Sunday, 22 September 2013

The San Frantastic Kelly skirt

I've just got back from visiting sunny San Francisco for the first time. Loved it! But then I've never met anyone that doesn't. We did lots of sight seeing, the cable cars, Alcatraz, the sea lions of pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Top of the Mark cocktail bar.  I was also able to squeeze a trip into the four floor wonder that is Britex Fabrics.  

Rather miserly sensibly I didn't come out with anything other than these snaps of their wall displays.  There were so many attractive dressmaking fabrics, but the ones I liked were upwards of $25 a yard.  Too much of a gamble when I'm still prone to making schoolboy sewing errors. 

So I virtuously admired the fabrics from afar, while proudly wearing my brand new Kelly skirt. Which is what this post is really about (seamlessly changing the subject, *cough*).  My striped denim skirt, made with Megan Nielsen's Kelly skirt pattern

The denim fabric came from Fabricville, and was a gift from my parents when they visited Montreal earlier this month.  I didn't know exactly what I wanted to make with it at first, but after seeing some nice denim versions of the Kelly skirt pattern online I was inspired to order the digital version.  It was a great beginner pattern, and came together really quick. I cut size small and didn't make any adjustments.  I think it's fractionally too small for me, but it's hard to tell as I don't usually wear high waisted skirts and it wasn't uncomfortable just tight.

A bit disheveled and windswept after several hours of exploring San Fran
This was my first time putting buttons on clothes and they went on pretty effortlessly. That is until I came to the waistband. I just couldn't get the buttonhole foot to work for the two waistband buttons. I'm not sure what the problem was. Any ideas anyone?!   My Singer would start the buttonhole stitching, but the fabric would stop feeding through after a bit, however much I tried to gently coax it.  I'm thinking it was less an issue of the thickness of the waistband (it was hardly much thicker than the main placket), but more the unevenness, as it was quite lumpy at the edge seams. But I don't really know?!

Looking out towards Alcatraz

So after lots of wrestling and unpicking I declared defeat and opted to lose the two top buttons and replace them with two inside hook and eyes.  This did the job and though it was late at night I rushed on full steam ahead keen to finish.  That's when I hit my second problem. In racing to sew all the buttons on I somehow managed to get the buttons slightly out of kilter. It meant that by the time I got to the last one (below) the hem was out by about half an inch. Doh.

Uneven hemline
I thought my only options were a wonky hemline or the tedium of re-doing the buttons.  But living with a lateral thinking Physicist has it's advantages and Mr Fabric Maverick suggested a third option of sewing the last button in the right place and just ignoring the kink this causes. I'm sure this is a cardinal sin in the sewing world!! But I wanted it finished that night to wear the next day. Plus I've not made that many clothes so I still tend to view my projects through rose tinted glasses, amazed I've made anything at all. The odd kink here or there isn't the end of the world for me, and it's a busy fabric which hides it a bit.  Avert your eyes now if this corner cutting offends, kink alert below:

Wrongly spaced buttons, but a straighter hemline than in the previous photo
While the front isn't impeccable, the back is much smarter and I like how crisp the pleats look in denim.

Maybe in the future I'll get round to properly sorting the buttons out.  It's silly really as it wouldn't take very long to do. But now it's already had a couple of outings, without any raised eyebrows from the people of San Francisco, I'm inclined to just leave it as it is.  I definitely want to make other versions of this skirt in the future as it's a great pattern and I'll just have to make sure those are not blemished by any late night sewing sloppiness. 

It was a bit windy that day, so my skirt was looking a bit 'Flat Stanley'
As it is such an iconic and photogenic city,  I could now bombard you with our other 500+ San Francisco photos.  But I won't bore you, and will just show you this final photo below, as I'm wearing my Sorbetto top so it's vaguely sewing related.  Taken in beautiful Sausalito, a short drive over the Golden Gate Bridge from the city, and a great stop-off en route to the gigantic 1000+ year old trees of Muir Wood.  Around the corner is the view which inspired Otis Redding's 'Sitting on the dock of the bay', and you can just about glimpse the island of Alcatraz and the edge of the city in the distance. Truly San Frantastic :)

Wearing my Sorbetto top in Sausalito, California


  1. Suzie! I'm planning my first trip to San Francisco next month too, so I'm looking for some ideas of what to do. I'm going down to Palo Alto for a concert, and may meetup with Loran and Cindy, but other than that, I have a day or two free.

    1. Exciting! I read Tasia's post for inspiration
      One of her commentators recommended Fabrix and Satin Moon for fabric shopping which were on my list but there was just so much else to see. It was def good to book Alcatraz tickets in advance as they sold out our week. We enjoyed using the tour buses for sightseeing (but I think you are a more intrepid traveller than us so you may find them too cheesy!)

  2. I have a Singer and I have the worst time trying to do buttonholes with it. I found part of my problem was with the plastic buttonhole foot was getting stuck on itself. When I put it on my machine I noticed it sits a little crooked so when I put thicker fabrics under it when it gets halfway through the button it gets stuck prematurely thinking its done. I have to hold the back of the buttonholer straight while it's going so it doesn't get stuck on that little lip on the side. I know probably hard to imagine, even harder to try and explain. I've totally given up on trying to sew anything with buttons because my buttonholer hates me and it totally isn't even worth it. Your skirt is super cute! I love the Kelly pattern. I've made it but I had to cheat on the buttons since my buttonholer hates me. I refashioned a skirt that already had a buttonhole placket so I only had to do the waistband ones. I used a tiny zigzag to do those.

    1. Thanks so much for the advice! It's good to know it's not just user error but a common Singer complaint. I'd never in a million years have thought to get round it by using an existing skirt placket. That is genius. It's so true about the buttonhole foot sitting crooked. Mine definitely does, but I'll have a go at holding the back up next time, as I didn't try that. Annoyingly the next project I've got in mind (Tilly's Mathilde blouse) has lots of buttons too. Maybe after that I'll join you in retiring from buttons!

    2. I just discovered tear away stabilizer! It's working like a charm. (I'm making the Grainline Archer) No problems with buttonholes like I once had. Just put a small strip underneath your fabric. You can even use paper but I like the stabilizer because it doesn't leave little pieces behind when you tear it away like paper does. Give this a try next time. I'm still holding my buttonhole foot straight though as I go cuz I'm paranoid like that. lol

    3. I definitely need some tear-away stabilizer in my life! Thanks for the advice, I've googled it so I know what to look for when I'm in town tomorrow. I look forward to admiring the impeccable buttonholes on your Archer!

  3. Cute skirt! I truly did not even notice anything about the buttons until I saw a close up photo and you mentioned it, so I would not worry. I second what people have been saying about interfacing or stabiliser :)

    1. Thank you Zoe :) I bought stabliser last weekend so I'm looking forward to experimenting with that!