Sunday, 8 January 2017

Completed: Brocade Christmas Skirt

Hello! This is the last make of 2016, finally making it onto the blog.

I wasn't planning on making anything for our Christmas night out, but Jen put brocade in my head, I found the below picture in a magazine (when ostensibly looking for inspiration for her) and I was sold! Plus I always like the challenge of being able to "make it cheaper than that!".
You'll notice that the finished skirt isn't the same as the inspiration picture. I actually started out trying to hack the Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt, but it wasn't as simple as I expected and it really just wasn't working out. I'm not sure why, but the while the front looked great, the back just looked terrible. I tried a few things, but after 2 muslins, I was kind of losing interest. Luckily, I then came across a beautiful skirt posted on IG by Elisalex. A quick chat with her told me all I needed to know to get one of my own!!!

There is no pattern for this. I just took my waist measurement, added an inch for ease (I wanted to be able to eat in this skirt), and then multiplied that by 3. That turned out to be pretty much exactly twice the width of my fabric, which kept things simple and avoided seams in odd places. I then box pleated the skirt to fit my waist measurement (plus the inch). I created 4 pleats: front, back, and each side. I added a waistband, plus an invisible zip and Bob's your Uncle!! I used the selvedge, because the fabric was a nightmare for fraying - I even found gold thread in my lunch at work one day! The rest of the raw edges are overlocked and the hem is hand sewn, something I haven't done in ages.

The fabric is a poly brocade from ebay, and it was interesting to work with. The best way to describe it is bouncy. It has zero drape, but it does press pretty well. I used a pressing cloth the whole way through. In fact I made the pressing cloth especially, from a rectangle of silk organza, overlocked on all sides. Simple and so, so effective.

Due to the lack of drape, when I first pleated the skirt and tried it on, it was HUGE. Paul actually asked if I was going to the party as someone from the 17th Century. It took a lot of trial and error pressing to get it looking as I wanted, but in the end, I pressed the full length of the underside of the pleats (i.e. the bits inside the pleat), and just the top of the outside of the pleats. This gave a nice A line shape to the skirt which works really well.

At first I was unsure, but I now love this skirt. It's different to anything else I own, but that's good. I felt great wearing it, and I got loads of compliments on our night out. By now, my colleagues know me well enough to ask "so, did you make your outfit?", but they are still impressed when I reply "yes". It's interesting, because I think that the wow thing about this skirt is the fabric, not the sewing. Not that there is anything wrong with the sewing, but its just a simple pleated skirt at the end of the day. There then followed a long and alcohol induced conversation with one of my team, who is also studying graphic design, about creativity, it's meaning, inspiration and influence.

I decided early on that I was not going to make a top to go with this, time constraints what they are these days. Instead I bought this velvet off the shoulder top from Finery. It looks fab with the skirt, but dancing in long sleeve velvet top gets pretty sweaty pretty quickly, so not sure I'd wear the two together to a similar "do" in future. Both were perfect though for dinner with friends and also for Christmas day. We get dressed up for Christmas dinner at my parent's house. I was glad of the extra waistband ease then, for sure!

Yay for sewing and yay for being able to save around £250 on a skirt!


  1. Wow. What a lovely make. It's fab that you have the skills to re-create such an expensive RTW skirt and mighty fine it looks too!

  2. Jaw droppingly good.I bough some gold on gold brocade after seeing yours on IG. Its a bit late for Xmas and NYE but I may still make it up rather than shoving it in a drawer>

  3. You are so good at sewing from inspiration photos/ideas! This skirt is truly stunning, such a special occasion thing to sew and it looks so good on you!

  4. Wow it is AWESOME. Also, sometimes the mastery of sewing is to know that a very simple skirt is the perfect make for a fabbo brocade. Just sayin'!

  5. This is so beautiful!
    And I love your top!


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