Welcome to the second stop on Wendy Ward's Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts book blog tour. I was honoured to be asked to take part! I'm a big fan of Wendy's work, I've had great results with her patterns and I like her straight talking style and her secure methodology. This book is guide to making eight basic skirt shapes - jersey straight, wrap, circle, A-line, bubble, woven straight, culottes and button through and covers all the techniques you will need. Each style is a starting point, with three style variations to add new details to your garments and increase your sewing skills.
There's a lovely group of bloggers - Handmade Jane, Marilla Walker, Peas and Needles, and Elisalex from By hand London taking part and we've each been kindly supplied with the fabric of our choice from Fabworks Online to make a skirt from the book and showcase the styles. I chose the A-line skirt, Rusholme. I lengthened the pattern at the hem to maxi length and opted for pockets and a straight waistband. I also added a lining on the advice of George of Fabworks. I wanted a check and find wool itchy so I chose Teal and Charcoal gingham check: a soft brushed cotton with herringbone weave and good drape. Other brushed cottons are available as I think this one has since sold out. It's medium weight and the lining supports the fabric, gives a quality finish and adds extra warmth for a winter skirt. George sent me this sapphire satin twill lining which was a great colour match and feels lovely and silky. As always, don't forget to prewash and dry flat!
Full size patterns are included at the back of the book and you trace trace the parts needed for the style you're making and some pieces like waistbands are used with more than one skirt style. Some larger pattern pieces come in two-parts so check out the pattern sheets thoroughly to locate everything you need. The styles are printed in rainbow of colours with a key on each sheet so you know which is which and I found Swedish paper was perfect to see the lines through the paper; dot and cross paper was a little too opaque to see the lighter colours. To pattern match the checks, I cut the pieces out flat rather than on a folded double layer. For the front skirt I drew the fold line in chalk on the reverse, pinned the pattern aligned with that, cut one half and then flipped the fabric over the chalked line so I can match the pattern exactly. For the two back pieces, I cut one and then laid it on the fabric to act as a pattern piece for the next one.
I cut a size S and my only adjustment was to sew slightly narrow seams from the top of the hips up to the waist and at each end of the waistband as I like a bit of ease around the waist. I lengthened the hem by 3" on the skirt back and front and used a quilt ruler and a chalk pencil to mark directly on the fabric. For the lining, I used the same main from and back pattern pieces, but cut them 1" shorter than the skirt. I also added some of the skirt fabric to the top of the lining as I cut into it a little too keenly and needed to rectify my mistake! I used Wendy's method to insert the invisible zip (I usually use this method although not any more!). There is a fair bit of hand basting but it's worth it for the accuracy and all my checks lined up first time. It also helps to mark the back of your zip with pencil so you can match up each side exactly - you can see a similar method here. I also used 1" strips of interfacing on the zip seams which Wendy mentions for invisible zips. Adding a skirt lining isn't covered in the book but it just involves sewing a second skirt, pressing the raw edges of the centre back seam by ¾" and hand stitching the lining to the zip. The top of the lining is caught in the waistband and the bottom edge is hemmed. ***Edited to add: Wendy will be covering how to line ALL the skirts in the book on her blog next week! ***
I cut my pocket facings on the bias for visual interest and I block fused this fabric with sheer perfect fuse before I cut them out to stabilise the grain. Once I'd sewed my pockets, I secured the top opening to the skirt front along the top stitching to keep them secure.
I anchored the lining with a thread chain which is covered here.
The front of the book introduces to each skirt, the cutting plans and requirements and then the putting it together details take you through construction and refer you to more detailed techniques at the back of the book. Each skirt has large uncluttered photographs, including close-ups so you can clearly see the features and the styling is clean and modern throughout. The techniques are clearly illustrated and easy to follow. The size range is UK 8-26. once you have some sewing experience, it would be easy to mix the styles up, I like the idea of a button front Rusholme.
I was very pleased with the resulting skirt. It's a classic shape, a great fit and has generous pockets. Wendy's Beginner's Guide to Making skirts is a solid book for any dressmakers bookshelf, great for beginners and beyond - there's always something new to learn! If you want to read more about the book, Wendy has done a series of posts featuring each style, see more at her blog.
Disclaimer: I was given the book and fabric as part of the blog tour. All views are my own.