I have a confession.. I have never (as far back as I can recall anyways) owned an a-line skirt. So when I received The Super Online Sewing Match – Round One project brief which was to create an a-line skirt, I had a slight case of panic! It’s one thing to be trying out a new pattern, but figuring out the nuances of a new silhouette to fit your body at the same is a totally different story. Luckily I like a challenge 🙂
My paper pattern drafting experience is pretty limited, I usually just figure things out as I go. Making a fully fitted skirt pattern in my own measurements was a great challenge for this first round! At the start of the competition we were given access to the Craftsy class Creating an A-Line Skirt from Deborah Moebes in order to learn all the drafting and construction skills we would need for this challenge. I found the platform easy to follow; the lessons were thorough, the videos professionally shot, and Deborah was a charming instructor. She makes sound effects, how can you not love her?
After doing an initial (or two) muslins based on the instructions, figuring out the dart size and placement, I proceeded to create my self-drafted pattern. I added in single welt pockets, which I’d never done before, a contrast panel on the bottom, and moved the zipper to the back. You can see my pattern pieces below!
Challenges: I had a big problem when I was drafting my pattern, and it’s possibly the reason why I don’t own any a-line skirts. Deborah instructed us to make the front and back of the skirt the same size, the only difference being the darts. I had a feeling this would be an issue right off the bat, but I went ahead and tried it anyways. *three patterns and a crying fit later* The cause of my pattern trouble was that I have what I like to call a negative butt. By that I mean there is basically nothing back there, so the back of my skirt needed to be quite a bit smaller than the front in order to make the side seams sit where they are supposed to and everything look proper. Two full inches smaller to be exact! Once I made that modification, life got much easier.
For fabric, I knew I wanted to work with something I already had. I’m a big advocate of sustainability and upcycling unwanted materials so I decided to harvest fabric from three button-down shirts I had been saving for a special project. Below you can see images of them, the purple ones are a cotton and cotton/poly blend, and the patterned one is a blend of some kind (content tag was missing).
By harvesting I mean that I didn’t use any of the original construction or seams. I broke them down purely in to usable pieces of fabric which I cut out my pattern on and the rest was saved for other projects, even the tiny scraps and thread. I like to use every little bit!
Taking advantage of the beautiful colors and pattern from the fabric was the main inspiration for my design, but I also wanted to created something functional which is why the pockets and the right length of the skirt were paramount. This is my final skirt! It turned out I don’t really own clothing that works with this style of skirt, so the leopard top was the best I could do 🙂 The ridges parallel to the waistband, especially on the back, are from my top bunching up underneath and not the skirt construction itself.
I created the waistband with double-fold bias tape which I made for the first time ever, using Colette’s super easy tutorial for bias tape as a guide. So excited to have learned how to do this! The fabric wasn’t the easiest to work with, but I was determined to have an extra pop of the pattern on the skirt. Instead of topstitching on the binding to finish, I “stitched in the ditch” at the seam where the binding and the skirt meet up.
I changed the zipper to center back because I thought there might be issues with bulk at the side seam from the welt pocket. I had access to limited zipper colors so I went with a light blue! I tried using my normal zipper foot like in the class video, but felt that it was making things more difficult so I gave in and bought an invisible zipper foot. It wasn’t expensive and definitely worth the purchase! I added a hook an eye closure to keep the top together as suggested in the class instructions. Note: there are tiny holes on the left from where the pocket on the button-down shirt originally was.
All my edges were serged to keep them from fraying once the skirt had been pieced together. Here you can see my ½” seam allowances pressed out with the serged edges. Because the fabric I used was second hand, the darker fabric in particular is more worn out (thinner) and looks a tiny bit wonky on the serged edges (only on the inside though!).
For the hem, I first finished the raw edge with my serger and then used my sewing machine to put in a blind hem.
My version of the skirt has a single welt pocket which I worked in to the front darts. From the waistband, my pocket measures 8” deep and has a contrast pocket facing and bag, with a 1” contrast welt with fusible interfacing on the inside half. “It will be so fun and easy to make a welt pocket for the first time during a sewing contest!”- Said no one EVER. These are terrifying, especially being that I put it on a diagonal so I could work the dart in to the seam. I think they turned out pretty good considering, but I will be practicing a lot more before attempting to do them again. One wrong snip and your whole garment is ruined. Eek!
I also added a contrast panel to the bottom which you can see in the hem image. I was planning to use the patterned fabric, but it wasn’t wide enough and I wanted to avoid a patchwork nightmare so I opted to use the lighter purple cotton.
Overall, I think this skirt worked out pretty well! I’m still not sold on the a-line style just yet, but this project has definitely given me pause. I had such a fabulous time learning brand new techniques during this round, I really hope I can continue next week! Thank you to Sew Mama Sew, Janome, the amazing judges (I practically swooned when I saw who you all were!), and all the lovely sponsors. This is a grand adventure that I am honored to be a part of 🙂