I always have big grand plans for summer sewing as it's my favourite time of year to dress for. I'm always so inspired by lightweight fabrics, abstract prints and breezy styles of summer garments. The list of things I would like to make is endless, however the summer months are usually the busiest time of year for me work wise so before I know it the good weather is vanishing and my dream list is still endless. I made a concentrated effort to get started early this year and am therefore happier with my summer wardrobe than I have been before. After seeing Sophie from Ada Spragg's stunning pattern tester version, one item that made it straight onto my summer sewing list when it was released earlier this year is Sewaholic's Gabriola Maxi Skirt pattern. I finished this a few weeks ago now so I am super pleased to get at least one version of it made up in time for plenty of wear!
I was on the look out for the perfect Gabriola fabric on Goldhawk Road during Rachel's huge sewing blogger meet up back in May. I wanted to try out the sizing before sewing up anything too pricey and as the beautiful fullness of the skirt means that this pattern eats fabric I was after something cheap and cheerful. In case you were wondering, I started with 3 metres of 60" wide fabric and had nothing left but scraps when I was done! The fabric I chose was the very first bolt to catch my attention that day, loitering in the doorway of A to Z fabrics. It's very polyester but is just the type of print I am drawn to and at £3 a metre for a wearable muslin you can't go wrong! It wasn't the most enjoyable fabric to handle when sewing (there was a particularly nasty incident involving the iron, some melting and the recutting of a yoke piece!) but because of the full style of the skirt it remains very cool to wear and has a gorgeous drape.
I had quite a debate with myself about which size to cut as although I am slightly bigger on the bottom half I am not as pear shaped as the figure Sewaholic Patterns are drafted for and I was keep for those lovely panels to fit snuggly around my top hip. In the end I decided to stick with the size 4 I usually cut for Sewaholic patterns and it's turned out pretty great. The waistband fits perfectly and although there is a bit of room around the hips it retains the intended flattering smooth shape well.
In general skirts tend to be fairly quick projects. Whilst this one is not a particularly lengthy project it may eat up more time than you expect because of all the small yoke panels and long skirt seams. I chose to overlock all my interior seams which made the whole process much quicker than a more involved finishing technique but if I was working with silk I would seriously consider french seaming everything. Plus I love looking at lovely tidy insides and just think how lovely all those intersecting french seams would look!
If you are thinking about making your own remembering to mark your notches is key! There are lots of similar looking pattern pieces that are slightly (and importantly!) different. I then did spend a fair bit of time trying to decipher which was which from the notches later on so I would also recommend naming each pattern piece 'side front' e.t.c by pinning a scrap of paper to each piece. It didn't help me that my fabric was only very slightly different on the right and wrong sides so I had to work out which was right and left of each pair too!
I really enjoy sewing which requires you to be neat and accurate and this is definitely one of those projects! I'm really pleased with the matching of the seams at the front but the centre back seam could be a little better... I was so keen to get this sewn up and start wearing it that I decided with this busy print I wasn't bothered by things being a few millimetres out but next time I will definitely try harder! I think abstract prints are the best way to go with this skirt if you are not going plain. I can imagine a directional or large scale print being a complete nightmare as there are so many different panels with intersecting seams being cut at different angles to the grain.
I took 2" off the length the skirt, so as I'm only about 5ft3" if you are tall you definitely want to consider lengthening to begin with. My hem was 1" and I used my favourite method for sewing a curved hem; stitching all the way around 1/2" from the raw edge and then using that line as a guide to press up along, then pressing it in by the same amount again to hide the raw edge. I machine stitched the hem up as I was never going to achieve a totally invisible finish by hand in this very lightweight poly.
The only other change I made to the pattern was to the fastening at the back of the waistband. The pattern calls for the zip to be inserted up to the waistband which is constructed to overlap slightly and fasten with either a button or hooks and bars. I've never got on particularly well with this style of waistband so I opted to trim off the overlap and insert the zip right to the top. I'm really pleased with the clean finish of this.
Overall it is a pretty straightforward make which I think a beginner could tackle. I think a seamstress of any level would need to take the construction nice and slow and pay attention to the instructions as there is room for error because of all the pieces to fit together but the only remotely tricky part is sewing the point where the skirt panels meet the yoke at the centre front. Gabriola is yet another cleverly thought out design by Tasia, she's got such a fantastic knack for considering how a pattern works with the curves of the body and drafting patterns that ladies want to wear. I love that this skirt is fitted flat at the waist, cut so flatteringly over the hips but still has all the fun of a full, swishy skirt!