Sunday, 16 September 2012

Reviewed: Simplicity 3881 (Skirt with a flounce)

For skirt #3 in my radical reimagining of my wardrobe I wanted something grey, and something with a different silhouette than I've made so far. The pattern I used was Simplicity 3881. There are a dozen or more reviews on PR already and they all say much the same thing: this is quick and easy, but the waistband is odd and the hemming can be difficult on the full circle flounce. The TL;DR version of my post is: I concur!

Simplicity 3881, as modelled by Flossie

Pattern cover for Simplicity 3881

Pattern review (with extra bits at the end) -- also available at Pattern Review:

Pattern Description: (from the pattern envelope) Misses Skirt with Flounce and Length variations and Belt. I made view A, which is a knee length skirt with a single full circle flounce (the version on the model above).

Pattern Sizing: Available in 6-22, my envelope contained 14-22. I made a size 20 with no alterations.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, very like, although the pattern envelope and I disagree about where it should fit on my body.

Rear view, unfortunately crooked on Flossie!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were extremely easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I quite like the way that circle skirts drape and move but I find them too bulky over the hips. This skirt with the straighter section over the hips and a full circle flounce is the best of both worlds for me. On the other hand, I disliked the waistband (as have many previous reviewers) and decided to do something different instead. I also disliked hemming this skirt enormously. I knew I had a length problem so I machine roll hemmed it to keep as much as possible. With sewing the circular pieces of the fabric there were places that it stretched more than others, with the end result that 80% of the roll hem is great, 20% is bit wobbly. I don't think it's obvious when I'm wearing it, but it's one of those "I know it's there so it bothers me" things.

Interior -- lined upper, red contrast serge, slipstitched facing
Fabric Used: Mystery polycotton woven in light grey, plus a boring grey acetate lining. This is part of my winter work wardrobe that I am working on, and although rather dull on its own it's intended as a neutral base for a lot of different, more brightly coloured tops.

Close-up of the seam and serging
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made two main changes, neither of them visible when I'm wearing it: (1) I interlined the upper part of the skirt using the method described in this tip by JulieB because the fabric I was using was thin and seemed like it would be horribly static-y against tights. I didn't line the flounce because I thought it might make it too full and a little I'm-off-to-a-barn-dance. (b) I ignored the twill tape waistband instructions entirely in favour of making facings, which is the waistband treatment I prefer. I should also (c) have made the skirt a trifle longer as it's just a tiny bit shorter than I like for work. It's long enough that I'll wear it, but if I made the skirt again I'd add at least 3cm to the length.

Rear interior view
(You can also see in this photo that I chose to serge the skirt/ruffle seam in a constrasting thread. I love that ring of red like crazy and am glad I did it, but it wasn't so much a ~~design decision~~ as sheer laziness that produced it: I really just couldn't be bothered to rethread my overlocker with different thread.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I actually really like this pattern -- it's quick and very easy and the finished result is cute. I'm not sure I'd make another lined winter type skirt like it, but I think several of the views would make very pretty summer skirts made up in cotton prints.

Conclusion:  Easy flouncy skirt with strange waistband treatment as the instructions are written.

Photo of the sun damage
Extra notes

Cost: I essentially made this skirt for under £1.

I bought 3m of this grey fabric from a seller on eBay who is liquidating her late mother's (immense, seemingly) fabric stash. I've bought a LOT of fabric from her over the last few months and I know she is a good seller. When this piece arrived I was actually in a hurry so I just sort of flung it on a stack of things to wash and sent her positive feedback after the barest of glances at it. When I got it out the washer a few days later though I caught sight of some discolouring, and when I laid it out: yikes, EPIC sun damage. The seller was completely fine about it when I sent her the photo and refunded me straight away, no quibbles, leaving me down by about 25p postage in the end and up by 3m of mostly free, mostly useless fabric.

You can see in the photo that there are parts that look OK, so I salvaged what I could. I ended up with two full width pieces that were around 50-60cm long, and two 25cm pieces. It took a little bit of thought to lay it out, but I managed to squeeze the whole skirt out of the two larger pieces. I've tossed the rest of the salvage in my bag of possible bag pieces for now. There's something about the fabric that says ruffles to me, but ever since I made The Diabolical Green Thing I've been steering clear of ruffled bag patterns so I'm not quite sure if it'll make it into anything.

The other things I needed for this skirt were just as inexpensive. I used a piece of lining material that came out of the £5 bag of remnants (I always assign a 20p per metre value to those fabrics) and a 5p zip from my stash of cheap zips. My total costs were therefore approximately £0.60. Not bad at all for a brand new skirt!

Nit-pickery (where I critique my sewing):
Side view, also before hemmed etc.

Front view, taken before it was hemmed.
+ The zip went in much better than on the A-line skirt I made last weekend, probably because I really thought about it and basted it in very firmly before I sewed it in.

+ Still LOVE this lining/seam treatment approach, and I love my contrast serging. I am getting incredible enjoyment out of making the inside as polished as I am capable of given the constraints of my skill level and experience, so that's kind of fun. However:

- Memo to self: leave a big enough allowance on your lining pieces to turn the pieces properly if you're going to do it this way!

- Machine roll hemming: not the best idea I've had.

Overall, I call this a success, particularly given how inexpensive it was to make. Can definitely see myself wearing it to work, although I don't think I'd ever wear it without tights!

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