Tuesday, June 21, 2016

FO: The Birthday Skirt

It's my birthday today!

As one who sews clothing fairly often, I just can't go against the urge to make myself something that I deem my "birthday outfit". Last year, it ended up being my Blue Beignet Skirt (which I still love). This year, things have been pretty stressful, I can't lie. I had no real plans on making anything for my birthday just because I didn't want to add additional deadlines on myself, but that all changed when my mom asked me to go to Hobby Lobby with her last weekend. I was just along for the ride, and I was very good about not shopping around, until we hit the fabric section and saw that the spring fabrics were 50% off. There were a few floral printed twills that I had gawked over earlier this year that were all in the sale. Oddly enough what drew my attention to these fabrics was a little baby jumper made from them as a sample (so good job to the sample maker, ha ha). Since the fabrics was on sale, and I knew what I wanted to make AND I would make it up immediately, I splurged and bought the fabric :) It's so cute!
Since I was in the store and the fabric was a spur of the moment purchase, I had no pattern in mind. At first I contemplated a Hollyburn (what can I say, I have Hollyburn fever at the moment), but I really loved a striped coordinating fabric that I wanted to use as a border on the hem line, so the curved hem of the Hollyburn made that no longer an option. Since I knew what I wanted, I just decided to self draft a pleated skirt - which sounds much fancier than it technically is, lol.
Since this was "self drafted", I thought I'd outline how I figured everything to make this skirt and the sewing order I used in case others have never tried it. I used the full width of the fabric, first cutting two long rectangles of the floral print in the length I wanted my skirt to be minus the width of the hem band and the waistband. I cut one piece in half because I wanted a center back zipper (I need a little more fabric around my front so it worked out great). Next I cut out my striped fabric so that the stripes I wanted for the hem had enough to 1) have a seam allowance above them, 2) had an equivalent amount of fabric to fold to the wrong side and enclose everything as a true hem band, and 3) had a little extra on that back piece to fold under to stitch in the ditch and close it all up. I cut two strips of the stripes, also the full length of the fabric, and after some creative ironing, my band was ready to attach. I started by inserting a lapped zipper (my first ever and definitely not my last!) so that I could sew the back seam closed. Next, I attached the hem bands to the front and back pieces. Next, I decided I wanted pockets, but in a split second decision I decided to use the Hollyburn pocket piece - those are my favorite part of that pattern after all. So, I just cut the scoop for the pocket off the front piece, sewed pockets by the Hollyburn instructions, then I sewed the side seams. I prepped my waistband by cutting another 2 strips that were 2" tall and the full width of the fabric, interfacing one of them, then I sewed them together at the top and understitched the seam allowance getting it ready to attach. I wrapped the waistband around my waist and marked where it needed to meet with pins. Next I added inverted box pleats to the skirt. It took a few tries to get it to the right width, but we got there in the end. Next I attached the waistband, and jerry rigged a little flap at the end. I had to get creative and use my "alterations" skills on the zipper area to get it to sit correctly, but it all worked out and in the end I have a lapped zipper that connects to a flap that closes with a button on the other side. My final step was to fold the seam allowance under on the waistband and stitch in the ditch to close it all up.
I added in a few extra areas of top stitching - I like to top stitch my box pleats a little at the top so they lay flat against my tummy area, and the flap on the waistband had to be top stitched because of the order I sewed everything, but I think it turned out just fine :) Making a skirt from scratch like this certainly takes a bit more time and head scratching than using a pattern that already fits, but I think it's a fun challenge. Also, you are making it "size YOU" instead of a number designation - I didn't even have to technically measure my waist with how I constructed this. So if you're dealing with number anxiety, this is a good way to avoid it.
I love all the little touches on this skirt. I adore the lapped zipper - so much so that as I was making the pleats I wished I didn't need them so that the lapped zipper would stand out more. I've sung the praises of Sunni's free zipper class on Craftsy ever since it was first released, but until Meg of Cookin' and Craftin' asked for zipper advice and then ended up going lapped, I never even saw the final lesson in Sunni's class that had lapped zippers! And I was one of the ones who recommended the class to her, lol. I've looked at tutorials before about lapped zippers, even ones that are reputed to be so easy, and I could never wrap my head around it. Watching Sunni go through all the steps though made it all sink in and now I will be using this method fairly often since it's so pretty. I also love the pockets - these pockets are great in anything, I swear. Also - the hem band! Isn't it cute! I've never used any form of border print before, nor have I really ever used two coordinating fabrics to feature any aspect of them before. It was definitely more work (and caused much grief at Hobby Lobby trying to decide how much of the striped fabric to buy), but it was so worth it because I think it really makes this skirt have a little something extra. It takes the cutesy floral print and adds a touch of modernity, if that makes sense. I don't feel quite so twee with that cool striped bottom going on, I guess. Plus the inside of the band is just as pretty as the outside :) Also, I used a really pretty antique glass button that was orphaned in my stash - it's mint green! It perfectly matches my mint green vintage zipper (also from my stash - yes!) and it's always nice to use those single buttons, don't you think?
And I haven't even mentioned the colors on this skirt yet. This skirt's color scheme is quintessentially "me" - mint green, navy, coral, peach, gray - these are all my favorite colors to wear and therefore I will be able to wear this with several shirts and sweaters already in my wardrobe :)
And there you have it - my birthday skirt :) I'm wearing it today at work (my one little bit of birthday excitement. Ah, adulthood, right?) and I know I will get lots of wear out of this in the coming years. Yay for fun skirts for a fun occasion!

Fabric: 2.5 yards of floral cotton twill from Hobby Lobby (I only used a little over 1.5 yards, but I'm counting all that I bought) - $11.23, 5/8ths yards of striped floral cotton twill from Hobby Lobby - $2.80
Pattern - None!
Notions: 9" zipper - $0.10 (stash), single button - free (stash), interfacing - $0.50, thread - $3.00
Time: 8 hours
Total Cost: $17.63

Not a bad cost for my birthday :) And I still have almost a yard left to make something else.

*Craftsy links are affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own (and the class is Free!).


  1. Happy birthday! Your skirt is lovely and it's obvious that you feel fantastic wearing it!

    1. Thanks so much, Markje :) I do love it. It's cute AND comfy. Definitely a win in my book.


Thanks for joining in the conversation!