Tuesday, 17 May 2016

More polka dots (Ottobre 05-2008-02 buttoned denim skirt)

For various reasons I have some summer skirt shaped gaps in my wardrobe at present, so over the next few weeks I am going to make a few replacements.

Ottobre 05-2008-02 Buttoned denim skirt, image on the left from Ottobre
The first skirt I've made is a just-above-the knee, button-fronted a-line skirt. I saw this style a lot in shops over the autumn and winter, and it seems pretty popular this summer too. It's also a style that comes back into fashion pretty frequently, so when I dug through my pattern collection I found several possibilities. I settled eventually on Ottobre 05-2008-02. I knew from the modelled image that it was going to be too short for me as drafted and I therefore had to adjust 6 pattern pieces (centre and side front, centre and side back, and the front and back hem bands) in order to make it less knicker-revealing.
My polka dot version of Ottobre 05-2008-02 - front view
I ended up adding 10cm (4") to the length and since it's an A-line skirt, this also made the pattern pieces rather wider at the hem. In order to get the revised pattern out of my 1m piece of lightweight blue polka dot denim fabric I had to leave off one set of pockets (I chose to put the pair I could make on the front) and the weird self-belt thingy (which I actually never planned to cut out because: what, why?). I had only the tiniest pile of scraps left over when I was done and this came back to bite me later. I made the waistband facing from some blue elephant cotton lawn left over from making PJs last summer.

My polka dot version of Ottobre 05-2008-02 - back view
After what seemed like a lot of playing Tetris to get all the pattern pieces on the fabric, actual construction was mainly very easy. The most time-consuming thing was all the top-stitching, which, much like bias binding every seam, seems like a good idea before you start and after you finish, but not so much when you are swapping out needles and threads for the eight millionth time during construction. This was my first time top-stitching with actual Gutermann topstitch thread, and I wasn't wholly excited by the experience, I have to admit. It ravelled, it was hard to thread even with proper topstitch needles, and it broke on several occasions going over lumpy bits of seam. On the other hand, it does look much more striking than using regular thread. I used hammer-on jeans buttons for the front button band and these turned out to be quite easy to install once I broke out my big hammer rather than smacking at them feebly with my little craft hammer.

My polka dot version of Ottobre 05-2008-02 - internal view. My vertical seams are BARELY visible because I flat-felled them
Overall, I was really happy with the construction -- I didn't like the thread, but I do love the finished look of the top-stitching details, and a combination of following the Ottobre instructions and deciding to flat-fell the vertical seams and overlock the long curved hem band seams produced a nice clean finish both inside and out.

Close-up of buttons and top-stitching
 I would in fact say this was my best-finished garment of the year so far, if it weren't for the Big Horrible Flaw that I introduced into it, which caused a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The place where I cut into it with my overlocker and had to patch :( :(
Ironically the other day I was reading a blog post on Mistakes Every Garment Sewer Will Make and thought to myself that despite many errors with my overlocker I hadn't actually cut into my fabric with it recently (#3 on the list) .... only to immediately do so on my next garment. It was a tiny hole but right in the middle of one of the largest pattern pieces, the rear hem band. I barely had enough scraps to test my buttonholes, let alone re-cut the hem band. I ended up patching it as best I could but if you know it's there, it's far from inconspicuous. That said, it's on the rear hem band where I'll never see it, and I feel that it passes the can-you-see-it-from-1m-away flaw test. I don't know, am I kidding myself and it's actually really awful? Should I have abandoned it the way the author of that blog post says she does? It's definitely not ideal but I feel like I can live with it.

I decided it wasn't noticeable unless you KNOW it's there.
I spent a lot of time while making this skirt nervous about fit because this is a new size for me. I've always historically found Ottobre to be pretty true to size based on their measurement table, and luckily this turned out to be the case again. I am pretty happy with how it fits overall. This is a size 40 straight off the pattern sheet with no adjustments except for length as described above. In a non-stretch woven I'll need to give myself some extra room at the waist compared to their draft, but in this stretch denim it's fine. My biggest concern now about this skirt is that with the length and the polka dots and the top-stitching, it's an order of magnitude more twee than the rest of my wardrobe. I mean, I think it's very cute, but I'm not 100% sure that "very cute" is wholly my thing, or really works on my 40 year old self. I'll guess I'll see how much I wear it!

As modelled by me. I will likely never again wear anything tucked in like this.
Next up: I am in the process of tracing out one of the more ridiculous patterns from the very latest Burda, 06-2016, which arrived on Saturday. I feel there is a lack of Giant Rectangles in my life, and only Burda can help me with that.  I am also tracing the pattern I have finally (FINALLY) settled on for my blue/green linen jacket. It's about 20 pieces though, so tracing alone may take some time!


  1. It looks great and the patch is not noticeable from downunder 😀. I have a navy polka dot skirt and it is my summer staple and still going strong after 12 years . It goes with so much.

    1. Thanks! I definitely think this will be a useful skirt for my wardrobe this year.

  2. Love the fabric & the style; and it looks cute on you.