Quoits skirt (Simplicity 8250)

Hello folks! I have a skirt to show you today. It’s Simplicity 8250, which is a reprint of Simplicity 3775A.

 

 

I picked this up in my last ‘3 for $15’ haul at Spotlight. I just grabbed a bunch of vintage reprints because I always regret them if I don’t pick them up and then they go out of print. Initially this wasn’t on my shortlist to make immediately. I was a bit put off by how it looks on the model. It looks to me as if the skirt is sitting too low and the bolero too high, or perhaps it’s too small?

Whatever it is, the proportions look a bit odd to me – or too modern perhaps? I’m having the same issues with 8251 which I like in theory but the proportions look very odd and I can’t work out if it’s because of the model, or the actual proportions. They use this model a lot for the vintage patterns and about half of the ones she models have the waist and bust darts in totally the wrong place, while the other half are fine, so who knows?

Anyhow! I posted my pattern haul on insta and a bunch of people commented how much they liked this one, which caused me to give it a second look. It’s a pretty basic pattern – it’s a 1/4 circle with front, back and side seams. Both sides of the front have extensions of an inch or so that are folded over to create that overlap, which is then topstitched down. It would be incredibly simple to draft this oneself. The highlights are obviously the shaped waistband and the patch pockets.

The quoits skirt was sewn at craft camp. The fabric is a mid weight cotton drill-type fabric that I got from unique fabrics in Melbourne which is basically my favourite place in the world. I have trouble finding good bottom weight fabrics in Adelaide so I was thrilled to find this. I was envisioning an a-line type skirt, something 70s ish, maybe S8019, for spring and autumn. But no matter how many times I got out the pattern and put it on this fabric, I ended up putting it back again. It just wasn’t right. This fabric wants to drape and swoosh! Once I decided to make up 8250 it was the perfect candidate.

I sewed a size 24, the largest size. Obviously I made up the version with the shaped waistband! I was concerned that it would fold and rumple, but I find it sits in the right place on my torso and so the curved portion sits up away from my body just enough that it only folds slightly when I sit down and my belly smooshes into it. I used thick sew in interfacing, too, so it holds its shape nicely.

The only negative is that I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when I sewed it together, and I didn’t take the curves as nicely as I’d like. As a result they’re not really shapely in the correct way. They’re ok, but every time I look at it I notice that they’re slightly wonky and it does annoy me. I would recommend that you do a practice run on scrap fabric before you sew this, as well as marking the sewing line on the backside so you can be sure to follow it. I was only out by a few millimetres but that made a massive difference on the curve. I didn’t manage a great closeup of this on, but you can see it below – there should be more of an overlap in the ‘petals’.

Pertinent to the above, the instructions for this are not good at all. Despite the simplicity (ha!) of the skirt pattern itself, I would NOT recommend this pattern to a beginner, because the instructions are just chaos. To be honest I only glanced at them to see what they suggested doing for the curved waistband, but I went back and checked them before I wrote this blog post and boy! I had trouble comprehending them at all.

There are separate instructions for the shaped vs the straight waistband, but it just launches into one and doesn’t point this out, or mention the places where they differ so if you are sewing skirt B you are totally disoriented. I would have found it easier if they’d done it all in one and then where it differed, said ‘for skirt B do blah blah, for skirt A do blah blah’ but I guess they were following their convention for writing instructions. I also felt that the sewing together of the fronts and the waistband curves are not explained well at all, and the diagrams didn’t really show the bits I needed visual help with.

They also have you top stitch the front before putting everything together, and don’t continue the topstitching onto the curved band. You can see that’s what they did on the modern remake of the pattern. I think it looks messy and is a real missed opportunity for a nice detail. The vintage line drawing clearly has the topstitching continuing up and around the curved waistband, as Liz points out, so that’s what I did.

I basted the fronts together, attached the waistband, and then topstitched everything in one go. Easy. The basting also made it much easier to be accurate with the topstitching and not pull it out of line as I went. I honestly would not like to attempt it without basting. I’m really pleased with my topstitching on this. I tend to rush it and that is not a recipe for good topstitching! This time I went slowly and carefully and it paid off.

I guess they don’t tell you to do it this way because it would make another difference between the way the two waistbands are sewn so they would have to describe it twice and probably take another piece of paper. But they definitely could have condensed other parts of the instructions to allow for this. (I did cut a small hole in it when I was unpicking the basting because I wasn’t being careful. I don’t have any fraycheck so I darned it and you can just see it if you look closely. Oops!)

