The Tilly Picnic Blanket Skirt

This is the Tilly Picnic Blanket Skirt, though you’d have to be going on a particularly gothic picnic with me in this skirt! I used Tilly and the Button’s recent three-post tutorial for making this skirt, after seeing her lovely gingham version.

What can I tell you about Tilly’s skirt tutorials? They’re perfect for beginners, but what I REALLY like is that Tilly doesn’t talk down to her novice audience. You know the kind of thing: ‘This is a long pointy thing. It has a hole at one end. It’s called a needle.’ She credits beginners with brain cells, and happily explains the maths that goes into drafting a skirt like this, along with providing diagrams to explain the logic behind button hole placement. I loved the ‘Tilly Tips’ and the permission to take faster routes rather than perfectionist ones. She is teaching people to think for themselves, rather than leading them by the hand. Well done, Tilly!

When Tilly launched her tutorial, I could see immediately that this was the project I’d been looking for to use the batik cotton I bought in San Francisco. I love the print and colour but this fabric was tricky to match to a pattern. All that grey and black would have made a funereal dress or top. Indeed, when drawing to the end of this make I could see that it needed something to break up the swathes of grey. To my wooden buttons, I added giant pink ric rac at the waist:

And at the hem I added a densely pleated black trim:

I love both of these details and I think they rescue the skirt from looking too grunge. Despite the batik pattern, I feel able to match this skirt with other prints, as you can see! It just kind of works.

I have a few tips that I’d add to the Tilly Tips.

1. If you’re a maths dumbo like me, good news! I ended up disregarding all the 2.1 maths that was making my brain hurt. I realized that the full 112cm width of my fabric would make the right-ish amount of width for my back skirt section and that I could cut the same width exactly in two for my front piece sections. All I had to do was measure the length of my pieces. Hurrah! So if you have a piece of fabric the same or similair width, and you are of a similair figure type to me, you may find that you don’t need to do many sums either.

2. When gathering my skirt pieces, I pinned marks on the waistband to mark the rough placement of side seams, and centre front and back. I wanted to ensure that the gathers were at least roughly evenly distributed between these sections. Remember to bear in mind the overlapped placket when marking these sections on your waistband.

3. I’d advise leaving the hemming until the very, very last stage. (Tilly has you hem before adding the buttons and button holes.) Despite careful marking of skirt lengths, I was disappointed to see that the hems of my front sections were out by about half an inch where they met, after the buttons and buttonholes had been added. (Don’t ask me why!) I had to unpick and re-hem.

4. Think carefully about the placement of your pockets. Tilly advises using pocket pieces from an existing pattern in your collection – excellent idea! But there are myriad different pocket designs out there and Tilly’s gentle and guarded guidance of maybe placing these pieces 5 inches down the skirt didn’t work with my pockets – they were way too low. So just keep a careful eye on this stage and use your common sense. (Unlike me.)

I love my new skirt! This is a perfect project for those mid-week evenings when your brain is too tired after work to think about anything other than gathering big squares of fabric! And one final photo in the bracing wind with my favourite street prop…

Thanks, Tilly!

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32 Responses to The Tilly Picnic Blanket Skirt

  1. BĂ©atrice says:

    I love it!

  2. Andrea says:

    Oooh, I really love your interpretation — the fabric, and the ruffle-n-rick-rack details! Make the Goths share their black … in turn perhaps we should let them use our rick-rack …

  3. I’d go on a gothic picnic with you, anytime! Great use of your fabric, and the ruffly hem is lovely.

  4. The black ruffle is inspired. Lovely touch.

  5. Fiona says:

    I love your version with the ric rac and ruffle, so pretty!

  6. Katy says:

    Really nice. I love the details you’ve added. Thank you for sharing the extra tips as well.

  7. Melizza says:

    I love the trim you added. It really adds some flare to it.

  8. Kerry says:

    Very pretty! Love the extra touches you’ve added too.

