The Importance of Being Fearless

When I bought this gingham fabric I knew it was destined to become a pleated midi skirt.  I even searched for a pleated skirt pattern for a few days before realizing (duh) that the fabric itself comes with a guide for pleats in 1″ intervals!  It was meant to be!  Thus began my first foray into patternless sewing, and the first step in overcoming my fear of destroying pretty fabrics with terrible ideas.

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I started by making pleats along one of the selvedges.  I simply folded out the fabric, joining the darker squares together, pressed, and stitched down a few inches.  Easy peasy.

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My first few joins were a little wonky, but a little spray starch and more careful pinning got them looking better.  Once I had enough pleats to go around my waist, I cut off the excess fabric.  I didn’t leave enough fabric on top to fold the waistband under, so I made a facing instead.

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Here’s the inside showing the facing and the pressed pleats

The fabric is rather thin and flimsy, and the weave is also pretty loose (it was labeled a cotton/poly blend, if that makes a difference).  I could see already that some of the pleat stitching was starting to pull, so I topstitched the waistband down.  Luckily, the black on black is hard to see, so it’s not too noticeable.

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Argh that pink up on the waistband is a chalk line I didn’t know was still there! How did I not see that?

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After that, all I did was add an invisible zipper and sew the hem.  Not too shabby for my first invisible zipper in many months, I think.  I used a wide hem facing I had in the stash, which is nice because it gives some weight to the bottom of the skirt and keeps it from blowing around in the breeze too much.

I had some extra fabric, so I whipped up a little Colette Sorbetto top.  When I tried it on together, it looked alright, but I think the fit of the top was off or it just didn’t look right tucked into the skirt.  I couldn’t leave it untucked, though, because it would hide the pleats.  Anyway, my family let me know straight away that it was not looking good.

Luckily, I was almost done with my first Nettie bodysuit (by Closet Case Patterns).  Guys, I love it!  As soon as I saw Heather Lou’s tutorial for hacking the pattern into an off-the-shoulder version, I knew I needed one in my life.  It feels so glamorous!

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Detail on the lace, it's got a cool corded texture
Detail on the lace, it’s got a cool corded texture
Neckline with binding, topstitched down with a small zigzag
Neckline with binding, topstitched down with a small zigzag

I used a black stretch lace with a black stretch mesh underlining.  I had to be a little inventive because of a couple issues that came up: 1) the lace had very little stretch in one direction and 2) I only had one yard of it.  I got around these issues by using the lace as an “overlay” of sorts.  As you can see in the photos, it doesn’t actually run the full length of the body suit – a bit below waist level it’s just the mesh.  It worked out just fine!

I blended between sizes from the bust to hip.  I think I have a subconscious fear of things ending up too tight, because this ended up being a bit loose.  Doing some fit-as-you-go, I slimmed the sleeves down by about 1.5″ and took in the sides by about 1″.  Wearing it after it’s done, I think it could use shortening by 1″ and the side seams taken in just a smidgen more. (I’ve already made the adjustments on the dress version I just cut out!)

I hammered on the snaps probably an hour before running out the door in this outfit.  I wore it to my cousin’s baby’s first birthday party (yep, we dress up for family events), and I managed to sneak the girls out for some photos in front of the venue.




I know this is a pretty simple midi skirt and top, but it was really fun to make because I wasn’t at all worried about messing up!  Seriously, all of the fabric used in this project together cost less than $10 (ahhh the wonders of Fabric Mart), and all notions were from the stash.  I figured that even if I screwed it up, I wasn’t going to lose much except my time.  Also, it was really cool to make something without following any instructions for once.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sewing patterns, but sometimes it feels SO good to let loose and just kind of figure it out without being told what to do.  Would you agree?


6 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Fearless

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