The instructions have you topstitch at, I think, 1.5cm. I just did it the width of the sewing machine foot, which ended up something like 7mm? I like it and think 1.5cm would seem very wide to me, although it could be fun and chunky. Maybe another time?

They also have you put the zipper in all the way to the top for the curved waistband, but only to the bottom of the band for the straight and add a hook and eye. I did not do this – I find I need a hook and bar for my skirts to sit nicely. My stomach expands when I sit down so without that the waistband will gape. I extended the waistband so that I could put one in. Unfortunately I cut this out a few weeks before craft camp and forgot I’d done it. Because of this and also being uncertain how the fronts went together, I sort of winged this part and ended up with a messy overlap – on both sides!

I fixed it with some hand sewing but it’s messy on the inside and definitely not my best work. Oh well! It does mean it’s got a hook and eye on one side and a press stud on the other which turns out to be kind of good because it keeps the band sitting straight, which means the front curves don’t pull outwards or sag. I have been contemplating re-doing the waistband because of the poor job I did with the curves and the overlap but so far it’s not quite annoying enough to bother doing that.

I also bought a bulk lot of the hooks and eyes on etsy for less than a pack of 4 at my local stores… except my local stores have stopped carrying the large size altogether. And then they have the nerve to complain that online retailers are taking their profits! I’m TRYING to give you my money! Please stock the things I would like to buy and that are your supposed core business, instead of decorative glass bouys and hen’s night novelties!

Anyway. The bulk lot is good because I inevitably end up losing the bars and only end up with hooks and at least my odds of retaining some are better with more of them.

I should also mention I’m still trying to work out how to reclaim my blue wall for photos – the waist on this skirt looks EXTRA high but that’s because I haven’t quite worked out the height the camera needs to be at to get good shots while balancing on my bed, so it’s too low and has the effect of shortening my waist. I mean this is a high waisted pattern but it’s not right up under my boobs like it looks here. You get the idea, anyway.

Balancing on the bed is worth it but it did get a bit precarious…

I hand picked the zipper on the principle that it would actually be quicker than trying to do it by machine and having to unpick and redo it five times. It’s not totally neat but I am getting better at this process, and I actually really enjoy it. I made it centred rather than lapped because I found that easier to work out how to do and I’m still new at hand picking so I wanted to keep it simple for my brain. I also hand sewed the waistband facing down, and hand sewed the hem after letting it hang for a week – it did sag quite a bit on the bias.

This skirt is quite long, so after trying it on I decided on a three inch hem. I didn’t do the gorgeous patch pockets because I felt it might be too much with the curved band, so I added inseam pockets.

I was going to add a lining as well, but because I cut it out beforehand I accidentally cut a lining with a side opening. I didn’t have enough fabric on me to cut one that would open at the back, so I just went without. This means I can’t really wear it now, as it’s too cold, but it will be perfect for spring and even cooler summer days. It’s surprising how much warmth even a thin lining can add!

 

TL;DR

  • Sewed a size 24
  • Added in seam pockets
  • Hand sewed zippers and hems
  • Added a hook and bar to both zips
  • Basted the front overlaps together first, did the rest of the constructing and then top stitched
  • Continued the top stitching up and around the waistband (top stitched the underlying half of the band first)
  • Next time I would take more time with sewing the curves of the waistband, and mark the seam lines to make sure I got the curve exactly right.

 

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And now, for the jungle itself.

This right here is view B of Butterick 6102, just scraping it in for Jungle January.

I’ve had this sateen from Spotlight for ages now – I saw it while I was trying not to buy fabric (an ongoing struggle) and I just kept on thinking about it so eventually I went back and got some. I think maybe I got 3m of it, given that I just barely scraped this pattern out of it. I was always intending to make it into a skirt like this – A line, big pleats, yoke. But I was intending to draft it myself. However, I have yet to follow through on my intention to finish my craftsy skirt drafting class before January is up.

I seem to be having a little burst of sewing mojo, and I was sitting there last night, wanting to sew something, with nothing on the cards. I was thinking about my SWAP plans (have I mentioned that I am doing this yet?) and also just about what my wardrobe actually needs. And more skirts was the answer – I want to make some tops but I don’t wear the ones I have because I don’t have enough skirts that fit me and that I like. I wasn’t up for drafting right that minute, and waiting till I got around to the drafting was causing a hitch in my plans. I didn’t want to sew something less practical and necessary for my wardrobe. So I thought ‘I bet I have a skirt pattern like that’.

