Monday, 10 February 2014

Reviewed: Maria Denmark Paula Pleat Skirt

I'm still working my way down a list of gaps in my wardrobe, which as I mentioned before includes an awful lot of what are probably pretty unexciting garments. However, sometimes you really do just have to make a black skirt because you need one. Hence: I made a black skirt. And, OK, it's just a pretty basic black skirt, really, but I absolutely love, love, LOVE it. \o/

Black Paula Pleat skirt front and back, as modelled by Flossie (please pardon the wrinkles!)
For such a simple garment I dithered a surprisingly long time over what pattern to use. I was really stuck on the idea of using this bias cut flouncy skirt from the recent Burda Classics issue, but when I looked at my wardrobe spreadsheet (shhh, don't laugh) I realized that actually I already have a couple of floucy-type skirts, including one in dark grey, and there's a limit to how much one woman can flounce. However, I didn't have anything with pleats and only one A-line skirt, the blue one I made last week. If I'm only going to make one black skirt this winter, it made sense to do something that gave me some shape variation as well as colour, I figured, and I went with a recent e-pattern I bought, the Maria Denmark Paula Pleat Skirt (her shop, or also for sale on PR).

Maria Denmark's patterns are mainly straight-forward basics. I made the (free) Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern a couple of times back when I first started sewing knits and liked it a lot. One of them disintegrated pretty quickly (fabric problem), but the other I still wear quite regularly. I really want her Birgitte top pattern as well but can't really justify buying it when I already have, conservatively, 8 million simple knit top patterns.

I freely admit I haven't got the patience to add sticking together complicated patterns to the already lengthy process of tracing, cutting, etc etc before I actually get to sew, so this sort of e-pattern, which prints on 15 pages, is about right for me. The only problem I had on the e-pattern side of things is that (total user error) I managed to print it TWICE at 97% scaling. Why, self? What subconscious hatred of trees was I channelling at that moment?

Pattern Description: From the website: "The knee length (but easy to lengthen to the very trendy midi length!) Paula Pleat Skirt features back darts, center back inverted pleat, front side pleats and center front inverted pleat - giving the skirt fullness without adding bulk to the tummy area ('cause we don't want that!). It has a curved waistband and a side seam invisible zipper and can be made with facing or with complete lining."

Pattern Sizing: European sizes 34-46. I made a 42, based on the match between my hip measurements and the pattern. According to a blog post by the pattern creator, she designed the skirt to sit low on the body and mine does indeed sit right above the hips. If I had wanted to wear it at the waist I would definitely have had to play with the sizing.

When making a plain black skirt, might as well have a CRAZY LOUD lining!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, just like, although I used a somewhat more drapy fabric that the instructions suggested.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy, and interspersed with colour images. A beginner would have no problem at all following these instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? When I saw the pattern (and, on Maria Denmark's blog, images of tests of the pattern) I was really taken with the shape and positioning on the pleats, which seemed particularly flattering on the models. In real life, I actually like this even more than I did from photos. I feel like it's just a really great shape for my body and I love how it looks and how well it fits and how twirly it is. It was well drafted, the page count was kept to a minimum for printing (15 pages) and the instructions were great. The pattern doesn't have separate pieces for the lining but it's very easy to adjust the skirt front and back using the instructions. I really had no dislikes at all.

Fabric Used: The fashion fabric is a mystery suiting remnant with just the tiniest bit of stretch. The very loud floral lining is another mystery remnant, probably a polycotton.

As modelled by yours truly

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None whatsoever. I didn't even add any length.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am definitely going to sew it again some time. I think this could be my pleated skirt TNT. I definitely recommend it to others.

Conclusion: Making this skirt was a pleasure and I love, love, love the outcome.

Additional wibblings

Fabric: The main fabric was from the MichaelH stall at the Dublin Knitting and Stitching show back in November. They have a Facebook page and a shop in the city as well, and I keep really wanting ALL the fabrics that they post, but hi, could they have less convenient opening times? Weekday afternoons from 1:30 to 5:30. I guess they don't think anyone with an actual job might want to ever go in. The lining was from a bundle of fabrics I bought to use as muslins. This one had quite the sheen on it so I decided it would do for a lining. It's outrageously bright, but I think it's fun for a skirt lining that nobody will ever see.

Costs: Black fabric: €9 for a slightly mis-shapen ~1.4m piece, I used all of it. Lining, £1.61/m on eBay, and I used 1m. Stupidly expensive invisible zip: €3. Total cost: somewhere around €15 excluding the pattern. Again, I had priced up similar skirts in M&S and they were somewhere around the £25-30 mark for a simple, knee length flared or A-line skirt, so I am happy with that.

Sewing: This was such a smooth easy sew, but I also took it very gently. I didn't rush over any of the steps I usually rush over. I dug out my invisible zipper foot (LOVE my invisible zipper foot) and managed to put in a really great zipper (by my standards, at least). I love how it fits and that was straight out of the envelope. I really feel like I did a great job with this skirt and even though I know that's because it was a really easy pattern with a really easy outcome, I feel filled with confidence as a result of having made it.

Overall, yes, though, I just LOVE this skirt. I wore it to lecture in today because I wanted to wear it the first chance I got after finishing it.

Black and white infinity scarf. You can JUST see my fancy decorative stitching!
A second little make to tag on the end of this post: this black and white gingham infinity scarf. I made this because I saw a Pinterest pin with a scarf like this in an outfit that I thought looked really striking. I didn't have one that was the same, but I did have this totally random 1m piece of black and white gingham fabric. An hour later, I had this scarf! I actually don't love it because the fabric is too crisp for a scarf, really. I needed something drapier. However, I did like how it looked when I copied the outfit and I liked using one of the otherwise little-used decorative stitches on my machine when I was hemming it. I also liked that I used up this piece of fabric that was so random it wasn't on any of my spreadsheets and for which I had no purpose whatsoever. (And it cost me £1.45 from the Fabrix remnant bin at least a year ago in Lancaster, so even if it's not exactly what I wanted it wasn't a big deal to use it!)


  1. I think the pattern benefits from being made in a more drapy fabric than recommended and I love the bright lining.

    1. I agree! I have been sort of thinking whether I want to make up the same pattern in the late spring with a really nice chambray that I have, but I am not totally convinced it works with crisper fabrics, no matter what the pattern creator thinks. And I love my lining too -- a little bit of hidden madness! :D

  2. You are so funny!!! I actually laughed out loud reading your post today - thanks!
    And look at you, appearing in person on your blog!! Looking good!

    1. Headlessly appearing on my blog, but appearing indeed! :D Glad to give you a laugh!

  3. yay another lecturer! And keep loving your simple garments - they're what we all want to wear everyday!

    1. I think academics are interestingly over-represented in the sewing blogging world. Obviously we all just like the sound of our own voices or something :D