The Zen Charmer Skirt

Being a cyclist, my legs are pretty chunky and most of the time feature at least one bruise from smacking a pedal against my shin when I’ve got a bit too enthusiastic. For this reason I don’t tend to wear skirts and instead prefer trousers – even though finding trousers that fit my thighs AND fit my waist AND that I can actually get over my bum is like being the single winner of the Euromillions jackpot on a 26-week-rollover.



Sometimes though I long for the freedom of movement that comes with wearing a skirt, and to not be worried about how tight my trousers feel on my thighs. And, sometimes, even here in England, it actually gets pretty hot in the summer. To complicate matters further, having a small waist and big hips limits the styles of skirts that actually look good on me – I’ve learned the hard way that ruched or gathered fabric around the waist makes me immediately look like I’ve gained twenty pounds, pencil skirts are both too tight on the hips and too loose at the waist (and ride up after about five steps resulting in me forever pulling them down) and anything too puffy-outy makes my already-large hips look ginormous.

So what’s a girl to do?

I spend a lot of time browsing sewing patterns online for things that look like they might suit my shape – and when I find something that works, I make loads. If the shoe fits, buy it in every colour right? One pattern company that I particularly like is Deer and Doe – they draft their patterns for an hourglass shape (a slim waist but generous hips and C-D cup bust). Based on this I thought I would give their Chardon skirt a go – It’s a simple high-waisted skirt, designed to sit at the narrowest part of the waist and the excess fabric at the waistband is kept nice and flat with box pleats.



You get two variations in the pattern envelope – A, with belt loops, and B with no belt loops but with a hem band. I chose A, because the hem band seemed to me like it would suit plain fabrics better (it’s just crying out to be colour blocked, let’s face it) and I wanted to make mine in a patterned fabric. The detail of the hem band would have just been lost amongst the pattern so there was no point in spending the time constructing it.

You get sizes 34 to 46, and with a difficulty rating of 2/5 this is beginner-friendly. I think the zip is what has bumped it up to 2/5 rather than 1/5, as the rest of it is very simple to construct.



The Chardon skirt is also bold pattern friendly – it’s not cut on the bias, it’s cut along the grainline – so if you’ve got a strong one-way design the pattern will remain upright all the way around. All too often I’ve chosen skirts patterns for bold fabric only to find that it’s cut on the bias, or features a front seam, both of which tend to suit plain or uni-directional fabrics rather than strong one-way designs (which I figured is why they say “not suitable for strong one way designs” on the back of the pattern envelope. Huh.)

The fabric I have used is Zen Charmer by Alexander Henry, which I think is top of the list of my all time favourite fabric (yes, even though it has flowers on it and I never wear flowers). There’s just something about the colours and the pattern that I love – it would make an awesome tattoo sleeve. There is one more colourway of this fabric, in shades of blue – but for me it just doesn’t have the same appeal (sorry blue version – nothing personal).



I know that there’s a big ol’ debate out there on t’internet as to whether or not you should use quilting cottons for making clothes, but I think the line of Alexander Henry fabrics are secretly aimed at dressmakers to make uber-cool garments with – I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they would look great as a wall hanging or bedspread (anyone made one?) but I’d rather be wearing those skeletons, skulls and halloween cats.















I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern template – I kept the length as it was, but for the next one I think I might add a couple of inches just to cover up my chunky knees a little bit more. The length as it is out of the packet takes 2 metres of 45 inch wide fabric, but if you squidge your pattern pieces up real close to each other when you cut them out you can add a little length to the skirt without buying additional fabric.

I used pre-purchased bias tape for the hem, the pattern did not call for it but I feel that the black accents the design nicely and breaks up what is otherwise quite a busy skirt.



I went for a gold and black exposed zipper for the back, rather than the invisible zip suggested by the pattern (nice easy to follow tutorial with pictures here). I did this partly because I hate sewing invisible zips, and partly because I really like chunky gold and black zips πŸ™‚ And it coordinates with my belt! Double win.



The only thing that I don’t like about the construction is the inner waistband facing – although you’re instructed to understitch in order to prevent the insides turning to the outside, mine rolls out ALL THE TIME. I think I might go back over it and slip stitch it down. Perhaps I will also try a stiffer interfacing next time, to try and keep everything in place, as it’s all a bit soft and structure-less. Another note for next time is to make the belt loops shorter – I like skinny belts, which require smaller loops, and these ones are all huge and gapey (more obvious in the two wibbley outer loops nearest my arms). This isn’t helped by the soft waistband as everything sort of scrunches up.



The skirt is designed with in-line pockets, which I’m undecided on whether or not I like. On the one hand, I feel like I don’t need MORE fabric sitting around my hips making them even larger, and it’s just another bit to iron to make sure they are sitting flat against the skirt and not giving you weird lumps and bumps as the skirt hangs (yes I’m that lazy), but pockets are kinda useful to stash things in for a little while when you can’t be bothered to open up your bag.



Overall though I’m really happy with the fit and style of the skirt and will definitely be making more from this pattern. I have also bought the Belladonne dress and the Melilot shirt patterns from Deer and Doe so I am looking forward to making these. At €14 a pop, these patterns are definitely not cheap – however I think they are worth it as they are classic styles you can make again and again.


Photos by Hmexus

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  1. June 5, 2017 / 7:00 am

    Just came from the NY skirt to this one. This is also a beauty and your shoes!!!: these are awesome.

    • Sarah
      June 5, 2017 / 8:10 am

      Aha! Thank you ☺️ the belt I’m wearing with the skirt is made from the same material as the shoes, and I also have the matching bag πŸ˜‚ can you tell I love it?!

  2. Celia
    August 16, 2017 / 8:20 am

    Love the pattern, fabric choice and exposed zip! Great skirt!

    • Sarah
      August 16, 2017 / 1:44 pm

      Thank you Celia! I do love the exposed zip on this πŸ™‚

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