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.


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!

21 thoughts on “zinnia skirt

  1. Sunni says:

    Admittedly, I was actually kind of disappointed with Zinnia. The simplicity factor is the one that I thought was not worth it for Colette, but by the same token I do feel that you have a point and I thought about this the other night. When teaching beginners, I always find I have to “excuse” the Big 4 for so many things, not the least of which is their built in ease. In fact, a couple of months ago, I did have a beginner who was doing a dirndl-esque type skirt, she got the pattern from McCall’s and we ended up going down 2 sizes just so that the thing would be the right fit in the waist. I mean how do you explain why you needed to go down 2 sizes to a beginner when you’ve already gone to the trouble of measuring yourself and picking out a pattern size and then “oh wait, let’s make sure this doesn’t have 4 inches of ease at your waist…..” It’s awkward. So then when talking about an indie pattern company, just from the vantage of a sewing teacher, this is sooooo much easier. There’s no going down 2 sizes because of crazy ease amounts. You pick your size and cut it out. So I have to say, in the end, Zinnia is really really worth it for this. You can bank on it fitting just like it should because of the simplicity of the style and design and the fact that the ease isn’t ridiculous. And for the simple fact that more and more people are wanting to foray into sewing their own clothes, its nice to know that there are patterns you can refer them to right off the bat.

    • lisa g says:

      i agree entirely! i certainly wasn’t blown away by the design–it’s a nice skirt, but nothing earth shattering. but i thought, ya know, if i saw this design of skirt in a store, i would definitely be interested in buying it. and i remember my first few big 4 makes where i had no idea about the “sizing down to get a decent fit” thing. i was absolutely confounded! then trying to pinch in here and there… well you can quickly end up with a mess on your hands. a sewing newbie doesn’t need that kind of frustration; why make the learning curve steeper than necessary? i really hope they come to their senses and adjust for this at some point!

  2. Kelly says:

    Ah well….I can’t say I am a huge fan of Colette patterns in general, but I actually think this one looks cute and wearable. However, I would probably buy the Deer and Doe Chardon pattern instead, it’s a similar style. Things that bug me about Colette are the little details that make your garment look unprofessional- weirdly shaped armholes on the Laurel (blouse version), gapey pockets on the Juniper pants…and the instructions you mentioned here for the lining- things like that would frustrate anyone, but could be especially hard for a beginner who would probably think they were doing something wrong. Just my opinion obviously, there are a lot of people who love their patterns! But I like your fabric and I can’t wait to see your finished skirt!

    • lisa g says:

      i hear ya, i’m pretty selective on which of their patterns i’ll bother with. i really wish they would clean up those little professional finish details because it does keep me from buying more–i don’t like drafting extra pieces when i spent $18 for a pattern. i’m not sure what resources they’re using to determine construction, but yeah… questionable sometimes. but since i typically don’t bother reading directions i don’t always notice these things. they do have the online forum where one can go for pattern discussions and help. but, in my mind, sewaholic and grainline have done the best job with achieving a clean finish in their garments. haven’t tried any deer and doe (i do like her pleated skirt also, but in my mind it’s more akin to the MN kelly skirt–the zinnia is decidedly swishy!), though they’re definitely on my radar!

      • francescapia says:

        New to your blog – came to your other post with the finished – gorgeous! – skirt… follow Sunni’s though :). I have both Chardon and Zinnia and can tell you they’re really different. Love them both – for different reasons. Chardon really needs to be drapey or those big box pleats which form the very high waist can be super unflattering – like the Kelly skirt can be unflattering in the back sometimes. It has a slight a-line but not much. When I made it I made the waist much narrower but that’s my taste and what suits me. Love it. Zinnia has much more of a circular cut so swishy bottom but no bulk at the waist, which I love. I bought the pattern for the pleated version really but ended up using the gathered skirt pattern a couple of times as a skirt portion subbing for dresses with dirndl skirts. Love the pleats which give fullness without bulk. So I found it worth the price – printed.

        Must add that I find the waistband instructions not to my taste either. But then I often find instructions weird… oh, and the lining – no way would I ever line a skirt like that – it’s more like underlining and I find it ridiculous. My aunt who was a couture sewist made a dress in silk chiffon for my sis once – full, gathered skirt, with a simple a-line silk lining. Same with my Aubepine dress which I adore. She has you create a duplicate of the top skirt in the lining. I lined my liberty wool dress in silk and cut the skirt lining as a slightly narrower version of the skirt. I cannot imagine stitching pleats in layers of chifon and lining together… what a lot of opportunities to screw up.
        Having said all that, my juniper pants are my TNT pant pattern. Muslinned for nothing as they fit straight out – shock in ! – have made them in wool, cotton and linen, and my pockets don’t gape. I need to go down a size in the back with her bodices tho….

  3. Wendy says:

    I’m not a fan of the Zinnia skirt, allthough I do like some of their patterns. I think the Zinnia is too simple for the 16$ they are charging, even though their sizing is better than the Big 4.

    • lisa g says:

      completely valid, but it does beg the question if indie companies that need to charge more money (they’re all similarly priced) should even make simple patterns. not every pattern is for everyone and that’s totally fine!

