This year I thought I would challenge myself by making a skirt. An ideal make for the “best blogger feature” in the Simplicity Sewing Challenge. We were able to pick any of the challenge patterns for this category. I chose the New Look 6346 skirt pattern – I never seem to have the right style of skirt when we have warm summer weather! I also need more practise at making skirts that actually fit me!
Originally I was going to pick version A (the longer button-up skirt), given the cooler summers we often get I thought this would be a good choice! After looking at the options in detail, I went with version C – the shorter zipped version instead. I think that style will be more user-friendly when it comes to wearing it, and should be just the right length for me, especially as I am just five foot tall!
The whole idea of the sewing challenge is to make “your take on a Simplicity make” but how on earth can you make a skirt different enough? I didn’t think that simply adding pockets or a decorative trim would be radical enough, and I’m not really into “girly” trims anyway, so I thought I’d be totally different and make the skirt into a dress!
Armed with my self-drafted bodice pattern, I worked out that I’d need a size 12 for the skirt, but just in case I needed to make a larger size at a later date, I didn’t want to cut into the paper pattern. Then came the next challenge – how to trace off the pattern accurately. I’ve seen freezer paper mentioned on a lot of blogs, but I’ve never seen it on sale over here; greaseproof paper is nicely transparent, but only comes on narrow rolls and no matter how hard I try it will not stick to itself! And believe me I have tried!! Instead I bought a pack of Burda dressmakers’ carbon paper from a local fabric shop plus a roll of brown paper from Poundland on a whim to see if that would work.
It definitely works well – the yellow and white show up brilliantly on the brown paper, and it can be stuck together with ordinary sellotape to make a wider sheet if needed.
My bodice pattern finishes at the waistline and the New Look 6346 skirt waistband sits just above the waist, so I was able to line them up perfectly. Because of the darts in the bodice, I chose to cut the pieces separately, so I had the bodice and neck / arm facing, waistband and skirt for the front and back. Keeping the waistband in the dress, meant I was able to retain the shape of the New Look 6346 skirt, while still making it into a completely fresh look.
The dress had the potential to turn into a ‘mongrel’ where I was trying to join two different patterns together, so before I cut into my posh fabric, I made up a wearable muslin version first. I find this really helpful to have a “rough” version to experiment with. Who knows it may even turn out wearable! The bodice needed a little fiddling to get the waistline to match the skirt – rather than making the darts larger, I folded over a little more fabric at the base of the darts to make the measurements match without cutting out too much breathing space.
My Simplicity Sewing Challenge
skirt dress muslin – fabric is half a duvet cover
Despite the excess fabric at the front, the fit was a lot better than I’d anticipated. However, in sewing the zip into the back, I managed to get the seams misaligned. Argh! Decision time. Do I want to unpick a lot of tiny stitches and risk making a hole in either the fabric or the zipper tape? I decided to be reckless and break out my posh fabric to start the final version. I am always anxious when cutting into my posh fabric. Making that first cut is a challenge in itself!
Sewing the seams, trying to make them as neat as possible
This particular polycotton is quite ‘fray-happy’ so I’ve taken care to finish all my raw edges as I go – the faux overlock stitch on my machine is proving really handy for this. I find that using a zigzag stitch with the regular foot makes the fabric catch up a little, leaving a ridge instead of a nice flat edge.
The facings were a challenge, as I had drafted one facing to cover both the neck and armhole, but had no idea how to stitch it without any of the stitches showing on the right side! In the end, I stitched the neck as normal, and top stitched the armhole facing into position. It’s not visible unless you really look closely, and it certainly shouldn’t come undone in a hurry!
A finished dress from New Look 6346 and a self-drafted bodice pattern. I am really pleased with the way the bodice and the skirt come together in the design of the fabric. The finished garment fits really well, and I think the fabric works wonderfully – it reminds me of a painting by numbers pattern. Thanks for the challenge Simplicity – now I have a whole new look!!