Belle Skirts Jennifer from Jennifer Ladd (and our board) reviewed this Favorite Things pattern for us. We think new skirts are the perfect Spring Sewing project!

Pattern
Belle Skirts from Favorite Things

Description
The Belle Skirt is great for Spring! I love its relaxed style that is perfect for a walk in the park or a picnic under the sun. It’s as easy to make as it is to wear, so you won’t spend hours laboring over your sewing machine… You can go out into the beautiful weather and show off your new look!

The skirt features a wide waistband with elastic which you can adjust so that the skirt sits on your waist or on your hips. The gathers underneath the waist add some extra body to the skirt. The main panels of the skirt flare out to the contrast band at the bottom edge. There is also a pattern included for an optional belt.

Sizes 4-22 are all included in the pattern.

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Contrasting band at the bottom edge.

Materials
The skirt can be made with one, two, or three different fabrics. I chose to use a different print for the waistband, the body of the skirt, and the contrast band, but you could use fewer fabrics if you would like a more simple looking skirt.

– for the waistband: 2/3 yard fabric for sizes 4-12, or 1 yard fabric for sizes 14-22
– for the main panels: 1 yard fabric
– for the contrast band: ½ yard fabric
– 1 ½ yards of 3/8” elastic
– thread

for the optional belt:
– 1/6 yard fabric
– 3” velcro (5/8” or 3/4”) or 3 small buttons

Fabric Recommendations
Since this skirt is a bit flared, rather full, and quite bouncy, I recommend using lightweight fabrics. Heavier fabrics probably would not look right with both the elastic and the gathers. Cottons with pretty prints work great. I could also see this working beautifully with linen or even silk.

For my own skirt, I used beautiful Anna Maria Horner prints from the new Good Folks line from Sew,Mama,Sew! (Cathedral Royal, Fortune Sea, and Buttoned Up Sea). After such a long, cold, dreary winter, I was so excited to use bright and bold prints for a pretty Spring skirt!

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Overall Design 4 stars
I love the look of my finished skirt! I must admit that I was hesitant, at first, because I usually lean away from skirts with elastic and gathers – I usually look or a more fitted or tailored look. But I was so surprised that the skirt actually looks great when I wear it! It is cute, it is fun, and the elastic actually adds to the overall sweet look of the design, rather than making it look dowdy or ill-fitted. I think the design is trendy and modern, and I can’t wait to wear it out and show it off!

I was also very pleasantly surprised with how well the skirt fit. I actually couldn’t believe it the first time I tried it on. I have been making skirts for myself since I was a teenager, and this is the first time … ever! … that I have not had to alter a pattern to fit me. I think the design of the skirt is very accommodating to different body types – I was able to adjust the elastic so that it fit just the way I like without having to take in the sides like I normally would with other skirt patterns. I also loved how the skirt could sit at the waist or at the hips (my preference), so that I got the finished look that I want and so that it is comfortable for me to wear.

As much as I love my new skirt, I was a little deceived by the pictures on the package. The waistbands on the women in the pictures appear to be about an inch wide. Now that I have my own skirt finished, I can see that the women on the package just have their shirts pulled down over quite a bit of the waistband, and the waistband is actually 5 inches wide. I do like the thick waistband because I can pull my shirt down and yet still show off the cute contrasting print (if the waistband was thinner, we wouldn’t be able to see it under a shirt). It was a surprise to me, though, and I actually ready through the directions quite a few times wondering if I was doing something wrong since my waistband was so much wider than I expected.

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Contrasting waistband is 5 inches wide.

The only part of the design that I was not fully happy with is that there is a seam down the middle of the front and the back panels. In my own skirt, this didn’t affect the finished look too much, but I could see that if you were to use a larger-scale print, a seam down the middle could disrupt the pattern quite a bit.

 

Written Instructions 4 stars
The instructions to the pattern were very clear. I followed what they told me to do, and I never got lost, never got confused and, even better, I never had to rip out a seam!

I do feel, however, that the instructions would not have been completely adequate if someone was using this pattern for a beginning project. Since I have been sewing for so long, terms like “topstitch” or “basting stitch” are a part of my daily vocabulary. But specialized sewing terms like these are used in the pattern with no explanation of what they mean, and a beginning sewer might need a little more help with some of these concepts. Luckily, none of the terms were difficult, and they would be very easy to learn with just some basic research. (A good site for some of the basic terms is http://thesewingdictionary.com)


Diagrams / Images 5 stars
The pattern used a picture to go along with each written direction. They were all clearly labeled and helped me see exactly what to sew and how to sew it. The pattern did not include a cutting layout which you will see in some patterns, but there were so few pieces that it really was not necessary.

