Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn Helena Skirt.

Some sewing projects are a breeze, and practically make themselves. I post photos on my blog and say things like "easy peasy lemon squeezy" and "super easy pattern"!

Other projects require blood, sweat, and tears.

And strangely, sometimes a project that was easy peasy lemon squeezy the first time kicks my butt the second time.

My latest attempt at the "Helena" skirt falls into this last category. It's an easy pattern. I've made it before. But it totally kicked my butt this time around.

Helena Skirt.
Remember? I flat-felled the side seams, only to realize, too late, that I had intended to include side-pockets? Ugh. I also ran into sewing machine issues with this super thick cotton twill - topstitching through three or four layers of this stuff is no picnic.

After my last post on this project, I let it sit for a few days. During that time, I determined that I really wanted pockets, dammit. The thing is, I've made lots of clothes for myself that were less than ideal. And I don't wear them. So if I'm going to make something for myself to wear, I've learned that it's worth doing it right.

Here's what I learned: Flat-felled seams and side pockets are fundamentally incompatible.

After trying to unpick the double stitched seams and insert a pocket, with disastrous, heinous, not-fit-for-print results, I ended up just chopping off the whole seam allowance, smoothing out the side seams and proceding to make a skirt that has two inches less width. I mean, it's a pleated skirt for crying out loud, right? So I started over, installed pockets in a contrasting soft cotton, finished the raw edges with zig-zag, adjusted the pleats to fit the waistband, and learned how to do buttonholes with my new machine, and eventually arrived at this. The "Autumn Helena Skirt." With pockets, dammit.

Helena Skirt sideview.

Helena Skirt pocket.

Whew. Those are some hard-earned pockets!

My objective was to make a simple, neutral skirt that would be casual but work appropriate (at my job, denim is only acceptable on Fridays) and look good with tights and boots and a variety of tops. And have pockets! And actually get worn! And I think I've achieved that. I'm pretty happy with the final product.

And now I need to sew something genuinely easy!

Here's a sneak peak at an upcoming project that may just fit the bill:


Any guesses as to what this may turn out to be?

Hint: It's for Joe.


  1. Oh, I've had many projects that gave me headaches like that! The good news is is that in the end you have made a gorgeous skirt (with awesome pockets) that you'll be able to get so much use out of! What you said about short cuts on sewing projects is so true...I have many items that I skimped on and in the end they just end up sitting in my closet :(

  2. Oh, it's perfect! I love, love the pocket linings. I think you may have inspired me to go back to a skirt I recently made that's just not quite right. I know what I need to do to fix it... it's just a fair bit of work. But worth it, right? I might even have to add pockets while I'm at it ;)

  3. Anne: Yes! Any guesses as to what?

    Carolyn & Jane: Thank you for your kind words! Aw, you're making me feel pretty pleased with this PITA project!

  4. Okay, if any pockets are worth it, those surely are. They're gorgeous! And I love how you've updated the top of the blog. (What's that called? The banner? I don't know.) The photos are beautiful, and they capture the various sources of wildness (?)in your life.

    As for the costume, um, a train? Specifically, a certain blue train? Or perhaps a kind of duck, like the bufflehead? Just riffing on Joe's interests here.

  5. Melissa: Aw, I'm stoked you noticed my new banner! I like it too! Lots of gardeny/kitcheny Joe. :-)

    It's funny, because I TOLD you what that pile of felt was destined to be! Just search your emails for The Answer, hehehe.

  6. I found it! I know! Am I allowed to spill the beans, or should I make them all wait for the photos?

  7. Love it! Great colour and cut. Hmmm, makes me wanna make one!

  8. Thank you Sophie! I can't wait to wear it again, when I'm not pregnant anymore ...


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