Sunday, 25 October 2015

Love Sewing Magazine, A Line Mini Skirt

I was dubious from word go at the idea of having a centre front seam. Sure I've seen them all round town and on the rails in Topshop, but I can't help but feel that having a seam down the centre front of your skirt always looks a bit... not quite right.
But you know me, always keen to do as I'm told, so my first attempt at the A line skirt from issue 18 of Love Sewing magazine features a big fat seam down the front. Admittedly it may have been slightly more attractive if I'd thought about pattern matching before cutting out my pieces and not just hoped for the best. I learnt three things-

1. Winging it when it comes to pattern matching rarely results in success.
2. Follow my instincts! If I know I'm going to hate something- a design feature or a fabric or a cut- Don't do it!! (Infact, it's finally sinking in that this doesn't just apply to sewing) And,
3. Although learning the technique at college, this was my first shot at an actual semi-concealed zip... And I love it! I found attaching the two back pieces and inserting the zip before tackling side seams particularly helpful when it came to fitting.

It's a shame- My black and white checkered mini skirt could have been super cute. The black and white is super 60s especially with my new love for roll neck jumpers, but I can't help but feel annoyed everytime I think about that CF seam! A line mini #2 was going to be my way or not at all!

I was looking for something seasonal at Direct Fabric Warehouse, that would make an autumnal-looking mini. The first fabric I went for was this woollen (but not heavy) plaid affair. The skirt only requires 1 metre of fabric- so I couldn't go wrong!

Before getting stuck in I read up pattern matching tips on a few blogs and made a note of a few things I wanted to change construction-wise after my first attempt.

1- Cut waistband double width and fold over instead of sewing on a lining piece
2- Cut waistband on the bias to avoid more pattern matching
3- Add 1cm seam allowance around hips, and an extra 1cm to hem
4- Cut both back pieces separately- laying the first piece on top of the fabric and matching the plaid so it looks camouflage.
5- Cut the front piece on the fold! No centre front seam!!

The 'cutting the front piece on the fold' played hell with my grainline on the pattern- changing the angle of my pattern piece meant my grainline was no longer parallel to my selvedge. I wasn't too sure what else I could do to avoid a front seam though so thought I would just go for it anyway.
It didn't seem to have any real detrimental effect to my front piece, but what would have been a good idea would have been cutting the two back pieces at the same angle as the front. I think it's only noticeable to me, and maybe you now you've read this (are you still reading this?), but the pattern lines from the back meet the front lines at a bit of a funny angle at the side seams. I'm sure this is all to do with the grainline thing but I would take that any day over that front seam! I was more eager to get my horizontal lines to meet nicely at the side seam than my vertical lines- so was actually pretty pleased with my matching.

Talking of happy pattern matching- I couldn't be happier with my centre back! Don't worry, if I catch anyone looking at my bum in this skirt I know it's because you're checking out my spot on pattern matching. It turns out paying attention while cutting out is actually very helpful!

After stitching up and fitting, I found I wanted to take a little out of the 'A' shape. I don't know if it was something to do with those dodgy angles on the side seam, or if maybe I've never actually been convinced by an A line before, but something about it made it look as if there was just an extra angle of fabric that wasn't necessary, so I chopped it out and stitched back up. I think it still passes for A line though?

Worst bit of the construction was the fastening at the waist band. I ended up just wishing I'd bought a longer zip and zipped right up to the top, but there was no I way I gonna take it out and risk messing up that back seam! Basically the magazine suggests the waistband overlaps and is fixed with a hook and eye but it really wasn't cutting it for me. Instead I rooted around a bit and found some of my Gran's old sew in poppers to hold down the overlap. I loved the poppers but think the fastening is visually the weakest part of the skirt. I always seem to battle with waistband bulk!

A line #2 was much better than A line #1 and using less than 1m of fabric a time, when the weekend rolled around I was eager to get stuck into A line #3!

Number 3 it made from a feltier fabric that I have been eying up for ages! This was almost the fabric I chose for the matching skirt and dog coat back in spring, but didn't think Marble would be too keen on the pink stripes. The pin stripes gave me another opportunity to practice my new found pattern matching skills. I think I excelled myself this time! On realising that the back pieces were very similar to the front piece- I folded my cut out front and did the camouflaging thing to make sure the sides would line up and hopefully avoid dodgy angles that occurred on #2. I took a little out of the A shape at the cutting out stage to hopefully avoid faffing about later when I inevitably decided that I'm still not sold on A shape.

The centre back seam was another dream come true, the centre front seam didn't exist and thanks to careful measuring and matching and holding my breath, the side seams matched up perfectly! I tried on and realised that I really really wasn't down with A line, so cut off the corners and made A line #3 distinctly... Straight. So much for avoiding faffing! I think if I pick a fabric that isn't quite so linear in design, and maybe isn't so rigid (or perhaps more rigid?) then I could make an A line skirt that I would be happy to wear. It's nothing personal A line- On this occasion, it's me not you.

Again, I found very little enjoyment in the construction of the fastening but knew I needed a shorter overlap on the waistband than last time (but not too short!) and a couple of strategically placed poppers. It's better, but not perfect.

The sneaky icing on the cake for both skirts is my blind hem! Completely invisible from the front and makes me smile every time I catch sight of it, or rather every time I don't catch sight of it.

So there you go! A bit of a long post today, but I haven't posted for a while and it's sort of three blogs in one. I'm loving these thick fabrics with boots and tights before the Winter really kicks in.

Happy Autumn everybody!


Currently listening to: EST, White Lies
Location: Crookes Cemetery, Sheffield


  1. you've been busy. love the bias cut waistband on your plaid skirt (and cb seam matching) - great idea!

  2. Just wanted to say that I love reading your blog and I've nominated you for the Liebster Award. Check out my blog: xx