I think the last time I wore an A-line skirt I was 11. It was my school uniform and even then I hated the shape of it. Which is evidenced by my wearing anything but in the years that followed. My loose attempts to stick to my uniform manifested themselves in floor length full skirts that I tripped over constantly, delighting in the fraying holey hem, or skirts so short that I was reprimanded by my form tutor - to which my response was to claim discrimination because I was tall and other, less vertiginous, girls wearing even shorter skirts were still swanning around in them. (This is absolutely the only area in which I was vaguely rebellious - I was a total swot.)
I hate to say it but I always find A-line skirts pretty frumpy. I'm not sure why, but to me they are boring, too 'safe' and unflattering. This is of course incredibly judgmental and harsh and says more about my obsession with remaining current and vaguely on it and not falling into a frump-well than it does the real place of an A-line skirt in the world. But I can't shake those feelings and so have steered away from this particular shape of skirt, like my life as a wannabe trend-setter would be over if I allowed myself to wear one ...
So what on earth possessed me to make an A-Line skirt? Well clearly I'm not 11 or 16 anymore and need more skirt options that don’t rely on extreme hemlines; I've seen A-line midi denim skirts everywhere in the last few months and like some kind of torture can't stop thinking about them; I stole a vintage pattern, Vogue 8325, from my mum in the summer and loved the idea of a denim version of view D with pockets and lots of contrast topstitching. I found the most gorgeous medium weight denim in Mood with just a little bit of stretch making it perfect for this project, so when all these sewing stars decide to align there really isn't much choice but to go with it. (If I can get over my A-line issues, I am definitely going to make a windowpane version à l'illustration next summer.)
This was my first time sewing with a vintage pattern and it was great; I really liked that all the seam allowances are marked on the pattern pieces. Although as with many vintage patterns it was a one size pattern (28 waist), which is a lot smaller than post-babies me. Taking advice from previous comments, I measured the pattern pieces to work out the size differential and then added to the centre front and centre back. I also made the pockets slightly wider so that they would have the proportions as intended by the design. And that was pretty much it in terms of pattern adjustments - oh aside from adding length - which is a given.
In terms of construction, I serged my seams, used scraps of lawn leftover from this dress to line the pockets and the waistband and opted for an exposed metal zip instead of an invisible or lapped one (because, denim) and went all out with the topstitching. I used beige topstitching thread which contrasts beautifully with the denim, but I'm not really one to unpick unless it's a deal-breaker so some less than arrow-straight stitching is pretty visible.
And that makes my wonky waistband even more obvious. So obvious, that my (darling) husband, who leads the pack when it comes to being oblivious to, well, everything, noticed that something wasn't right.
I use a pin as a marker to ensure the waistband seam matches up on each side of the zip and have received some other very useful tips for doubly ensuring it does so, but in this instance the zip insertion isn't actually the issue, it's the darn waistband. If you look at the picture below - you can see that one side is significantly narrower than the other.
I have been sewing for a while now and have mastered, or at least achieved with results I'm happy with, some pretty complicated patterns and techniques and am getting my pattern alteration game on point. But for the life of me I still haven't managed to sew a satisfactorily even waistband that doesn't have bulk around the zip, or crappily turned corners, or visible-from-the-outside facing, or clipped seam allowance that won't stay inside the facing so I have raw edges sticking out, or, and this is the thing that happens the most, two ends which are significantly different sizes because I can't seem to ensure the width of the waistband stays uniform for its entire length.
What am I doing wrong? Is it poor cutting out, poor attention to seam allowance, or does it have to do with the alterations I generally have to make affecting how well the different front and back pieces of my garments meet up - i.e. seam lengths will differ from front to back piece. That then makes lining the waistband up with the top of the garment a little challenging. Other than measuring the depth of the waistband all the way around and drawing on the stitching line, I'm not sure of a solution.
I have absolutely no desire to take the waistband and zip off and start again with this, so my wonky waistband, made even more visible by my wonky topstitching will be staying.
I want to love this skirt. I love the denim and the colour of the topstitching the giant pockets and the length and the exposed zip. But I hate it when my poor sewing skills are so obvious (but clearly I don’t hate it enough to redo it - or maybe that’s the point - I’m too ambivalent to redo it) and I’m struggling to get past what I see as the frump factor which will likely only increase as the weather gets colder and I’ll need to wear this with tights and boots.
The final test is to see how often I pull this out of the closet in the next few months.
Do you like an A-line? Are there silhouettes that make you shudder? And are you an unpick-till-it’s-perfect, or a sod-it-that-will-do stitcher?
Funny, I always thought I was a perfectionist …
See you soon (for extensive Minoru Jacket musings) x