Sunday, August 19, 2012

FO: My First Kelly Skirt (Megan Nielsen pattern)

Dear sewing friends,
What do you look for in a pattern?
Me?  I want strong clean lines:  a style that I can wear now and look reasonably modern, but not so fashionable that it will look dated in in two years' time.  I want it to fit out of the packet without making a gazillion alterations.
I want strong pattern paper.  Clear instructions.  Nice illustrations.  A bit of indie street cred helps too.
So... here is my first making of the Kelly skirt by Megan Neilsen.  It fulfils all of my criteria above.  I will make at least three of these, if not ten.
So why am I a bit... resentful?
I'll tell you why:  this "design" is very VERY simple.  Think rectangles.  That's all it is.  Four rectangles of fabric:  back, two fronts and a waistband.  The end.  OK, there are some pleats, I'll give you that.  And curved pockets.
But does that justify what I paid for it?
Um... yes... and no.  Because I accept that I paid a premium for the beautiful presentation:  that heavy easily-traced pattern paper, the lovely little instruction booklet.  That neat envelope with the velcro fastener.  It represents someone's livelihood.  I am supporting their small craft business.  That's all absolutely fine by me.
But it could have been a pdf download, or even just a diagram on the web.  Because it is so very VERY simple. 
There - I've got that off my chest!  Now on to the project:

Pattern:  Kelly Skirt by Megan Nielsen. 18 Australian Dollars plus shipping.
Fabric:  One yard of heart rainbows cotton jersey from Girl Charlee ($5.25 plus shipping - worth it if you buy 3 yards!) and perhaps 50cm of polycotton from the stash (Crafter's Ceilidh swop).
Buttons:  8 cream vintage buttons found on ebay for about £1.60.

I made size "extra small" and it fits me well.  The pleats are a good width, adding plenty of shape to the skirt in this size.  I will be interested to see how it looks on a bigger gal, because the proportions don't change as the size increases.
The instructions are great for a beginner.
However, I made a mistake.  It might help someone else to know that you MUST NOT sew down the tops of your pockets until AFTER you make the pleats.  I stitched across them automatically, because I have always done that before, and then couldn't get the pleats to work as the pocket flaps were in the way of the fold.  I must have wasted an hour re-drafting the pleats (yeah, I know) with much cursing, before I realised that the solution was simple.
After all that kerfuffle, my waistband was too short - I think I stretched the top edge of the skirt with all my unpicking and re-pleating - tsk!  But with some careful light gathering, I got it to match up.  Just as well, as I had no fabric left.
Oh yes - my fabric was a maverick choice!  I loved the print of this not-at-all stretchy cotton knit, but it looked too busy next to my face, so I was determined to make it into a skirt. I traumatised myself making the pattern match at the pockets... but it had to be done!
On its own, it was far too lightweight, so I lined it with some woven polycotton I had in the stash.  Rather that trying to pleat the lining, I laid the pleated skirt onto my fabric and cut round it, so it has the same basic curve and the advantage of a bias cut.  I attached it to the waistband at the same time as the main skirt and folded it into the button plackets at the fronts.
Almost a puffball...
Hemming was a bit of an adventure.  I was in danger of creating a puffball skirt, as the inner layer was narrower than the outer - duh!  I got away with it, but next time I would leave the lining to hang free.

Despite the fact that I made a mountain out of a molehill by lining it, I am pretty much in love with this skirt!
Yes, I will wear it til it falls apart.  I might have to buy it a new pair of shoes and make it some plain coloured tees and a black cardigan.
It will have lots of sisters.  I want one in mustard as a matter of urgency.  It has the potential to be a major stashbuster if I continue to squeeze a skirt out of a yard, even allowing for pattern-matching!

But would I recommend that you buy this pattern? 

Back view with barley
Yes and no.  If you have ever drafted a skirt pattern for yourself, you do not need to pay this kind of money for this simple design.  But if you are a beginner sew-ist or want an easy life, it is presented beautifully and it works.  I can't say fairer than that.


agirlinwinter said...

Beautiful skirt and love your fabric choice. I've ummed and ahhed over buying this pattern. It's way too short for me, so I would need to lengthen it considerably and I'm not sure if that would work. Ho hum!

Dichohecho said...

Good job :)
Trust you to be honest but even-handed, moments like this remind me why I read blogs not magazines. I'm bad at expressing myself but I'm smiling at my computer like a loon.

argie said...

Funny, I appreciate your concerns, but this actually pushed me over the edge to order it...I'm a beginner and have been trying some challenging (for me) garments lately and I do feel like doing something really easy! Yours looks FANTASTIC. So cute.

wendy said...

That's a lovely skirt., so many tops you could wear it with! i love it when I make something that I just know I'll wear until it falls apart. Makes up,for all those 'meh' projects. Looking forward to seeing the next versions.

Lynne said...

It's lovely!!! And I do like the fabric! :)

didyoumakethat said...

