The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee – A-Line skirt

I did it…I entered the Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I must have been crazy or something because I am not a person that finishes a garment in less than a week. But sometimes you are doing things that might not be reasonable. Here is the finished skirt:



Below you can read about the process.

The Day before:

Actually I wanted to wait for the project announcment before joining the contest. But then I read that the people who had joined (more than 280 at that time) would get an email with the project description. In order to not miss anything I signed up on Friday evening.

Day 1 (Saturday):

I got up rather early. The whole night I was wodering what the first project might be. While drinking my coffee I checked the emails and there it was! Deepika had sent it already at midnight EST, great! Because of the time shift I had been afraid I would have to wait until noon or longer.

Now, the project was…an A-line skirt. It should have the following components:

  1. Zipper
  2. Lining
  3. Button/hook or any other closure
  4. Waistband
  5. Hem

An A-line skirt is not my favorite garment, but I felt confident to have this completed within the deadline. As soon as I decided to sew this up, a million thoughts started to pop up in my mind….

  • Fabric choice: This was quite easy. I had a red wool in my stash for some time I always wanted to use for a winter skirt. I took it out of my stash, was still happy with my choice and throw it into the washing machine
  • Pattern: I did not feel like browsing through my pattern stash and looking for an A-line skirt. I thought it might be easier just to change my self-drafted basic skirt block. The most part of the afternoon I spend with drafting the pattern.


  • Lining: I still have some Cupro in my stash that I probably will use.
  • Construction: To have only a week for completing the garment means, no time for fancy time-consuming techniques. However, it is only a skirt, so I should have the time to make an underlining with silk organza….
  • Deatils: I have some nice buttons, maybe I could use one of them. I would decide on that later
  • Waistband: The wool is rather thick and I was afraid that the waistband might get to bulky. And a plain red skirt might be too boring for a contest. Maybe I could do something with leather? I have an old winter coat that I saved because I wanted to reuse the leather….I have never sewn with leather before, maybe not a good idea to start now.

I made a muslin to test the fit of my drafting. I had to take out some width, but else was happy with it. While the fabric was drying, I cut out the silk organza and started disassembling my old coat. Quite interesting to see how it was done.

2014-11-06-old coat

The leather was interfaced, so I decided to do the same to keep it from stretching out. I removed the old interfacing and applied a new one. While working with the leather I thought about the closure. I did NOT want to make a buttonhole into the leather, so I would go for hook and eye. However, not sure how to sew that onto the leather, maybe I will do the inner waistband with the wool.

Meanwhile the wool was dry so I gave it a press, laid the silk organza on top and cut the front and back piece of the skirt. As it was already late, I wanted to baste the organza to the wool the next day. But I was too afraid about the time that I started basting. Then I basted the side seams together, just to test the fit. No changes needed, great. In between looking for a zipper in my stash. Then I sewed the first side seam and trimmed the seam allowances. After that I went to sleep at 1:30 pm (what is really late for me).


Day 2 (Sunday):

Waking up early again. Before breakfast I catched stitched the seam allowance in place.

2014-11-06-side seam

Then referring to Gerties book how to do a lapped zipper and basted the first zpper tape into place. After breakfast I finished the zipper. My overlap is rather wide, but with this thick fabric I thought this might be better.


Sewed the second side seam, trimmed the seam allowances and catch stitched them in place. In the afternoon I started with the waistband.I was still unsure how this would turn out. Sewing the leather was easier than expected. Luckily I had purchased some leather needles for my sewing machine a few weeks ago. As the leather is rather thin, it was no problem sewing it. I pinned the waistband in place and stitched. I was really happy with the result. For the inner waistband I used a linen, interfaced with muslin. I stitched both layers together and then attached them to the outer waitsband. I folded the inner edge under and topstitched around the whole band.

2014-11-06-before waistband

At that time I had some problems with my stomach. I think it is because I put myself under such pressure and always was afraid that I would not finish the skirt in time. Trying to relax a bit I spent the rest of the evening on the sofa, knitting my cardigan and went to bed early. Not sure if I would stand that pressure for 4 weeks….

Tasks left to do:

  • cutting leather for the band at the hem
  • hemming
  • cutting and sewing the lining
  • inserting the lining
  • attaching the closure (still unsure about hook/eye or button)

Day 3 (Monday)

The first skirt is showing up in the contest gallery…Before going to work, I cut some more leather strips from the old coat. First thing I did in the evening was attaching the hook and eye. I thought this would be the hardest part because I had to sew through the leather for the eye, but it worked better than thought. I tried the skirt on again and decided for the lenght. Hemming was rather easy, I just turned over the edge and catch-stitched it in place. Next, I sewed the leather strips together and tried to attach them to the bottom of the skirt. However, the leather stretched out, and the sewing foot of my machine did not glide over it, but crumpled it together. I ended up taking it off again and interfacing the leather band. While sewing maybe I should also try to lay some tissue paper onto the leather.

Time for bed…


Day 4 (Tuesday)

More skirts in the contest gallery..those ladies can relax now. I am a bit jealous. Before work, I ironed my lining fabric. I decided against the Cupro and used a blue/brown striped lining. It has been in my stash forever, I do not know the content. It feels rather strong and the colour goes with the blue silk organza and blue zipper. I managed to cut the back piece before I had to leave. In the evening I sewed up the lining. Then I took up the leather band again. I carefully pinned it to the skirt at the top side first and slowly started sewing. My machine had difficulties while sewing over the seams, but she was brave and we succeded. Yeah, great relief, and it looked good! For the bottom I just folded the leather under while sewing, no pinning here. Again quite slowly, encouraging my machine….Last thing for this day was pinning the lining in place. I should be able to finish the skirt on Wednesday.

2014-11-06-inside without lining

Day 5 (Wednesday)

This day was rather relaxing as I only had to sew in the lining. I started before work and finished in the evening when I was at home again. Last thing was the label. Completed! I could not believe it. I wrote my review and we decided to take pictures the next morning, the only time with at least a bit of daylight….


Day 6 (Thursday)

We took some pictures in the morning and I wore the skirt to work. The pictures were not the best, so in the evening we took some more. As I will not have time on Friday, they must suffice. Finishing the review, loading the pictures and hitting the button. Yes, I was excited…There are some really awesome skirts in the contest. Now all I can do is wait for Sunday.





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