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Hi everyone! welcome, welcome! Thank you for stopping by, whether you’re new or just cruising through. It’s so nice to have you!
Thanks so much for joining me. I’m so excited to share with you today! I’m part of the DIBY club’s Duchess blog tour. Each blogger on the tour will be sharing their own unique perspective on the pattern. We will have lots of fun along the way. I can’t wait to see everyone’s posts! Let’s get to it!
Jessica Hooley is one of my favorite people in the online sewing community. If you don’t know her, I highly suggest finding a way to connect with her! She is very into DIY of all types (spa materials, cooking, sewing and crafting, etc) and a knack for explaining things. On the main Do It Better Yourself Club site, you can find a virtual wealth of info & tons of great DIY projects. There is also a facebook group that is very active, where members share ideas and plans freely and really support each other. It’s a beautiful thing, this community she’s created! She can be found a number of places. One of my favorite places to follow her is the Youtube channel, where she walks you through tons of great projects. The way she describes things so thoroughly, yet succinctly, is incredible. Even though I consider myself an “advanced” seasmstress, I can always find something on Jess’s channel that I can learn more about. I’m so inspired by everything Jessica has done in the time I’ve been following her. While so many people are out to get their cut of profits, she willingly shares things openly and freely, simply because of her love for doing them. It’s a beautiful thing! Sorry for talking on and on. I really wanted you all to know and understand why this pattern is so special to me. The community and designer are (usually) the main reasons! 🙂
Onto the star of the show…
(the skirt. Not me. haha. Although it did make me feel a bit like a star)
Much like the designer behind the Do It Better Yourself Club, this pattern is a fresh, new take on a wardrobe staple. The Duchess skirt is calm, cool and collected. It’s also a remarkably quick sew. (Seriously!
It takes me 4 days to make a basic item I have 4 kids.) This skirt, from cut to finish, took me less than an hour. The PDF pattern is available now and can be downloaded in both misses and plus sizes. (both are included in the pattern) It’s a loose flowing skirt with a high low hem, that can be made from woven or knit fabric (SCORE!). It’s also FREE!
There are several different ways to create the skirt, as it comes in 2 lengths, but with 2 different rises. However you mix and match it, it ends up being a perfect look for just about any outfit. One of my (many) favorite things about this pattern is that it’s cut in such a way that it works with the grainline to ensure it cascades elegantly away from your body in the best way even when made from something stiff, such as quilting cotton! (“Some” have said that it is really great at making your backside look amazing.)
Generally speaking, when I’m testing a new pattern, I like to ensure I’m doing things correctly. I typically don’t hack or mash patterns while testing, either. But since this wasn’t a traditional pattern test, I wanted to try and do something a little different. I decided to try a woven skirt with a knit waistband. I wanted to be sure to do Jessica’s pattern justice, so I made sure to read the instructions very thoroughly. This is a step I wouldn’t recommend skipping, either. There were a couple new things that I learned about, just from reading through the pattern instructions! (Stay stitching…who knew?!)
From the beginning, I noticed that the pattern was available with a layers feature. This is something I’ve only recently begun using, but I LOOOOOOVE it! I’m big on saving money by printing in black and white or greyscale, reusing the back of my unused pages, etc, so printing in layers is right up my alley! There is also a whole page in the instructions that tells you what pages to print for which size, so even without the adobe pdf reader to print off layers, you can still save a little time and ink! Another thing I loved is that there are circle guides. I don’t know about you, but even when printing at a full unscaled 100%, my printer still tends to go a little wonky and pages end up not being straight. The circle guides are perfect for ensuring things line up for you. Don’t be afraid to use them!
I’ve mentioned the instructions and that you should follow them, but I’m not sure I really made note of just how incredible they are. There are links to tutorials, little tips and tricks, as well as videos to go along with the instructions. There were a couple things that were new to me such as stay stitching the waist and changing the inseam for my height. These things were explained in the easiest way possible and by the end of doing them, I felt like I could repeat them time and again without issue, although if I had any issues, there were plenty of ways to get in touch with Jessica, the admins, her group. There was also a tutorial for any issue you can imagine! I love it! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen instructions so detailed. And even though they were thorough and detailed, it didn’t feel like a chore, reading them. Pretty good stuff!