That's a really lovely skirt. It's so flattering on you and the fabric is great. Thanks, too, for the even-handed review. Good food for thought!

indigorchid said...

I really enjoyed your honest review! Also, I think the patternmatching at the waistband, creating a sort of oval shape in the middle, is pretty swanky and cool!

Kirsty said...

It looks really great and I'm with you on needing a mustard one!

Andrea B said...

Kelly in a print! Happy to see it; it's very cute. I'm glad you thought it was worth the purchase in the end, but you're totally right about the simplicity of the design. When it comes to garments I usually just prefer to be told exactly what to cut and how to put things together when, even if it's just a bunch of rectangles. I really hope you make TEN of these (I dare you), as that will definitely be worth the cost of the pattern!

Linda C said...

Beautiful skirt. I love that print you used. I think I will definitely buy this skirt pattern because, like argie, I have tried recently some rather intimidating things and I need to have a teacher who says cut here, fold there.
Mustard for the next sounds great, maybe mustard cord?


Judith said...

Articulately put!!! And brilliantly made!!!

Gail said...

Stellar fabric choice! And I really appreciate the honesty of your pattern review.

megannielsen said...

Your skirt looks truly lovely! Though, I'm sorry to hear that you are disappointed in the pattern shapes!

It's always so challenging to decide what level of complexity to add to a pattern - but for this one i was really intent on making something that was simple for a beginner to not only sew, but understand and alter.

Thanks for sharing your lovely skirt and for your review! Hugs!
Megan XOXO

Roobeedoo said...

Hi Megan,
If you come back to read this...
To clarify: the pattern shapes result in a lovely skirt shape, so how could I dare be disappointed? It was more the feeling that I could have made a very similar pattern myself if I had known how simple it was. But hey - that's a good thing! You've kicked me in the design bottom! ;)
Meantime, I will be making lots of these because you have done such a good job! :D


sewbusylizzy said...

I posted on my first Kelly skirt yesterday. Yes I agree it's simple but Megan came up with the design and put herself out there financially. As an artist/designer she deserves her dues but I totally get your point.
For me? I adore it and glad I did buy such a simple pattern that will provide me with a blank canvas for my own interpretations - and it didn't cut my brain to design or make.
I adore your version that fabric is incredible!!

Sarahel said...

A simple pattern it may be but it's a triumph - you look great in it. You're adding to the temptation to get it.

kbenco said...

Your skirt looks fabulous.
Buying a simple pattern is always a dilemma, you describe the issue so well, but at least your outcome is terrific, and it sounds as if your cost per use is about to drop dramatically - you could even call it a bargain ;)

Melizza said...

I love the print you used. Looking forward to how you change it up for your next few versions.

Don't you just love a good solid pattern that can be re-used over and over? More bang for your buck!

Mary said...

Lovely skirt. Like the nice print fabric. Since the main fabric was knit would you recommend using a serger the next time if you made another skirt in knit fabric? If you make several, the cost was a bargain.

Roobeedoo said...

Mary - I don't have a serger and have never felt the need for one. This was such a firm knit I didn't even bother using a zig-zag stitch, but treated it exactly the same way as I would a woven.

shivani said...

wow this is amazing!! And you lined up the pattern?! in awe.
thanks for the review - I've been so tempted to buy this skirt, and I think I probably will eventually - even though I could try to draft something similar (based on patterns I already have), I sometimes just want to have it easy.
Can't wait to see all your various iterations - the style really suits you x

Scruffybadger said...

Great comments and interesting review. I think it goes without saying that the skirt, in that fabric, on you, is a total hit, hurrah! I'm glad you feel you will make 10 makes it worth the buying, and you also know that it's something you can whip up in an afternoon in less than a metre....every sewster needs patterns like that amongst the more complex ones, and maybe you could have drafted it yourself, but youre reconciled to that by now :-)

Janice said...

I feel like that sometimes too, like "oh I could have drafted this myself", but since I usually sew from vintage patterns I'm used to seeing a lot of rectangle gathered skirts and such. Usually I try to find some design detail like a complex bodice or something else on the skirt to make it seem worthwhile.

Jacinta said...

Looks great in a pattern. suits you too. thanks for the honest feedback. i have been tossing and turning as to whether to buy the end i got wiksten's tulip skirt pdf pattern from sew daily( ? )online store.. its on sale...and i found a discount code so in the end i paid $1.40. Its not a beginner pattern and has no diagrams though so Megan's pattern is better for those needing more guidance .

Suzy G said...

Gorgeous (and thank you for the tip)!

I hear what you say about it being too easy to buy. I have to say I know I could have drafted it myself but wanted to see what Megan Nielsen is all about, her instruction, packaging. And you are right, we are supporting an in depended designer, which is great!

sophie o. said...

I love both fabric and the skirt! thanks a lot for the review, it's always interesting to have insights. Though I do like the way the skirt looks, I'm not sure it would suit me and that would be too expensive for an uncertain project.

Anonymous said...

There is a new pattern on BurdaStyle as a free download....pretty much the exact same skirt.