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When A Pattern Test Goes Pear Shaped: Saving My ITS Danube Jean Skirt

Every now and then, I have a project where every decision I make is wrong, and I have to battle tooth & nail to get to the end.

Itch-To-Stitch recently released the Danube Jean Skirt. I love everything about the design of this skirt: slim fitting, DENIM, wind friendly, go-with-everything casual, sits at the natural waist, side slits for something fun and less formal. I was very excited to jump into the testing phase. I had a couple heavier non stretch twill fabrics in my stash suitable for muslins... and exactly 1 piece of non stretch denim which I earmarked for my final skirt.

In The Beginning

The first muslin revealed the need for some fine tuning, something that should be expected during the testing phase. V2 for the pattern was distributed and my second muslin came together quickly. I got exactly what I expected. A pretty well-fitting skirt except for my prominent full seat which was pulling all my fabric out of whack.

No big deal, right? I've had this issue for a while. Just need a little slice and dice on the muslin to see how much of a wedge to add. It'll give me more room for my flesh and even out the hem in the back. I estimated my need somewhere around an inch.

Here's where that landed me, which, as you can see, is not where I needed to be.

Clearly, I needed back there. I'm not a novice. I've done my share of Full Seat Adjustments. I can do this. No problem.

And Then It All Goes Sideways.

This is a hernia pouch.

Lets call him Hubris. Hubris the Hernia Pouch.

This is what happens when an intermediate sewer thinks she knows All. The. Things.

(spoiler alert: She doesn't)

Like me, you are probably asking yourself, "WTF did you do, Crystal?"

Well, OK. Let me pause for a minute here and remind everyone that like a Full Bust Adjustment, a proper Full Seat Adjustment results in a dart. But, this skirt is not drafted with back darts, and one of the big Pattern Test Rules is that you don't change the designer's design.

So, yeah. I needed a dart back there, but I can put the dart anywhere, right? I can snip my pattern and close one dart to open another somewhere else. I can hide the dart in a hem or a seam. My backside is shapely, shouldn't it make sense that my back seam be shapely as well?

Short answer: No.

It wasn't until day 10 of my 14 day pattern test that I figured out I was wrong... And why. I'm going to save you the recap of the 4 (yes, 4) muslin backs I cut, and all the things I tried to do to make it work. On day 11, I caved. I printed a fresh back pattern, made a proper full seat adjustment By The Book, and added darts to the back of my skirt.

What I Learned

Despite all of my tears and gnashing of teeth, I really did learn something from my experience. Placing the back dart above the fullest part of my seat creates a fullness in the fabric for my flesh to fill. By trying to avoid that dart, I ended up placing one at the CB seam, creating fullness where there was no flesh to fill it.

It's funny how now that I know what I did wrong, it's glaringly obvious. I messed up the grain line and the shape of the back seam. Let me tell you, there is no way to shave off that bump in the back seam.

Trust me, I spent 3 days trying.

Here is what my final pattern piece looked like. You can see how, when sewn, the dart will pull in from both sides creating the shaping needed over my full seat.

Truth be told: I don't mind that there are darts on the back of my skirt at all. I achieved a beautiful fit!
I was just disappointed that I fell so far down the Rabbit Hole of Fitting that I disqualified my Danube Jean Skirt sample from sharing last week. 

Constructing My Danube... Finally!

I wish I could say my Dart Fiasco was the end of my struggle. Remember how I said I had exactly one piece of fabric in my stash for this skirt?
Mother F#@!$%
Yeah. I seriously miscalculated how much of it there was. 
I would not be deterred. Through some miracle of Pattern Tetris, I managed to cut every single piece I needed, including the belt loops. Thank goodness for being short, and removing nearly 3 inches of length!
The actual sewing of the skirt went really great. The pattern is drafted to fit together nicely and the instructions are top notch, as usual. Plus, I'd put this skirt together 10 times in the muslin stage, so it was a super familiar process.

Some of the techniques from previous patterns are revisited here, such as the front pockets found in Liana Stretch Jeans and Mountain View Pull On Jeans, as well as zipper installations from Liana Stretch Jeans and North Point Trousers. In fact, I was able to install my zipper from memory alone! Practice creates confidence.
I again turned to comics for my back pocket design. I don't actually read comics, the hubby does, but the emblems are fun and interesting and absolutely unique. I went with Marvel's Agents of Shield this time.
I love the way they turned out!

It took me 3 attempts, along with about an hour's worth of unpicking to get a serviceable button hole. 
It was about this time that I realized my denim was way too heavy and thick. 
I hammered.
I steamed. 
I hammered with steam.
I attempted to add the belt loops, but I couldn't lift my presser foot high enough to slide all the layers under. Naturally, I assumed my Mantle Of Hubris again, insisting that I am the creator and this machine will do my bidding.
That didn't work. 
Frustrated and annoyed, I unpicked them and decided to settle for a belt loop-less skirt.

The End

It was really tough to get here, but in the end, I have a skirt I will wear frequently. I left it on after taking the photos below, and spent the day running errands, working at my computer, cleaning and taking an unexpected trip to the doctor with the teenager.
(I don't think these are bug bites, mom, I think they are spreading...) 
(Don't worry, he is fine.)
I looked like I had my shit together the whole day, even though it felt like I didn't. I didn't need to fuss with my clothes or tug anything back into place. I felt pretty and modest and confident in my Danube Jean Skirt.
 I feel it was particularly well balanced with my sleeveless top.
 You can purchase Danube Jean Skirt over in the Itch-To-Stitch shop HERE
If you missed all the great tester versions, pop over HERE to the release post.

I've got a second Danube Jean Skirt finished. As soon as it stops raining, I'll get some photos and be back to share it with you!


  1. Such an enjoyable post Crystal. I watched all this unfold but didn’t really get a sense of the drama or angst. Those darts make all the difference and I’m sure you will help lots of others get a perfect fit.

    1. I'm glad it didn't cloud the experience of anyone else in the test. I tried to keep most of the drama out of the group, but poor Kennis heard it on the PM side.

  2. I know what you mean about darts - I always have to do an fba (36FF) but in the beginning I tried not to or tried to make due with the puny dart the pattern included. Then one day I went to a short workshop taught here at a sewing show and the instructor said, "I always must do an fba and I always put in a dart even in knits. I've just found that works for me and that's that." It was like an epiphany - one my exploding "AHA" moments that we always have in the sewing journey (which is why we love it so much). Since then I always do an fba and now typically add 3 darts - a french, armhole and back dart. Thank you for sharing your experience too - I think someone reading your post will have just that sort of "AHA" moment :) Love your skirt! I have been eyeing this pattern (I did buy the Mountainviews but haven't made them up yet) and have been considering turning them into a skirt since pull up are where it's at for me :)

  3. So yeah... Agent of Shield pockets for the win! Love this version and your honesty about what was required to get the pattern to work for you.

  4. Great perseverence. So glad you got there in the end. Looks like it's worth it.


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