      • Wendy says:

        I think they should focus on special designs and cool and different features than wanting to provide the simple garments like a gathered skirt. I’ll pay 5$ for those at the Big4 sales but not 15$… What I do like about the indies are the elaborate instructions, but if you have been sewing for a couple of years, those get a bit reduntant too..

  4. Marie F. says:

    I agree with you. I personally really like Zinnia, I want the sheer version so bad (just need to go through my list of things to sew before…). I think I can understand the disappointment, because there is always so much “hype” going on the release of a new pattern from an indie company, I feel we are always expecting to be blow away by the next pattern, but it is a bit unfair. It’s nice to have different options in pattern difficulty from a same company, and I think Zinnia is also a nice skirt that won’t take forever to fit or make and I think it could be a nice wardrobe builder. By the way, thanks for the link to Jen tutorial, I will definitively use it when I do my sheer version of Zinnia ! 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      good point! we only get a new pattern here and there–not a full seasonal collection–so we really want something fun and different to look forward to. since i’m a fan of wardrobe building patterns, i can certainly see making this more than once. so, to me it was a reasonable investment. not gonna lie though, i would have hesitated to buy the full price paper version!

  5. Katie says:

    I was also pretty underwhelmed when Zinnia was released. I just expected something different with all the hype surrounding a Colette release. But as I look at it more, I’m coming around for the very reason you mention — it looks like a great wardrobe builder. Maybe I’ll invest in it eventually, I do like the chiffon version a lot. But I don’t think I’d pay the $16 for the printed version, and I am generally averse to PDF patterns where I can avoid them. Hmmm, guess I’m still on the fence. I’ll look forward to seeing your finished skirt!

    • lisa g says:

      yeah, i’d be hard pressed to spend the $16 for a printed version (plus shipping if you can’t get it local), which is why i felt the $10 on sale pdf was a good deal. obvs pdf is not my favorite way to go, but i don’t super hate them like i used to. haven’t had time to work on it other than making the pleats, but i think this will be a skirt i’m glad i made!

  6. Andrea says:

    Nah, I doubt I’ll ever buy this pattern. I’m fine with it — and I think it’d be a good investment for a beginner who likes having the option of pleated vs. gathered skirt, or for people who like supporting Colette Patterns for their thorough instructions and nice packaging, etc. But when it comes to indie patterns, I tend to go for the ones that offer something new to the pattern market in general, even if they’re relatively basic like the Grainline Moss skirt (I was looking for a fly-front skirt forever since all the Big 4 used CB or side zippers). Unfortunately, a pleated skirt is not something I’ve been hunting down, so the Zinnia release (like the Laurel) was pretty ho-hum for me. I’m sure once I start seeing bloggers’ version pop up on my reader (like yours), I’ll be more interested!

    • lisa g says:

      oh yes, if i’m a fan girl to any pattern company, grainline is super high on that list! and i know some people like the pretty packaging, etc from colette–not me so much. i just want the facts. the directions on this one are 20 pgs long. complete overkill! the laurel totally didn’t do it for me either. i just can’t see that shape on me (though others look great in it) and to be honest, i preferred the very similar simplicity(?) version that came out about the same time.

  7. Carolyn says:

    I’m with pattern review on this one, and what’s more I have seen very little interesting or exciting come out of many independent pattern companies, not all of them, just most. Honestly, I think they must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • lisa g says:

      personally, i don’t know the first thing about running a business, so it’s hard for me to judge how much they need to charge to be profitable. i certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the prices come down, and i suppose that’s why i end up going with pdf patterns. i’m on a very limited budget, so those appeal to me price-wise. you definitely have a much keener sense of style than i, so i can understand not being terribly excited over a lot of what’s out there. you certainly work magic with the designs you choose!

  8. Susan says:

    I have quite a few Colette patterns, but this one didn’t speak to me really. I mean, I think it’s cute enough, but I don’t see myself bumping it to the top of my queue. (Although something tells me that I’ll change my mind when I see yours… ;D) Having said that, I don’t begrudge them publishing the design. This is one company, a single designer’s perspective, you know? She won’t be able to please everyone all the time… And for those of us who don’t rush out to get this one, I’m sure she’ll win us right back with the next one. 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      i think i’ve just had skirts on my mind for a long time, so it wasn’t a leap to bump that one up in my que–especially when i had the perfect fabric! not every design will appeal to every person, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  9. omlair says:

    i think its a very nice pattern, and I’ve yet to really get into indie patterns, but being a beginner and trying out a couple of big 4 patterns, it’s been very frustrating to put all that work in for a baggy garment 😦

    • lisa g says:

      there are so many indie patterns out there now and, as i mentioned, i would go with sewaholic or grainline for accurate sizing and very good finishing techniques. i haven’t ventured much beyond those.

  10. joellestlaurent says:

    the zinnia is a cute skirt, and there is nothing wrong with it being a simple design (same goes for the laurel) but i like my sewing to be more challenging, and i like that the pattern provides the interesting details, rather than being a blank canvas for me to customize. call me lazy if you want… i think i have really high expectation for colette patterns because i always compare the new releases to their older designs (macaron, ceylon, lady grey…) that are really intreresting design-wise. i assume colette patterns is putting a lot of thoughts in the difficulty range of their patterns, but i feel beginners have got the better part lately. good for them, less for me 🙂

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