Inspired by the film Coco Avant Chanel and armed with 2.5m of Sugar & Spice 50's inspired florals fabric I decided this week to try my hand at skirt making.
To help the process along I bought McCall's 3341 pattern.
I know the cover is far from awe inspiring but it's marketed as Quick & Easy which is what this newbie wants; I can do long and laborious another time.
McCall's pattern 3341 description is as follows;
Misses' A-Line Skirts in 5 lengths: skirt has front and back darts, back zipper closure & faced waist: skirt A or B has a back slit.
Fabric – 100% cotton Aster Dot (Mill Pattern #HS12985, Sugar & Spice Textiles – 50's Inspired Florals)
Interfacing (I used fusible), 7" zipper, thread, and one Hook & Eye.
I chose McCall's 3341 skirt B – back length from natural waistline (30"), bottom width 53.5" in size 18.
Size 18, I know!!
Trust me my ego didn't like it much either so I went online to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I am not. It appears that the fashion industry engages in vanity sizing – shop bought clothes and pattern sizes rarely match.
I fall somewhere between the 16-18 dressmakers range so I thought to be on the safe side I would go for size 18.
The McCall 3341 A-Line skirt from start to finish is as it claims 'Quick & Easy' even for a complete beginner like me.
A few things slowed the process down a little for me; the zipper, the 'easing in' of the waist facing, and the dress size 18.
I don't know exactly what happened with the zipper, but I think I may have sewn the second side a little closer to the zipper edge than the first. It doesn't look too bad, the zipper is covered when closed but I am sure the fabric should measure equal on both sides.
I suppose that's the price for not checking up on how to sew zippers.
Learning plenty from the zipper experience, I looked up how to 'ease in' the waist facing into my skirt.
The idea is to add a line of basting stitches between the back and front darts on each side of the skirt and then pull the stiches so the the fabric gently gathers together without pleating.
Well, just like the sleeves on my Heather Ross Summer Blouse I kept getting small pleats. After a cup of tea I decided to go with the flow and just sew the waist facing – pleats or no pleats.
I got pleats – all facing one direction!! I think I was also supposed to 'gather' the basting stitches in opposite directions from the front of the skirt….moving on.
The last little issue I had with McCall's 3341 was with the sizing. It seems that size 16 would have been a better fit despite the fact my hip measurements fall squarely in the size 18 range.
In fact I had a total of 3cms spare on my hips and acres of fabric across my lower abdomen. I actually knew I had lot's of spare room in the hips before I added the waist facing but I decided against making any adjustments at that point because I didn't know how the waist would work.
To reduce the sides by 1 cm each, I simply opened up the the waist facing at the top of the sides and machined a new seam into each side. I don't know if this is how it's done but it worked.
The skirt is still a touch too roomy but it isn't as noticeable as before.
There is still too much fabric across the abdomen. I guess it's just one of the problems with making a pattern that hasn't been adjusted to your own body shape.
As usual I didn't follow all the instructions as I should have, primarily because I didn't understand them.
The one instruction that really flummoxed me was about the waist facing.
"GRADE seam allowance by cutting to graduated widths and interfacing close to stiching. Clip curves".
The instructions then offers a tiny diagram of something being clipped. I have checked the pattern sheets and there are no markings for snips so I just added some into the seam allowance. I don't whether they made any real difference or in fact I put them in the right place.
The hemming instructions were a little challenging too so I chickened out and ignored them. I also took the skirt length up by 1.5cm.
After adding the last touch (Hook & Eye), I now have a 50's inspired floral A-Line skirt. Not bad for 2 days work.