When I completed my Pattern Drafting Course at Central Saint Martins I knew it would be really important to use the lessons I’d learned straight away. Otherwise, I’d forget them! So it was fortuitous when Annie from The Village Haberdashery got in touch to mention her new online shop.
There were some lovely Loulouthi velveteens, and Annie generously offered to send me a metre to work with. This was my opportunity to draft a pattern and see if I could turn a scant one metre into a workable skirt.
I pulled out my skirt blocks, my tracing paper, my pattern master and my pencil and rubber. I drafted and toiled, drafted and toiled, drafted and toiled. Three toiles before I cut into the fashion fabric. I can’t claim that there was a whole lot of clever thinking behind my drafting, but I felt my way slowly, slowly towards a skirt that would work.
Thinking time became very important, I discovered. Mulling over why an inverted pleat on the hip wasn’t working. Looking at skirts in shops and noting their pleat construction. Realising that gathers on the back pieces weren’t at all flattering. Slowly, slowly, allowing ideas to bubble up. Letting myself make mistakes.
Then I got bored! Cut into the fashion fabric and got on with things. Working with the velveteen saw my thinking become extremely focussed. I didn’t want to waste Annie’s gift and I wanted to get this right. There were further tweaks during construction. (My next immediate concern is transferring those changes to the pattern pieces so that they’re not forgotten.)
I fumbled, tripped, and staggered my way towards a final skirt.
And what of the velveteen? Obviously, accepting a freebie comes with all sorts of moral quandaries. What if I hate the fabric? Am I allowed to say that on my blog? What if I foul up, and ruin the lovely velveteen? Will Annie decide sewing bloggers are flakes? So I’m really pleased that a) the skirt has worked and b) I can genuinely rave about the velveteen.
As you can see, it holds structure very well. Look at those pleats!
It’s also unbelievably forgiving to work with. Stitches just sink out of sight. Here’s a detail of the hand sewn inside waist band. Can you see the stitches? No, neither can I.
You will need to line a skirt made with this velveteen; it would stick to your tights like mad. You’ll also want to finish seams as quickly as you’re able, as this fabric frays:
In terms of care, I threw this into the wash at 40 degrees. I tend to do that a lot when pre-washing, as I want to ensure that makes will survive the occasional wash when I forget that I’m caring about the planet. I also pressed the fabric on a fairly high heat, both sides, with no ill effect. Yes, it’s damn near indestructible, but if you want a much more comprehensive guide to caring for velveteen you can go here.
I drafted my own pockets (get me!) and used red piping on them. There was also another perfect button waiting in my button jar.
I’m really pleased with how this skirt worked out, the density of colour and soft touch. I’m delighted that Annie introduced me to a fabric I would never normally have considered working with. I’m dying to see someone do something magnificent with the Zagzig print.
I couldn’t help being curious about how Annie set up her online business, which means there’s an interview with the woman herself coming up. Stay tuned!
Thank you, Annie. You gave me the kick up the derriere I needed to draft my very first pattern. It kinda worked. I think I’ve just taken this season’s fashion for animal prints to a whole other level…