Another skirt already! I ordered a copy of M8248 during one of the recent McCall’s sales. I know a pleated skirt is so, so basic, but I really liked the envelope photo styling and its specific proportions. I thought it had a winter-wearable, late-nineties Sandy B. homeowner-witch vibe, but in the gap between placing my order and receiving my copy I had a moment of doubt. As in, did I just spend $9.00 on a drawing of a rectangle?
Happily, no. It’s invisible in the line drawing, but in addition to the slight shaping on the skirt front and back (and a curved waistband – heads up, curved waistband fans), this pattern has side panels. Also, the front and back panels are identical for all sizes. All the grading occurs in the width of the waistband and the side panels. I loved this since it meant I could cut the pattern tissue instead of tracing it. I was even able to cut the side panel tissue by making little guide holes along the seam allowance for my size without cutting off the larger sizes, so the only piece I had to trace was the waistband. Huzzah!
For my winter witch vision I knew I wanted to use wool, and I found this springy/spongy wool blend from Sewfisticated (you have to add “blend” after “wool” at Sewfisticated; it’s reflexive). I think it’s riding that bulldoggish line between ugly and cute. I had 22 3/4″ full width leftover from my pattern-suggested purchase of 2 ¼ yards (hold that thought!). Also, I cut the inner waistband from scraps of tightly-woven cotton twill for stability.
I started from a size 16, which is a little up from my measurements. I extended each waistband piece by about 1” on a short side, as well, so it would overlap above the zipper – I prefer not to cross a seam with an invisible zip if I can help it, and I found some suitable buttons on a very deep dive into my button bag, so that plan was a go.
Then I sewed just the waistband first. I concluded I needed to remove 3/8” extra seam allowance per side, for a total reduction of 1 ½”, and planned to just sort of massage that difference into the skirt seams and/or pleats.
After setting the correctly-fitting waistband aside, I quickly matched the front/back and side panels, serged the seam allowances, installed the invisible zip using the Kenneth D. King method, and hand-sewed the hem to give myself a treat later. It’s nice to return to a finished hem, isn’t it?
With only the pleats and the waistband attachment remaining, it seemed like I was going to sail through this project. Then those seeds of confidence bloomed into a beautiful garden of oopsie-daisies.
I’m a relative pleat newbie and I was less than madly enthusiastic about thread-tacking all the pleat markings, so I didn’t. You can use an awl if you’ve got guts and a cutting mat, but I figured I’d just look at the pattern piece for reference when I got there. Because I cut out the paper pattern pieces instead of tracing them, I didn’t transfer or, apparently, read the markings. And since I thought I was hot stuff, I didn’t read the directions either. This is the moment – post serging, zipper, and hemming – when I realized I was supposed to have a total of 4 side panels. I had 2.
It’s clear from the line drawing that the front and back of the skirt are meant to be identical. The side panel has one pleat line marked; it joins its paired leg on the main panel, but I merrily ignored the fact that with only one pleat per side panel, there was no way the front and back could match. Also, the plaid didn’t match across the seams, but I assumed my fabric had grown. Most egregiously, I ignored the notches. When does a low-down double notch match a high-up single notch? Never, is when! And yet!! That is how I sewed it.
This is where my generous leftovers stopped being a surprise or a point of pride. Yes, you too can have leftover fabric if you merely don’t cut 1/3 of all the skirt panels!
If this was a moral test, I failed. My skirt still has only 2 side panels. I was weak!! I couldn’t face unpicking nearly every stitch I had sewed so far. I ended up doing a lot more pleat massaging more or less on the fly to fit the skirt to the waistband, though not without cost. The ultimate price: my back is missing the 2 widest-set pleats, the side hangs a little funny, and I lost the proportions I paid $9.00 for. Oi.
But. But!! It’s still kind of, I don’t know, romantic? Uneven and wooly and kind of ugly but also sort of pretty? I could see making another in black or navy to soup up the witchiness. But I like to think that next time, I’d use all the pieces!
Pattern cost: $8.99
Size: View C, 16, waist reduced 1 ½”, 1 skirt panel missing (siggghhh)
Supplies: 2 1/4 yards wool blend, Sewfisticated, $11.23; thread, zipper, Sewfisticated; buttons, Winmill Fabrics, $4.64
Total time: 6.25 hours
Total cost: $24.86