This week’s project was an attempt to tick several boxes: using some of my fabric stash, making a maxi skirt, and learning another method for adding side-seam pockets to garments. I wanted a basic design–rectangles gathered into a waistband, but a waistband with an elastic back so it would be really comfortable. This seemed like a brilliant way to use the last three yards of ankara (also known as wax print) fabric that I had bought a few years ago, but it also preserved the fabric in nearly whole form in case things didn’t work out, since it’s just large gathered rectangles. (In case you are curious, I also made a shirt and a pair of shorts from this fabric.)
For my starting point, I used the Elastic Back Skirt Tutorial from Cashmerette. I got this some time ago by signing up for their newsletter. I also used the Ankara Skirt Tutorial from the KLKC Collections blog. These tutorials were helpful in guiding me through what math I would need to get the result that I wanted, which was a waistband that looked flat in the front and was elastic in the back, with a finished height of two inches. I made the flat front wrap slightly to the back before incorporating the elastic. So far, so good. This wasn’t too difficult.
But I wanted pockets. That’s where things got tricky.
I used the directions found in “The Low Profile Pocket” by Kathleen Cheetham in Threads magazine, issue #195 (Feb./Mar. 2018), p. 36-41 (the pocket pattern piece is available on the Threads website). This article was excellent!
I sewed my BEST in-seam pockets to date.
The article has you sew part of the pockets and the side seams together before attaching the waistband. My skirt tutorials have you construct the front and back separately and then sew the side seams. So I had a quandary.
I wanted to interface the front of my waistband and then fold it over, covering the seam allowance at the top of my gathered skirt so everything would look nice and neat. I couldn’t quite figure out how to cover those seam allowances with all the other things I had to take into consideration.
What ensued was a lot of thinking about process, and adapting. I was going to write it all out for you, but it’s a lot.
The end result is some good sewing and some ugly sewing. One thing I’m really glad I thought about was how to keep the back elastic stretchy. In order to do that, I sewed with a zigzag stitch while stretching my elastic, but choosing two-inch wide elastic and gathering 53″ of fabric per panel adds up to a lot of bulk.
I got it done in the end, but I’m going to have to wear this a bit to decide if I like it.
Here are the pros and cons.
- nice, full, dramatic, long skirt
- having pockets that disappear beautifully (and trying a new technique!)
- general structure: flat front, elastic back, pockets
- using a bunch of stash fabric in one fell swoop
- if I don’t like this, my fabric is still nearly whole and can be reused
Things that would have made this project easier:
- omitting the pockets or sewing different ones
- assembling the front and back separately (need to alter pocket directions or use a different method)
Things that could have been better:
- place the pockets lower
- make pocket opening wider (it’s a close fit to get my hands in and out)
Other options I could have used:
- narrower waistband, which would have allowed for narrower elastic
- elastic + zipper at the back and less gathered fabric to reduce bulk
So, I like and don’t like this skirt.
It’s really bulky at the waist, which I don’t love, but I love the drama of the big skirt and being able to see that much of the fabric at once. I love the length that I can wear leggings under if necessary. I do think that there is probably a nicer way to produce a comfortable maxi skirt with pockets (if you have pattern recommendations, please leave them in the comments!). I feel mixed about this one. We’ll see how it fares over time or if I remake it. If you have ever made a maxi skirt, feel free to share a link in the comments so I can see. I’d like a good TNT maxi skirt and maxi dress pattern I can use over and over.