I made a new thing. Nothing new there I hear you say, but this new thing was a little bit different for me.
For a while now I’ve felt that I needed more long skirts in my wardrobe. Before this one, I only had one. I’m more of a short skirt with thick tights kind of person. I have plenty of dresses too but, long, full skirts was something I wanted to try.
As well as being drawn to try a long skirt, I had recently begun obsessing about checks and tartans after seeing a fabulous collection from Endelea. Their colours and print choices was inspired by the Maassai people of Northern Tanzania in particular.
These gorgeous bright, bold statement making skirts and shirts had me drooling. Those colours against the beautiful dark skin was something I was keen to emulate. So I began my search for checked fabric and a good skirt pattern because unfortunately, the Endelea prices were out of my budget. Even though I wasn’t sure that a full skirt would suit me or if I was bold enough to wear a checked fabric with it’s body widening horizontal lines on my lower half, I still badly wanted to give it a go.
While we’re here, let’s talk a bit about body issues. I have spent the vast majority of my life vacillating between embarrassment, dislike and hatred of my thick thighs, wide hips and prominent bottom, and also feeling guilty about not accepting my body shape. Add to that more recently a thicker waist and tummy. Part of my sewing journey has been about making clothes that fit me and thus avoiding those dressing room dramas. It has also been about making clothes that suit me, that work with my shape. While that all sounds good and well, I fear that I am not doing as well at accepting my body and loving it as I thought I was. For far too long I have bought the lie of beauty belonging only within a certain combination of body measurements and it’s a hard thing to shake. I have avoided wearing tight clothes on my lower half, I’ve avoided wearing too much fabric or loud colours and prints on my lower half. Pleats and horizontal lines have also been avoided. So this skirt was a bit of a departure for me.
I am fortunate to receive a free pattern to preview every month from the latest Fibre Mood pattern magazine. Issue 17 was packed with some really cool, on trend patterns. But choosing just one pattern was made easier by the fact that I had my mind set on a skirt. Cue the Amira, a midi length skirt with shaped waist, yoke, invisible side zip and pleats. This was the one!
All I needed was the fabric. I wanted either a blue and black or a red and black check. I could only find this red, black and yellow check from Fabrics Galore in a brushed cotton within my price range. I wasn’t 100 percent sure. It was giving me Bay City Rollers vibes that I wasn’t sure I was ready for! I also wondered if the brushed cotton would look too much like pyjama fabric. I needn’t have worried, the fabric was perfect.
The pattern was easy to construct after the fiddly and time consuming job of ironing the pleats was done. I don’t often make pleats but when I do, it’s usually just one or two on a garment. This had about 24 pleats and they were a little bit tricky to press and place correctly. My only tip with pleats is to go slow! The cotton holds the pleats better than I thought. I was really pleased that I managed to keep the rows horizontal and match the pattern at the side seams. I also managed to match the centre yoke piece quite nicely. I cut a size 14 and I’m a little bit cross with myself for being lazy, I should have made a muslin. The skirt is too big at the waist and I’ve had to add some elastic in the back. I should have made a 12 waist and graded out to a 14. Will I ever learn that a muslin is nearly always worth it?
Anyway, I really enjoyed the construction of the skirt. The instructions were clear. The hem was hand stitched, and even though I rolled my eyes at that instruction it was actually very pleasing to do it. The hand stitched hem looks very neat and professional.
I love the way the pleats fall from the yoke, giving shape and fullness and plenty of movement. I know that the pleats, the fullness and the bright print accentuate my lower half and I am ok with that, really. I am so pleased with how the skirt turned out and how warm and cosy it is, the perfect autumn to winter garment. It’s pretty much the look I was going for. I’ve already seen how I can style it with existing garments like the ready to wear mustard jumper.
I also tried a little checks on checks look which I thought looked a bit punk.
The amira is such a great pattern suitable for many fabrics. I’d like to try it with chambray or a crisp poplin, with a matching shirt perhaps.
I am really hoping I get a lot of wear out of this skirt this season. Checks and saturated colours are on trend for autumn/winter 2021, so I’ve nailed that! I’m also hoping to work more on exploring different shapes and ignoring the little voice in my head that says I shouldn’t wear this or that.