A Sew-Along with Melissa Bailey
The girls asked me to make something to show off our fabulous new Birch Organic Solid Canvas and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a pattern company I had never used before.
Enter TILLY AND THE BUTTONS! I have to say that I am a sucker for modern, minimalist packaging and clean, slightly retro designs, so I was really excited to get the chance to make one of their patterns. I chose the ARIELLE skirt because it would show off the canvas nicely and look amazing on our resident model Arleen! I had a great time making it, but I thought I would give you all a few tips for those of you who are new to apparel sewing. I know it can be intimidating to move from quilts to darts and buttons! But it’s fun and not scary, I promise you’ll enjoy the challenge.
So gather all of your supplies, grab a copy of TILLY AND THE BUTTONS – ARIELLE skirt pattern and get started!
First off, if you are new to sewing garments, TILLY has a great “JARGON BUSTER” glossary of terms on the very first page of their instruction booklet. This is a super helpful page and will let you know your topstitch from your understitch, helping you avoid any embarrassing stitchy mistakes.
This is a really good time to point out that you should always READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING AN APPAREL PROJECT!!!! I can’t stress this enough. You don’t want to get to the end and realize that your piece A and piece B were sewn together backwards. You also need to MEASURE YOURSELF CAREFULLY!!! For this skirt in particular this is extremely important, just due to the fitted nature of the skirt, your measurements need to be accurate.
Tip #1: I like to cut out my pattern pieces a little bigger than the actual size I’m planning on making (in the above photo I will be using size 3, but rough cut to size 4), then pin the pattern to the fabric and THEN cut right on the line for the size I want. I feel like this allows my fabric cut to be much more accurate.
I chose to follow the mini skirt pattern and gave it a cute lining, however the lining is not required. Cut your pattern pieces out according to the length and size you have selected.
The pattern starts out with the darts, which can be a little scary for those who have not ventured into the world of darts before. Have no fear! Darts aren’t that bad!
TIP #2: On a pattern like this, I will cut out the dart, leaving a negative space where the dart is on the pattern piece. I then trace this shape onto my fabric. When I remove the pattern paper, I am left with a wonky triangle shape drawn on my fabric that I can then line up and sew ON THE LINE! Takes the scary guess work right out of it, super easy!
TIP #3: The darts in the lining are small, these can be done the same way as the larger darts on the outside of the skirt, but are not as critical in ensuring that they are all exactly the same length. It is okay here to just place a dot on one side, a dot on the other and a dot at the bottom of the dart and sew.
TIP #4: I like to tack my darts down so that they are lying the right way and there is no chance for me messing them up on accident. The pattern mentions this in the instructions for the lined version and I really do think it’s helpful for the outer shell and the lining.
TIP #5: Be sure to iron the seams open flat. This can be tricky due to the curve of the hip. Use the pointed end of your ironing board and do small sections at a time to maintain the shape of the curve while pressing the seam.
TIP #6: Be sure to mark your original notches with pins so that they are easy to match up.
The trickiest part of the whole process is attaching the lining to the skirt facing. If you follow the instructions and go VERY SLOWLY it will be tricky, but doable.
Pin the top first, then pin down the sides. When sewing, go very slowly and work around the corners.
Then, there are really good tips in the instructions about how to create even under-stitching to finish off the lining. As they say, it’s all downhill from here! The rest of the skirt is pretty simple and the directions are straightforward.
Now, the BUTTONS!!!
I would recommend practicing making button holes on a scrap piece of fabric if you are not comfortable with them or have never done them before. Using a button hole foot makes this process SUPER easy!
TIP #7: I transferred the button hole marks on my fabric from the pattern, but I measured from the edge of the fabric to the edge of the button hole all the way up the skirt, just to confirm that they were all even.
TIP #8: After you put in the button holes, try on the skirt and pin the skirt closed so that it is comfortable on you. Then using a pencil or tailor’s chalk, mark a point through the button hole for your button placement. Take off the skirt, hand sew the buttons on and you’re done! Give yourself a pat on the back and show off that skirt with the hashtag #fabricworm on Instagram.