Monday, 4 May 2015

Simplicity Blogger Challenge

Remember when I mentioned a couple of posts back that I wanted to enter the Simplicity Star Sewist Challenge? Well here is that entry! 

Fittingly (as I'm sure you'll agree) I went for the 'Best Newcomer' category. This requires entrants to use Simplicity’s It’s So Easy 2286 sewing pattern "as a basis for your own bespoke creation".

As soon as I saw the pattern I knew I wanted to alter it. I just thought it needed to be a bit more funky ... So my idea was to transform it into a really cute little beach skirt to throw over a swimming cossie. I chose view D, but then altered the pattern to make it (quite a lot) shorter and to change the ratio of skirt to overlay. The idea is that the  skirt should give a dramatic flash of colour underneath the overlay rather than looking like a double layered skirt.

I began by making a practice version of the skirt out of curtain off-cuts.  Unfortunately, it went so disastrously wrong that you're just going to have to trust me when I say I did it. There is NO way I am going to publish any photographs of it here! If I were to desperately clutch at a few straws, I suppose I could claim that it was of some value to test the ways in which I wanted to alter the pattern - and it did at least force me to read the pattern in full before I started the final skirt - but other that that it was hopeless!

Selecting funky fabric on the other hand was fun!!! In the end I went for a striking monochrome print called  'Mounains and Valley' by Michael Miller for the overlay with a flash of bright yellow for the skirt underneath. I got both from Fabric HQ. A lot of fiddly trimming and decoration isn't really the 'not quirky, not kitsch' way, so instead I got some pre made, bright yellow bias binding to finish the bottom of the overlay and visually unite both layers of the skirt. A funky but uncomplicated palette.

Constructing the skirt was as easy as promised by the pattern. (I promise this is true - my practice version only went wrong because the fabric was impossibly thick and I was rushing through it). I only had two d'oh moments, (which is remarkable with my track record!) which I've captured in the step-by-step photos below.

Step 1:  Altering, Tracing and Cutting Out the Pattern. 

Easy street. I really concentrated hard on this bit to make sure that my alterations to the pattern were accurate, that I cut out the fabric as neatly as possible and that the pattern was vertical and straight at the centre of the overlay. This step went really well with no hiccups.

Step 2: Construct overlay.

Another simple and straight forward step (there's very little room for error anywhere in this pattern really!). I finished the side seams and hemmed the overlay neatly and my unpicker remained tidily tucked away in my sewing box. *** Don't worry, this unbearble smugness wont last much longer. ***

Step 3: Apply bias binding (D'oh moment No. 1).

This step began by applying to bias binding to the bottom of the overlay. Again, I did a really careful, neat job of it and I was feeling very pleased with myself ... until that is, I noticed the stitching for the hem. Now the pattern doesn't anticipate bias binding, it anticipates a thicker trim along this edge -  and that would cover up the stitching. The bias binding I used was too narrow and left the stitching fully exposed and, well, just plain ugly.

There was nothing for it. The unpicker had to be unsheathed. I unpicked all of the hem and restitched it in place using a slip stitch that is not visible on the right side of the overlay.

Step 4: Construct Skirt

Here, you just repeat Step 2, but this time for the skirt element. Again, there really wasn't much room for error and I managed it without any mistakes!

Step  5: Construct Waistband (D'oh moment No. 2)

At this point, the pattern quite clearly says "pin WRONG side of the overlay to RIGHT side of skirt". However, no matter how clear that instruction might seem, I still managed to get this wrong. It really was one of those inexplicable d'oh moments when , no matter how many times I checked what the pattern said, studied the accompanying diagram, held the pieces together, envisaged the final skirt... I still got it wrong! As the blurry, frustrated photograph below shows, I had RIGHT side of overlay to RIGHT side of skirt. D'OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!

Frustratingly I had already basted them together before I realised my mistake, so out came the unpicker again.

Gathering these upper edges and creating the casing both went really well. This is the bit that I had anticipated having most trouble with (especially following the disastrous test version), so I took my time and didn't try to be clever. It paid off! (Who'd have thought it hey?!)

Step 6: The Big Finish

I hemmed the skirt and voila, my skirt was  finished. Here are some shots of me wearing it*.

* I have been desperately waiting for  a sunny day to take these photographs - to get that beach, summer holiday vibe I was going for. Pretty good for a May Day bank holiday in East London hey?!


  1. I love this so much! The colour scheme is just perfect - simple and striking!

  2. That skirt looks amazing! Huge congrats on being the Best Newcomer too! :D

  3. You've done such an ace job to make a really gorgeous skirt - and you're a newbie? Awesome skills!!! I hope you don't mind- I am going to show you off on my blog :-)

  4. You've done such an ace job to make a really gorgeous skirt - and you're a newbie? Awesome skills!!! I hope you don't mind- I am going to show you off on my blog :-)

    1. Thanks Scruffy Badger. I love your winning entry too. Actually, I'm a big fan of yours generally and I'm over the moon to be featured on your blog!! :-)