Pattern Pieces 5 stars
Here is a little secret about me: I love to sew, but I actually HATE to cut out patterns. I was very pleased to see that this skirt had only three pieces, plus one for the belt. I might have actually let out a little squeal of joy when I saw this! The pieces were very basic, clearly labeled, and not at all tricky to cut.

Overall Level of Difficulty Beginner
This pattern is definitely easy enough for a beginner. There are only 9 steps, and most of the steps are sewing two straight pieces together. It was a very quick project – it only took me about 2.5 hours (and that was with a very distracting two-year-old at my feet most of that time!). Of course, as I mentioned earlier, if you are using this as a first project, you will have to look up some terms that are not difficult to do, but just not fully explained in the pattern.

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Modifications + Tips
I was, overall, very pleased with how the skirt turned out, and I plan on making many more of these skirts all throughout Spring and Summer. I love that the skirt can be easily modified for a different look. Here are a few ideas I have already thought of:
– Use only one print instead of three separate prints for a more simple design.
– Use solid-colored fabrics for the skirt, and use colorful prints as applique designs (I already have an idea for a natural-colored skirt with a bright pink and orange bird in the bottom corner).
– Sew different trims on the bottom instead of adding the contrast band (wouldn’t some vintage lace or ruffle look so cute?!).
– Take off the contrast band all together for a shorter, bouncy little skirt.

There is one design modification I may consider:
– If I use a larger-scale print, the seam down the center front and center back may disrupt the pattern. Instead, I will take off ½” off the vertical side of the skirt panel pattern piece and then cut it from the fabric on the fold. I will end up with two larger pieces instead of four smaller pieces that I need to stitch together. I will have the same size front panel and back panel as the pattern wants me to have, but I do not have the center seam.

Although the skirt was very easy to make and all the steps were quite simple, there were two parts that jumped out at me as perhaps a bit daunting to a beginning sewer who might not know what the terms mean:

– One step has you run a basting stitch and make gathers. This step is actually very easy, and my grandma taught me a way to do this that is sure to work every time: set your stitch length on your machine to as long as you can make it. Keep your threads fairly long and sew a straight stitch across the top of your fabric (I use my presser foot as a guide to make sure this stitch is fairly straight). Do not clip your threads when you are finished – leave them a few inches long. Then, sew a second line just under this first line.

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This will give you more strength and help prevent your threads from breaking and ruining your gather. Take hold of one of the top sets of two threads (just leave the bottom threads alone) and pull them gently while pushing the fabric in the opposite direction. You will see immediate gathers! Just work from both sides so that it is easier to keep your gathers even.

– Another step has you pulling elastic through a casing all the way around the top of your skirt. An easy way to do this is to attach a large safety pin to the top of your elastic and insert the pin into the opening of the casing.

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Slowly push the pin through the fabric by gathering more and more fabric onto the pin. After a few inches, pinch the top of the pin and pull the gathers of fabric straight behind it. The process moves pretty quickly, and before you know it, the pin will be coming out the other side with the elastic attached.

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Conclusion
This skirt was fun to make, super easy, and so quick. I love the finished look – it is fun and flirty and perfect for Spring. I love the skirt so much, in fact, that I quickly decided that I needed to make a matching purse.

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Blue Garden Wooden Handle Purse, Jennifer Ladd

Luckily, I had enough fabric left over to make two purses: one for my shop (Note from Beth: Sold Out already– But there are lots of other beautiful choices!)… and one for me! I just couldn’t resist!

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[tags]sewing pattern review, Belle Skirts pattern review, skirt pattern review, women’s skirt pattern review, Favorite Things pattern, Favorite Things Belle Skirts sewing pattern, Favorite Things skirt pattern review[/tags]

Join us for Spring Sewing Month. Comment to win this week’s prizes from Fiskars/Gingher: One winner will receive a 12 Inch x 18 Inch Mat and a 12-in-1 Sewing Multi-Tool. We’re also giving away four $20 gift certificates to Sew,Mama,Sew!