Hello lovelies! Here is my new favourite make (my favourite is always whatever I most recently finished, ofc), the skirt from Simplicity 1166.
I’d already made the top, but the skirt was what originally made me purchase the pattern. I don’t buy many skirt patterns because how many variations on ‘cut a rectangle, maybe shape it a little, attach it to a waistband’ does one person need? About three, according to my stash… but I do keep an eye out for skirts with a bit more shaping or some drafting details, and I thought the pleats and shaped waistband of this one would be interesting.
The fabric is a very lightweight cotton denim from DK fabrics. I stopped in to get some silk organza for a presscloth and interfacing, and ended up also getting 3 metres of this at $5 a metre. Couldn’t resist. It’s quite light with a thin stripe through it, and a denim weave, and it’s got a lovely slubby natural quality while also being gorgeous and soft. It’s a dream to wear and I suspect it will wear well. I’ve been thinking about going and getting more to make a shirt, but I think it would make me look washed out if it were close to my face.
I didn’t buy it with this specific pattern in mind, but just because I need some more casual, nuetralish skirts that I can wear with tshirts on the weekend or on casual Friday. I settled on this pattern and then discovered I didn’t have quite enough fabric. This fabric is about 120cm wide, which meant the pattern didn’t quite fit. Which was annoying, since I’d already cut out one front panel. Holding that panel up to my waist I realised the skirt is also LONG, and hit me at a place which made it looks very dowdy, so I folded 3″ of length out of the pattern and managed to fit it on the fabric, just. I had to cut the waistband with the stripes running horizonatally, but I was considering doing that anyways.
Here it is with its intended shirt:
My waist measurement is just over the largest size for this skirt so I held the waistband up to my waist and decided it would be a bit tight, so I added and extra 2″ total to the back waistband. I had meant to add some extra to the side seams when cutting but forgot – and it wouldn’t have fitted on the fabric anyway – so I just sewed the side seams smaller. I also put some elastic in the back – I zigzagged the ends of the elastic to the waistband facing, pulling it tight so it gathers in. I do need it – I suspect the waistband would have fit me perfectly as drafted but then it would have been too tight when I sat down. I don’t at all mind the gathers on such a casual skirt and anyway, a gathered elastic band is better than a falling-off or cutting-in-half skirt.
I do want to move that top button in because it sits where my stomach starts to go in again so right now it sticks out a bit. There’s supposed to be a snap on the inside between the third and fourth button but it sits fine without it so I didn’t add it.
I also had trouble putting it together. This was about 50% user error and 50% poor pattern writing. I was still a bit sick while sewing this and also did not read the pattern very carefully because it’s a skirt, right? How complicated can it be? Well. I got all the skirt bits together but then they didn’t fit the waistband! I checked and it hadn’t stretched out – I’d stay stitched – although I did find a pleat marking I’d ignored, because I hadn’t been able to work out what the pleat paired with. Always a good sign. Like finding one leftover screw.
I was feeling CROSS with this skirt by this point, so I ended up just sewing it up the back until the skirt fit the waist, and then chopping the extra off. I basted it to the waist and tried it on and it looked… fine, but a bit awkward. I decided I’d go buy some buttons and put them in and see how it hung when properly buttoned.
Before doing this though, after a day of cooling down, I googled to see what other people had made. Seamstress Erin has made one, and mentioned no issues, and La Sewista has made one – she DID have problems and, like me, couldn’t work out where that pleat was meant to line up. But I could see from both of theirs that their pleats were closer to each other and to the front than mine, and the side seam was not at the sides! You can just see this in the line drawing but it’s not clear, and it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the instructions. The instructions also don’t point out where the pleats line up – they just say ‘sew the pleats by matching up the markings’ or something similar. But there was enough information to tell me that I had done a bad. So I unpicked everything and serged the bits I’d cut off back on. Luckily, in the stripe, you can barely see this at all! Here is the back side of it, so you can see (and also see the evidence of the denim weave:
And here it is on, the join is just barely visible, if you look.