The pattern calls for a zipper when using a woven material. I had just finished another woven project (George and Ginger’s mood dress) and didn’t have a zipper. I love a good woven skirt, but me and zippers aren’t the best of friends. I do, however, love a great yoga waistband. The combination of the lightweight material I used, combined with the comfort of that knit waistband, is perfection. It wasn’t too hard to switch up my waistband, although I did end up jumping around in the instructions, because the woven and knit waistbands both have their own individual ones. The skirt is drafted to sit at your waist, so if you plan to follow my lead and try this at home, be sure to make sure it will fit over your hips. I didn’t think things out the first go round, so I made sure to add a little bit to the waist on my second try. For my size (size 3, according to the pattern measurements), I added about 1.5 inches to the waist by simply making the opening a bit larger. I did this during the cutting phase and before doing my stay stitching.
I followed the rest of the directions for the woven skirt and made sure to finish my seams to avoid fraying. Before moving on to the waistband (on the second version), I followed Jessica’s tips from her curved hem tutorial . This meant doing my hem before finishing the other parts of my skirt. I have to give credit where it’s due (again!) by saying that if it weren’t for her tutorial, I would have pulled my hair out from dong this hem. The combination of a curved hem, together with the non stretching woven material, tends to irk me a bit. Even with the great instruction, it isn’t perfect. But it’s much closer than it would have been, if left to my own devices! 🙂
After hemming and sewing the skirt piece together, I added my waistband. Because I was doing the knit waistband and a woven skirt, there was some stretching involved. It was one of those times where you must stretch one fabric but try not to stretch the other at all. This is where her tip to staystitch came in extra handy. If it hadn’t been for the staystitching, I believe the two would have been a bit harder to mash up. But mash they did. And the result is perfect, at least for me. I used to have a white pencil skirt that I loved, but never fit quite right, so I would pull it out, try it on…. and then always end up hanging it back up. I’m so excited to finally have a white skirt that fits well and will go with anything!
From start to finish, the Duchess Skirt pattern is exceptional. I’ve made so many patterns over the last few years. I’ve had horrid experiences and I’ve had amazing ones. The majority of the time, patterns fall somewhere in between. They aren’t something you LOVE but they’re not terrible, either. This pattern is one that I can confidently say is going to be in my “most used” pile of patterns. Even when not using the pattern, I will be making use of the tutorials and tips provided by Jessica and her crew. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
Get the Duchess skirt pattern for FREE here:
Thanks so much for reading!
Until next time,
Sewin’ & Swimmin’,
I’ve compiled a list of my fellow testers/bloggers below. The blog tour posts are also linked at the very bottom. I highly recommend visiting each and every one of their blogs to check them out! Some of these ladies have been my sewing inspiration for the past couple years. I’m so honored to be posting in a round up with them!
Sarah Connell of Sewing with Sarah: http://www.sewingwithsarah.com/
An Staute of Diskordia’s Curvy Sewing: http://diskordiascurvysewing.blog
Anna Metcalf of Kainara Stitches: kainarastitches.wordpress.com
Melissa Ross of Wonderfully Handmade: https://wonderfullyhandmade.com
Lori Bowers of Seams So Low: https://www.seamssewlo.com/
Amy Betts of Sea of Estrogen: http://seaofestrogen.com
Angela Spontak of Cookie on the Loose: www.cookieontheloose.com
Kelly Stevens of On Wednesdays We Sew: Www.onwednesdayswesew.com
Aaronica Cole of The Crunchy Mommy: www.thecrunchymommy.com
The Duchess Blog Tour Schedule
July 25th – Sewing With Sarah | Diskordia’s Curvy Sewing
July 26th – Kainara Stitches | Wonderfully Handmade
July 27th – Seams Sew Lo | Mermaid Mama Designs
July 28th – Swimming in a Sea of Estrogen | Cookie on The Loose
July 29th – On Wednesdays we Sew | The Crunchy Mommy
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