achievement unlocked: blue Cressida skirt

Another garment that is not a shirtdress!


This is the Cressida skirt, from Jennifer Lauren Vintage. It’s a button-down semi-circle skirt with a faced waistband & side-seam pockets. I went with view B (a single row of buttons) & sewed it up in blue pique, which has interesting mid-weight drape. I’m wearing it here with my shirt tucked in, which is 100% never how I will wear it for anything other than a blog photo (though it looks okay in this one picture). Nothing against the skirt, which was surely designed for tucked-in shirts. The tuck is just not my personal jam. I also eliminated the belt loops because I hate belts.

The JLV size range is not the most inclusive. I went with the largest size, 20, which is sized for a 38″ waist. & this skirt is designed to be fitted. According to the finished garment measurements, there is only half an inch of wearing ease in the waist. My waist is 39″. I took a chance & cut the size 20 with no alterations because there is a little bit of stretch to my fabric, & I hoped the stretch combined with putting my buttonholes as close to the edge as possible might enable me to avoid alterations. Which…in retrospect, was totally dumb. It would have been so easy to just add another half-inch to either side of the waistband & front skirt pieces. Easiest alteration ever. But it all worked out in the end because there are a few other fit issues & I have better ideas for how to address them & add more room in the waist for future iterations.

Yeah. So. I whipped up my skirt & it all came together really quickly & easily. If you’ve ever sewn a button placket or a faced waistband before, you’ll be able to make this in your sleep. & if you haven’t, this is a really easy pattern to learn on! I did a test fitting before I did my buttons & buttonholes, &…yeah. It was too small. So I went with my plan to eke out more space by doing horizontal buttonholes down the placket & putting them toward the overlap, & then putting the buttons close to the overlap on the other side. & the result was…still too small. Because duh. I needed the extra room in the waist & not anywhere else. It’s a circle skirt. Obviously it was going to fit my hips! I could get it buttoned. It just wasn’t really comfortable. So I put it aside for a while & considered how to proceed.


Here’s a photo of my not-beautiful but totally functional solution. I unpicked the waistband at the side seams & sliced the waistband apart. I took a little bit of elastic (like 1.5″) that was, miraculously, black like my buttons & the exact same width as the finished waistband, & sewed it into the gap. I sewed the facing back into place with the other side & topstitched the exterior waistband on either side in a futile effort to make it look a little more profesh & intentional. The final result will not be winning any beauty contests, & may undermine some people’s beliefs that I know how to sew. But it works! The skirt is now a perfect fit & totally comfy. I also moved all my buttons to the far edge of the placket so that the interior placket is covered when the buttons are done up. Because that was another big fail element of trying to cheat more room by moving buttons & buttonholes. The edges of both plackets were exposed & it looked REALLY homemade. I mean, even more homemade than this whole elastic situation.


The pockets gape a little bit now, but I love that fabric so whatever. & a note on the unbalanced waistband: one of my hips is 2″ higher than the other, so I will pretty much never have a level waistband. My waist is actually not level. So I worry less about that & more about trying to have a level hemline. Tragically, the hemline in this photo is also a little *sad trombone* because I’m standing with a knee cocked. I am so good at taking blog photos! I really know how to showcase my skills!


The back.


It’s a bit wrinkled here because I’ve been wearing it. & also because pique is like, “Oh, I’ll just hold on to these wearing creases forever, if that works for you. The iron does nothing!”


Unbuttoned. Those sad buttonholes. They look like they’ve had such hard lives already.

& I must warm you…the next photo is an inside view of the elastic fix. I advise you to scroll quickly or have eye bleach at hand.


Yeah. So that’s a thing. Let’s move on.

Despite the fact that I am not super-thrilled with my finishes here (to say the least) & I tried a few things that really did not pan out for me, I am still pretty happy with the finished skirt. I wore it today & my friend Rebecca totally assumed that it was store-bought. It doesn’t completely pass the “practical for a mom lifestyle” test. It did fully blow all the way up to my shoulders while I was with Ramona at the playground. Thank goodness we were the only people there, & my underpants aren’t something Ramona has never seen before. We’ve been trying to potty-train her for an entire year now. It’s to the point where I basically REQUIRE an audience in order to pee. & the whole incident was overshadowed a few hours later when we were at a different playground with one of Ramona’s toddler friends, who fully stripped naked & peed on the sidewalk.

