zinnia skirt

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.

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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!

lisa g.

*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!

another moss…

my love affair with grainline patterns is pretty well documented as of late, and evidently i needed another moss skirt! i went to sewfisticated (one of my local fabric haunts) last week in search of some lightweight denim (which i found) and stumbled across this marc jacobs stretch denim. for $4/yd, i couldn’t pass it up. i didn’t buy much, and planned to save it for shorts next spring, but i decided i didn’t want to wait. so, another moss skirt was in order. hopefully i can pair it with some tights and wear it through the fall as well; three-season wear (spring, summer, fall) is way better than summer only!

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with my previous moss skirts i’ve added things like back pockets, belt loops, and extra topstitching. I decided to keep it more basic this time around, and not bother with all those extra details. plus i really wasn’t in the mood for print-matching back pockets. the only pattern change i made was to the front pockets—i kept them rounded out like my denim moss. for some reason, that shape is just my favorite.

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i did my best to keep the fabric print matched through out the seaming, and i think i did a damn fine job. can you even see the zip fly without zooming way in? or my CF or CB seams? yeah. like a BOSS. the only thing i’m annoyed with myself for is forgetting to yank the twill on-grain before cutting the front. if you squint, you’ll see that the print kinda skews up a tad. not a huge deal, and really it’s pretty minimal, but whatevs. i didn’t have enough fabric to recut, so… not gonna be bothered by it!

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i love this skirt so much. the pattern, the fabric, it just makes a dull day a little brighter. i’ve been crushing on patterned skirts/shorts/pants for a long time, so finally i got a little piece of that trendy pie.

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photo-bombed by my hipster son… how could i not include this pic?

—lisa g.

polka dot! polka dot!

i’ve had this shirt in my head (and cut out) for months now, and i finally got it made! the summer here was hot so making a long sleeved shirt kept getting pushed farther and farther down my list of things to do… but, i couldn’t stand it any longer and finally cranked out my fourth archer. have i ever mentioned how much i love this pattern? cuz i do. also, i specifically had this shirt in mind when i made my coral/pink pants. while it’s a tad (okay, more than a tad) bolder than i usually wear, i just couldn’t resist this combo!

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i decided to forgo flat fells and/or french seams because this is a very lightweight cotton and, truth be told, the quality isn’t that great. if i didn’t love the polka dot so much i probably wouldn’t bother using it at all. the contrasting black, however, is a very nice cotton lawn (excellent price, i might add) from fabric.com and really classes up the shirt, i think.

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i don’t know that there’s much left to say about the archer than i haven’t already said, so i’ll just leave you with pics. funny note: i’ve gone to deleting most of my pics off the camera before even bothering to load them on the computer. as i sorted through the remaining, i realized i hadn’t left a single pic where i’m actually looking at the camera. apparently i don’t like looking at my face. make of that what you will.

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—lisa g.

lounge wear

lately, i’ve been lamenting the fact that i don’t have enough lounge-y clothes. fact is, as soon as dinner is over and the dishes done, i sprint for my comfy clothes! problem is, i don’t really have that many to pick from. i have some yoga pants that i’ve worn for ages and really need at least one other pair to switch off with, and any leggings i have are too thin to wear without bootay coverage. the problem with RTW yoga pants is that they are expensive, always too short, and made of horrid synthetics. and RTW leggings… well, too thin and hahaha as if they can make it over my bum!

i haven’t done the yoga pants yet (though i really want to try this maria denmark pattern), but i finally did make leggings. i ordered the most dreamy black modal/rayon/amazingness knit fabric from girlcharlee.com. and holy moses, i wish i could pass a little swatch to each and every one of you this stuff is amazingly awesome! it’s super stretchy, matte, thick, and feels amazing! did i mention amazing? i used mccalls 6173 and went down a size from the recommended, and added 1″ to the back rise, grading to nothing toward the sides. from mid-thigh down, they were huge. granted, my fabric had far more stretchiness than called for, but i had to remove inches in width. i left the bum area alone (no need for the fabric there to be stretched to max capacity) then kept tapering in and tapering in… and finally i arrived at what you see here. i am pleased that this pattern sits high enough to cover both my rear and my mushy mommy bits (most leggings give me severe muffin top).

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photo quality is pretty meh, i know. it’s been cloudy and rainy and i gave up waiting for it all to clear out… classic new england weather!

i’m not really in the “leggings as pants” camp, but these cover and, since they’re black, hide the lumps and bumps pretty magically. i’m really looking forward to making some longer tees (hemlock i’m looking at you!) and tunic length shirts to pair with them. and dude. leggings are flipping FAST to make. one pass up each leg, join the legs, then for the waistband i serged 1″ elastic to the inside top SA, then flipped it down and zig zagged it in place along the lower edge of the elastic. had i not needed to go back and fiddle with the leg width, these would have been cut and finished within the hour.

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oh hey, i also made my top! this is a sweatshirt-type knit, maybe a french terry? i really don’t know. it doesn’t have much stretch, so i took my dolman top from cation designs and added a total of 4″ in width, 1″ in length, and lowered the front neckline by 1″. my original pattern printed off-scale, so i can’t necessarily give you specifics, but you get the idea—i was aiming for a sweatshirt type top. i kept the hem band smaller to hug my hips, and did a narrow neckline binding. i made this one a few weeks ago and i’ve pretty much lived in it ever since!

after i cut this top out i started to doubt whether or not a short sleeve sweatshirt was going to be very useful, but it seems to be just the right weight for chilly evenings. plus, i’m constantly pushing up long sleeves, so this turns out to be extremely useful.

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wow guys, i’m totally hooked on loungewear! hopefully i can make more of it, especially as fall comes around. with my current lack of interest in buying RTW, these are great pieces and near-instant gratification because they are so darned fast to sew!

—lisa g.