Saturday, 22 September 2012

Reviewed: Simplicity 5351 (Gored skirt)

LTS skirt: £40
Simplicity 5351 (view C upper right)
For skirt #4 of my radical re-imagining of my Autumn/Winter work wardrobe, I used Simplicity 5351 to recreate a Long Tall Sally skirt I pinned ages ago. I liked the shape of the LTS skirt with a wide twirly hem but no fullness over the hips, but not the colour (very pale grey) or the price (£40 originally, though later spotted on sale for £25). Actually, I intended originally to buy and use the very similar PR Best Pattern of 2010, Simplicity 2451. However, although a couple came up on eBay they always ended up practically full price and I had no real interest in paying £10 for a skirt pattern. I managed to get S5351 for £2.50 inc. p&p, which is much more my speed. There aren't too many reviews of S5351, but those that exist are positive.

BEFORE I START: I haven't hemmed this yet, so please forgive the awful ragged looking hem! /o\ I had to take photos while the sun was (for once) shining. Also, please forgive the triffid like plants that seem to want to cuddle up to the skirt and my camera at all times. (Review also here)

My skirt, as modelled by Flossie
Pattern Description: From the (uninformative) pattern envelope: Misses Skirts in Three Lengths. My description: Unlined gored or pleated skirts in various lengths with yoke waistband. I made view C, a knee length gored skirt.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 4-20 are available. My envelope contained sizes 12-20. I made a 20 with no alterations.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I think so. It's sort of hard to tell because it's just a line drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? This pattern is part of the "Made Easy" range of Simplicity patterns, and came with very clear instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's a very simple pattern so it's hard to have strong likes or dislikes about it! I do like the flippy hem and the yoke waistband. I dislike unlined skirts, especially if they're made of wool, but that was easily resolved by interlining.

As modelled by me
Fabric Used: Fashion fabric: a wool mix in mid brown. I love the texture of this fabric as it's really soft to touch. However, even though I like it to look at and wear, I HATED it with a fiery passion by the time I finished the skirt as it was a nightmare to work. It shredded! It MELTED if the iron was even a tiny bit too hot! It stretched while I was sewing, but not in a way I could predict and counter! I am pretty sure the yoke SHRANK when I interfaced it, even though I'd previously tumble dried the fabric. It was the absolute worst, in short. I really thought this skirt was going to end up in the bin because halfway through making it the fabric had stretched in all sorts of weird ways and I was having to unpick seam after seam and put it back together. However, for some reason I persevered and it came out mostly OK I think. Still, I had some left and it went straight on eBay as I am never ever sewing with it again, let me tell you.

Burnt orange acetate interlining, with fancy seam finish
Lining: The colour of this acetate interlining is apparently "burnt orange" although I think it's more copper. It's is a colour I like but would never normally wear. I am glad to have had the chance to use it somewhere, even if it can't be seen! Unfortunately, I didn't have quite enough to do a good job of interlining, so the hem of the lining is kind of a mess.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As with previous skirts I have made, I interlined/seam finished this skirt using the method described by PR user julieb in this tip. View C is supposed to have piping at the yoke/skirt panel seam but I decided not to use it on this occasion.

Naff action shot so you can see the flippy hem!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would definitely sew it again. It's such an easy pattern, just three pattern pieces (yoke, side panel, centre panel) and if I hadn't been sewing in that horrible fabric and interlining it would have been very easy to put together as well. It has a nice full hem without being full over the hips. I think it's a very flattering style for the right body shape. I'd recommend it, especially to beginners as the instructions are pretty good. There's not much variety in the pattern envelope, though, just shorter and longer versions, some yoke embellishments that I pretty much ignored, and one inverted pleat mini skirt.

Conclusion: An easy skirt pattern that even a beginner should find straightforward to make.
This is a terrible photo but my shoes are GREAT.

Extra notes

Costs: Unfortunately, the vendor of the wool appeared to have cut my fabric with a hatchet. It was so uneven across one edge I lost at least 15cm of usable length off the 2m that I bought, and then I  didn't do myself any favours cutting out my skirt without thinking properly about the pattern layout. I'd hoped to get a second usable length out of the piece, but all I had left was 60cm which is not enough to make anything except a VERY short skirt. For the purposes of my cost calculation, I've taken the full price of the 2m as the remainder is not usable as far as I'm concerned.

Fashion fabric: £4.90 per metre (including postage, £3/m without). Used: 2m. Cost: £9.80
Lining: £2.50 per metre (including postage, £1/m without). Used: 1m. Cost: £2.50
Bits & pieces: Zip - £0.56; Interfacing - £0.20; Skirt hook - £0.03

TOTAL (for now): £13.09 (+ thread, labour, pattern, etc)

Why only for now? Well, I hated the fabric so much I neatened up the bit I had left and put it on eBay to sell. I certainly never want to sew with it again! If I don't sell it, it can go in my bag-making supplies. If I do, it'll off-set some of the fabric costs. Either way, as it stands it's not as cheap as some skirts I've made, but a definite improvement on the LTS skirt at £40 + £4 postage that I originally looked at, and still half price when compared to buying it on sale at £25 + £4 postage. (Buying in a shop is not an option as the nearest LTS branch is 85 miles away.)

Nit-pickery (where I critique my sewing):

+ I finished it, despite the fabric. That may not sound like much of a plus, but believe me it is.

My seams are very fancy.
+ I did a better, but still not perfect, job with the interlining compared to the last skirt I made.

Zip! Kind of fudged, but still OK
+ I did a reasonably good job on the zip, even though the weird shrinking yoke meant I had to massively fudge the lapping.

I re-did this 3 times, and it still looks bad :(

- There are some pretty epic fudges in this skirt -- don't look at the hem, the waistband, that bit at the back where the fabric just WOULD NOT lie flat when I attached the yoke, etc. Luckily it'll all be covered up by a top when I wear it, but ugh, not great.

- I really needed more lining fabric -- it was £1/m so there's no real excuse for not buying 2m.

- Probably the worst thing I did was try to hurry through making this, especially once I realized how appalling the fabric was. I have to keep reminding myself, there's no actual prize for finishing things quickly. There are no prizes at all, in fact!


  1. Great skirt. I think we all see the faults as we have sewn it and therefore know they are there. It looks great and I love the flip. And yes - nice shoes.

    1. Thank you! :D I am really not happy about the problems where the skirt panels meet the yoke but there's a point where you've unpicked and resewn a certain number of times when you just have to go: this is as good as it's going to get. :( However, it's genuinely not visible unless I tuck in my top, which is something that NEVER EVER HAPPENS.

  2. Well at least you know it was the fabric, and not you! Do give this skirt another go, in a different fabric, as the style does suit do the shoes!!!

    1. Thanks! I think it might be a little bit my fault as well though -- if nothing else, for choosing the horrible fabric!