So I re-examined the pattern to figure out where I’d gone wrong. The back panel is actually marked ‘back and side front’ panel, because it is meant to wrap around the front. And there was a pleat line I’d missed – one of the larger size pleat lines is mislabelled ’14’ rather than ’24’ so I’d not seen it. The trick is that there are the two front pleats and then the third pleat goes around the pocket – so there’s a pleat line about two inches from the side seam of the front piece, and another two inches from the side seam of the back piece. The pocket therefore sits in a deep pleat, and it and the side seam are hidden. I found this very hard to photograph, but here are my attempts:
I still think the sizing is off on the larger size, though. Even after working out my error, the skirt was too big for the waistband – and this is the waistband that I’d added 2″ to! I ended up sewing the side seams at the regular seam allowance, and also taking a bigger pleat. I suspect that the two front pleats should be bigger, and perhaps a bit closer to the placket. From the diagrams, it looks like the front is supposed to be small enough that the pocket bag sits under the facing, which is not the case for me, but perhaps that’s to be expected for the bigger size.
Anyhow, after a bit of fiddling I got everything together, and the pockets sit exactly where they should, and it looks GREAT. The first time I tried it on after I had sorted out my error I was just thrilled. Luckily this fabric is very forgiving and shows no sign at all of all the times I had to unpick things.
I did consider lining it but decided to keep it breezy and light. It’s long enough that it weighs itself down and I don’t miss the lining. I just top stitched the hem, although I note it drags at the back, just enough that I notice. I thought this might be because I didn’t account for my swayback but I noticed the back hem shows even on the hanger, so I suspect a cutting error when I took the length off. I’ll go back and fix it eventually but I might leave it a while in case the hem drops on the bias. I hung it for two days before hemming, with no dropping, but sometimes it takes a while.
I also initially put in some square buttons, because they were the only ones I could find that I liked. I knew before I sewed them on that they would always look wonky, and they did. So I took myself off to the Button Bar and Veronica sorted me out, as always, with these round wooden look ones. They’re actually plastic and sewn on backwards because they have an engraved star on the front that I didn’t like. I should have known better than to go anywhere else (the square ones were from Lincraft) but Veronica only works later in the week these days and I bought my buttons on Monday. Didn’t want to wait! Should know better.
I don’t think it really shows in the photos but the placket is a bit wonky at the top. Another time I would top stitch it – the pattern doesn’t say to and I complied, but the wonky is from it rolling a bit unevenly so I would topstitch or at least understitch. I also initially pressed the darts to the side because I find that more flattering, but it looked odd because the side pleat was going the other way, so I went back and pressed them to the front as the pattern directs.
The pockets are pretty small and shallow – they perfectly fit my work pass card, and my phone and wallet fit but feel a bit precarious. Anything too heavy drags the skirt down a bit though so I don’t think I’d bother to change them if I made this a second time. I find the length perfect and would have been overwhelmed if it were any longer. The waistband does fold over the day but I don’t think it looks bad. It just is.
Here’s a TL;DR of the changes I made and problems I had:
- I made the largest size – size 24 – for my 110cm-ish waist
- I shortened the skirt 3″
- I added 2″ to the back waistband and then added elastic to it.
- I used sew in interfacing because that was the heaviest interfacing I had.
- The pattern is very unclear about where the pleats go
- The first two pleats pleat on the front piece
- The second two pleat around the pocket and side seam – one side of the pleat is on the front, and one is on the back.
- I found that the skirt was still too big for the waistband, despite having added length to the waistband, so something is very off there.
- I suspect that the larger size pleats haven’t been sized up enough. If you are making this, I suggest lining everything up to check before you sew the pleats, to see if it will all fit together.
I’m a bit unimpressed with those drafting and instruction oversights, to be honest. I’ve not come across any discrepancies this large before in a Big 4 pattern. However, the original vintage drafting is so clever and neat, and I feel like it gives a perfect amount of volume without compromising on comfort or ease of movement at all. I think this will be the perfect casual skirt – I don’t intend on doing much housework in it but if yoga pants didn’t exist I think this would be the next best thing, and very practical, although I think this fabric might be a bit warm in full summer. I will definitely put this on the list to make again.