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‘A skirt that spins out’

January 17, 2015
Dirndl tiered skirt

Dirndl tiered skirt

Recently my daughter has started to express a preference for skirts or dresses that ‘spin out’.  If they don’t spin out when she twirls around, she’s not interested in wearing them!

Turn, turn, turn again...

Turn, turn, turn again…

Sometime last year I bought the book ‘Sewn With Love’ by Fiona Bell, which is full of vintage-inspired sewing patterns for children’s clothing.  There are loads of sweet dress patterns in the book but I was quite taken by the idea of making the ‘Dirndl Skirt’ for my daughter.

A carefully-arranged sitting down pose

A carefully-arranged sitting down pose

I was very disappointed with the quality of the pattern, its markings and its ease of assembly.  The patterns come on a CD so you can print them and stick the pages together, but there were no numbers or markings to help you match them up.  This skirt pattern was basically a series of longer and longer rectangles, so it was pretty difficult to work out the order.  It would have been much more helpful to give the measurements of the rectangles to cut.

Look at the giant hand shadow!  This made us laugh for ages afterwards!

Look at the giant hand shadow! This made us laugh for ages afterwards!

Once I had finally assembled the ‘pattern’, I thought I’d be able to whip the skirt up in no time, but I had forgotten just how long gathering can take, and there is a lot of gathering in this skirt!  The bottom tier alone was 5.5m long.  For the third tier I had to split the gathering into eight sections to help control it and spread it evenly, and the bottom tier I split into sixteen sections.  Although it was fiddly and took longer than I planned, I did enjoy making it a lot.  I kept on imagining my daughter’s reaction when I showed it to her and imagining her twirling around in it.

Laughing at the hand shadow in the previous picture

Laughing at the hand shadow in the previous picture

The fabric is City Weekend by Liesl Gibson for Oliver+S by Moda.  I bought it a couple of years ago so I’m glad to have finally used it up.  It lingered in my stash so long because I only bought 1.5m – not quite sure why!  I added extra fouff to the skirt (completely unnecessary, but it adds to the fun) by adding in a yellow crystal organza tiered underskirt, which I had made for a previous project but not used.  I added it into the second tier so that it would hang a little below the final tier.  There’s no point in having it if you can’t see a little peek of it, after all.

Just a little peek of the underskirt, hahaha.  Here we have an example of someone literally ROFL-ing.

Just a little peek of the underskirt, hahaha. Here we have an example of someone literally ROFL-ing.

I had originally intended to give this to my daughter for her birthday, but I was too impatient to wait and I know she’s got tons of other things to open on her birthday.  Of course, she loves it!  It’s pretty long on her, and the elastic is pretty tight at the back, so I think this will last a couple of years actually if I added in a bit of extra elastic when it becomes too tight.

I need to strike a pose like this in my next blog post.

I need to strike a pose like this in my next blog post.

I’m not sure I’d use this book again.  I love the finished skirt, and I still really like some of the other designs in the book, but assembling paper patterns with no markings or numbers is a big fat pain in the ass.  Oh well, at least I got some use out of it!

  1. January 17, 2015 2:49 pm

    Very cute. And by her reaction a massive hit!
    That’s such a shame about the patterns as some of the designs look lovely, but if they haven’t been tiled very well with no numbering then it sounds like a right royal PITA. Sounds like some rectangle dimensions would have been easier and possibly faster…
    Still all worth it though, she looks gorgeous!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 17, 2015 3:20 pm

      It is a shame. I’ll have to look at some of the other patterns really to see how they are. They might be easier to piece together because of their shapes if for no other reason. There are some lovely patterns in the book.

  2. January 17, 2015 7:02 pm

    The skirt looks great and your daughter looks gorgeous.

    I take my hat off to you for sticking with the pattern, I have this book but my version is called vintage clothing for kids. The patterns are all an absolute nightmare, I’ve made about 6 so far and have had to busk most of them due to one problem or another, it’s a great learning curve but a PITA if all you want is to make something that makes a little girl smile.

    The other 5 were marginally easier to piece together than this skirt but I have concerns about whether they have been digitised correctly, the proportions seemed wrong (and i was printing actual size not scale to fit…)

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 9:47 pm

      Thank you for that feedback, you have inspired me to probably not bother with the rest…haha! What a shame though, it makes the author and publisher look bad.

