Denim Brumby

Megan Nielsen Patters Brumby Skirt

Didn’t notice that my top was twisted and showing a strap on my swimmers… oops!

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.

denim Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

Top AND skirt are twisted… sigh. One day I’ll get this whole photo-taking thing right!

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!

Denim Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

Feeling good about my new skirt, in my classroom at school. Forgive the rumpled hem, I’d been sitting on it all day!

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!

Improvised solution to my problematic zipper insertion

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!

Hiking on Ulleungdo , and island in the East Sea of South Korea

One of the ports on Ulleungdo. The main business here is squid, those are all squid boats. At night, you can see their lights out at sea.

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11 thoughts on “Denim Brumby

  1. Super cute skirt! I just had a conversation with somebody this morning about Megan Nielsen sizing–premium price for the patterns, and then you get to grade up! I really wanted to make the Kelly skirt, but would have had to grade up several sizes; I wound up finding a very similar vintage Vogue pattern on Etsy for a better price and no grading needed. Totally agree with you that it doesn’t make much sense to ignore the very large market of plus-size sewers–we love cute patterns, too!

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    • Thanks! Being an Australian, I don’t really mind the price. It’s an Australian brand, and things are SO expensive here- these paper patterns don’t cost much more than a cocktail in a Sydney bar (and yes, I’m the kind of girl who evaluates price in terms of cocktails hehe ). I found this pattern well worth it, personally– I see many Brumbys in my future! But you’re right, it’s so true about the sizing. Glad you managed to find a good substitute for the pattern you liked, I hope that in future they might expand the size range to better include ladies like us!

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  2. Your skirt looks great! I love sewing basics, especially things that will get worn so much – I’m sure you’ll get loads of wear out of this. I’ve just traced version 1 of the Brumby so thanks for the tip re the length, I think I’d better add some!

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  3. Pingback: Mountain Views Southport Crop Top | Stitchy Squirrel

  4. Hi! Your Brumby looks beautiful! 🙂 I just found you while searching for someone with a “zipper too short problem” for Brumby skirt. It’s true there are no comments on that but I’ve had the same problem with the zipper, you’re not alone! I checked the measurements, the zipper, the instructions but I think I followed everything as it says. A 22cm zipper, as stated in the pattern, is just too short! I also came up with the same solution like you 😉

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    • Ahhh I LOVE hearing I’m not the only one! I rechecked it so many times and just couldn’t figure out how I was getting it wrong– glad to know it’s not just me!

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