I’ve always been a little loud. I was known in high school for my boisterous laugh reverberating through the halls, auditoriums, etc. Really wherever I was, I was being loud.
Though I came off confident, I cared so much about what people thought of me and how I presented myself to the world. Some mornings it was all I thought about. After my 5 AM alarm, I’d spend one hour on my makeup with time left over to cycle through every outfit in my closet. Then I’d put the first option back on with a huff, and trudge my way out to the bus stop. I was trying too hard to wear what everyone else was wearing. When all was said and done, my favorite outfit was my band uniform because I didn’t have to put any thought into it – we’d all look the same.
It’s painful remembering all that time I wasted trying to fit the fad, and I was never – never – happy with my outfit. However, since then, I’m glad to say I’ve embraced my spunk. Setting up shop 1,831 miles west of home is a good way to gain some perspective. Being surrounded by such quirky and colorful fabrics every day has pushed my out of my shell. Customers come in with garment project plans that downright shock me. Linen pants made from our Palma Rayon/Linen Blend in Avocado customized with slits to the knee of each leg? Yes please!
Missoula residents remind me every day that fashion deserves freedom.
Embrace the Spunk
I find myself swimming in endless inspiration here at The Confident Stitch. Between florals, geometric prints – prints with giraffes on them – can you see my loud style coming through? What’s more fun than wearing a hypnotic pattern, or letting everyone know that you’d simply die for giraffes. We’ve all got our quirks!
And me, I love myself a checkered pattern! I’ve made black and white checkered pillowcases before, and my kitchen floors have removable checkered tiles, but a checkered pencil skirt? I’ve never made one of those! When I saw the Harlequin Print Stretch Woven with Slanted Triangles, I thought this print would work even better than checkers to compliment my shape!
After spending the last year in oversized sweatpants, I feel it’s high time to rock this bod. The Liesl and Co. Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt offered just that with it’s fun side panels and back yoke detail. The side paneling offers opportunity to mix and match fabric or to utilize a single fabric creatively! I chose to stick to the Harlequin Print but let the triangles on the side panels run horizontally while the front and back panels ran vertically. The vertical lines elongate my body, making me look like I’ve got legs for days! And, since I turned the side panels perpendicular, it features my wide hips, accenting my favorite part about myself – my hourglass figure! That’s my creative genius at work, if I do say so myself.
Keep that Blade at Bay
Liesl + Co. made this pencil skirt pattern exceptionally easy to follow with plain language yet very detailed instructions and diagrams. My first hiccup happened in step 4 where I surged the raw edges before attaching the back panels. I wasn’t careful enough with the blade on the serger and cut right into my fabric! Oh, the horror. Once you cut, you can’t take it back, so I doctored the hole with interfacing to give strength back to the fabric. I reattached the divided ends with the serger, very careful not to make any additional cuts. Then, I lengthened my seam allowance to protect the hole from growing.
I learned the hard way that you should NOT try to follow the curve when serging. Instead, adjust the fabric outside of the presser foot so your raw edge is straight going into the feed dogs. Mistakes happen – stay calm and believe in your brilliance.
The Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt calls for a 9 inch invisible zipper, but all I had was 14 inches! So, I cut it down to 10inches and said “good enough.” Now, I have to shimmy in and out of the skirt, and it’s a tight squeeze, I must admit. So, if your booty is poppin’ like mine (44 inches around to be exact) get a longer zipper! Had I held onto all 14 inches of that zipper, I think it would’ve been perfect.
Liesl + Co’s instructions for attaching the zipper – what I consider to be the most complicated step of this pattern – are simple and clear. And, I appreciated that the instructions offered alternative methods for attaching the zipper for those that don’t have a zipper foot available…like me! Their tip to press the invisible zipper flat made it easy to straight stitch right along the teeth without getting too close!
While I got away with pressing my zipper this time, that method does not translate as well with chunkier, non-invisible zippers. If you’re like me and learn best from demonstration, Kate’s video, How To Sew a Kraft-Tex Zipper Pouch, she guides you through the process “seamlessly.”
Pin Fitting the Pencil Skirt
Because the Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt is a fitted garment, I opted for the larger size (size 18) when cutting out this pattern though my measurements truly matched the size 16. After all, it’s easier to take garments in than let them out, especially if the pattern pieces are too small to begin with. Though it’s only a two inch difference, I ended up taking in the skirt four inches…I may have been a tad over-cautious!
While I’m very pleased with how this garment turned out, there is a little bit of bunching in the hip area that I’m not totally in love with.
The side panels are lined with Stabili-TEE Fusibile lightweight interfacing to give the garment structured shape, but the hip curve did not hit my hip in the right spot. The interfacing holds the shape of the garment, which unfortunately for me, is not exactly my shape. My hips go down straighter then bow outward, which causes the fabric to buckle ever so slightly in the hips. Though it’s hardly noticeable…perhaps even unnoticeable, there are ways to eliminate this!
If I make this skirt again, I’ll be sure to pin fit before I sew in order to perfect the fit. Pin fitting is trying on your garment, right sides out, with pins marking the seam allowance all the way down the sides. Once you see how that garment will fit with the seam allowance, you can make your adjustments without having to rip any seams! Just adjust the pins to your shape, clearly marking your new sew line!
One reason the Harlequin Print Stretch Woven with Slanted Triangles is great for a form-fitting garment like this pencil skirt, is the 15% crosswise stretch! It makes sitting more comfortable and keeps the fabric from wrinkling. But you should know that it’s currently on our sale rack for 25% off, so it’s only a matter of time before we run out!
The good news is we have several alternative fabrics that would work beautifully with this pencil skirt pattern. Our Vivid Jungle Stretch Sateen in Multi, the Scalene Stretch Sateen in Black & White (similar to the Harlequin), or the Tessellation Stretch Shirting in Multi are all fabulous choices, though the last is my favorite and probably my first pick if I remake this skirt! The structure will keep the Extra Sharp looking crisp while still providing a 20% crosswise stretch! (Oh the side-panel accents you could make with this fabric!)
Bring Your Imagination to Life
The Leisl & Co. Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt, by far, is my favorite project I’ve worked on! Every bit of it – the pattern, the side panels, the geometric fabric- feels glaringly Madeline. The beauty in making your clothes rather than buying them is more than the pride it brings. Finally, I have a garment so brought to life by my own imagination, I could never have gotten it off the rack. It’s the perfect way to celebrate myself!