First of all, oy, please excuse the quality of these photos. They were really dark when I first took them and I had to work the limited Photoshop magic I possess to get these up to snuff. This might be the way of things for the time being, so I do apologize. Alrighty, now on with the show!
Pattern and Fabric
This is the Charlotte Skirt of By Hand London fame. I’ve been wanting to add some sass to my wardrobe with a high-waisted pencil skirt and who better to turn to than those sassy London ladies? Of course I went for the plainest variation of this pattern, but oh well. I still love how it turned out (with some changes) and I can’t wait to have a bunch more in my closet!
(US readers: you can order BHL and Deer & Doe patterns through Grey’s Fabric in Boston and avoid international fees! I was really happy to discover this.)
The fabric is a pumpkin orange wool blend with brown lines that I picked up from Mood here in the city last spring (you can see the print detail better in that post). I lined the skirt with beige Bemberg, also from Mood. Rare to buy the outer fabric and lining on the same day and actually make the skirt I had intended to make!
I like how this skirt offers up the illusion of an hourglass shape (I’m a rectangle) by hitting at the waist and tapering in at the hem. However! I can’t even begin to imagine actually walking comfortably in this skirt as originally drafted given the narrowness of the hem and the absence of a slit. I tested walking up steps in my apartment building and it was a definite no go! Or maybe it just means I’m not graceful enough hehe.
Following are changes I made to make it more practical for my everyday use of walking in the city and up and down subway steps (though I think it’s also useful for getting in and out of a car).
Size and Length Adjustments
The Charlotte skirt is designed to be figure-hugging, which is nice, but definitely take that into account when picking out sizes. I cut a US size 6 at the waist (comparing my measurements to the size chart, I’d be between a 4 and a 6) and a size 4 at the hips (I would be a 2). The waist fits just right, but the hips are just a wee bit snug so I’ll go up to a 6 for my next version.
I’ll admit, I thought if anything I’d need to take the hips in since the pattern is designed with a generous amount of ease there to accommodate an hourglass shape. If I bend down it almost feels like I could one day pop the invisible zipper at center back! Definitely happy I added in a lining to help the skirt move, especially since I’ll be pairing it with sweater tights through these cold wintery months.
I ended up shortening the skirt 5″ so it hits just below the knee. The original length hit me at mid-calf, and I’m 5’6″ just to give you an idea.
Even when shortened I needed to add in a 7.5″ slit to be able to walk up steps without too much restriction. This felt kind of extreme, but I checked and thankfully it’s not scandalously high! In the future, I’m going to widen the width of the hem a bit.
As is, I wore it to work this week and was able to get from A to B – yippy! I was kind of laughing to myself as I darted up the subway steps when I heard the train approaching since I couldn’t do my usual skip-two-steps-at-a-time dealy. It was more like dainty, dainty, dainty goes the lass!
Nice Knowin’ Ya, Front Darts
One more change I made was eliminating both sets of paired darts on the front skirt piece. Instead, I brought in the side seams 2″ on each side. A much better fit and no bubbling.
Waistband: Good Times
I really liked the instructions for creating and attaching the waistband. I’m no expert here, but I’ve done a few waistbands in my day and I thought this one came together nicely thanks to the instructions. A little surprised it didn’t call for interfacing, though. In any case, I added two snaps to the waist tab.
Thoughts on the Pattern
All told, I liked this pattern with the adjustments I made. I wonder why a slit wasn’t part of the original design since it’s so fitted (however, if you made this skirt without a slit I’d love to know how wearable you find it!). Also, I think a skirt this fitted benefits from having a lining, but at least this is quite easy to create from the existing pieces.
I’m pleased to have a go-to pencil skirt pattern! Should I have spent $20 for one? Perhaps not, but at least it’s a pattern I’m going to use a great deal. The high-waisted design was a big draw for me, as I find this look suits me best. (Okay, fess up, Amanda: anything “London” makes you super happy.) In short, I feel good wearing this baby. And I honestly can’t ask for more than that.
Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!