I actually don’t have a huge number of skirt patterns, on the principle that most skirts are variations on a theme so why buy multiple copies of the same thing? Especially when it’s easy enough to hack a skirt pattern if you have a shape that fits you, to make a pleated skirt out of an A-line, etc. But I bought B6102 in a sale because the line drawing shows a nice basic with a good shape, and not just some ‘attached pleated rectangle to yoke’ business. I’m not paying $5 for that rubbish. Nope. But this one has an A-line shape, with three big pleats front and back – or four, depending on which view you sew. Last night I was a bit hesitant because the cover is a bit… well. Frumpy and/or school girl

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Those drawing ladies know it, too. They know. You don’t have to tell them, thanks.

I could only find a couple of examples of this skirt made up. But I believe in line drawings. And muslins. So I whipped up a quick muslin and I was sold. I cut it out last night and today I spent some time putting it together. The pattern is listed as a ‘fast and easy’ and it certainly was easy, but it took me something like three and a half hours, cutting not included, because I took the time to put it together properly. I also underlined it.

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Sorry about the crappy night time photo, but hopefully you can still see the details. I wanted to line the skirt but wasn’t sure how to navigate the pleats and the side seams and the zip, so I simply underlined it, by basting the lining onto the top of the skirt and letting it hang loose below. The lining is cut to the view A length, which is pretty short – just on knee length for me, unhemmed. If I made view A I’d want to add a couple inches.

I didn’t sew down the pleats, either, which did add some time because it meant more basting and wrangling than if I had sewn them shut as per the pattern. I did this on my muslin and didn’t like the look of them for this version but I would like to try it for a future version.

I also skipped the construction order and put the back together, with yoke and facing, did the same with the front, and then sewed the side seams last. I think I am going to start doing this as often as possible, because of the ease of adjusting. I dealt with the facing by folding over and sewing the seam allowance on the bottom, and then top stitching from the front. I thought about top stitching in light green or aqua but stuck with white, in the end.

I promise the hem is not uneven, I just stand wonky a lot.

These photos are a bit variable, because we took them at the end of our regular evening walk. It was a bit windy and bright, so I didn’t get as many good ones to chose from as usual. Also, S very kindly took them, but he was feeling a bit unwell so was not as open to direction as he sometimes is. The closeups, for instance, are all from his head-height and give me slight vertigo because of the angle:

But hey, I am not complaining. He is very helpful and supportive and I am grateful for the photo assistance. I couldn’t help resist showing you some scenery, though:

We live in a very beautiful place.

There’s a hawk in that photo, too. Here’s a close up

ANYWAY. Skirt. My waist is 102cm any way I measure it, which is outside of the size range of this pattern. but I know from bitter experience that if I make a skirt to my actual size, it basically falls off my hips. My theory is that there’s a couple of inches that are very smooshable. So I made up a size 22 muslin, which is Waist 94cm, Hips 117cm (and also the size indicated by my full bust measurement of 112cm). The muslin was slightly too big, so for the final version I made a size 22 front, and a size 20 back with a 1cm wedge taken from the centre seam, tapering to nothing, for my swayback. I’m REALLY happy with the final fit. Feels very secure at my waist without being constricting, even when I sit.

The pattern calls for a regular zipper, but I didn’t have any the right length and colour and also I’m crap at them so I just did an invisible zipper, although I sewed a bit close to the teeth so it takes some finagling to do up and that makes me worried it’ll jam or break eventually. I need to put a hook and eye in but I didn’t have one big enough so I’ll pick one up tomorrow.

It gapes up the top above the zip but every single photo has it covered by my shirt so I guess that’s not a problem!

Speaking of the shirt, I also made that today. Yet another Kirsten Kimono tee, out of ‘performance knit’ from spotters. This is expensive for a spotlight fabric – something like $24 a metre – but is the good stuff. It’s what I make my bike shorts out of, and it holds up well. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t put the ‘take a wedge out of the front for cheater FBA’ adjustment on the actual pattern (I have now), so the front gaped a bit. To compensate I pulled the binding very tight at the front, so it bunches, but I’d rather that than gaping.

One of my more flattering angles. I guess this is how S sees me all the time… gosh.

I have enough of this fabric to make another one if it annoys me too much, as well as some other, thinner, white knit that needs something doing with it. Binding is a 2″ binding in the usual way. I added 1cm to the shoulders – next time I might leave it off the back, as I find the shoulder seam migrates to the front. I serged the seams because I had white thread in my machine already so why not? I cut the sleeves with an extra 1.5cm, with the theory that a larger turnover might make for a less wibbly hem. That appears to have been true, it’s much neater than my last few. Hems are just sewn with a zigzag.

