achievement unlocked: viewfinder print alder skirt

i have other projects i was going to blog about first, but i really need to vent about this one.


the finished product looks pretty damn great! but getting to this point was kind of a disaster.

this is the alder skirt, designed by imagine gnats. the main thing that attracted me to this pattern was the pocket detail. of course i prefer clothing with pockets, & i liked that these were a different construction for me, not just another in-seam pocket. i added the aqua piping along the top of the pocket, after considering just about every single fabric in my stash. i originally wanted pink piping, but this aqua just spoke to me when contrasted against this dark viewfinder print ( from the “playful” collection by melody miller–i told you you’d be seeing a lot of this stuff).

the alder skirt has quite a wide size range, all the way up to 22 (46″ waist & 56″ hips). the pattern said to skew toward your size based on hip measurement if you are between sizes, but i ignored that advice because i have proportionally narrow hips compared to my waist. lots of things fit my hips but not my waist. so i took a gamble on a size just a bit smaller than my waist measurement (& several sizes bigger than my hip measurement).

there are two versions of this skirt. one has little pleats in the center front, & one is flat. i opted for flat because come on. the last thing i need is more floof in the tummy area. there’s also an option for flat pockets or pockets that are pleated on the inside so they stand out from the skirt a bit. i opted for flat pockets because the 3D version reminded me of this crusty punk traveling dog i once knew who carried his own supplies in saddlebags. it was a good look for him (they were screenprinted with his name & the words “i’m cute but mean!”), but not for me.

as i began construction, the first problem i ran into is that the pocket pieces didn’t quite come together properly. i checked & re-checked, but i didn’t make any cutting or sewing errors. they just would not lay properly. if they were flat along the side seam, they didn’t line up along the middle seam & vice versa. there were notches i was supposed to match, so i decided to just match them & hope for the best, even though they made the sides look weird. i hoped the sides would somehow be magically fixed once the side seams were sewn.

the next problem i had was the waistband. it was just straight up way bigger than the waist of the skirt. i liked the construction details, the fact that you are tucking in the raw edge & finishing it while you’re topstitching. & the instructions for inserting the elastic in the back were clever & also provided a nice finish. but there was no getting around the fact that the waistband was literally several inches bigger around than the skirt.

i also had a problem with the elastic. the pattern does not specify if the length of the elastic should be stretched or unstretched. maybe it should be obvious from context or something, but i cut unstretched just to be on the safe side. & in the end, i cut that length almost in half to end up with a skirt that fits. so i think she the lengths she lists are for stretched elastic, & it would be nice if the pattern specified.

i sewed the whole thing up & put it on &…oof. not great, bob. the pockets gaped open, there seemed to be a ton of extra material bunching up along the sides…the whole thing was just really unflattering. i showed jared & he was like D: . i really should have taken a “before” picture, but i just immediately dove in with my seam ripper.

so. i took off the waistband & unpicked the side seams. i re-pressed everything so it was flat again. i wasn’t sure how to fix the pockets without taking the entire skirt apart, so i folded the gape-y excess along the bottom seam line of the pocket & stitched. then i basted the side of the pocket to the skirt. i took out maybe an inch of depth, which did successfully address the gaping. i just don’t understand what i did wrong to have so much excess fabric in the first place. was it me? was it the pattern?

i sewed the side seams with an inch seam allowance. i tried it on. it was still pretty big, but i knew the elastic back would gather in the excess & i could adjust to fit once the waistband was on. i re-hemmed (which was a nightmare–cutting down the side seams so much skewed the curve of the hem so i really struggled to get it even). then i measured the width of the front of the skirt, seam to seam, & cut the front waistband down accordingly. ditto on the back. i seriously cut a couple of inches off both waistband pieces. WHY was the waistband so much bigger then the skirt?!

then i re-installed the waistband, had some weird topstitching problems, sorted everything out, stitched the elastic casing closed, & clipped all my loose threads. boom. done. with the pockets flat & the whole thing smaller, it fit much better. i still think it might be just a tiny bit too long, but i can’t decide.


this photo makes the length look pretty much perfect.


it looks both a little too long & a little too big here.


it was cool of jared to take a great photo of me standing in front of a trash can.


pocket detail!


this has nothing to do with the skirt. it’s just a hilarious photo of ramona.

i actually bought this pattern with a different project in mind, & decided to make this skirt as a kind of wearable muslin, since i have so much of this viewfinder print. i’m glad i did, because i don’t think my original idea is going to work. i’m thinking about drafting my own pattern for the skirt i originally wanted to make. i’m not sure i will make this pattern again…i do like the pockets (even though i had to tweak them to fit), & the final skirt is very comfortable. i would suggest anyone else who tries this skirt maybe gauge their size based on flat measurements. the front & back total should be the circumference of your waist plus one inch for seams plus about four inches for gathering in the back with the elastic.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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