The improbable Aztec-stipe curve skirt

V8711I have had this pattern (V8711) in my stash for a while, and the fabric too, which was a dirt cheap online impulse buy. As an easy pattern for my recovery from illness it seemed a good follow on to the Renfrew although, as will become clear, it wasn’t as quick and straightforward as expected. I have VERY mixed feelings about this pattern and make, so this is a review in four very different parts:

 

  1. I love this style!
  2. Not sure about the fabric
  3. Who clocked off early?
  4. Everyone (me) loves pockets

 IMG_05011. I love this style!

The first part of my review is that I love this skirt. The design lines are fantastically flattering – to emphasise or create the illusion of curves, and with gathering to skim over any imperfections in the front. It is a pencil skirt with extra va-va-voom. This pattern deserves a lot of love. This is also a very different design – I haven’t seen anything like it from Indie designers. I used the long variation (really, despite the pictures there are only two variants – long and short – the other are just style choices e.g. colour blocking, overlay, buttons).

With its flattering shape, knit fabric and elastic waist this skirt sits in a fascinating and highly improbable position as the lovechild of a pencil skirt and pyjamas – allow me to demonstrate this with a ven diagram:

ven diagram 2. Not sure about the fabric.

IMG_0547I have mixed feelings about the fabric, it isn’t my usual style, but I wanted to take a risk having seen a lot of women wearing skirts in similar patterns recently. In the days before cutting I swivelled one way then the other as to whether I should take the risk. I could visualise both a great success and a hideous clashing mess.

The fabric has geometric shape stripes, almost Aztec style. The colours are quite unusual – chocolate brown and pale blue – draining into more of a grey average at a distance when you don’t look at the detail. The overall effect is quite a departure from my usual style of bold plain colours and stylised flower prints. In the end I went for it, convincing myself that the fabric is so cheap that if it doesn’t work out I could call it a muslin and be happy.

My doubts were not helped when my other half commented that it looked like ‘curtain fabric’ during a fitting session. However, in the end I think I like it (and I got approval from the women at work). I will definitely be styling it with solid colours though.

3. Who clocked off early?

This pattern is shoddily drafted. I have never experienced anything on this scale before, and the only way I can explain it is that whoever was working on it was doing so on a Friday afternoon, and clocked off early to go to the pub before tidying up the final details.

  • IMG_0360

    The strange pointy bit sticking out beyond the hem is an example of one of these badly drafted points.

    In several places there are strangely narrow pointed corners. My sewing ‘spidey sense’ flared when I saw them, and I was right – with a 1.5cm seam allowance there is no good reason for pieces to taper to such a narrow point – they should be cut off 1.5cm after the corner of the stitching line to save fabric and make it easier to line up the raw edges. This discrepancy means the pattern has a number of circles to tailor tack to help you line up pieces which would otherwise be unnecessary (and I hate tailors tacks, so doing them when I don’t need to drives me up the wall).

  • Ironically, when I needed markings there was no notch on the back yoke to tell me which way round to attach it – I had to do it twice before getting it right.
  • The yoke pieces don’t match at the side seams. I measured the pattern pieces and it is not my fabric or sewing – they just don’t match! The back piece is about 1cm longer than the front. This is particularly shoddy considering some versions incorporate contrast yoke pieces – the unmatched seams would just look amateurish on the side seam, and there is no reason for it.

4. Everyone (me) loves pockets

IMG_0516My small obsession with pockets has been mentioned in passing before (ahem). In this case I had convinced myself that this skirt didn’t need pockets as they would interfere with the style lines. So my first attempt used the front yoke, but when I tried it on for fit my hands drifted to the seams between the skirt front and yoke. The seam was at just the right height, it was the perfect size…. They cajoled and pleaded and therefore I was lured into drafting a pocket to replace the yoke. I could have done some sort of inseam welt pocket, but I didn’t, mostly because I didn’t think of it at the time. I did have some reservations about whether pockets would work, but these were largely assuaged by the amount of material I had left – if it all went pear shaped I had enough to dig myself out of a hole.

My main concern was that a yoke has a function in the hang and stabilisation of a garment, and I didn’t want to affect that. Complicating this, I was already committed to the angled yoke as I had cut out my front skirt pieces, and this angle definitely presents a weak point in terms of hang. However, I gave it a go, using the pocket piece from a Cambie dress as a template and reinforcing the bejeezus out of the seam. I am going to do a separate post on the technical process I used to add the pocket to (try) to keep this post a reasonable size, so to cut a long story short – I think it worked! The skirt seems to hang right, and the pocket is usable (if a little shallow due to the already cut shape), and my hands are satisfied and my keys safe.IMG_0498

Finally, a few less opinionated details about my construction which didn’t fit into one of the above categories:

  • I cut the size 20 and then decided to go up a size to make the fit less cozy. Some reviews I read commented the pattern had a fair bit of negative ease, and I wanted this to be flattering and skim my flaws, not the squeezed-into-a-too-small-sausage-casing effect. As this was the largest size available I added 3.5cm in the centre front and back.
  • You have to cut at least the two front pieces from single layer fabric (as you only need one of each). Therefore, I found the most efficient use of fabric was to do the whole thing single layer – it made the cutting process longer (boo!), but it was very economical with fabric, using only just over a metre.
  • The instructions emphasise a fabric with plenty of 4 way stretch, but I used a two way stretch double layer knit which worked fine. I don’t know why the envelope requires 4 way knits only, as there are no pieces in the skirt which stretch on the crossgrain. I think you could also use a woven for this pattern if you go up a size and install a zip in the side.
  • IMG_0471

    On the other hand, having put some thought and planning into the back seams, they are pretty good.

    IMG_0545

    I think it would possible to do worse stripe matching on the side seams, but you would have to try hard.

    As my fabric has a stripe I spent some time pattern matching across the back seams. I forgot about pattern matching on the waistband which is a bit of a mess, and matching on the fronts and yokes was not practically possible, so I didn’t try. I’ll give myself 5/10 for stripe matching.

  • Like other reviewers before me I only cut two of each yoke and didn’t underline the yoke to reduce the bulk – this seems completely superfluous. As other reviewers have commented, reducing bulk through proper trimming and pressing is essential for a good finish on this skirt (and I only made this worse with my pockets)
  • For the hem I didn’t use their technique. Instead I finished the edge then basted a line of straight stitching 1.5cm from the edge and used that as a marker to fold the hem over and baste in place. (credit to an unknown blogger: I can’t remember where I read about this technique)

Coming next, details of how I added pockets.

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