The hem on the skirt is a bit shorter than as per pattern, because I didn’t have quite enough to cut it out to length. So I’d say it’s maybe 1.5″ shorter? Hem is just serged and turned up an inch. I really like the length, though. I am so pleased with this pattern – I found it to be really well drafted. I can’t speak to the instructions because I skipped them beyond peering at the photos for suggested construction order but it goes together like any skirt, and the pattern markings are clear what to do with the pleats etc. I really like the way the pleat in the centre back seam is drafted around the zipper. Very clever. There’s another view with a different arrangement of pleats, and I’d like to give that a whirl.

I’m very glad I was too lazy to draft my own skirt! This one’s a winner.

 

Kirsten Kimono Tee and the skirt that fought me

This should have been a real simple skirt. But nooooo.

It’s a self drafted 1/4ish circle skirt – I say ‘ish’ because since my waist measurement is relatively large, drafting a 1/4 circle means making a large pattern piece, and it gets hard to draw the lines in straight because everything is far away from everything else, and you have to tape all these pieces of paper together… instead I drafted a 1/2 circle skirt and slashed and folded out a bunch of the width.

I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted – a simple skirt with a flared shape and some drape. Foolishly I followed the instructions that had me add wearing ease. I should know by now that wearing ease in a circle skirt is a recipe for disaster. I had to take it in a bunch of times, including  removing an inch from each side of the front (but not the back), sewing the pockets shut because they gaped out, and resetting the zip about three times to take a wedge of about an inch out of the back. And as a result, the zip does this:

UGH.

So this is not the skirt I had in mind, really. And it took me about a week. I could have sewn two dresses in the time I was wrestling with this! I’m especially bitter about it because sewing time is precious at the moment. I have a reasonable amount of free time as I’m on summer holidays. But the only air con in the house is in the living room. As a result, if the temperature is over about 36C, it’s too hot after 11am to be sewing in my room. Although that may have contributed to some of this skirt’s issues – heatwave brain makes poor sewing decisions.

That back seam is a MESS. To be honest, I’m not sure that a back zipper is ever going to sit totally neatly, though. My but has a lot of different curves going on. Perhaps a side zipper would be better? Part of the problem is that the skirt slips down to sit at an angle, and that distorts the zipper even more. That’s just how skirts are going to sit on my waist, as a function of how it’s shaped. I’m just not sure how to work with that rather than against it. It’s a bit disheartening, tbh. I love dresses but I’d like the option of separates, without looking sloppy.

The fabric is a light denim from spotlight, with a mild stretch. I have enough to recut the back but not I think to recut the whole skirt. But honestly, I think I’m done with this thing. I might just buy some more fabric and make another one, fresh. This will probably get worn as a gardening skirt or something. I didn’t even bother pressing it for photos.

I cut it on the bias, but looking at these photos, I think next time I’ll cut the front on the bias and the back on the straight grain.

Those lumps make me angry to look at.

The top is a bit more of a success! It’s the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee. I had avoided this because I previously didn’t like cut-on sleeves. But recently I’ve made a few things with this kind of sleeve, besides seeing it all the time in RTW, and I’ve come around. It does mean inevitable armpit wrinkles, for those of us with busts, but I don’t really care about that.

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I took some closer photos wearing leggings to hopefully show you the length a bit better

I only printed the pattern pieces and not the instructions, so didn’t realise you’re supposed to add seam allowances. This worked out for me though! I made a 2XL. First up I muslined it out of an old, holey jersey bedsheet. I didn’t watch my placement and ended up cutting it with a hole right on the boob, but that’s ok because it’s fast become my favourite sleep shirt. So soft!

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There is some back pooling but not too much – especially when I’m not twisting weirdly.

To make the black version, I added 1cm to the front neckline, although I think I didn’t need to – in this less drapey fabric it makes it sit a bit high and pull backwards. I think all I need to do is actually add the correct s/a to the shoulders. I won’t add it to the sides, though, I’m happy with how they fit. I sewed it all up with a lightning stitch, and broke out my walking foot to so the hems and binding. I bound it using this method which worked really well but I only used 1.5″ binding – next time I’ll make it thicker, because it was hard to get it neat when there wasn’t much width to work with.

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I didn’t do the back join very neatly, but it was my first time with this method and I have some RTW shirts just as badly done so I can live with it. It’s also already covered in cat hair…

I finished the arms with a lightning stitch, which is a bit wobbly. I also found it quite long on me – I like a long shirt for tucking but it means it’s ridiculously long if I don’t tuck it. I could probably lose an inch or two.