Advance warning: this post features pictures of me in a skirt, with bare legs. I can assure you, this doesn’t happen very often. In fact, hardly ever.
I dunno whether it’s because I’m really just not a skirt person, or if it’s because all the weight I’ve put on over the last year has gone to my legs (yep, for real), but I just feel meh every time I put on a skirt. I see the appeal – cooler in summer, your thighs can be free rather than squeezed into jeans that have ridiculously small legs, and it’s just something a bit different to jeans. But I just struggle to find ones that I like. Pencil skirts are too corporate. Mini skirts are just indecent for someone with my thighs. Longer skirts make me look like my mother. Floaty summer skirts aren’t really my style. And let’s not forget the fact that any comfy skirts (that is, ones with an elasticated waist) WITHOUT FAIL will ride up to the narrowest point of my waist – just below my boobs – making me look like a frumpy grandma. And it’s for all those reasons that I don’t wear skirts (oh – and one more reason that I forgot: RTW skirts that fit my waist do not fit the aforementioned thunder thighs. And vice versa).
But this one, this one, has jumped all of those hurdles and made its way onto my body. In public, as well ?
It’s the Republique Du Chiffon ‘Jupe Charlotte’. (Disclaimer: The pattern is only available in French. but if you’ve got a basic knowledge of how a skirt goes together you’ll be fine. Scouts honour.)
I’d made a few of these skirts in the shorter length, for winter. They’ve all been made from gorgeous autumnal woollens so far, but as I like the cut of the shorter skirt so much I wanted to make some that could be worn throughout the rest of the year. As in, without tights – which means CONSIDERABLY LONGER.
I don’t very often make things in plain black fabrics. In fact, I almost never do that. But sometimes, you have to bow down to the Gods Of Coordinating Separates. Patterns do not go with other patterns All. The. Time. Sometimes you need a plain top or bottom to balance things out. (Balance? What’s that? I live by ‘more is more’)
I bought a couple of metres of black stretch denim from Fabric Godmother to batch-make a few plain black items. While the fabric itself was a good thick, hard wearing denim, after I pre-washed it, it came out with loads of white crease lines on it ? After being told by some lovely Ladies Of Experience that this was due to a variety of factors around the washing process (too high a spin, washing machine too overloaded, drying with creases in it, not ironing it as soon as it comes out of the machine) I decided not to complain to Fabric Godmother – as it seemed to have possibly been my fault – but I was still a bit miffed over the whole thing because basically, my entire piece of fabric was now useless because it looked shite.
I mean, look at those big ol’ ones running diagonally down the left hand side of the zip ?
But, I had planned to make the skirt, so I was gonna make the skirt. This girl ain’t a quitter.
You get three different length options in the Charlotte pattern, but because the skirt sits so high on me (it sits on my natural waist, but that is pretty high) the shortest length is just indecent and I won’t ever be making that one. It’s basically a pole dancer’s belt.
The middle length is what I’ve used so far for the woollen versions (and even that’s pretty short), and I wanted somewhere in between this one and the longest version so I traced the longer version and lopped off 1.5 inches, hoping it would be about right. It was ??
Looking at the aforementioned (and super obvs) white streaks on the fabric, I wondered what I could do about them. I thought about making a ‘vintage design feature’ out of them, y’know, like a ‘worn denim’ kinda thang, but there wasn’t really enough of them to carry that off. The best option seemed to re-dye the fabric, but before I resorted to that I thought I’d piece the rest of the main body of the skirt together and bung it back in the machine. I may have been clutching at straws, but I was kind of hoping that there was still a bit of dye to come out, and if I washed it again, this dye would leak out and cover the white bits. I promise, there really was logic in there ?
So back in the machine it went. When the cycle had finished, I immediately slapped the fabric on the ironing board, whacked the iron up to the max and got those creases out. I then hung it on the line to dry out.
I noticed two things when I went back out later to get it in:
- The white creases remained the same, so that second wash achieved absolutely nothing ?
- The hem of the skirt, which was unfinished when it went into the machine, had frayed itself and looked pretty damn cool.
I decided to finish the skirt, still clinging on to the hope that it would have a ‘vintage’ look to it with the creases (ha, FOOL) ??♀️
The skirt pattern goes together really easily (and pretty quickly, too). Plus it has a slightly curved waistband, which fits us curvy gals SO much better than a rectangular one. You just gotta remember to identify – and label – those skirt pieces correctly (they’re in French, remember ??) so that you get all seven pieces in the correct place ?
There’s plenty of opportunity for topstitching, if that’s your thang. Usually, it’s mine, but I haven’t actually gone for much on this one – I think I was too preoccupied with scowling at those bloody white lines on the denim.
(if you get the joke, we need to be friends in real life ?)
This is the first version of the skirt that I’ve put the pockets on – they went on pretty easy (they are overlaid on the skirt body), and that curve in the corner looked ok, but when it came to doing the first line of topstitching, well the whole thing looked a bit crap after that ? Turns out my curve *wasn’t* so good after all ? Ah well, I wasn’t gonna unpick it. I feel like maybe I should have traced it/chalked it/basted it or something but to be honest it just felt like a massive faff and winging it seemed much more appealing. That’ll learn me ??♀️ The second line of topstitching went on ok (I followed the curve of the first one) so I decided to just roll with it. I’m proper critical of the wobbliness of my topstitching, but let’s be real – who in real life is actually going to inspect it and go ‘oh – your stitching’s all over the gaff’ ???♀️
Nobody, that’s who.
