My latest Minerva make I can share with you is a denim skirt, I’ve been trying to pluck up the courage to make a pair of jeans for ages, like a couple of years! I’ve even bought all the necessaries, denim, patterns, top-stitching thread, needles, zips…all I needed was courage!! It had crossed my mind that sewing a denim skirt would be a good introduction, I could get used to the techniques, sewing denim, fly zips etc without the issue of fit quite as much. I had been keeping my eye open for a suitable pattern for a couple of months. When Minerva Crafts gave me the chance to try the Clementine Skirt Pattern, it was an opportunity not to be missed!
Clementine is a classic denim skirt designed by Merchant and Mills (M&M) from their new Made in Denim range. It’s got the fly zip, top-stitched pockets, back yoke, it’s described as a slim fitting jeans skirt. It was perfect to try out jeans sewing techniques without the hassle of trying to fit jeans.
I’ve not tried a Merchant and Mills pattern before so I was interested to see what their instructions were like, I was very impressed, I took it steady and methodically went through each stage and it went together perfectly.
M&M suggest making a toile first, both to check fit and to get used to the pattern, I must admit I didn’t, (it takes a lot for me to make a toile!!) I decided that as my denim was pretty inexpensive I would jump straight in. It would have cost me more to make it in heavy calico. It was one of the lengths I bought at Fabworks at the Dewsbury meet-up, it was £5 for a 1.5metre piece, a bargain!
M&M also suggest using a heavy duty thread rather than a top-stitching thread as it’s easier to use. I’ve tried top-stitching thread with my machine before and it really didn’t like it, so I decided to use a variegated orange Gutermann quilting thread which I had in my stash instead, it stitched easily and I like the variegated effect.
A new denim sewing machine needle helped my elderly machine to cope, I also abandoned my usual flowerhead pins for heavier glass-headed ones or just traditional pins. In places I also used clover clips instead of pins as it was just too thick to get a pin in.
The only change I made to the pattern was to cut out the waistband lining from cotton instead of denim. My machine doesn’t like getting over big seams with the buttonhole foot on, I tested it over four layers of denim (a typical seam) and it wouldn’t go under. Using cotton just made it a little thinner. My denim is fairly heavy with no stretch, it’s actually about 180cm wide, I didn’t realise denim came in so many widths!
The first piece to tackle was the back pockets. I had a bit of fun here! I work in a cardiac unit, so I decided to sew an ECG on the back pockets. I drew it on paper first to get the scale right, I then drew it on the pockets with chalk and finally stitched along the line and just above it. I love it, this will be my sinus rhythm skirt!
The seams are all overlocked or zig-zagged on the inside and edge-stitched and top-stitched on the outside. The split on the skirt centre back went together smoothly, I was a bit apprehensive about the fly zip but I followed each step carefully, tacking by hand when it told me to, and it went in perfectly.
One thing I liked when stitching up this pattern is that all the fiddly bits are done whilst the pieces are fairly flat, so they are easy to manage. With pockets, zips and the split completed, I could now stitch the front to the back and see how it fitted! It was pretty good over my bottom, but it needed a fair bit taking in at the waist. Luckily most of the size adjustments are on the side seams, so it was an easy alteration. I decided the amount I had taken in would have been near enough a whole size, so I trimmed the waistband to a size 12 before stitching it on.
The belt loops were easy enough though I had to take it slowly with my machine as it was going through about eight layers of denim in places. The last thing to tackle was the buttonhole, to my relief I managed to get my buttonhole foot over the edge onto the waistband. I had a practice run first to make sure my machine new who was boss and then went for it! I stitched a keyhole buttonhole and it worked perfectly.
I had some jeans buttons in my stash, my OH looked rather bemused when I appeared from my sewing room asking for a hammer. I’ve not used them before but a couple of taps and it was secure. One thing I did forget though was to make sure the button was facing the right way up before hammering it together, as you certainly can’t shift it afterwards!
I’m really pleased with my denim skirt, I’ve worn it a lot over the last couple of months. I wore it to work one day and my colleagues loved it, I fancy making a midi length one next, maybe with a different rhythm on…and then hopefully I’ll tackle some jeans!