Can This Skirt Be Saved?

Or at least brought into the twenty-first century??  You be the judge…


This summer skirt has been hanging unfinished on the door to my sewing room for months now.  Today I woke up determined to finish it.  I find that having unfinished stuff around drags down my energy.  I’m a firm believer that wearing our garments infuses them with life.  If I’m on the fence about something I’ve made I need to either finish it (and keep it or donate it),  repurpose it (find a new home for those notions), or toss it out if it is truly unwearable for me or anyone else.

For those who know their patterns you will recognize Colette’s Zinnia skirt, a flowy waist-hugging design with 16 (count ’em, 16) pleats.  I really don’t do pleats, not since middle school anyway.  When this pattern came out one look was a layered chiffon for day time that I thought was lovely.  Never mind that I have never sewn with chiffon.  Instead I decided to break into my stash of rayon challis, and I had been saving this fabric for the right project.  It was clear from pretty early on that this was probably not the “right project”. Anyway, here’s a close-up of the print:


The construction of this gave me fits, although I can’t say that the instructions didn’t warn me.  If the pleats are even the teeniest bit off that teeny bit multiplied by 16 makes for some ill-fitting garments.  In my case, even after measuring exactly, the waist was about four inches too big.  I actually think that I might have been off in my scaling of the PDF pattern I printed rather than in my sewing, but whatever I did wrong, I needed to cinch an additional 1/8 inch off of each pleat to lose that extra four inches.  Ugh.  The good news was that after all that the waist fit was perfect.

Upon returning to this project today I was reminded that it wasn’t all bad.  The waistband looked ok…


in the front at least.  The back had some issues:


Oh dear.  The invisible zipper (actually pretty well-inserted) was placed too far down in the seam, and the overlap is clearly misplaced and wonky, and I still don’t know where I went wrong with the construction.  Today, I just needed to hem the skirt, and since it’s such a full skirt I took the easy way out and did a blind hem stitch on my machine.  This is a great option, especially for a busy print, and it’s fast.  Here’s a look at the inside hem stitching:


One of the reasons I undoubtedly was dragging my feet with this skirt was that (per usual) I didn’t think I was going to like it on me.  As I said I am not partial to pleats (does anyone need more bulk around the hips?) plus this has side pockets in the side seams (i.e. more bulk).  But, one of the reasons I went back to the skirt today was because of an episode of Project Runway that I was watching yesterday.  In the first episode of the new season one of the contestants made a skirt that looked exactly like the Zinnia, also in a busy print.  It looked cute on her 5’10” model who wore it with a blousy tucked-in shirt, platform shoes and (of course) perfect hair and make up.  While none of that would work for me it started me thinking about what would.

First of all, no more pouf.   I needed a very fitted top to offset the fullness from the pleating, otherwise I was going to look like I was ready to fly off somewhere.  Next, while I don’t have an “Aldo Accessory Wall” I do own some belts and jewelry:


This fabulous Anthropology belt has saved many an outfit from dowdyland.  Finally I scrounged up a fitted black knit top that I thought might work because you can’t really ever go wrong with black.  Oh, and I found these earrings which have been out of circulation lately:


And here’s my finished look:



I like it, and I feel proud of myself for “‘making it work”.  Plus I shopped in my own closet for the other pieces I needed to pull it together.

I can be creative in many ways, but I’ve never been very creative about accessorizing and styling.  Some people throw things together effortlessly and I admire them, but for me it’s a bit of work.  And it doesn’t take much to send me back to the khaki shorts, white tank and flip flops.   But I will try.  After all,

“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize”.

-Steel Magnolias



9 thoughts on “Can This Skirt Be Saved?

  1. Wow! Perseverance! I was contemplating this skirt pattern….maybe not. I think I would go batty. I love your skirt AND I love those pleats. Congratulations. I liked your post.


  2. I admire your determination. Also really like your idea of deciding on things…….repurpose, get rid of, etc. You have “lightness” down!


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