Friday, 30 May 2014

Summer Sewing Week: Skirts

Next up for my week of sewing: a couple of Burda skirts.

Skirts for summer: Burda 03-2010-123 (beige) and Burda 02-2014-109 (purple)
One of my favourite staples of my wardrobe every summer is beige or neutral coloured shorts and skirts. Last year I made a skirt from Ottobre 02-2010, which I loved and wore a lot even though it had various problems/flaws. However, I wanted a new one as that no longer fits. I was going to make another straight skirt, but then I saw this photo from an old issue of Burda and was really taken with the skirt the model is wearing. Unfortunately, this is one of those Burda images where the pattern is for the other part of the outfit, in this case the blouse.
Burda image of the skirt I wanted & technical image Burda 03-2010-123
However, it's hardly a revolutionary skirt concept, and in fact an extremely similar, although not identical, pattern was available in Burda 03-2010, #123. First though I couldn't seem to get the back issue for love or money. Then I got it, just recently, only to discover that the eBay seller didn't send the exact pattern sheet I most wanted. ARGH. I am still REALLY ANNOYED about that, let me tell you. In the end, I bought the specific pattern online, which is still annoying but at least I got to make it. I am still deciding whether I need to buy YET ANOTHER back issue of 3/2010 for completeness, ugh.

Front, back and inside view of Burda 03-2010-123. I swear the front looks better normally :(
Here's my review on PR of the pattern, which was easy and straightforward except that it involved doing my first ever fly front. I originally started with 2m of this beige cotton drill which I got very cheap on eBay 2 years ago and after I made last year's skirt I had just a smidgeon over 1m left -- like, 1.06m at the selvedge and a bit more in the centre of the piece. The Burda pattern says you need 1.25m, and if you cut it out on the fold you definitely do. I was able to JUST squeeze the skirt out of my weirdly-shaped-and-a-bit-more-than-a-metre piece by using the full length where I had the extra and cutting it out as a single layer, even though I also intended to lengthen it. Subsequently, however, having carefully cut the fabric leaving room for a longer hem, while doing my final neatening cut with my rotary, I cheerfully (and stupidly) cut the hem off at the original, too-short for me hemline by mistake. /o\ As it happens, I don't hate the length at all, although I had to finish the hem with ribbon in order to keep as much length as humanly possible, and it's an inch or so shorter than I would normally wear a skirt, even in summer. Still, I won't die from exposing an extra inch of leg.

Fabric costs were around £3.25, plus a £1 zip, plus ribbon for the hem, which I have no recollection of the price, plus overheads, so probably around £5-6? Ish? Not very much, anyway, for a skirt I'll probably wear loads. I really like this pattern too, so even though I went all round the houses trying to get it, it's probably been worth it.

This was my first attempt at a fly front and it's... not great? But it's also not TERRIBLE, so I don't know really how I feel about it overall. Honestly, I could not make ANY SENSE AT ALL of the Burda directions, not helped by the fact that unfortunately, despite all of my extensive education, I struggle to remember which is my left and which is my right. The Burda instructions were all like "line up the reverse right side of the zip with the left side of the right facing" and my eyes were rolling back in my head. The only way that kind of sentence could be worse for me is if someone yelled it at me (hence: any exercise class, like aerobics, where people shout directions at you, is my idea of hell). Luckily, I found a couple of good illustrated descriptions in my sewing reference books and figured it out, but yeesh.

My second summer skirt I've talked about before in one of my posts about planned makes: Burda 02-2014-109. Also a fly front

Burda 02-2014-109
Some time between mentioning it and actually making it, I saw that Nakisha had already made up this pattern, and hers seemed to turn out really well, which encouraged me to continue with my plan. Mine turned out... less well. Here's my actual review, though to be honest mostly I didn't go into the ins and outs of my travails (fully documented below)

Burda 02-2014-109, front, inside and the funky pocket lining I used
My purple fabric is a streeeeetchy purple cotton sateen twill from Croft Mill. I bought 1m for £7.60 including postage to Ireland and just BARELY squeezed out a size 42. I wanted the back pockets and stuff from another variation on this pattern in the 02-2014 magazine, but I had basically nothing left of the fabric after I cut out the skirt except for a few strips.

At first all the sewing went well, although I wasn't entirely convinced by the yoke as I couldn't for love or money get it to line up right at the centre seam. After three attempts, I gave up and decided I could live with it. Then I gave up for the day, got up the next morning and did the fly front. I sort of thought it would be easier to do my second fly, but no, it was not at all easier. In fact, it's a complete mess! It doesn't look TOO horrendous but it took like fifteen attempts and doesn't hold up to close scrutiny at all.

And then I went to put on the waistband, and discovered that my stretchy fabric had either stretched out horribly or the waistband had always been the wrong size, and it was now never going to work. The waistband was actually the right size for my body, and moreover, see above: I had nothing left but scraps. So recutting it was out. I tried easing in the back but there was just too much fabric and I ended up with a huge bubble of excess fabric above my butt. I tried darts and they looked terrible. In the end, I took a MASSIVE wedge out of the centre back seam and lived with even more of a mess from a matching perspecting at the centre yoke seam. Ugh. Then I realized that on my last attempt I had sewn the waistband on wrong and had to hurriedly improvise with some bias binding to conceal the raw edges. Double ugh!

In the end, the whole waist and hip ended up kind of a mess and does not have the best of fit either. I will get definitely some wear out of it with tops that are untucked, but it's not my favourite outcome. I'm not sure if it was the stretchy fabric or the fit of the pattern that was the problem. I also have the Grainline Moss Mini which is a similar pattern and which I might try another time when I want a skirt that is this shape. I think though I might also take a break from fly fronts for a while, because they're really a struggle.


  1. Oh no! I'm sorry you had such a hard time! :-/

    It's pretty though!!! Hopefully you can wear it with untucked shirts and get a bit of wear from it.

    1. Luckily, other than when taking photos, I'm not much inclined to tucking anything in at all, so I should be able to wear it no problem. Honestly though, I thought doing those fly fronts was going to send me doolally.

  2. Ugh, I know that frustration. I have yet to find a fly-front tutorial where I "get" everything the whole way through. I'm usually flipping/searching through 2-3 online tutorials over the course of doing a fly front. Maybe if I ever get truly comfortable with them, I should post *my* way on my blog. :P

    1. I need to see if I can find a better tutorial before I try fly fronts again. For now though I think I might stick to ordinary zippers for a while!

  3. I recently took a bunch of pictures when I did a fly front and put a cheat sheet blog post up. Then I did a burda pants pattern, and tried to incorporate their method and got in a mess again. Grrrrr. 3 fly fronts ago, I did a perfect one and was sure it would be plain sailing from there. I might have to make a video for myself the next time I do one. It does seem like there are at least 3 different methods, so looking at multiple guides might not actually be helpful!

    1. Someone on PR linked me to Debbie Cook's photo tutorial, which seemed to make a lot of sense. I don't know that I want to try it again any time soon though!