Month: August 2014

PDF Pattern Alert: Two Basic Printout Mistakes To Avoid

I love digital patterns! They’re immediately accessible and easy to use. I can dream up a new project, click ‘buy’ and have the pattern cut out and ready to go in the time it takes my home printer to churn out the pattern pages. Fantastic!

However, a word to the wise.

In your haste, don’t make the same needless mistakes I did!

Maritime shorts by Grainline Studio
Maritime shorts by Grainline Studio

These are the Maritime shorts by Grainline Studio – but a super-sized version of the pattern!

I’d bought several patterns at the same time and printed them out on my home printer. However in my excitement and haste, I neglected to do two very basic and important things that you should never overlook when you’re using digital patterns.

  1. Select and click ‘print to actual size’ instead of leaving the printer to default to ‘fit to page’.
  2. Print out the first pattern piece, pause the printer and measure the ‘correct size’ box on the first pattern page to check that the pattern is printing at the correct size.

The moral of this tale.

PDF patterns are convenient, easy to download, print out and tape together. Just don’t get lax and neglect to do those basic steps –

maritime shorts 2or you may end up making a big ass of yourself like I did!

Have you had any PDF pattern printing mishaps? Did it ruin your project? Let me know in the comments below.

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Happy sewing,

Christine

My Top 3 Maxi Skirt Patterns

I’ve just added the Gabriola by Sewaholic Patterns to my growing collection of hand-made summer maxi skirts! I love making and wearing maxi skirts and now that I’ve tried a few different patterns, I thought it’d be useful to do a roundup of three of my favourites.

The Pros Of All 3

  • Each has a fitted yoke or waistband – a key feature of a flattering maxi skirt for many body shapes. A fitted waistband or yoke minimises the width of your middle, a gathered waistband adds to it.
  • All are fairly easy to make.
  • All are classic styles.

The Main Differences

  • Price.
  • Ease and time needed to make.
  • Customisation possibilities.
  • Availability.
  • Pockets.

The Lowdown (in no particular order)

  1. Folk Skirt 03/2013 #123 by Burdastyle.

Tiered maxi skirt by Burdastyle
Tiered maxi skirt by Burdastyle in Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton.

Burdastyle pattern description: ‘In the summer of love a romantic, tiered skirt was essential. In the summer of 2013 it’s sewn from different batiste fabrics and does without a waistband. It’s so airy and light that you won’t want to wear anything else…’

The Pros

  • Easy to make.
  • Has side pockets.
  • Has fitted yoke.
  • Endless customisation/design possibilities. Could use different fabrics/prints/colours for each of the four tiers of the skirt.
  • Could use smaller pieces of different fabrics rather than needing a large quantity of only one fabric.
  • Has a flattering, flared silhouette with plenty of ‘twirl-ability’!
  • Available as digital download pattern for home printing from Burdastyle.
  • Reasonably priced pattern ($5.90).
  • Can shorten to midi or mini length by omitting tiers.
  • Burdastyle patterns are ‘open source patterns‘ so if you want to sell your ‘folk skirt’ creations, you’re free to do this.
Burdastyle tiered maxi skirt in Liberty tana lawn cotton
Burdastyle tiered maxi skirt in Liberty tana lawn cotton

The Cons

  • Very boring to make! The bottom tier was about 4.5 metres long and connecting it to the other tiers, was the most boring, cramp-inducing sewing I’ve ever done. I needed to baste, gather, French seam and topstitch it and it seemed to take FOREVER! Unless I find a sewing machine with an auto-pilot function, it’s unlikely I’ll make this pattern again! (It wasn’t necessary to use French seams, I chose to use them to finish the inside of my Liberty fabric skirt nicely. You could go with a less labour-intensive seam finish such as overlocking or a zig-zag stitch).
  • A fabric eater! I needed 3 metres of Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton (140cm wide) to make this – that wasn’t cheap! (Obviously it’s not necessary to use a designer cotton like Liberty – any lightweight woven material would be suitable).
  • Needed to shorten skirt by about 15cm. I’m 162cm tall and I made the skirt floor length.
  • Has a side seam invisible zipper.
  • Sewing instructions only in written form, no visual sewing guide available.
  • Need to tape pattern pieces together after you’ve downloaded the digital pattern. Although you only need to tape and trace the front and back yoke pieces and pockets and the tiers of the skirt are rectangles that you have to measure yourself and cut out of your fabric.

