I originally posted here about my pledge for the Made Up Initiative set up by Karen over at didyoumakethat? Her original aim to raise £1,ooo in support of the National Literacy Trust has already been met and and far exceeded which is fantastic.
My pledge was to make the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen by the deadline of 10 September. This pattern appealed to me the first time I spotted it online, not least because of the great pockets. I picked Version 1 which is the shortest one with the BIG pockets!
I managed to overcome my reluctance to be forced to sew in order to meet a deadline. I traced off the pattern in small and made up a toile. I’m not sure if I missed something but the only problem I had was that the pocket facing and lining are not sized and the facing didn’t line up with the skirt front – there was a small piece sticking out at the top. I just chopped it off. Very daring! Here’s the toile – which I was very happy with.
I decided the small might be a bit snug once the zip was inserted so sized up to medium for the final version. This turned out to be fortuitous given what happened later.
On to the fabric. I had three possible choices.
In the end I went for a grey/blue fabric from Ditto in Brighton (bottom right). I’m not sure if this is a denim or a twill (or something else)? I was advised in the shop to wash it first and thankfully I paid attention because it shrank quite a bit. As a result I only just had enough fabric. I thought I’d have to cut the facings from something else but with a lot of fiddling (and one facing not cut on the grain) I managed it.
The pattern instructions are very clear and everything came together well. I invested in a new needle suitable for denim which made all the difference. This is a weighty fabric! I decided to topstitch in a matching thread because I didn’t want to mess things up with wonky stitching. I went with the tip to stitch along the bottom edge of the pocket from the side seam for around 2″ to avoid gaping as I noticed this was an issue with the toile.
I was slightly apprehensive about the gathering technique for heavier fabrics using cord which you sew over with a wide zig zag stitch and then pull the cord to create the gathers (I didn’t try this on the toile). I was worrying unnecessarily – it works like a dream! So effective and really easy, although I did have to cut the cord and extract it in several pieces when I’d finished, rather than just pulling it out in one go as suggested. I’ve not done much gathering before so I was expecting it to be tricky to get the waistband to attach neatly but it all went smoothly. The fabric looks much ‘bluer’ in these close-ups than it actually is.
At this point things started to go downhill as I attempted the exposed zip insertion! I’ve never done one of these before but I wanted to give it a go because I had a lovely blue denim zip which contrasted really well with the fabric. I won’t go into the whole traumatic experience in too much detail because I don’t want to re-live it but I just couldn’t achieve a finish I was happy with – particularly after accidentally clipping one corner of the rectangular space you fit the zip into in the wrong direction! I still can’t believe I did that! I did manage to stick it all back together with some interfacing and darning but it wasn’t a good start. Several unpickings led to unsightly fraying at the bottom of the zip space and I suspect the thickness of the fabric didn’t help.
This was where the fact that I had cut the skirt larger than the toile was the saving grace. I tried it on and realised that it was actually too big so I was able to trim the seam allowances back to get rid of the damage and insert a concealed zip instead. I started with a navy blue one but that also came out and was replaced with a neutral one. I used to be terrified of concealed zips but they now seem like a doddle by comparison! The only problem is that the junction between the skirt and the waistband is quite chunky and a vigorous pull is required to get the zip up past it.
There is no denying that this is a substantial garment – it can actually stand up by itself! W reckons it is bullet-proof and it is now known as the Kevlar Skirt. Here’s the finished skirt, with a quick photo of it ‘styled’ with tights and boots which is how I’m intending to wear it, although I changed out of them very quickly to come to work as I had started to overheat! Thankfully the zip behaved or I would have been trapped in it all day. I’m hoping its first outing will be for Karen’s Make Up Meet Up on the 12th. The photos make it look like the hem goes down at the front but rest assured that is an optical illusion!
Despite the zip trauma I absolutely love the Brumby and will definitely have another go at the exposed zip on the next version. I’m really pleased to have finished this within the Made Up deadline and to be supporting this brilliant initiative. Thank you Karen.