Tag Archives: wax print

Attempted: Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Attempted:  Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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.)

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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!

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

I sewed my BEST in-seam pockets to date.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

However…

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.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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.

Pro:

  • 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

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

So, I like and don’t like this skirt.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

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Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi 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.

Ankara (Wax Print) Maxi Skirt

 

 

 

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Simplicity 1699

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It feels like a long time since I had a sewing project to share with you, so I’m very happy to show you my finished version of Simplicity 1699 (top B).

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 by Pattern and Branch

Simplicity 1699 by Pattern and Branch

 

You may remember that I mentioned going to Pattern Review Day in Boston a few months ago.  When I was there, we did a pattern swap, something I had never done before.  For this swap, you could bring up to five patterns to give, and take as many patterns as you brought.  One of the patterns I brought home was Simplicity 1699.

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

I needed a few tops that I could wear in settings that required something nicer than a t-shirt, like to church or baby showers or to work events for my husband, so I thought I would give Top B a try.  I didn’t have any peplum tops, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try one out.

I realize that it would have been smarter and safer to go to a store and try some one (which I did a little) and/or to make a muslin of the top before sewing it in my nice wax print fabric, but I’m a recovering impatient sewer (at least I hope I’m recovering), so it’s still a bit hard to make myself slow down enough to make a muslin (test garment) or finish seams.  I wasn’t sure if the top would fit, since I’m a different size on the top than on the bottom, but I told myself I would go for it and rip out seams and adjust things if it didn’t work.  Thankfully, it fits!  (Sometimes being impatient does pay off, but you probably shouldn’t spread that around.  I think it’s supposed to be a secret.)

Here’s how it looks on a professional model…one of those models that’s so happy and has such a good life that you want to buy everything she is wearing so that your life will be that happy and good:

Simplicity 1699 on a super-happy model (Pattern and Branch)

Oh, wait.  That’s me.  Well, I guess you should all make this shirt so you can be as happy as I am.  😉  Or maybe you just need a photographer as good at directing models as my husband is.  He doesn’t even do this for his regular job, and look at these professional pictures.  Yes, my life is perfect.

OK.  Let’s get serious.  Here are the rest of the shots.

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

Simplicity 1699 (Pattern and Branch)

My (slightly) more serious comments are that modeling things is not easy.  Also, I have to smile in my pictures now.  I can’t try to do the moody model look because my Grandma told me I should smile.  And we should all listen to our grandmas (especially when they’re as awesome as mine).

So…as I mentioned, I used the wax print I got several months ago for the body of the shirt.  The fabric came in a six yard length, so I still have some left.  Maybe I’ll make pants…I’m not sure.  The collar is a brocade (I think–I’m still learning all the types of fabrics) that I got at an estate sale.  I tried to sort of center the designs on the shirt front and on the collar.  I don’t have much practice in this area, so I’m happy with how it turned out.  The pattern was pretty easy to sew.  Since I had trouble following the directions on my bathing suit, I used post-it flags (those rectangular post-its for marking pages) to help me keep my place.  I used my bust measurement to choose my size, and hoped for the best.  I am a larger size from the waist down, but thankfully there was enough ease in the pattern that it fits.  Any smaller, though, and I would have had to let some seams out.  I’ve debated trying out the pants on the pattern envelope in this same fabric, but it’s not exactly a bottom-weight, so I don’t know how that would go.  Any thoughts from sewers out there?  I looked in a book by Sandra Betzina and saw something about adding another layer of fabric in order to strengthen lighter weight fabric when making pants.  Maybe I’ll try that.  We’ll see.  I have some other projects to delve into before I take that on.

Final take on the shirt?  It’s great.  I like the style.  I like the fit.  The pattern was easy to follow.  I’m going back now that I know it fits and zigzagging in the seam allowances so they won’t fray, and then I will consider it finished!