The Chelsea collection by Simple sew
Sewing the skirt:
The seams are quick and easy to sew, make sure you sew the right panels together, the notches are important and each paper pattern has side front or side back written on it. This all helps. Not forgetting that the opening is at the front, instinctively you think it’s at the back, (well I did when I started pinning) luckily early on, so I could correct myself.
Terminology: One method I have never heard of before is, stitching the ditch? I would normally sew the waist band seam allowance inside, enclosing the raw edge, or in this case over locked edge. This time the pattern asks you to sew along the waistband seam, catching the reverse of the waistband as you go (this is called ‘stitching the ditch’). I can see why they use this technique here. It makes the waistband nice and flat, if it was enclosed it would be bulky and the buttons would be harder to add later.
Advice: When you are sewing the ends of the waistband make sure they are equal on both fronts.
I checked and matched my measurements to the pattern before I cut the pattern out. I haven’t time to toile it, as it advises on the pattern. If you have never made a simple sew pattern before, I would advise a toile on the first pattern you make up. Then once you know what size you are, then each one after that should be ok. It’s just like shops. I can’t buy clothes from Top-shop, as everything is tiny. There customers are much younger than me it seems. Monsoon sizing is more accurate for me these days (I’m in my 40’s).
Buttons and button holes: I highly recommend that you test a few button holes before you do them on your skirt. When you do make sure you fold the fabric over twice so that it’s the same thickness as your skirt.
I looked at a similar skirt I have in my wardrobe before I marked my holes. The pattern just says sew your button holes on the right hand side. The pattern markings are only on the skirt panels, it doesn’t say to add another to the waistband. When using my brother sewing machine button-hole foot I needed to get my manual out, as it wouldn’t start. Obviously I soon realised that I needed to remove the foot pedal, as it’s automatic. I used a sharp pink chalk pencil. White would show more, but I haven’t got one at the moment. Marking is so important. I pin my pattern to the front panel, then pin each button-hole over the markings from beginning to end. I pull the paper up and where the pin tip shows mark with the fabric pencil. I start my button-hole from the centre front edge, as I am using a round ended hole, so this needs to be at the edge. Check each button-hole is correct before you cut them
I use a craft knife and cutting mat to open the holes. Do this very carefully as it is easy to cut too far. You can use small embroidery scissors or a quick unpick.
I had to wait a few days for the buttons, as I have never made a denim skirt before, so don’t have any denim buttons in my stash. This is frustrating as i am really enjoying making this skirt and have had to put it on hold. I want to include everything you need, so you don’t have the same problem.
You need a chopping board and a hammer. I used a screw driver to make a hole, then pushed the button back through the wrong side, with the button front facing down on the board and the fabric sandwiched in between. Hammer the screw into the button, easy. I had them attached in close to 10 minutes. Much easier and quicker than sewing on 8 buttons. They look great too.
The hem: it says turn up by 2cm, it doesn’t explain that you need to turn the raw edge under first. The diagram does illustrate this. The hem is on a curve so I would advise that you tack it in place first and give it a steam. Make sure both centre fronts match. They the skirt flat on a table and draw the two fronts together to check before you sew.
Fit and Shape: the skirt is high-waisted, it fits well (I made up a larger size to my shop size) it feels comfortable. If I make it again I may take out the side front and back panels. It would be easy to hack, just stick the panels together.
The making stages are simple and easy to follow, sometimes a bit too simple. Now I have seen a few of their patterns they have a booklet style and all are the same size, so they need to fit all the stages in to this format, so can’t be too descriptive. This booklet included 3 garments, so impressed they could fit it all in.
The cover shows a drawing and a photo, the button position on the photo are actually different from the drawing. There is 6 buttons on the drawing and 8 on the photo. The first button below the waistband is lower. As they don’t explain the button-hole positioning in detail this makes this a little confusing.
Fabric: I used a medium weight denim as they suggested and this makes it easier to sew as not too bulky and it’s comfortable too. I also used a light weight cotton for the blouse, I would like to make it again in a floral cotton.
Check for size, not just waist and hips, measure the length. I would definitely lengthen this if I made it again. I should have measured the length first. If you are making this make sure you do, as mine is about 4 inches too short. i do have a long body, but 4 inches is a bit extreme.
I overlocker all the seams except the necklines, as these have facings. I found the button loop quite long. It also said top stitch it, I used a loop turner instead. I’m not a great fan of facings, but this pattern made them easy. The hem of the facing is overlocked and is easy to attach at the side seams. I don’t like it when you have to pin hem facings. Snip around the curved edges of the facings before you turn and press.
Pin your darts matching the notches at the side seams and sew towards the point. I always stop at the point and then hand tie the points, instead of back stitching.This makes it a neat point.
Sleeves: I didn’t realise it needs shearing elastic, so I have ordered some and will have to wait till it arrives before I finish it.
I have established an account with a haberdashery supplier, so soon this will not be a problem. As I mentioned before, I want to stock everything you need for each product. So if you buy this pattern, you will have everything you need; some fabric and button options, the elastic and thread. I can post everything in one special parcel. I need to make every pattern first, so it has a written review blog attached.
A friend lent me some elastic and initially it went really well and I was actually surprised how easy it was, then my bobbin ran out after 3 out of 4 rows. I hand wound some more on and it just wouldn’t work. I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials to see if I could work out why this was happening. I changed the bobbin tension, rewound my elastic and still didn’t work. It started to frustrate me, so I took a coffee break. I went back and decided to thread the elastic onto the bobbin tightly. YouTube told me different. This time it worked straight away. Just shows you, some people online are not always right. The shearing is a lovely extra detail, it makes the blouse more feminine and pretty.
I don’t like how you can see the over locking at the hem, but you can’t rally hem the sleeve after as it has the shearing elastic gathering it. When sewing the sleeve in, it is important to use an ease stitch, (as the pattern suggests) this makes it easier to fit. Then lastly its the hem, press under and top stitch, its sew simple!
The skirt is really comfortable and quite slimming, I wouldn’t change a thing. Apart from the top being short, it’s a lovely pattern. Making an outfit is great. I will definitely source some more fabric and make the top again, obviously much longer next time. if you want a new summer outfit, this is the perfect pattern.