Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Completed: An almost eponymous skirt

In my last post I referred to my Autumn/Winter sewing plans. I haven't blogged these, because it seems that blogging my intentions is the kiss of death to said plans, and I don't want to jinx it. I have some good, viable makes planned for this season, that I want to make happen.

The first is this: the Moss Mini by Grainline Studios.

I have to confess I am in real danger of becoming a Jen/Grainline fangirl. Her patterns are great and just what I need in my wardrobe right now. In case you are not familiar with Grainline (and if not, why not?), she also designed the Scout Woven Tee of which I am so enthralled. You can see my Scouts here, here, here and here. I have another planned. I just need to pluck up courage to make an Archer and I am contemplating the Linden.

Back to the Moss. I have had a particular version of this skirt planned in my head for a while now. Recently I ordered the fabric, which you'll have seen if you follow me on Instagram (this). I love the fabric but it is lighter weight than I imagined and now I have my doubts. I am considering underlining it to stiffen it up slightly, but not sure with what. Any suggestions?

In the meantime I decided to make what I hoped would be a wearable muslin from this upholstery/home dec fabric from Ikea which I'd been hoarding for a while. I love this fabric. It's very stiff and quite thick which gives it great structure for this shape of skirt. It's a very dark, dark grey, and is ribbed. It actually reminds me of grosgrain ribbon in texture (hence the post title). Pity it wasn't green! It very nearly killed my sewing machine more than once, when sewing over multiple layers, and my needle actually got stuck in the fabric and was wrenched out of the machine at one point. The lining is leftover Liberty Tana Lawn from my kimono. Small Boy keeps asking why I made a skirt out of my dressing gown.

I'm still fluctuating between measurements. At least I hope I am. My waist measurement is currently 30" and it was 28" pre-pregnancy. Those last 2 inches seem to be quite stubborn and don't seem to want to go anywhere. That said, my waist measurement only really affects anything that is high waisted. I am back into pre-pregnancy jeans (and in fact recently bought a pair of jeans that are 26" waist! Oh Gap and your unrealistic, but very flattering sizing!), because they sit below my natural waist. I'm not going to pretend there isn't a bit of muffin top going on with those jeans, but that's what loose tops are for. Since the Moss is designed to sit 2" below the natural waist, I cut what would be my normal size - a 6. I'm actually a 4 in the hips, but I cut a straight 6 figuring I could take it in if necessary, but with this being an A line skirt, I didn't think it would make too much of a difference.

I made the skirt pretty  much as directed. The only changes were that I used lining rather than self fabric for the waistband lining to reduce bulk; I omitted all interfacing for the same reason; and I added patch pockets to the back.

I wanted this to be a muslin but also a practice run, so this is the most detailed "muslin" ever. Every seam is top stitched, which I really enjoyed doing. So satisfying, and it gives me great pleasure to look at. Sewing nerd alert. Pity it's black on black and you can't see it. I also took great care to ensure the back yoke matched perfectly.

The primary reason I wanted a practise was the fly zip. My first ever. And I don't know what all the fuss was about. I used the pattern instructions plus the fly zip tutorial on the blog. Actually both are the same but the tutorial has photos and the instructions diagrams. Sometimes one was clearer and vice versa. It took a bit of head scratching, a bit of unpicking, and about 3 hours. I even sewed the whole thing shut at one point (and nearly killed my machine in the process), but I got there. AND I AM SO PROUD! Honestly, it's like my third child. I keep looking at it in wonder and awe, amazed at what I created! I still have no idea how it goes together and can't imagine I will ever be able to do it without the instructions, but who cares?

What really got me unstuck on this make was the waistband. It's a curved waistband, which was new to me, but the issue was it was too short. When I started to attach it I got a little confused as the instructions say to match the side seams (to what? The waistband is a single piece and the side seams aren't notched). There were 2 notches, which I presumed matched CF and CB although the CB notch wasn't referred to. But anyway that didn't matter as they didn't match. I did a bit of tugging and pulling and eventually got it to fit, by ignoring the notches, and attached it and the waistband facing. Only at this point did I realise it still didn't fit. See photo below - it didn't extend to the fly shield and therefore I would have had nowhere to sew a button!

My assumption was that something had gone wrong in printing or cutting the pattern piece, so I reprinted it, but it was the same size. When doing this I noticed some strange vertical marks on the printed version that were not on the screen. Weird!

Left is the printed version, right is on screen
I asked for help on IG but no one was any the wiser. Feel free to chip in if you know what's happened here. Shar pointed me in the direction of a post that Jen wrote earlier this year referring to issues with the waistband where people were cutting it on the fold - and it's not a symmetrical pattern piece - but I cut it flat as directed, so that wasn't the issue either. In the end, I measured how much I was short, about 7/8 inch, and added this to the CB of my waistband pattern piece and cut another. This is better but actually still not perfect - but this time I think it's just an issue with my fabric. The pattern piece includes 1/2""overhang" on each end for seam allowance, but because my fabric is so thick, I think it needs more to allow for turn of cloth. 

