Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Beginner Skirt: Indygo Junction Best Bias Skirt

 A couple of weeks ago, I was ruminating about the best patterns for a beginner's first skirt. My criteria included: two main garment pieces, elastic waist, no darts and from an independent pattern company. While I was shooting for simple, I also wanted the option to add a few different sewing skills so that a multi-session class could be built around the pattern.

Indygo Junction's Best Bias Skirt eventually seemed to be the best "fit" with my requirements. I liked the idea of the bias cut, and I thought the contrasting waist casing and hem binding would be appealing to the customers of the quilt store which will be hosting the class. If you've ever worked in a sewing store, you know that picking a technically sound pattern is only half the battle: people have to feel very drawn to both the pattern illustration and the store sample to get excited about making the skirt.

To add making buttonholes and installing a zipper to the skills taught in the class, I've added two features to the skirt. A drawstring (in addition to the elastic) at the waist casing to teach buttonholes and a zippered pocket. I am excited about the pocket, because it is a low-stress way to practice putting in a zipper. The whole pocket is completed before it is attached to the skirt, so any mistakes will be easy to correct or a second pocket can be made.

For my first version, I wanted to test the pattern with fabric I had on hand. This print, "Dagmar Plaid" from Alexander Henry, is a quilting cotton and just what we will be using in the class. It looks great on the bias. Alexander Henry offered coordinates in this same line that would have been perfect for the contrasting sections, but they don't live at my house. I didn't like any of my other options, so I decided to stick with a single fabric this go. When I make the shop sample, the store will pick the coordinating fabrics, so that will be a better time for testing the cute piecing options.

An elastic waist skirt is never going to be the most flattering choice. I'd far rather spend more time making a skirt with either panels or darts and a zipper than half the time on a skirt with an elastic waist casing, but the point here was to test a simple pattern. And boy is it simple!  Although front and back pattern pieces are provided, they are identical save for the lines for placing the criss cross bias strips in the version of the skirt that features them.

So it's one pattern piece. Strangely, the pattern claims to contain sizes XS to 2XL, but there are no lines for XS. The sizing starts with Small. That's what I used. I shortened the skirt 3 1/2" to hit in the middle of my knee. The instructions are largely text with few illustrations. I couldn't even make myself finish reading all the instructions for applying the bias waist casing, they seemed so needlessly complicated.

The pocket treatment comes from an excellent Claire Shaeffer book, Sew Any Set-In Pocket, which I recently stumbled across at a used-book store. To quote Shaeffer, "On fabrics which don't have a directional pattern, the pocket can be cut all-in-one-piece so the top and bottom of the pocket will be finished with folds instead of seams" (p. 102). It's an easy and very neat way of making a zippered pocket. I may do a photo tutorial when I make my second version of this skirt.

I mounted the pocket over the side seam for a little extra interest, and also because the pocket is fully 8" wide. To make it narrower, it would be best to have a very short zipper, which I did not. This is not a terribly functional pocket, but it would be useful for a credit card, a bill or two and a single key. Anything bulkier than that would look oddly lumpy on the hip.

The pattern has vents at the hem. 

Rear view much the same as the front. With a sway back and a substantial rump, this style is not the best fit for my rear side! There's plenty of puffiness at the center back below the waist.

Overall, this Indygo Junction pattern seems to be a good choice for my future class. Kwik Sew 3003 is another option for an elastic waist bias cut skirt, and it includes two nice knit tops.

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