Saturday, 4 October 2014

A chambray skirt (Ottobre 05-2008-13)

The main thing I discovered as I made this skirt is that it is possible to TOTALLY overly complicate even a relatively simple pattern.

Back when I was planning what I thought I might make this autumn, near the top of my list was a pleated chambray skirt. Originally I was going to use the Deer and Doe Chardon pattern, but for a variety of reasons that don't really stand up to any close scrutiny (mainly that I couldn't be bothered to figure out what size I needed when I could just trace the size I always use in Ottobre. Also, I liked the pockets on the Ottobre pattern better than the pockets on the Chardon.) I ended up using this pattern from an older issue of Ottobre, 05-2007-13.

Magazine image and technical drawing for Ottobre 05-2007-13
I traced out my usual size (42), adjusted the length (hard to tell from the photos above, but it's drafted rather short and would have been considerably above-knee length on me) and that was about it as far as pattern work was concerned.

Fabric wise, I used the remainder of a large piece of denim coloured chambray that I have already used to cut out another Ottobre 05-2012-07 shirt like my blue shiny one. (I've decided the key to shirt-making is to do it in little stages, so I'm part way through my chambray shirt and will eventually I suppose have something to show for my work.)

Chambray pleated skirt front and rear, as modelled by Flossie
However, this was the point at which I started to make my life more difficult that it needs to be. The fabric is really shirt-weight (hence I am making a shirt from it....) and so needed some kind of lining or a slip. In retrospect, I should have made a nice A-line slip, because it would have more generally useful, or done a simple A-line lining. However, I felt the need to be CLEVER, and so I decided to interline it.

This decision wasn't entirely about being too clever for my own good. I do love an interlined skirt, and the black and white linen interlined skirt I made this summer with interlining still looks marvellous despite the flimsy linen and going through the laundry AND it doesn't crease as much in wear with the interlining. The differences between that skirt and this one are: 1. I used a shifty, slippery lining fabric on the chambray skirt rather than the nice stable cotton I used on the black and white one; 2. the other skirt is straight, whereas I had to repeatedly handle long diagonal seams on the chambray skirt; 3. pockets, pleats, other details on the chambray skirt vs. absolutely no details at all on the straight skirt.

Chambray skirt interlined interior; top-stitched pleats and yoke
All of this added up to mis-shapen pieces of lining due to the fabric shifting while I was cutting, alarmingly wavy edges because I worked the fabric so hard and a LOT of frustration in the construction process. On about Thursday, I was almost ready to give up entirely. Friday, I woke up and thought that since I do WANT this skirt and the fabric was quite expensive, it was better to see if I could get it finished, even if the actual finish wasn't as nice as I imagined it in my head. Having abandoned the idea of perfection, actually everything began to go swimmingly well, and I am very pleased with the final outcome, which I'm sure is a ~~~~lesson of some sort. Not sure what. At any rate, it still would have been 100% easier to make this garment if I had chosen almost any other lining method known to humankind.

Other than these self-induced construction issues, this is a lovely little pattern. I love the pockets and the top-stitching details that are suggested, especially top stitching the top of the pleats. I top-stitched in barely-visible grey on the blue fabric, and I like it a lot. I'm using the same thread for my shirt as well. The skirt is a nice shape. The only thing I don't love is the size and positioning of the beltloops, which isn't entirely in the right place for my body shape to wear a belt. Still, that's a very minor quibble. I also did a crappy job with my invisible zip, the worst I've done in ages, but that's totally user error and nobody's fault but my own.

As modelled by me :D
This skirt, incidentally, replaces a denim skirt I made almost exactly a year ago. Although I wore it reasonably frequently, in the end there were three problems with that skirt that I could never overcome: the fabric was too heavy for the flippiness of the pattern; although I pre-washed the fabric it subsequently shrank upwards a little bit more with each wash and soon became rather shorter than I liked; and the stretch fabric relaxed so dramatically when the garment was worn that it easily became two sizes wider. It went into the recycling bag a couple of weeks ago. I have very conflicting feelings about getting rid of hand-made garments, but sometimes it just has to be done.


  1. Love it!! Chambray skirts are so feminine and I love the details of this Ottobre pattern.

    "...mainly that I couldn't be bothered to figure out what size I needed when I could just trace the size I always use in Ottobre..."

    My motto for sewing from TNTs!!

    1. Thanks! I really like my skirt. :D

      I kind of enjoy making lots of different patterns, but at the same time I hate having to worry about sizes all the time. It's why I sew so much from Ottobre -- their sizing is really reliable AND I know what size I need.