And if somebody does, they will just be shot down with THE STARE.
I put a lining into this skirt – as I’ve done with all the others – but FYI the pattern isn’t written with one.
It’s super easy to add one though – just recut all of the skirt pieces in your lining fabric (except a little bit shorter) and instead of stitching down the waistband on the inside, attach the lining shell. Then all you need to do is anchor down the lining either side of the zip and – SHAZAM! – lining complete ??
I managed to squeeze into the skirt for these pictures in NYC (despite the many, MANY large meals I’d eaten since our arrival) but after a few wears on that holiday, the invisible zip has started pulling away from the seam. And I haven’t worn it since, because I’m even heavier now than I was then. I tried it on the other day, just to see if I could get in it – and I couldn’t. I could get it on, if I wiggled my bum at the same time as pulling it up, and could get the zip done up most of the way, but it wouldn’t go that last couple of inches. To be honest, the skirt is PROPER tight at the waist and I really should have made a size (or two) bigger, and I also just don’t feel that an invisible zip is quite the right weight for a heavy denim skirt, even if it fitted properly… it just feels so flimsy in comparison to the weight of the fabric. I think I’d look at either a lapped zip for the next one or even an exposed metal zip. Probably the metal one ?
We’ll call it a toile. Not a wearable one, because my fat ass doesn’t fit into it anymore, but a toile. I like the style and shape of the skirt. Even if, one day, I actually manage to lose some weight and get back into it, I wouldn’t want to wear it because of the zip issues, and those bloody white lines all over the show. Plus the belt loops were a shambles – I made the mistake of not including enough slack in the belt loops to actually fit a belt in (or indeed allow them to lay flat, the waistband is a little bit folded because they’re so tight ?), something I realised when it was way too late in the process. The loops are sewn (as per the instructions or not, I can’t quite remember now) into both seams on the waistband – whereas they are usually sewn into just one of those seams and then bar-tacked down at the other end.
I’d like to put a bit more topstitching on the skirt the next time around – I feel that the waistband is just a tad bare. Same for the belt loops. I want it to be a bit more jeans-y. The pockets are a bit baggy at the top opening as well – perhaps I should have stretched them a bit when sewing them down.
It’s a shame that the skirt didn’t quite make the grade, because I got the waistband seams on point ?
But all is not lost – this skirt has helped me figure out that I don’t mind so much the heavier weight skirts – I’m not really into floaty, lightweight skirts (especially ones with gathers), but it seems that a firm, structured skirt (as in a denim skirt) has more chance of being okay. I feel like maybe this one is a tad… plain though, so I’m looking at other options.
I’ve just bought the Salida Skirt from True Bias, in the hope of using it as a base to make something successful. I really like the triangular yoke – I’m thinking of maybe a leather yoke, or perhaps some embroidered fabric instead… dunno yet ?
It has a back vent, which I’m not keen on (reminds me of those awful wool pencil skirts that women in corporate offices seem to adopt as their uniform, usually with low-height square block heels, eugh excuse me while I vomit ?) so that will probably have to go. But I think it’s got potential – I’ll give it a go, at least. I want to make another one of these longer Charlotte skirts, but I need to find some good denim first (as in, NOT BLUE, not slubby denim, and not lightweight chambray – proper jeans denim). And I need to retrace the pattern pieces (and then add on the seam allowance because it doesn’t come with it, KILL ME NOW) for a couple of sizes bigger.
So we’ve now been cycling to work for four weeks, and I’ve lost a grand total of three pounds. THREE POUNDS. I feel this is in no way representative of my effort levels with regards to the actual exercise or my diet. We live up a damn great hill, so the journey home from work is basically like cycling up Everest. And I do that four days a week. Plus I’ve been sidestepping the curries and pizza and all the other stuff that smells really good in the canteen at work and heading for the chicken and salad. I’ve been eating such things like leaves, and colourful vegetables, and all those other things that they tell you are healthy and good for weight loss. Yeah, my arse they are – THREE SODDING POUNDS is all I’ve got to show for my efforts. Plus I’ve still been doing two weights classes a week at the gym in which I lift really heavy things, sweat out a good litre of fluid, and spend an hour feeling like I’m on the verge of cardiac arrest. Clearly, I have a medical problem somewhere because obvs I should be looking like an elite athlete by now. My legs are usually ruined by Wednesday morning, but I soldier on and get my bum on the bike and cry my way to work thinking about the weight loss I’m not getting despite adding six hours of cycling into my week. Dunno why I bother, I may as well sit my fat ass on the train and inhale a croissant – seems I’d get the same result ???
I’m sure it never used to be this hard – I used to cycle five days a week a few years back and don’t remember it being this savage. Well, I guess I’m heavier now so maybe that’s a factor. Or maybe it’s my age (it’s downhill after 30, right?). Or maybe I should just quit my whining and be ‘patient’ ?
One thing that’s a bit – unfortunate shall we say – about having this blog is that when you put on weight, you’re reminded about how much lighter you used to be both by All. The. Photos. that are on here, and the fact that when you go to put on those same clothes now that you see yourself wearing in photos from last year, they don’t fit ? Those bastard Clothes Shrinking Imps have snuck in during the night and made everything smaller. I’d wait up overnight to kill ’em, but y’know, I’m too tired from my Tour De France training ?
So please excuse me, but it’s nap time now.
Next week on the blog is my version of the controversial Bionic Gear Bag… Subscribe below to have it drop straight into your inbox! ??