From scratch

1 skirt = 3 easily avoidable mistakes

    I guess the big lesson of this project was to plan my steps ahead…and I don’t mean the outfit ideas. I bought this fabric a year ago, while  I was attending a sewing course in Budapest, for about £2. I was planning to make a skater dress from it (that’s the basic idea every time I randomly buy fabric 😉 )  but 2 weeks ago, inspired by the amazing (& waaaay too short) sewing competition/series on BBC, The Great British Sewing Bee, and by some of these images below, I started sewing this skirt from Burda.

TheSecretCostumier - A-line skirtsImage sources:1., 2., 3.

    It could have been finished in a couple of hours, as it is a relatively easy pattern, consisting of 8 skirt panels and 2 pockets, but I discovered some problems that could have led to having a very “handmade” looking, rather unprofessional garment. So here are my mistakes, they might seem elementary, but I wish someone told me these before.

1Mistake: Choosing a seam finish method AFTER the pieces are sewn together. The Burda patterns have no instructions on seam finishes, so I ended up having to choose between zig-zag stitching or Hong-Kong binding 16 (70 cm long) seam allowances, as folding and stitching the seam allowances worked out to be too thin and curled up.

Solution: French seams. Obviously for this, I had to unpick the whole thing, it took ages, but it was worth it. It looks very professional on the inside, and if you use 1.5 cm seam allowance when cutting the pattern out, you’ll have enough space to comfortably do this.


2Mistake: Making a hem with 4 centimetres of fabric by folding it once, leaves you with loads of excess fabric on the inside. Hemming isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but I’ve learned the difference between turning up a centimetre of your skirt and 4 times that much the hard way, when I ended up trying to tuck all that fabric under the straight line I was supposed to sew on the  the right side, and a mess on the inside.

Solution: Face the hem. I mean cut a facing to the same size as the bottom of the assembled skirt, and sew it on wrong sides together, just as you would on a neckline. If you use a zig-zag stitch to finish the seam on the facing, and measure it properly, you will end up with an even and neat hem inside out, and the top-stitching will be no problem either. (I was trying to be way too pedant, so used a single fold here, and ended up with not so perfect results, but I guess I can live with that.)



Mistake: Not enough thread to finish up a project. This is a no brainer, I know, but if you “impulse buy” a piece of fabric and some thread together, you might end up making something totally different out of it than what you had in mind at the time of purchase, and end up with less thread than needed. Honestly, finding out that my regular fabric shop doesn’t have any thread even close to this shade, half way through sewing, was anything but fun.

Solution: Uhm…Make sure you have enough thread before you start a project?! Of course you can cheat a little if you can’t find more matching thread by using any other colour on hand for seams that will be hidden (like the inner seams of the French seams), so that you can leave enough matching thread for the decorative or visible stitches.

The skirt is now ready, I’m just waiting for the sun to return, so that I can take it out and show you and the World the result, so watch this space!



4 thoughts on “1 skirt = 3 easily avoidable mistakes

  1. Geo P says:

    Looking forward to see your skirt. Which number of Burda is that skirt from?
    For my first circle skirt, I tried to sew the elastic casing at the waist by turning in the seam allowances. I somehow succeeded, but it looked like crap. 🙂

    • I’m not sure, I think it’s the May 2012…but I’ll scan it in tomorrow and upload pictures of the skirt. It’s really surprising when you start sewing and think that you’ve finally mastered sewing a straight line, you realize that there are many simple looking details that no-one talks about, and you need to figure out how to do them on your own, isn’t it?

  2. Pingback: The A-line skirt is finally ready! | The Secret Costumier

  3. Pingback: Handbag Woes: Lessons I Learned From Making a Purse | Mike & Weegee's Random Creations

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