Well this post has been a long time coming as I tested this Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern for the lovely ladies at Sew Over It way back at the end of last year and made another using the tartan fabric from their kit in February. Both versions have seen a lot of wear since, in fact the tartan is rapidly becoming one of my most worn handmade garments, so I thought it was about time I got some pictures and shared the details with you!
For my testing version I used this black crepe from the Sew Over It online shop. It's got a slight stretch to it which makes for a super comfortable skirt but it is particularly important to interface the waistband facing in this instance to retain the fit in that area. The crepe sewed up beautifully, the stitches disappear into it, but it really did not respond well to pressing! I used a medium heat, as high as I could go without risking a melting/burning situation, but it still tended to spring back. Some vigorous clapping and under stitching really helped though.
I cut between the size 8 and 10 as my measurements fell exactly between the two. This version could now stand to be a little tighter as I've lost a bit of weight since I made it. For my second skirt I cut the straight size 8 and it fits like a glove. It's just snug enough for my liking but is surprisingly comfortable and easy to walk and sit in despite the tartan having no give whatsoever. The pattern recommends 1.3m of fabric but I actually managed to get both versions out of just 90cm (140cm wide) before removing any length.
I gave quite some quite detailed feedback on my experience with the pattern and was really delighted about how it was taken on board. I know a few changes were made after testing, the most obvious being the addition of a lengthen/shorten here line above the kick pleat. In my test version I removed 2" of length from the hem. To make it my preferred length I really needed to remove more but I was worried about making the vent too short to serve it's purpose and also loosing too much of the gorgeous side seam shaping which is one of the best features of this pattern. Being such a shortie, for my second version I removed 2" at the lengthen/shorten here line and still took off 3" from the bottom before hemming! It has made the vent a fair bit shorter than intended but I am much more comfortable with the length and movement of this version.
The instructions and illustrations are clear and concise and it's definitely a project a beginner could tackle but I think a bit of sewing know-how is useful to get the most out of it. I did get a bit puzzled about the centre back vent instructions during testing but using the released version from the kit it made complete sense and achieves a lovely clean and professional finish. The only time I veered away from the instructions was when attaching the facing. My preferred method for doing this is to sew it to the waistline all the way around, including over the ends of the zip. I use my regular zip foot to sew the ends of the facing to the zip tape along the centre back seam before trimming the top corners and turning it out. I find this makes for a much cleaner and less bulky corner at the top of the zip.
One of the things I've always really liked about Sew Over It instructions is that they have you overlock/finish the seam allowances before construction. This might be something that a lot of you do anyway but it's not how I usually work and for a simple project like this it makes for a really satisfying and quick assembly process. You do have to be careful not to trim anything off with the overlocker and messing up your sizing but it does prevent any nasty overlocker blade accidents!
You can either purchase the printed pattern as part of a kit (which includes the tartan wool blend fabric, interfacing, zip and thread) or separately as a PDF download. I really love this particular tartan and can report that it's been wearing fairly well. As I pre-washed it in the machine this is how I've been washing the finished skirt and after three months of being in regular rotation I'm just starting to notice some bobbling now.
I will hold my hands up and admit to not putting all that much effort into matching the plaid as I figured that the shaping of the side seams meant that nothing was going to line up all that beautifully anyway. I did make sure that I cut the pieces so the plaid would be symmetrical either side of the centre front and back but I cut everything with the fabric folded when usually with a pattern matching challenge like this it's best to cut each piece in a single layer. As the main pattern pieces fitted next to each other on the fabric I did line them up so the horizontal lines of the tartan ran through the same point, using the notches and hemline as a guide. I'm pretty pleased with how the side seams look as a result!