Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Emerald Wool Crepe Charlotte Skirt

 Today I've got a make to share with you which I actually finished a fair few weeks ago but have been getting a lot of wear out of recently in this gorgeous weather we've been having in London. I've been wanting to make some more simple and classic pieces to add to my wardrobe as a lot of the pretty dresses I make, while fun to sew, don't get an awful lot of wear in my day to day life. But I still wanted to have some fun so I chose to pair this vivid emerald green wool crepe with the clean silhouette of By Hand London's Charlotte Skirt. I'm still dying to make up one of these with the ruffle hem or peplum variation by the way, just need to find an occasion to use as an excuse to make it!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Emerald Green Wool Crepe Charlotte Pencil Skirt with Kick Pleat

This luxurious wool crepe has been sitting in my stash for quite some time as I had a really hard time choosing a project for it! It was such a special piece I didn't want to use it for something that I wasn't certain would work. I picked it up from a remnant sale I was lucky enough to catch on Berwick Street. Every now and then The Silk Society, Berwick Street Cloth Shop and Broadwick Silks have a remnant sale in their upstairs offices. Look out for little posters in their stores if you're ever paying a visit. This was a 1.8m piece which I paid just £18 for, it was originally £35/m! Luckily, as I was shortening the skirt, I managed to squeeze this out of just 80cm so I still have a metre left...ideas anyone?!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Emerald Green Wool Crepe Charlotte Pencil Skirt with Kick Pleat

I've used this pattern a fair few times now so it came together really smoothly. I cut the size UK 10 as I do with all BHL patterns and the fit is great, just the right amount of snug around the waist. In a couple of my previous versions I've taken a smidge out of the side seams around the hips as the pattern is drafted for the curvier ladies among us but that does make it fairly restrictive so I left them as is this time to allow for comfortable movement (and dinner!) The only other change I made was to take 3.5" off the hem. BHL patterns always come up long on me plus I think hitting just beneath the knee is more flattering on my short legs than a full on midi length.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Emerald Green Wool Crepe Charlotte Pencil Skirt with Kick Pleat

I've got around the 'walkability' issue of this fitted skirt in different ways each time I've made it. If you're using a fabric with a bit of stretch (as I did for my Elisa-lotte Dress) and are making it no longer than mine is here, you can probably get away without any kind of vent. With my Brocade Skirt I followed the provided instructions to create a simple vent, including mitred corners when hemming. On my recent Anna-lotte Dress the chiffon panel around the hem meant I could create a simple box pleat in that while it was flat and cheat a kind of faux kick pleat. For this version I wanted to give the wool crepe the lovely finish it deserves and decided to try creating a kick pleat. It was before I had made up the beautiful Martini Dress from Capital Chic Patterns which includes a lined vent which probably would have been a lovely finishing option for this had I known!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Emerald Green Wool Crepe Charlotte Pencil Skirt with Kick Pleat

The standard method of creating a kick pleat seems to be to add a section on to your skirt pattern piece at the hem on just one side. However, I made the mistake of forgetting that I wanted to do this when I cut it out. So I put my thinking cap on and made my own version! I worked out how wide I wanted the pleat to be then made up a simple rectangular pattern piece twice the width of the pleat to account for the amount folded back, plus seam allowances. I then attached each side to the seam allowances of the skirt before sewing up the centre back seam. After doing this I pressed the folds of the pleat in place and stitched across the top to secure. It's pretty hard to explain in words so I might put together a photo tutorial if anyone is interested in a slightly unusual way to create a kick pleat!


The other main change I made to the pattern was to fully line it with an emerald green cotton poplin. This is quite a lightweight crepe so had the potential to be a little sheer in direct sunlight, plus I felt such a delicious fabric deserved the special treatment! This is a super simple project to line; I just cut the front and back skirt pieces from the cotton and assembled them exactly as the main pieces. Once I was ready to attach the waistband I first used my zipper foot to attach the lining down either side of the zip in a way very similar to the instructions of the Cambie Dress. Finally I machine basted the lining and skirt wrong sides together along the waistline so I could treat them as one when attaching the waistband as per the instructions.


If making a similar style in this type of fabric again I'd probably choose to reinforce the fabric at the dart tips by applying a small square of fusible interfacing over each point. It took a lot of pressing to get those darts anywhere close to crisp and I still feel they are a little droopy. Another tip for you if you are thinking about working with wool crepe is to use a press cloth so you can turn the heat without worrying about damaging your make but still get nice flat seams. It's really important to consider how you might launder your finished garment and to pretreat it appropriately as it can shrink by quite drastic amounts. For this skirt I used Carlolyn's fab post to teach me how to steam shrink it with the iron; if I had a tumble dryer I'd definitely be trying her wet towels trick!


I'm not entirely delighted with the finish of the overlapping waistband above the zip. I've never been completely satisfied with my efforts with this and in the bouncy wool crepe which refuses to press flat it was really tricky. I think perhaps a button and button hole might make a difference rather than the hooks and eyes I've used but I think if I make this skirt again I'd do without the overlap, use a longer zip and insert it up to the top of the waistband.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Emerald Green Wool Crepe Charlotte Pencil Skirt with Kick Pleat

In general though I'm really pleased with how this little number turned out as it mixes in well with the rest of my wardrobe and is great to dress up or down. It's also great to wear in hot weather which might surprise you as wool is generally thought of as a winter fabric. However the fact that it is a natural fibre plus the weave of the crepe makes it very breathable. I'm wearing it here with my very first Sewaholic Renfrew Top which I'll be sharing along with two more versions very soon! For now I'm off to drink in the inspiration you guys have been filling my overflowing blog roll with!

