Friday, August 23, 2013

summer skirts

Even though we are down to the last few weeks of summer, I've got a couple of new skirts to show you. This has been my most successful year at attempting a "summer of no shorts". This past spring I came to the realization that I don't like wearing shorts - I know - weird, right? But lately it seems more difficult than it should be to locate a decent-fitting pair that isn't too short or too marmy. Wearing them around the house isn't so bad (and I still do that), but when I'm out and about I just really love a cute skirt. In June my family took a 12 day vacation, and I didn't pack a single pair of shorts, but I did pack and wear several skirts. They're cooler (temperature-wise), girly-er, and waaayyy more fun. And with all the beautiful fabrics available these days, why not make a closet-full of them - a different one to suit your every mood and occasion?

I snagged this book - The Essential A-Line by Jona Giammalva - earlier this summer because I wanted to get some more experience at custom fitting a basic pattern. And yes, the subtitle "Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern" definitely influenced my purchase decision :)

This book is genius!! Based on the full-sized (!) paper templates and measurement charts provided, you can trace a basic A-line skirt pattern drafted to fit your size, and then using the directions and photos provided, make a muslin and tweak the seams and darts to fit you like a glove! And then - here's the best part - use that custom fitted pattern to create 17 different variations of the A-line skirt, undeniably the most universally flattering skirt silhouette for all body types. Whoa - yes, please!

One caveat - the pattern templates provided seem to be a tad over-sized. Based on my measurements I should need a size small, but my muslin that size was way too big. I ended up going down about 1.5 sizes to make it fit me correctly. The fitting process didn't really take that long - maybe 2 hours to trace the pattern, cut and sew the muslin, make the adjustments, and then trace a new pattern. And the pattern fitting is the most important step, but you only need to do it once!

I chose a basic black and white small print for my initial attempt at Jona's method. Here you can see the markings I had to trace on my patterns from her paper templates. These skirts require only two pieces - one front and one back each cut on the fold. You cut each of these pieces from your main fabric and also from a lining fabric. The skirt only has two side seams with an invisible zipper sewn in one side.

In this photo you can see my slippery lining fabric (grrr!) sewn to the main skirt fabric at the waist as I'm pressing. I was a little nervous about the invisible zipper insertion, but it went very smoothly and I got it right the first time! Since the fabrics are black and the zipper is black, I couldn't get any decent photos to show you how it looks, but I'll show you more of that when I make the next one :)

Earlier in June I made this blue, 100% linen skirt using my tried-and-true basic skirt pattern from Butterick (read more about it here). I tried a broadcloth poly/cotton blend for the first time as a lining for the blue skirt, and I was very pleased with the ease of cutting and sewing the broadcloth. It doesn't seem to "stick" to the linen fabric either. From the front these two skirts look like they were made from the same pattern.

But from the back, you can see the centered back zipper on the blue skirt.

There are few other differences between the two - the Butterick pattern has two darts in both the front and back, but the Essential pattern has only two back darts. Butterick has a waistband facing, while the Essential has no facing. The jury is still out on which one I prefer, but it seemed much easier to fit the Essential pattern, maybe due to it's heavy paper templates and the photos with directions for making adjustments?

Look for more skirts coming soon - some of the 17 "flirty" variations of "The Essential A-Line" - because I'll be teaching a "Skirt of the Month" series at my LQS this fall based on the book!!

BTW, Jona Giammalva blogs at Stop Staring and Start Sewing. Check it out...


  1. Ooh, will definitely add that book to my wish list. I wear a skirt EVERY DAY, don't even own a pair of shorts, and could use a new "TNT" pattern.
    Look forward to seeing more renditions from you!

  2. Cute, cute! I'm excited to see more skirts. What a fun class and smart book! Thanks for sharing.


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