The bottom line is that I do plan to sew this pattern again. I’ll add about 2″ to the waistband & uppermost portion of the skirt, & I think I’d benefit from adding that extra space in the back–kind of a reverse dart situation. I got some pretty purple pique on mega-discount (like $2 a yard) because I like the weight of this skirt. It’s definitely a transitional weight–way too heavy for summertime. But it’s great for slightly cooler days when I feel like being a little bit fancy & don’t have any plans to stand around in windy places. I leave you with a shot of it as it will almost exclusively be worn: shirt untucked, pushing my glasses up.



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.

14 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: blue Cressida skirt

  1. Very cute! I need to add some skirts back into my wardrobe. It just feels so weird to be completely casual during the week and then be like “whee! skirts and dresses!” on the weekends. Especially since I used to get so excited about wearing jeans and hoodies in my free time.

    There are 2 nice things about finishing potty training: 1. You can start going to the bathroom with the door closed again (although LJ sits outside the door and sings “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” the whole time you’re in there… which is hilarious when it’s someone else and somewhat less than relaxing when it’s you.). 2. We finally got to leave her at Smaland at Ikea and live out our dream of holding hands while looking at couches that we are never actually going to buy.

    1. Well, it will also be nice to no longer have to deal with diapers. Lately Ramona has wanted to wear underpants all day, & hasn’t had any accidents, but she also won’t use the potty. She waits until she’s been diapered for her nap or bedtime & then goes nuts. *sigh*

      I forgot about Smaland! The closest IKEA is like an hour’s drive so I just forget it’s an option.

      Weirdly, the only time Jared & I hold hands is when Ramona asks us to. We are not big on any form of PDA (which is maybe why strangers sometimes think we are siblings?), but Ramona loves for everyone to be holding hands all the time.

  2. I have wonky hips, too. One is higher than the other and depending on what I’ve been doing (lots of sitting vs lots of walking) it is wonky in different directions – like, side to side only, or higher towards the back or front. Fun! Plus I have a real swayback and a stomach so my waistbands are just going to be all over the place, always. I am finding I just don’t care, even a little bit. I wonder if I should? Hmm.

    I think this skirt looks great on you, and I love how you persevered and made it work. I’m glad it’s not just me who does fixes like that. Who cares how it looks, if you’re going to wear the top untucked, no one will see it so it’s like it never happened, right?! Right.

    1. Yep, exactly! Even when I fis it so the next one fits…I’m still going to wear it with untucked tops.

      I just mentioned the waist thing because I know how particular some people who read sewing blogs can be, calling out every single tiny nitpicky thing. I wanted to acknowledge that I see the uneveness of the waistband, but there’s an actual anatomical reason for it & I’ve compensated at the hem. Not that I am under the impression that too many people read my blog…

      I don’t think you should care about the waistband being even as long as the hem is even. I mean, if you want to set yourself the challenge of making both even on an uneven body, go for it! Could be kind of fun! I’m definitely curious to see if the alterations I have planned for my next Cressida even out the waistband a little. Time will tell…

      1. Yes I do the same thing – the ‘yes, i am aware it’s like that, no need to point It out thanks!’

        I can see myself getting to the stage where I adjust more for my body in terms of evenness and how things sit. At this stage I’m still going for creating enough clothes I can actually wear that I don’t have to go naked, though! I’ve slowly moved to pretty much only wearing handmade things (and bought tshirts and yoga pants etc) so that does out a certain pressure on to make enough things. But I also plan to be sewing for a long time into the future. I’m slowly getting a grip on a basic set of adjustments so maybe I’ll expand my repertoire! I garuantee you though that the second I get a handle on it my body will change and I’ll have to start all over again…

        1. I also have the goal to eventually phase out all my RTW & only wear things I have made myself. I’m getting there. I could use at least one more pair of jeans (my go-to in the winter), & some bras, & lightweight pajamas for summer. But I’m already at the point where I can wear at least one thing I made myself everyday without even thinking about it. & there’s no huge rush, given that I don’t plan to quit sewing any time soon!

          It’s always interesting to hear where people draw the line with their handmade wardrobes. Why not t-shirts & yoga pants? Those things are pretty easy to sew. Is it just because they’re not very interesting to sew? I wear A LOT of t-shirts & need to make myself some more, but the only pattern I’ve used so far that I really like is the Renfrew & I’m not sure I want to only wear Renfrews. The Plantain is okay but I need to grade it up a bit to really like the fit, & the one I’ve made & kept (the other shrank like crazy every time I washed it & I had to give it away) has a seriously janky neckline.