40 comments:

  1. What a lovely pencil skirt: it fits you like a dream and the colour is gorgeous. Vavavoom!

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    1. Thanks Rox :) It's one of those patterns that I return to time and time again because I know it works for me. A safe bet in this lovely fabric!

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  2. Exactly the right amount of classic fit and popping colour! I also have a green ombre print in my stash to make into a pencil skirt, now you are making me want it more :)

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    1. A green ombre print?! That sounds fantastic, especially as a pencil skirt!

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  3. Very pretty skirt! I love the color and the length you hemmed it. =)

    There are lots of things you can make with a meter of fabric. You might be able to make a matching short-sleeved jacket. Maybe even a pair of pants if it's wide enough fabric. And if you color block a dress you'd have more than enough by adding a second fabric. I guess decide what you need or would wear the most.

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    1. Those are all fantastic ideas Brooke! My imagination is running wild! I think I'd feel like dressing all in this vivid colour was a bit much for me but I might try a pair of cute shorts or something!

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  4. Absolutely beautiful! Such a classic but te colour gives it a twist!

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    1. Thanks Vicki Kate, can't beat a good classic can you?!

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  5. Love this! Charlotte is high on my to do list so it's great to read your thoughts before I start. Great colour too, there is not enough emerald fabric in the world, and what a bargain! You know I could always take that extra meter off your hands if it's getting in your way haha!

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    1. Haha! Hands off lady, it's MINE! Definitely try out the Charlotte, it's so simple to conquer!

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  6. A fitting use for your lovely fabric. Bet you wear this lots, it's great.

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    1. Thanks Catherine, I knew I wanted to make a safe pattern choice when cutting into such a beautiful bolt!

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  7. Gorgeous! Construction aside, your kick pleat is just like ones I've seen on 1950's pencil skirts and dresses.

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    1. You are so right Nicole! It has got that slightly vintage style to it, a little bit Joan Holloway maybe! I bet you'd rock a skirt like this!

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  8. Gorgeous! And looks so luxurious with that lovely lovely fabric!

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    1. Thanks Rachel! It feels pretty special to wear but I'm trying to not let that stop me from making it a staple piece that gets worn all the time!

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  9. Gee, this looks so nice on you. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips for improving the process with this kind of fabric.

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    1. You are very welcome! I find myself googling for tips on particular patterns or fabrics all the time so try to include as much information about my process as possible!

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  10. Lovely, and a make you can wear forever! I agree with your evaluation of things to change. I like the pencil skirts that have a zip that goes all the way up better than my others. It is a finish that is less bulky. However, this is an absolutely gorgeous skirt, the fit and the fabric. You seem to have a good eye for what will look great, and what will look great on you.

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    1. Thank you so much, sometimes I think I don't have at all it's more just trial and error, fiddling with hem lengths and fit and things! I am 100% with you with the zip situation, I can't think of a single make with the overlap at the top that has been a complete success

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  11. Yet another superb project from you. Gorgeous!

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  12. This is absolutely lovely on you! Such a great color! As for the remaining meter, what about a pair of dressy shorts to wear with tights?

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    1. You are right on the money with that suggestion Sonja, perfect idea! In fact I'm off to look at short patterns right now!

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  13. A lovely skirt on you and a fab colour. I am interested to see you describe the pattern as designed for curvaceous ladies I will have to check it out.

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    1. Yes be sure to, depending on how curvaceous you are it's worth a shot! I wouldn't say it's drafted for plus size ladies but has generous ease in the hip area if you are more pear shaped. Thank you!

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  14. That color is wonderful. Have you considered putting the longer tab on the waistband on the inside? You can put the hooks on the inside near the middle, and then a button which buttons toward the inside off to the side with the tab (I hope that makes sense). I have a RTW skirt that closes that way, and I've copied it on my hand-mades. I've found that I prefer the way that looks.

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    1. That is a great idea Carly! I'm definitely going to give that a try as I can imagine how the fastened finish will be a lot neater. Love it, thank you!

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  15. What a great fit! Love the colour as well, can see you wearing this loads.

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    1. O it has been already! Thanks love

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  16. This is gorgeous! So classy & something you'll weak loads I'm sure. Thanks for the tips on working with wool crepe.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! I'm really trying to make more classic and wearable garments that I feel good in. You are very welcome!

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  17. What a fabulous wardrobe basic - I have a skirt this colour also and find it goes with everything!

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    1. Isn't it strange how a vivid colour just works?! Even with other vivid colours and prints, I've been loving it!

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  18. Emerald green wool crepe!! Lush!

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    1. Absolutely! It was a bit of a treat purchase but I couldn't resist! I just love the colours wool crepe comes in!

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  19. This is a fantastic colour! Super classy.

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  20. This is STUNNING!! I absolutely adore that colour! I may just have to take inspiration from this for myself. Hehe! Thanks sooo much for the tip about interfacing dart points- I made a wool sateen dress last winter and was never happy with the darts which were definitely 'droopy'! I had never heard of that fantastic solution so I am far more excited to get stitching up some more drapier wools again now! I have also never made anything more fitted like this in a crepe and have always wondered how it would look so now I've seen your gorgeous one I can stop wondering and start sewing!! Hooray! :))
    I feel I need a good browse around Berwick St soon, haven't been in any of those lovely shops for ages! :)
    Thanks for sharing as always!

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  21. nice big tab also a button would have been classier than a metal tab?
    but..gorgeous colour and styled very nicely

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  22. CLASSY SKIRT LOVE THE LARGE WASTE BAND WISH YOU HAD BUTOTN ON THERE?
    GRETA KICKPLEAT NICE STRAIGHT AND TIGHT TOP DARTS ARE GREAT
    ROOMY

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!