Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Simplicity Blogger Challenge: Practical Picking Up Pockets Skirt

Well, the good news is that my sewing machine is now back from the dealers, which is awesome. The bad news is that they basically told me that they can’t do anything for it (I felt like I was in some bad daytime hospital drama), and that I should basically run it until it breaks and then put the money I would have spent repairing it towards a new machine. 

Skirt and slippers: the best combination
So, it may be squeaking a little, but it’s managed to keep going long enough for me to finish my entry for the Simplicity Blogger Challenge. When I first saw the competition, I had literally just started with the whole blogging thing, so I thought it was serendipitous timing. It was lovely to get an email back from the Simplicity team and get the pattern in the post.

And then the worries kicked in. I’ll be totally honest, I was really worried about the whole customising and embellishment part. It’s the bit in the Sewing Bee that always fills me with dread, and I’m pretty certain that if ever in that position, I would panic, go totally over the top and the whole thing would look like a very bad day in a Home Ec classroom. 

But then I started to think more about how I could make my skirt practical and suited to my style and my life. First things first: I would need to seriously lengthen it! The pattern pieces looked super short, which is no bad thing, but I knew it would be more my style in a longer length. This was a simple enough process, although I managed to slice through the oilcloth on our dining room table in a ‘missing the cutting mat’ incident…yeah, try explaining that one away to the family the next morning…

Lengthening the skirt panels, with some fruity improvised weights

For another practical reason, I decided on View C with patch pockets. With two small Knitties in the house, I constantly find myself picking up random toys, pencils, dinosaurs, counters from various rooms, and stick them in my pockets to transport them back to their rightful places. I am basically a walking version of The Stairs rule. So, massive pockets were a definite yes.

The fabric is a fantastic medium-to-heavyweight cotton from a recent trip to London where I snuck in a trip to Goldhawk Road and its frankly amazing array of fabric shops. When I lived in London after university, I was literally 100m from this, but I didn’t sew, so never went in. Tsk. Anyway, I loved the pattern and thought it would have enough oomph (technical term there) to make the most of the volume in the gathers.

With a bit of measuring and a bit of luck, the pockets seem to be on fairly straight, which was one of my main concerns, as any wonkiness would be pretty obvious. I thought the little facings, where you turn out the tops to make a neat edge were a neat little finish. 

When it came to the gathers, I decided to do three lines of running stitch, as I remember reading that it can make the process much more stable, and I have to say it did make it an easy job. I was surprised how loose I needed to make the gathers to fit the waistband - I’d envisioned loads of material squiged into the waist, but it’s a much neater line.

Three lines good

I knew I wanted to make the bottom edge a bit more interesting, and I was reminded of one of my very favourite RTW skirts, which has a pleated bottom. I’ve never really attempted pleats, but I thought if I pinched up each pleat, pressed and sewed three lines of neat stitching to strengthen each pleat, it would make a smart, but not too home-eccy finish. Although sewing in a straight line is definitely not one of my strong points, I’m pretty happy with the effect. 

I am so pleased with how this has turned out and I will definitely be wearing this heaps. It’s super comfy for working from home (as well as the ongoing collecting of small people’s random treasures from about the house), but smart enough to get out for the school run. I’ve also loved seeing everyone else’s entries and there are some really fantastic ideas that I will be trying out with my next versions!

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