          1. Not Tshirts and yoga pants because I find it quite hard to find good knit fabric where I am. What I have access to is either complete garbage or quite expensive – so it would cost me maybe $40 or $50 to make a pair of yoga pants that I can otherwise buy for $10 – which I then feel bad about because sweatshops, but you know. And also because I still have enough wardrobe pressure that my time and money is better spent on work clothes and more complicated things that I CAN’T buy to fit me.

            Tshirts is mostly because I have a lot of them that are adequate and I will probably wear them until they need to be thrown and then not buy any more, pending availability of knit fabric to replace them. I have been on a small Kirsten Kimono tee binge though, and I am loving them. Your post about your renfrews reminded me that I need to work on a long sleeved tee pattern because I need some warm ones for winter. I have made a few lady skaters but the shoulder/arm just doesn’t sit right. Not sure what to try next. Maybe a moneta hack? That pattern block fits me wonderfully, exactly how I want it to.

            I also haven’t sewn sweatpants (started a pair of hudsons, they fit me TERRIBLY, gave up and bought some for $8 a pair and then felt bad about it), warm jumpers (I have a few faux fur lined ones from uniqlo that I live in and don’t need replacing any time soon) or underwear (have found adequate RTW options and don’t feel the need to mess with them at this point). I do sew bikeshorts that I wear under everything. I also have only sewn one pair of pants and they don’t fit right, but I also almost never wear pants, even jeans, anyway.

            This is interesting, actually! Maybe I’ll do a blog post about it. It’s interesting to see how much of my sewing is based in practicality – I feel sometimes it’s frivolous because I’m sewing vintagey dresses but that’s what I like to wear to work. Most of my work wardrobe is me-made and most of my home wardrobe is not. I think that’s also partly comfort – a handmade woven dress fitted specifically to you is more comfy than a bought one but a handmade tshirt may or may not be more comfortable. So all in all my work wardrobe is where I see the real value for my sewing time. Which is not to say I won’t get to those other things, but at the moment I still need work clothes. For instance my winter appropriate wardrobe is looking very thin (it’s autumn here) and my default now is ‘oops, better get sewing!’ rather than shopping as well. So I don’t have the spare time! I’m likely to sew a coat and a blazer before yoga pants, simply because I find it literally impossible to buy a blazer that fits me and so I have a greater need for that. But as you say I don’t plan on quitting any time soon so I can definitely see a time when I get to those things. During the week I do wear mostly or exclusively me-made things without thinking about it, which WAS an explicit goal I set for myself and then sort of forgot about and then suddenly realised I mostly wear things I’ve made. It was a nice feeling!

            1. Yeah, good knits are expensive. I wear a lot (A LOT) of t-shirts, so I am into making them myself, in the interest of eventually achieving a completely handmade wardrobe. They’re quick to sew, too, once you get your mind around working with knits, so there’s that instant gratification piece that can be a nice change of pace from all the work that goes into making a shirtdress or a coat. But you know–different strokes for different folks.

              1. I mean, it’s not like boughten tshirts that are made with good material aren’t expensive too! I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually – thank you for prompting me! It’s so fascinating to think about what i consider worth buying and sewing and why – some good reasons some not, i think. Honestly I have two me made tshirts that I wear between three and six days out of every week… Perhaps I should make a couple more the same (I have leftover fabric) and just get rid of my other dozen bought shirts that I clearly am not excited about wearing!

                1. If you are getting that much wear out of a couple of tees you made yourself, maybe that’s a sign that you should make more! I know some people just don’t like to sew knits, but I personally find that the amount of use I get out of my knit tees has far outstripped the time & money I put into making them. I’m not always in the right mood for a quick ‘n’ easy project like that, but it’s a really nice palate cleanser after wrapping up a really big, complicated project, when I just really need to make something in an hour or two.

                  1. I actually really love sewing knits although I do find them more boring to buy. Actually I think part of my problem is that I save those projects up for when I need a quit hit! And then sometimes they get left and left.

                    I went on a trip recently to a place with good fabric stores and, with this conversation in mind, bought mostly knits! I’m planning on some weeknight sewing to get me some more tees. So thanks!

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