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…