Gabriola by Sewaholic Patterns

Gabriola skirt by Sewaholic Patterns in cotton/silk batiste.
Gabriola skirt by Sewaholic Patterns in cotton/silk batiste.

Sewaholic pattern description: ‘Flared, unlined maxi skirt sits at the natural waistline, with flattering seam lines and centre back zipper closure. Your choice of a single button or hook and bar closure on the waistband. Full length.’

The Pros

  •  Easy to fit. I made a muslin of the yoke to check the fit before I cut into my ‘good’ fabric. I decided it wasn’t necessary to muslin the whole skirt because the rest of it is so flared, the main issue for me was the yoke.
Muslin of Gabriola yoke.
Muslin of Gabriola yoke.
  • Endless customisation/design possibilities. With so many pieces and a wide range of suitable fabrics, there’s lots of scope to make your own unique design with this skirt pattern.
  • No pattern alterations needed.
  • Flattering, flared shape with plenty of twirl-ability.
  • Beginner-sewer friendly with online sewing instructions with photos.

gabi 4The Cons

  • Need to order paper pattern from Sewaholic Patterns online or one of their distributors and it’s the most expensive pattern ($15.98) of the three skirts.
  • Relatively easy to make but with so many pattern pieces involved, this isn’t the quickest skirt to make.
  • Need to sew a zip and button-hole (although I switched the button for a hand-sewn snap closure) – not the most beginner-friendly pattern of the three.
  • No pockets.
  • Fabric eater. Needs about 2.5m of 140cm wide fabric.

Maxi Miette Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons

Maxi Miette skirt by Tilly and the Buttons in silk/cotton.
Maxi Miette skirt by Tilly and the Buttons in silk/cotton.

Miette pattern description:– ‘A gently flared wraparound skirt that ties at the front in a bow. The skirt has a wide overlap at the back and optional patch pockets. The perfect first dressmaking project for new stitchers – simple to sew, Miette has no fiddly zips or buttonholes and is easy to fit.’

The skirt in the above photo was made by lengthening the Miette at the hem and omitting the waist ties using (check my ‘How to Make a Maxi Miette’ tutorial for how to do this).

The Pros

  • Simple to make the pattern.
  • Super quick to sew.
  • Wraparound style is easy to fit.
  • Has customisation/design possibilities although with fewer pattern pieces, the opportunities to play with the design aren’t as extensive as with the other two skirts.
  • Has optional patch pockets.
  • Available as a digital download pattern to print at home from Tilly and the Buttons.
  • Relatively cheap pattern (7.50 British pounds).
  • Good value for money because you have two length options – midi and maxi.
  • Beginner friendly pattern with online sewing instructions with photos of each sewing step.

maxi miette 1

The Cons

  • Fabric eater – although I made mine out of about 2m of 140cm wide fabric – the least fabric consumption of the three patterns.
  • Need to draft your own maxi pattern before you make this.
  • Need to tape pattern together after you download the digital pattern and print it out.

Conclusion

I’m happy with all three of my skirts and recommend all three patterns. I can’t pick a favourite because I think all of the patterns have their merits.

If I’m pushed for time, I’ll probably make another Miette because this is the simplest and quickest to sew up.

If I’m in the mood for experimentation, I’ll have a play around with the Gabriola pattern, I think this offers exciting customisation possibilities.

And when I need to tighten the purse strings, I’ll grit my teeth and go for the Folk skirt by Burdastyle – it was the cheapest of the three patterns and is a sound economical option (even if making it does age you a bit!).

Have you tried any of these patterns? Let me know, I’d love to see your skirts.

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Happy sewing

Christine

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