We’re already a third of the way through the month and I’m just now at the first of my four pledged makes for Me Made May. This is the Gathered Skirt for All Ages from the Purl Bee and, as expected, it’s way too voluminous. As I was pondering it and cutting it out, I kept hearing my friend Whitney, who looks killer in skirts like this, urging me to embrace the fullness. After scrutinizing the pattern to grasp the logic of the various proportions and how they come together, and deciding to make it once as written and then assess how to change it for the next time, I just couldn’t do it. I made the second size but cut the main panels (the front and back pieces) to 30″ wide instead of 34″, removing 8 inches of fabric from the total circumference, and still it’s too much fabric for me. But is it cute?
I like it from the front — I adore the side panels and the way the pockets stick out — but when I actually turn to the side, I appear to be at least three times my actual size. I think a puffy skirt like this looks cute on a little girl, but on a woman my age, maybe not so much. Somehow it’s not quite as horrible looking in the photos as it is in my mirror, and I do think I like the fullness in the back, so maybe I’ll leave this one alone and make another. But what I believe I’m going to do is tweak this one thusly: Remove the waistband and pull out the gathering in the front panel only. Once that’s a flat panel again, I’ll fold it in half and sew a seam down it, a few inches in, then cut away all of that excess. Regather the front and reattach the waistband. So it will have a new seam down the center, which I think is fine with the other vertical seams in the skirt, but with several inches less fabric in the front. Although I can’t help wondering if I couldn’t just carve a wedge out of the front instead of going through all of that. I promise to share the makeover if/when it happens.
The fabric is Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer in, uh, blackish that I bought at Fancy Tiger on our way through Denver last summer — a light and drapey linen/rayon blend. I’m ambivalent about the rayon content and really wish it weren’t made in China. (This is the hardest thing about trying to be a conscientious sewer — and I find it’s much harder with fabric than with yarn.) But I had heard raves about it, it was already in my tiny fabric stash, and I figured it might wind up being my muslin for this pattern. I will say, it is lovely to work with and to wear. It shrinks quite a bit in the wash — I think it’s listed as 54″ wide but it was 48″ after washing. Since the skirt is all rectangles, I folded the fabric in half, got out my t-square and rotary cutter, cut the end of the length so it was clean and perpendicular, and then just lined up my cuts. I made one cut at 30″, then trimmed the two ends so I had two pieces 30″ x 23″. The next cut was at 8″ for the side panels, which wound up being 24″ each (i.e., the full width of my fabric, halved) rather than the prescribed 25.5″ — so my finished pockets ended up being 8″ deep instead of 9.5″, which is plenty. (Note that I top-stitched across the pockets to keep the layers from drooping.) Next cut was at 8″ again, trimmed down to 16″ tall for the two pocket panels. Then a last cut at 3″, with the selvages trimmed off, for a waistband piece 3″ x 38.5″ So I got the whole skirt out of 49″ — not quite 1.5 yards — rather than the 2.5 yards the pattern calls for. I also hemmed it to 23″ with a 3/4″ hem, rather than the 2″ wide, 22.5″ hem given in the pattern. Oh, and my waistband wound up being not quite wide enough for the 3/4″ elastic. So I need to either cut a new waistband if I do the mod, or get narrower elastic if I don’t.
Either way, the big trick for me is just learning how to wear a skirt! Especially a full one like this. Being not very girly, I’m aiming for a sort of Margaret Howell-inspired style. Or Amish, as my husband put it. I’m ok with that!