I've always considered myself to be a low-maintenance kind of woman. I don't get my nails done, I don't wear much (if any) make up and fixing my hair consists of a 5 minute blow dry with a round brush. Some how, that seems in contrast with me standing here, alone in my yard, on a chilly fall Monday taking photos of myself all made up at 9am in a flounced skirt. But the truth is, I feel great in my skirt, and achieving this look takes the same effort as putting on jeans and a tee shirt.
Let's talk about my skirt. It's Itch-To-Stitch's newest pattern, the Vientiane Skirt, just released today! I applied to test this pattern for two reasons:
#1, Testing for Itch-To-Stitch is a great experience. I always enjoy the process of working and sharing in small group. It's an opportunity to interact directly with the designer, Kennis Wong, and I always learn something new.
#2 The Skirt, of course! It's feminine and flirty but not juvenile. Like all of the designs I've tested for Kennis over the last year, this feels classic, but is still interesting in the details and construction.
The Vientiane Skirt has a yoke that sits around your natural waist. I find this to be very flattering for my shape as the skirt ends where I am narrow and lays softly over my curves. This smooths my muffin top into my hips and creates a pleasing hourglass shape. The A-line shape of the skirt is well defined, without being dramatic. I look balanced and proportionate. But most importantly, I feel really pretty in this skirt.
I'm not going to kid you, sometimes getting to the "pretty" is a journey. As it should be. I mean, if we don't enjoy customizing our garments, why are sewing? Right? We don't all pop out of the same packaging. We have individual shapes. Even still, a well drafted pattern is essential to getting a good result. There is a reason I keep returning to Itch-To-Stich Patterns over and over: the draft is impeccable.
Here I am side by side with my muslin and my skirt-in-progress. You can see that even though I appear to be overwhelmed by skirt, it really just a length problem. I'm only 5ft tall, and knew I'd have to shorten the skirt. Still, I made the muslin straight off the pattern because with the style lines, I didn't know if I need to shorten at the hip, or at the hem. I needed to see it so I could shorten my skirt without disrupting the drafted proportions. This is a great example of why making a muslin is so important!
|Inches bigger than it should be, ladies. INCHES.|
Let me just pause here for a second to emphasize the importance of stabilizing a waistband like this. Curved yokes are lovely for a comfortable and flattering fit, but if you don't stabilize that top with twill tape, or selvage or something, it will grow and slide down and throw off all the rest of your fit. Just like a top needs to be fitted properly at the shoulders to hang right, so does a skirt have to fit your waist properly. I recommend stabilizing the waist, even on your muslin.
I decided to shorten my skirt 2 inches at the Lengthen & Shorten line at the hip, as well as about 1 3/8 inches at the hem. A 3.5 inch reduction is pretty normal for me, and I felt this way would give me the best proportion for my body shape.
The thing is, when you reduce an A-line by that sort of amount, you get some weird angles at your side seam. The proper way to handle this is as the red line shows below: blending from one part to the original finished edge. Otherwise, my flounce piece wouldn't fit.
I didn't want to do it the right way. Why? Because I really liked the width of my muslin at the hips, and if I made my adjustment the "right" way I would end up adding a 1/2 inch of width at each side of the seam for a total increase of 2 inches at my hip. Instead, I decided to buck tradition and snip off those pesky extra bits.
It was very simple to trim that same half inch off the side seam of my flounce pattern piece as well.
BAM! Perfect For Me Adjustment. Length is the only thing I changed about the pattern. I know it may sound like a lot of work, but truthfully, it took about 10 minutes to make the adjustment on the pattern. Well worth the time!
The Vientiane Skirt has two different pocket options: side seam pockets and pleated patch pockets with flaps. When I signed up to test, I selected the side seam pocket option. It's a go-to for me, you know...not fussy and all that. Kennis asked if I might step outside my comfort zone and test through the details on her patch pocket version instead. How could I say no to a challenge like that?
|Classic over-thinking...too many decisions!|
I play the role of Doubtful Debbie at some point in every piece I make. There was a good while where I worried my skirt was full of too many creative ideas...pockets and piping and plaid tweed straight and diagonal... But in the end, I think the pockets are marvelous and I'm grateful that I tried something new. Without them, the skirt would have that "missing something" feel.
|The pockets have a pleat detail. I inserted piping into the fold.|
The instructions for creating this detail are very thorough. By the way, these patch pockets are lined. They are not only beautiful, but functional and well constructed. I would advise you to press carefully, it matters here.
Speaking of details, the pattern does not include instructions for the piping. I did that because I was concerned about All That Orange. I decided early that I had to use my remnant of this orange/black/white polyester tweed, but I did not have enough to plaid match very well, or to cut the yoke. I had to choose between the patch pockets I wanted, or the yoke on cross grain. I couldn't see away to do both. A contrast yoke using some faux leather I had in my scrap bin seemed just the answer. But, on it's own, it sort of felt awkward and out of place. Hence the piping idea.
Aside from managing the thickness of faux leather (thank you, hammered seams), it was really simple to insert into the seams. I like the way it highlights the design lines of the pattern, and breaks up the direction changes of the fabric.
|Center Front has a tri-seam intersection. Plus my piping.|
The ladies in the test group really went all out with their creative visions. Check out all the interpretations in the launch post here.
My version of the skirt is lined, you could also choose not to line your skirt. It's a personal choice and the instructions walk you through both finish options. There's really no way around a lining when you work with a looser weave fabric like tweed. Plus, it helps the skirt not stick to your tights. Linings are like built-in slips. I like not having to fuss with a second item and wonder if it's showing when I move and sit.
Like all the Itch-Top-Stitch patterns I've sewn, the instructions are clear and simple, but do not cut corners. If you follow them, you will have a good sewing experience and have a well made, quality garment at the end.
This pattern includes instructions for an "new" way to install your invisible zipper to the lining. It is a 100% machine finish that ensures your lining won't get caught in the zipper when you wear the garment. At first it was a bit tough to wrap my brain around. Although, it could have been the fact that I was sewing at midnight. Either way, Kennis has a couple of supplemental blog posts with lots of extra pictures if you get stuck. They helped clarify the process for me, and I had great success. I tried the same process again yesterday on another garment. I didn't even need to look at the directions, and my zipper/lining turned out fantastic and went much faster than the first time I used the technique. (So good, in fact, that I'm loath to rip it out, even though I botched the item and really need to disassemble it to correct the problem). Don't be shy about giving it a try. Lean into the learning curve. It's worth it. You can access the tutorials here:
Wrex always thinks I'm outside to play ball. It's amusing for a little bit.
Until he ruins a bunch of shots.
And I get mad and make him sit and wait for me to finish.
|Go get your copy of Vientaine while it's on sale!|
You can grab yourself a copy of The Vientiane Skirt here. Currently, it's on sale for 20% off! Grab 2 or more items at once using the code twirl and get an additional 15% off your entire order!
Happy sewing! ....Hopefully, you'll know where to put your hands when you snap a shot of your finished Vientiane Skirt.
P.S. Share your make in the Itch-To-Stitch Facebook Group so I can see your creativity!