The instructions have you understitch the waistband facing once attached, but I could not for the life of me fathom out how to do this at the ends and round corners. In the end I just understitched as much as I could along the length of the waistband and left the rest. It's a pity because the waistband is a bit of a bodge job now. Annoying when I took such care over the rest. But with this style of skirt I am unlikely to tuck my tops in, so no one will really see it.

Some flat shots now:

Seams are all overlocked.
Patch pockets copied from a pair of RTW jeans. I'm pretty sure they are level IRL!
Somewhat ironically, given this is meant to be a muslin, I'm not sure the fit is right. The problem with fitting at the moment is that we have one full length mirror in the house, which is in our bedroom. But I can only sew when Baby Boy is asleep and guess where he still sleeps?! So when trying this on, I had to go by feel, rather than looking. And trying to stand on the sofa to look in the mirror over our mantelpiece. Which doesn't work. 

I think it's too big. I think it sits lower than it's meant to. It can't actually fall off, but the back waistband slips down, which makes the bottom of the front of the skirt stick out. I have decided to wear it for a while before deciding whether I want to do something about it. I really don't want to have to do a third waistband, but if it makes the skirt more comfortable and fit better, I might just do it. It's not like it's a neat waistband anyway. What I am unsure about is how best to fix it, especially for my next one. Should I just cut a smaller waist size? Just take a bit off the side seams? Or since it seems to be slipping down at the back, is that where the issue is and should I take a wedge out of CB? This is why I hate fitting. It's just so confusing.

Potential changes/lessons to learn for next time (other than fit)? 
  • If I was making this in a thick fabric again, I'd do the pocket lining and the pocket facing in lining fabric, (rather than just the pocket lining) to reduce bulk at the seams.
  • If I change the fit at the waist - add length. This is as short as I want to go, and obviously if it sits higher on the waist, the whole skirt hikes up a bit...
  • Add a bit more length to the waistband. I think about 3/4 would do it.

So, not a perfect skirt, but I am really, really pleased with it. It's a good basic skirt that will go with a lot in my wardrobe. And the top stitching and fly zip just make me so happy. Sad, but true.

If you can help with any of my above questions, and there are quite a few, please chip in via the comments. I'd love to know what you think.



  1. I wish I could answer some of your questions, but alas I am totally inexperienced in matters of fit. It is however a great co-incidence that you published this today as I woke up thinking that I could do with one of these skirts (in corduroy) for winter wear. A nice change from jeans but still casual. So thank you and well done on the fly front! I would definitely wear this skirt if I made it and I am looking forward to the rest of the comments to see if they help with the mystery of the waistband!

    1. Thanks Phillipa! I would definitely recommend this pattern, waistband issue aside. Stephanie at Love Teach Sew made this recently, and made no mention of this issue, so I am wondering if my PDF is somehow a bit dodgy!

  2. I've never made a fly zip - nice work! Your skirt looks great and looks like a super-useful basic. I also feel your pain on the stubborn couple of inches on the waistline. I have those too! :-)

    1. Thanks Kerry! One of the legacies of kids, I guess! :)

  3. This looks brilliant Helen! The waistband troubles sound frustrating but it's nice to hear a fly zip isn't as intimidating as I thought! I have the se issue with mirrors, our only full length one is in the nursery - not that I've been doing any sewing recently anyway. I'm full of admiration for you getting such a great skirt made!

    1. Thanks Kathryn. Oh, to have a dedicated sewing room! Still, then I'd need to find something else to blame my rubbish fitting skills on!

  4. It looks fantastic! That topstitching is immaculate :) I've never attempted a fly zip before so I'm enormously impressed at how easy you make it look.
    I've had my eye on this pattern for a while now (the plan is for next autumn/winter), so I'll definitely be referring back to this post!

  5. It's very cute and I love the fabric even if it's a muslin. There's something about textured solids that I love! Oh fly fronts. I'm still yet to conquer them! As for fit advice - having not made this sort of skirt I'm not much help I'm afraid.

  6. I've made a few Moss Minis and since the first one, my pattern piece for the waistband has an extra section in the centre, to make the waistband longer. I also have to take wedges out of the sides where it meets the waistband or it sags (big hips or small waist, one of the two!) But the fly front is easy to make, if you follow the instructions, you're right.

    Great skirt - really suits you.

  7. Fabulous topstitching, no wonder it makes you happy. I love it when my sewing is accurate, sadly it can be rare as like you I only get to sew when little people are asleep. Tired sewing and accuracy are not the best of friends! You look fabulous in this skirt, I rather like the short length I think you carry it off really well.

  8. That topstitching is perfect! Great job on the Moss skirt, it seems to be a great pattern!

  9. Reminds me of my dad who used to stitch all our pants at home...... till we became fashion conscious.


I love to hear from you!

© Grosgrain Green | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig