiful fabric and then cutting it up, eeeeek!! I think you are onto something with the ‘cheap fabric practice run’ thing, I might just try that….

  13. Wow! The skirt looks impeccable like all of your other creations! If you didn’t tell me, I never would have guessed it was your first one. On the hem, absolutely hack off the extra length like you did – that’s what I do. On the next one you could always hack off the length from the paper pattern piece first to save fabric, but either method works.

    I know exactly what you mean about A-line skirts. They can be overwhelming if they are too wide. On me because I’m petite, and on you, because you have a willowy frame. That A-line seems just right though – not too wide.

    Commenting on the other commenter’s suggestion to cut the pattern pieces out on the bias – yes, this works – I’d also suggest trying stretch wovens. Wovens like cotton or wool with just a tiny % of lycra – 1 or 2″ – sew up just like regular wovens with the added benefit of a tiny bit of give. Many RTW garments are made with this type of fabric.

    I really can’t wait to see your next project. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Absolutely love the skirt, and how you’ve matched it to the cardi!
    You’ve inspired me to learn to sew clothes on one of your last posts – I bought the S.E.W. book and now daydream about all I can make. Now to buy the fabric… where do you buy your fabric at?? Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Wow, that looks awesome with your cardi! It has kind of an updated vintage feel to it, if that makes any sense. Great work, and great sense of style.

  16. Wow, great skirt! You’re an inspiration… I have been wanting to learn to sew but I don’t have a machine… maybe this summer. It always seems too hot to knit then anyway (in SoCal). I really like the way you styled this outfit (as always).

    On an unrelated note, I’m now knitting Vaila, and was wondering how yours has held up. In fact, I looked back through the archives to see if you did a “year in review” post this year, and I didn’t see one. Did I miss where Vaila and Forestry (Old Penny) got their year-end recap? 🙂

    Happy holidays!

  17. Very pretty!!

    Hey I have a question for you but don’t want to leave it here and can’t find an email address. Would you email me please? Thanks!

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