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I hadn’t sewn anything since summer, so it was time for some new projects!

For some time I have been interested in Colette Patterns. They have some really cute designs. But I’ve never got around to ordering any of their patterns–until I saw the Zinnia skirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of this pattern online, saying it’s too basic and has some odd instructions on the waistband. However, I knew as soon as I saw it that the silhouette is just what I wanted. I’ve been trying to sew some more practical skirts–as in, practical for being a music teacher. I find myself wearing skirts to school quite frequently, and the ones I enjoy most are the slightly longer, fuller skirts. This is because at some point in almost every day, I have to sit on the floor, “criss-cross applesauce”, to sing or play a game with my students. Let me tell you about how well that works in a pencil skirt…

I was specifically drawn to the pleated version of the skirt–I just love that detail. So, on impulse, I ordered the pattern. Then it languished in my sewing box throughout the fall and moving and all the chaos December.

Finally, the weekend before Christmas, my husband and I were able to take a trip to “town” to do some grocery shopping and errand-running–including fabric shopping!  I got a great deal at JoAnn’s on this beautiful, deep-red linen blend. I mostly thought of this project as something I would have to work on over Christmas break, no big rush.

Then I realized what a lovely, Christmas-y red color the fabric was, and how nice it would be to have something new to wear on Christmas. So, in between preparing to host 16 people for Christmas dinner at our new house, I got my skirt put together. I ended up hemming it at 6:30 am on Christmas day…no big rush, right? Ha. The good news is, the pattern was straightforward, it went together smoothly, it fits great, and it looks beautiful!

First some teaser pictures:

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Aren’t those stitched-down pleats pretty? Oh, and please forgive the wrinkles–I’ve worn this skirt a couple of times already, and it’s linen!

Regarding the waistband directions given in the pattern: I did not follow their directions. I’d read in a couple of different places that the given instructions were not the usual way of applying a waistband and that they seemed unnecessarily confusing. When I read the directions, I agreed. I just applied the waistband in the usual way and it worked just fine. In fact, I have to say, it’s one of the best waistbands I’ve done. Usually when I stitch-in-the-ditch to finish the waistband, I end up missing a lot of it and have to go back and finish it by hand. So much so, that sometimes I just sew the whole inner part of the waistband by hand in the first place to make it look neater (as on my Hollyburn skirt). This one, however, worked like a charm and I didn’t have to tack it by hand at all. That’s what I call success!

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I like the lapped button closure on the waistband, and I really dig this black button I found!

The only thing I did by hand on this skirt was the zipper. Thanks to Tasia (of Sewaholic Patterns) and her tutorials and pictures on the subject, I am a hand-picked zipper convert! I don’t mind invisible zippers, as those usually go quite well for me, but I love the neat and easy finish of doing it by hand. I think I like it best because I feel like I am more in control.

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I had just the right color of thread; you really can’t see the zipper stitching at all unless you’re quite close-up.

I’ve also seen a lot of buzz on the internet about the Grainline “Archer” button-up shirt pattern. I’ve been interested in sewing a button-up shirt for a while, so I decided to buy some coordinating fabric and make a shirt to go with my skirt. This floral-print lightweight cotton fabric was the first thing that caught my eye when I went into Jo-Anns…I actually debated using it for the skirt, but then after I found the red linen for the skirt I realized the floral would go with it very nicely as a shirt.

Don’t you agree?

DSCF0537I have to say, I’m not wild about e-patterns that you have to print and piece together yourself. Granted, it’s handy–instant pattern gratification, as opposed to waiting several days for it to come in the mail. But seriously, pattern-cutting is arguably my least favorite part of the sewing process, and piecing it all together before cutting it out just extends the misery. Ugh. However, I will say that is is much more bearable now that I have a real kitchen table on which to spread things out, as opposed to my dinky little round 4-person table.

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Otherwise, I really enjoyed making this pattern and I love the finished product. I am especially happy with the fit–I just cut a straight size 8 according to my measurements, and it’s perfect! How often does that happen with patterns? (With Simplicity, etc….NEVER.) I was a little worried that the sleeves were going to be too long, but they ended up just right. I’d rather have them longer than shorter, anyways. Besides, you can always roll up the cuffs.

DSCF0545I didn’t have any real trouble with this pattern, but it’s definitely not for the total novice. There weren’t a lot of illustrations and a couple of times I didn’t quite understand the instructions till I looked online at the Archer Sew Along. For one thing, I interfaced the wrong piece of the button placket…oops. At least that was an easy fix. I also found the collar stand a little tricky, but the video in the sew-along cleared that all up. Seriously, though, how are you supposed to make sense of doing that just from the instructions in the pattern, if you’ve never done a collar stand before? There isn’t even an illustration for that step!

Really, though, my collar went together just fine, once I figured out how to do it. The oddest part was that the collar seemed to have grown–it was too big for the neckline! Not sure how that happened. Maybe my collar stand pieces stretched when I wasn’t looking, or maybe I wasn’t careful in my cutting. I ended up easing the outside layer of stitching, but on the inside layer, which was top stitched, I just made some tucks. Not the most beautiful solution, but it works.

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DSCF0566Altogether I’m very happy with the details on this shirt. The top stitching isn’t perfect in some places and if you look at my shoulder seams closely you’ll notice they’re different on the inside (I misunderstood the instructions on the first seam and then I couldn’t fix it because by the time I realized it was wrong, I’d already trimmed the seam allowance). But all the really visible stuff looks fine, and I’m especially thrilled with my buttons and buttonholes. I got the measurements right and they all line up! I french-seamed the sleeves and side seams, which worked great with this lightweight fabric.

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I really like this combination; I’ve worn it twice already!DSCF0542 DSCF0541 DSCF0539I’m really happy with the style and fit of this shirt. It’s not very fitted, but it still looks flattering and not just like a sack. I wore it to school yesterday and got several compliments–and no one asked me if I made it myself! I consider that success. I like this shirt so much that I kind of want to make another one. And another Zinnia skirt….I might have a problem.

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