I find it really hard to get excited about sewing basics. With my love of colorful prints, the idea of sewing a plain denim skirt feels excessively dull. However, my love of colorful prints is a bit problematic for my goal of an entirely me-made wardrobe…I’m definitely not cool enough to pull off the clashing prints look, so I need to occasionally suck it up and sew some basic, versatile separates. That’s exactly what I did here, and it wasn’t nearly as dull as I’d feared. Somehow this plain denim skirt turned out to be really satisfying!
It probably helps that the pattern itself isn’t all that plain. It’s version 1 of the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen Patterns. It’s a gathered skirt with large curved hip pockets, a wide waistband, and top stitching. I particularly love the pockets. I think they make the skirt interesting despite the ultra-boring fabric, a mid-weight medium-colored mystery denim from Dongdaemun Market in Seoul. I can’t wait to make another Brumby, I’m thinking I’ll use a Liberty Lawn that I’ve been hoarding for a while.
Size-wise, I had to make some adjustments… Which brings me to my only gripe about Megan Nielsen Patterns. My waist is currently about 35 inches. This puts me at the second biggest size for By Hand London and Grainline Studio, and between the third and second biggest (standard) sizes for Colette. For Sewaholic, I’m the biggest of their old sizes, but they’re releasing their new patterns with two sizes which are bigger than that. I am well aware that I am at the upper end of the size chart for most indie patterns… But For Megan Nielsen Patterns, I don’t even fit on the chart! Their biggest size, XL, is for a 34″ waist. I don’t know why their size range is more limited than some other major indie brands, but I think it’s a shame. These are beautifully designed, beautifully packaged, and great quality patterns. Given that so many sew-ers are on the plump side (dissatisfaction with RTW patterns is what drives a lot of us to sew in the first place!), I imagine there are a lot of ladies out there who would love to use these patterns, given the chance!
Very fortunately for me, my waist is only a little bigger than the XL measurement, and my hips are actually a little smaller. This means that it was no problem getting the Brumby skirt to work for me. As it’s a gathered skirt, all I had to do was sew the waistband with a smaller side seam allowance. By using a 1/4 inch seam allowance here rather than 5/8, I got that extra inch I needed. I also sewed the skirt side seams with a 1/2 inch allowance, although that wasn’t really necessary. I own a copy of the Tania Culottes pattern, and I’m really looking forward to making them. I’m expecting that I’ll be able to get around the size issue in the same way.
Construction went smoothly, for the most part. I used the new Megan Nielsen Patterns App, and it was so handy! I don’t think I even looked at the printed instructions. As there are three different variations, the app made it super quick to locate the information I needed.
The only hitches came with the invisible zipper. On the app, for Step 6 for the zipper, it shows the wrong side of the fabric where it should show the right side– that messed with my head! I looked it up online and figured it out. I ended up top stitching the zipper down, rather than do it according to the instructions, because it was easier and faster.
The other problem with the zipper is that it ended up being way too low! I think I gathered too close to the seam, and so my measurements were off. But also, it says to mark out a 10″ box for the zipper… But with a 9″ zipper and a 5/8″ seam allowance on the waistband, doesn’t that leave it 3/8″ too short? It’s not a problem I’ve seen others mention, so I guess there must be something I’m not understanding, but I can’t figure it out.
So for whatever reasons, my zipper came up way too short. Because inserting it involved a cut, I couldn’t just rip it out and sew it higher. What to do? Well, I remembered seeing someone making a tab to cover this same problem. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I saw it, or whether it was also a Brumby skirt. It seemed like a good idea, so I did the same. It’s stitched down on one side of the zipper, and on the other it attaches with sew-in snaps. I’m just going to pretend it’s not there to cover a stuff up, and call it a design feature. Saved!
It was my first time doing contrast topstitching. I used a caramel colored topstitching thread, it’s like the classic denim topstitching color. I feel like it gives the skirt a really finished look… As long as you don’t look too closely at my wonky stitches! My seam ripper definitely got some action there.
For hemming, I turned it up 1.5″ instead of 2.5″, and this ended up being the perfect length for me. I’m only a bit under 5’3, so if you’re much taller, it might be a little short if you follow the directions (depending on your inclinations!). Personally, I’m certainly not one to avoid showing a bit of skin, but I wanted it to be something I’m comfortable wearing to work. I’m an elementary school ESL teacher, and I definitely don’t want to be giving the kiddies a flash of my undies whenever I bend over a desk!
I rather frantically finished this skirt just in time to take it on a trip. Literally completed 25 minutes before I had to run out the door, and I hadn’t packed yet. It was a scramble, but worth it. My friend and I went to a Korean island called Ulleungdo. It’s a pain to get to, but absolutely gorgeous, and we had a lovely time. I enjoyed wearing my new skirt there, It’s always nice having something new to wear on vacation!