  9. Helen Made says:

    Great skirt – love the pleated hem. Looks great with the sorbetto too!

  10. Katie says:

    I love it! I definitely have to give this tutorial a go now :)

  11. It’s beautiful! And I love how you carefully thought out all the design elements. Great job! :)

  12. Nothy Lane says:

    I love your skirt. I ‘ve been eyeing Tilly’s skirt for a few days. I plan to make mine this weekend. I love the ruffles at the bottom! This skirt is really flattering on you……..

  13. lisa g says:

    this skirt looks great! i love how the material is almost a neutral, i’m sure it’ll go with many tops!

    regarding the hem, was it the buttonhole side that was shorter? i’ve found that when i make machined buttonholes the fabric kind of inches up. for my button placement i usually just measure it out instead of overlapping the edges and marking. that way you can ease the button side up and keep it all even at the end.

  14. Maryom says:

    It looks fab! l love the frill on the bottom.
    I used to make a lot of skirts out of Rose and Hubble remnants like this , 3 straight pieces of material gathered to a waistband but zipped at the back. then I decided they were making me look fat and ripped them apart to make other things.

  15. liza jane says:

    Love that batik! I’m a sucker for a funky batik.

  16. Lynne says:

    It’s gorgeous, and thanks for the extra tips because I fully intend to make this skirt. I do like the flowers behind you in the first to photos. :)

  17. Sewingmrsc says:

    You’ve managed to put together different prints and pulled it all off excellently! Love it, quirky and cool! But can’t believe it’s sunny in your part of England!!

  18. MrsC says:

    Love the black frill and the pink ricrac, it makes a very special garment all together. Indeed as someone said, buttonholes can each pinch a mm or so of a fabric that adds up. Working with gingham one has lots of matchable lines to assist with keeping the two sides of the skirt lined up, Prints and plains are trickier! Tip for next time – instead of rehemming, how about lifting it into the waistband? Depends on which end is the least hassle really :)

  19. Debi says:

    A gothic picnic sounds fun :) Fabulous skirt–love that fabric!

  20. gingermakes says:

    Super cute! I love it!

  21. punkmik says:

    I love this skirt! I haven’t sewn buttons since school so it may be the perfect project to try this on again. :) love the extra tips too!

  22. anne says:

    love the skirt, but adore the handbag!

  23. Marie says:

    Karen, this is one cool skirt! So different and unique – I think the ric rack and ruffled trim really rock! And thanks so much for the additional tips and suggestions! I can’t wait to make some progress with my version today – whoop!

  24. I hadn’t been tempted to make this skirt until I saw your version of it! Love the dark fabric and black ruffle. That’s one bad_ss outfit you put together!

  25. Regina says:

    Love, Love, Love the black ruffle trim!

  26. I love your finishing touches …the black ruffle, the rick rack (of course!) & the flower too ….great job! You know the fabric in your Sorbetto (“our” fabric) – you might see it in a different guise soon. I have finally taken the scissors to it ….;-)

  27. LOVE this! What a great take on her tutorial. I particularly love that touch of black pleating, wow! Really makes it.

  28. Alice says:

    Great skirt Karen! I especially like the pleated trim. I totally agree about the tone of Tilly’s tutorial, as a beginner I didn’t feel patronised at all but still understood everything no problem. Thanks for your additional tips, especially about marking important point on the waistband, that was super helpful. I’ve just posted about my finished skirt here: http://thepinandthimble.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/finished-tie-dye-picnic-skirt.html
    I’d love it if you stopped by to have a look!

    Alice x

  29. Lovely. I think I might have make a skirt too. You are such a good inspiration. I always gather the way you did in point 2. I find I can’t get the fathers even if I sew gatherings stitches. It looks great.

  30. Angela says:

    Super cute, I love how you have made it your own with the trim and the flower!

  31. Pingback: 2012 Olympic Torch – Did You Light That? | Did You Make That?

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