i just started working on colette pattern’s new zinnia skirt. i made sure to snag the .pdf when it was on sale and didn’t really plan to make it up quite yet, but the sewing gods have spoken and into my grubby mitts landed a sweet granny floral print rayon. it has those perfect fall colors and i keep saying i need more skirts. it’s a good thing i had mentally noted the fabric requirements, because this skirt takes a lot of fabric! i wouldn’t have thought the skirt needed more than a yard and a half but, this skirt is cut on the crossgrain (directional prints need not apply) and the hem is a whopping 84″-97″ depending on what size you cut. i had 2.5 yds of 45″ rayon and that was just enough. typically i find colette’s yardage totally out of whack, but this one is spot on. of course, if you want to do any print matching—buy extra! for mine, there was no worry and i didn’t bother with matching on the CB seam. hopefully it won’t matter.
since this pattern includes instructions for a lined/sheer overlay version i was curious to see the directions for this, and i’m afraid i was a bit dissappointed. in fact, there’s a tiny detail in the directions that just doesn’t jive. you construct the main pieces of the skirt (pleats stitched through both sheer and lining layer) then you insert the invisible zip through both layers and sew up the back seam, again through both layers. later you are instructed to hem the shell, then trim the lining by 1″ then hem the lining. but… how? if they are both attached down the CB seam? this is not at all how i would approach this.* jen over at grainline has a nifty tutorial where you finish the overlay opening and simply insert the zip into the lining only. the overlay hangs free, then the seams are sewn and finished separately.
now, after i bought the pattern, i happened across the discussion thread on pattern review (whose site is down at the moment… will link up later) and this pattern has garnished some criticism for being too simple, and just another dirndl skirt. now, i’m not sure why people were so up in arms, but i just want to clarify for anyone interested—this is not a dirndl skirt. and, if you do the pleated version, all the fullness should be under control around the squishy belly parts that we don’t need to add tonnage of fabric to. with the pleating action, you wind up with a partial circle skirt. same with the gathered version (as in, it has an a-line shape so there is significantly more fullness at the hem than there is at the waist. while the gathered one is nice, and gets top billing on the cover, i think the pleated skirt is really the star of the show and the reason i bothered to buy the pattern.
now you can probably find cheaper alternatives, and people kept pointing to tilly’s gathered picnic skirt, which is a rectangle, i.e. same fullness at the waist as there is at the hem, but i do like the ability to be able to print off another copy of the pattern if i really need to make up a different size. that, and i trust the indie pattern sizing so much more than big 4. if i look at the waist measurement on colette, i can feel pretty safe that the size it corresponds to won’t end up having 4″ of ease. if i grab a simplicity pattern, i have to hunt down the pattern pieces and measure the different sizes to see which will give me a reasonable amount of ease. obnoxious.
i didn’t start this post in order to pontificate on pattern drafting and who does it better, but each pattern company relies on a specific block that will work for only a small number of people. colette has one block, while sewaholic has another block, and burda, simplicity, vogue, etc has their own block. there is little wrong with the individual blocks—they will fit someone!—but if they don’t correspond to your body type, changes will have to be made. no. big. deal. what i don’t appreciate is the unreasonable amount of ease given by the big 4 (making the size chart irrelevant), which indie pattern companies have handled much differently, and i believe, much better.
anyways, drafting pleats, while not hard, is tedious and time consumming. i’m trusting that colette patterns did all the engineering for me, and i know there are a lot of people out there who have no interest in drafting such a pattern. so, yeah, you pay for the convenience. in fact, i spent last week working on a very basic dress (with pleats!) and it took all week to get the details right. i could have sewn up the dress in little more than a day, but since i was fiddling with pleats and sleeves etc, it was a bit of a chore!
okay, i’m not entirely sure where i’m going with this post, my mind has been a scatter of trying to work sewing time in with the fact that i only have one kid at home most of the week. one who has never had to play by himself until now. and, even though we limit the activities our kids are involved in i still spend a few days doing little but running kids from here to there…
so what do you guys think about the zinnia skirt? love it? hate it? indifferent? do tell!
*after writting this up… i see colette patterns addressed this pattern error and future printings will have the correct directions. i still don’t think it’s the best way to go about a sheer overlay, so do with that what you will!