My second attempt at a simple pleated skirt

posted in: Finished projects | 11

In our house we have an expression: “If at first you don’t succeed, read the blooming instructions”. And, under certain frustrating circumstances, that “blooming” might be a swear word. Often the brochure supplied with a heating unit, a coffee dispenser (Nick – it’s two pushes of the button), or even with your sewing machine may explain several things you have been struggling with for years.

So when I saw a pattern for a simple pleated skirt in one of the Sew Magazines I had been given by William Gee, I read the instructions, but I didn’t follow them! As a consequence I got something quite different. Not a bad skirt but one that was unnecessarily complex and annoying to put together. I felt I had let the pattern down; although I frequently “wing it” sometimes it is just nice to do as you are told and follow the “blooming” instructions. This is one of the joys of commercial patterns, I find.

Why am I resistant to following the instructions? Another expression comes to mind; “Pride comes before a fall”. I can be overconfident,  thinking I can adapt a  boring pattern to one that would use the full spread of my fabric, and suit me better. Anyway I wanted to give the pattern, as written, as second chance.

I found a small piece of modern retro fabric that had a pleasing pattern, red on pink, that I figured  would be ideal for this skirt. More ideal than the fabric the magazine used (a wide, John Kaldor linen), as it was a narrower width and thus created very little waste, (in fact just enough for another small patchwork sample at my class).

Sew magazine pleated skirt
Sew magazine pleated skirt

I was able to use the interfacing and lining generously supplied by William Gee. Sure the lining was dark red, and the two pieces were slightly different shades. But so what? No one sees your lining, and anyway I like varied shades.

I was also able to use the iron-on interfacing I got in my goodie box. By interfacing the pleated area I could create a nice crisp outline. Also you can write on interfacing alot easier than on red and pink fabric. I drew the stitch lines for the pleats directly onto the interfacing. I used an invisible zip from my own collection.

I wore the skirt again as part of my Me Made May efforts. I think this was probably the most weird outfit I managed during May.  Lots of different shades of pink and red, brown with green and pink, a sort of boy scout vibe and my cozy Cyrene jacket, dark tights and brogue shoes. I don’t think I will be wearing this combination again!

Bizarre Mash up outfit, featuring pleated skirt

You may also be wondering what else I have made with the contents of my prize box.

I am sharing my good fortune as much as possible, so when Charlotte  (my dear stepdaughter) came to stay I gave her the little blue bows so she could make cards for friends having babies. I will show you her work when complete. She also took a bag of assorted buttons to make a picture for her partner, Lee.

The other item I shared with her was the French knitting bobbin. She soon got the hang of that and took it away to potentially make yards of French knitting. Doesn’t the malachite ring that Nick made look great too?

Charlotte soon learned the technique, and she thought the little figure was cute. But what can you do with these cords of knitted yarn?

I had the answer!

One of my Mum’s carers, Kath Robinson,  loves making rugs with this technique. She showed me her work recently. Kath and her husband have a caravan and she finds doing the French knitting is a nice way to enjoy the evenings with no TV. I liked the way she used a variegated yarn to sew the long cords together. It was quite an impressive rug, in rather gorgeous shades.

Do you always follow the instructions? And what can one do with French knitting?

11 Responses

  1. jay

    Mug rugs. Same idea really, but less onerous. I’m bad with instructions in patterns – almost never read them, but am far better at instructons for gadgets. I like to work out how to use them step by step slowly. The skirt looks great btw.

  2. Sue

    I like your skirt and do prefer it styled as in your first photo. I am not good at reading instructions but have learned the hard way that it’s a good idea! French knitting is similar to I-cord and can be used to embellish things, but I have also made a rug from it and think that’s probably its best use.

  3. Stephanie

    Love your skirt – style and colour. As to French knitting it does make a thin sort of i-cord. If you look on Ravelry you will find some uses for i-cord. I crocheted a scarf with it years ago but using French knitting this might be a long term project.

  4. Elle

    Ah, different personalty types once again. I’m one to make a cup of tea, sit down and read the directions. Somehow the pondering adds to the pleasure, especially with sewing patterns. The second time around, I’ll go my own way. Love the pink and red combo in the first photo–might even nudge me to (coordinating) trainers. Not many could get away with the second combo, but you can. Creativity and confidence once again carry the day.

  5. Annie

    Like Elle, I follow instructions, I can sit and happily contemplate the order of works.

    l’ve recently been reacquainted with French knitting for a project at work. I learned this back in the day with empty wooden cotton reels, tacks and a pin, although it would drive me nuts to do it today.

    Good going with the skirt, it looks great with your red trainers. How very stylish you look wearing two scarves, I likely.

  6. Su

    I had a similar gadget as a kid to make the cord. I-cord on 2 double pointed needles seems so much easier than using the bobbin. I’ve used knitted on I- cord to finish the neck edge of pullover and long before I knew about knitted on I-cord I made 4 long cords on 2 dpns and sewed it onto the edges of a blanket I knit.

  7. ceci

    Pink and red is one of my favorite combinations (especially since my childhood red hair made red especially against my mother’s permissible color rules – even though the red hair is long since faded to griege I still get a little thrill of rebellion out of red clothes!). I agree that the new skirt is nicest with the pink shell! And of course the perfect color match shoes!


  8. Kim

    I made miles of that cord as a child – my mother probably still has it somewhere – but I have no good suggestions to use it. Like you I’m a ‘speed read the instructions then do it my way’. Not always successfully ?.
    I like your ‘bizarre mash up’!

  9. Brenda Marks

    I am trying break my (bad?) habit of not following directions until I run into a problem. My husband is a read-first person, and he sometimes chides my system of figuring things out first. 😉

    I do like the first picture with the sweater, skirt and trainers. It looks very happy.

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