  3. January 17, 2015 8:03 pm

    The end result of this is lovely, even if it was a pain to put together. Very cute photos 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 9:48 pm

      She enjoyed posing! 😉

  4. anne carter permalink
    January 17, 2015 9:50 pm

    Well done for staying with it! It was well worth it and obviously worth many Brownie points for you from your lovely daughter. Great photos too!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 9:49 pm

      It was worth it, definitely, but I don’t think I’d make another one anytime soon!

  5. January 18, 2015 8:34 am

    Woah how much gathering! Thank God it was so worth it though.
    And that’s good you think it will last a few years – I would want her to wear it an awful lot to make up for the stress of that pattern!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 9:50 pm

      Yep, I hope she’ll get a lot of wear out of it!

  6. January 18, 2015 11:03 am

    She’s so cute! It’s a lovely skirt and obviously worth the effort judging by how pleased she looks!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 9:51 pm

      She was very pleased indeed and paraded about in it for the rest of the day, and the following day too! Just hope she doesn’t ask for a school-skirt-version hahaha!

  7. January 18, 2015 9:59 pm

    That’s a skirt with some serious spin! I’m not sure I could have worked through all that gathering but it’s a good job you did. It looks fabulous.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2015 10:06 pm

      Thank you Claire. I am pleased with it. It’s funny that just as I have sworn off gathered skirts for myself, I go and make the mother-of-all-gathered-skirts for my daughter!! Haha. It does suit her though and it makes her happy, so that’s all that matters.

  8. Emilia Vanderwerf permalink
    November 21, 2016 7:52 pm

    Hello! The skirt looks absolutely amazing! I’m so impressed that you were able to figure out the cryptic instructions in the book, because I’m looking at it right now and I am just not understanding. Do you mind if I ask a specific question about the pattern? If it’s been too long since you’ve looked at this and don’t remember, don’t worry. But if you do, I’d be so grateful! 🙂 Also, I’m attempting the age 3-4 skirt.

    I have the pattern taped and cut out like the book instructs, but step one says, “Join the five strips that make up the fourth (bottom) tier end to end to form one large circle of fabric.” However, I’m confused because the pattern only has 4 strips plus one for elastic which has a different height, so it doesn’t make sense to attach that one also. Do you know what it is asking me to do? Then later in step 1, it says, “Repeat this process with the 3 pieces that make up the 3rd tier and the 2 pieces that make up the 2nd tier.” However, the book or pattern never say which 3 pieces make up the 3rd tier and which 2 make up the 2nd (since each piece is a little different in length). Do you know which pieces are supposed to be used?

    Again, thank you. And really, don’t worry if it has been too long. 🙂 I’m glad you were able to trudge through the pattern assembly successfully – I too am so disappointed by how unclear it is!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 21, 2016 8:09 pm

      Hi. I made the age 5-6 skirt, and actually I did make some notes on what I did. I remember the pattern pieces being completely useless, so I noted down the measurements of the rectangles I cut, which are as follows:
      Waistband 10cm x 75cm – Cut 1
      Tier 1 13cm x 92cm – Cut 1
      Tier 2 13cm x 133cm – cut 1
      Tier 3 13cm x 133cm – Cut 3
      Tier 4 13cm x 133cm – Cut 5

      Hope that helps! Let me know! x

      • Emilia Vanderwerf permalink
        November 21, 2016 9:04 pm

        Thank you, those measurements help a lot. I will just scale them down a bit. Though, last 2 questions I hope, what do the cut numbers mean and why are there multiple cut 1 but no cut 2 or 4? And do the last 3 tiers bunch correctly even though they are the same width of 133cm, or am I misunderstanding 🙂 Thank you again. You are saving me a lot of anguish!

      • Emilia Vanderwerf permalink
        November 22, 2016 12:56 am

        Well, I looked at it again and realized that the “Cut 5” instruction on the pattern means “cut 5 of these and then sew them together” instead of “this is the 5th cut you should be making with your scissors, else you know you’re not doing it correctly”.

        So it all makes very clear sense now. Thank you again very much. I should be good to go!

      • tabathatweedie permalink*
        November 22, 2016 7:59 am

        Yes, sorry. Cut 5 and sew them all together into one long loop. Good luck with all the gathering!!!

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