Panelled Skirt And Dreams Of Making

So when actual making isn’t possible because of limited physicality it doesn’t mean the creative juices aren’t flowing. Am jotting a few future plans here because I’m one finger typing and am not gripping a pen yet so this is a useful tool.

With regards to sewing, I’ve still got stacks of plans such as the balloon dungaree development and also a panelled skirt that I drafted two months or so ago. I’d been looking around for a decent skirt with pockets that was flat fronted and I didn’t want the pockets in the side seam be they patch or in-seam iterations but my search was fruitless. So I though about what exactly I wanted from the pattern and set about measuring myself, doing a few calculations and then drawing it out on my substitute Swedish tracing paper (I use Oasis florist’s spiders web wrap which is about a third of the price and the same stuff – I discovered this a couple of years ago when my Mum gave me a wooden box for my birthday wrapped in it and then I investigated as you do – online) It’s around ten British pounds for 25m and can be sewn to toile with and is easy to do a trace off from a pre-draft. I get mine from eBay and usually the white one.

Another property it has is that it clings slightly to fabric when used as a pattern which makes cutting out easier rather than slippy paper. I’ve stopped buying the architect’s tracing paper rolls these days though I still have a bit left reserved for very large pattern pieces.

So the evolution of the skirt happened. I love odd numbers and since I had tried an indie pattern skirt last year with six panels with pockets to the side I knew that wouldn’t work for me and getting my hands in the tiny pockets in said pattern was a trial and so pointless having them, they were set too low and well the drafting just wasn’t suitable for my frame – totally out of proportion and I had to alter the pattern significantly to get a wearable garment though I liked the idea of it. I figured out that by using an odd number of sections that it would take the seams away from the sides but the A-line could still be maintained. Any tweaking of fit in the curve of the back, at the waist and in the belly area could take place at the toile stage and then be transferred onto the final pattern.

This is my first toile, I selected a fabric that I’d bought about 15 years ago, the piece shown on the bottom and overdyed it in Dylon Olive which would be more my type of thing, the colour is truer on the photo with the pattern.

I decided I wanted to use substantial hardware, I’m not keen on zips with plastic teeth and have a stash of industrial strength zips in many hues, perhaps one would match? I was lucky to find one was close enough and did the zip insertion first on the centre back panels and opted to overlock the edges of the centre back seam beforehand. The rest of the seams were flat felled. I assembled the front three sections and the back four panels then joined them together where the pocket panel met the sides and did any tweaking to the fit around the waist there. It worked out well doing it this way and I was able to achieve a close and comfortable fit as my waist sits high. I didn’t want the restriction of an added waistband as I shift my size as often as I change my underwear so it’s a bit like juggling sand. I’ve decided my most useful option for finishing is with fabric cut on the bias to work with the curve of the waistline which won’t be restrictive but will finish it off nicely and be a feature of future versions as I can use up fabric scraps.

Since completion of the toile, I’ve been wearing it every week for a couple or three days running and now I know it fits in with me I will be using this as a staple skirt pattern. I have a work in progress which I’m unable to finish at the moment because of poorly hands (I have multiple autoimmune syndrome) and look forward to working on it when able. I’m using some vintage terracotta coloured heavy denim for it. I had thought about placement of the zip too which I have forgotten to mention and have a lot of abdominal scarring which itches with a front zip and I’m not too fond of a side zipped skirt as it looks unbalanced to my eye so prefer a central back placement. I tried to take a photograph the other week of the rear view of my toile but I couldn’t work out how to do that, have just figured out my phone has a timer to get one from the front so sorry I can’t show the bumscape but it fits dandy. The front view will have to do instead so this is my finished mock up which I’m able to wear with many things I’ve made.

It is just knee length which is safe mutton territory for me. I’m hoping future versions will include a plain black denim and an upcycled jeans version.

I’m glad I made my pattern to suit me, I am giving myself a slap around the chops lately when it comes to being seduced by the promise of a lovely new manufactured pattern. I slipped into buying more when I joined social media a year and a bit ago. I’d always done my own thing and felt it would be nice to have some structured disciplined procedure but given my new body shape it is really a challenge and hours, weeks, months actually go by with modification before satisfactory fit is achievable. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not a Trigger’s Broom situation. Lessons have been learnt and I know the safe (ish) bets if I feel the lure. I particularly like Sew Me Something, Sew Liberated, Sew House 7 (anything with sew in the title?) and Boho Banjo, OK I’ve ruined the run. Of course there’s the major pattern companies which I like too as the size bandings are a lot more inclusive. It isn’t such a nice feeling that you can count yourself right out of the mix being sized out of a design. Two e-mail notifications interested me lately. Particularly one from Megan Nielsen saying she had been working for two years drafting plus size blocks to adapt her designs to and therefore extend the range to enable more folk to have a sew. I’m paraphrasing of course but it really touched me that she invested her time to do this. I was so touched I bought the re-drafted brumby skirt pattern and hope to make this in the future, it reminds me of a favourite denim skirt I once had. The other e-mail notification which piqued my interest was from another indie designer and my heart leapt for joy when it said she was re-releasing a dress pattern which I’ve admired but it stopped at size 40 inch bust as the largest size. For £15 I didn’t fancy redrafting it to fit me in the past however now I could finally have a go, but sadly I was disappointed to find that more sizes hadn’t been included at all, just a new method on gathering the front so I felt a bit deflated at that one but Megan restored my hope for for progression in this area with her pattern news that arrived the week later.

It’s times like these when I’m unable to make anything that I start making plans in my head for when I can have a go and when I do come out of the flare. I find these times, though frustrating and painful, actually very rewarding creatively to have the dreaming and thinking stage. It’s all part of the process.