Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Nautical Cressida Skirt


I promise I didn't start my Cressida skirt plans with the intention of making a nautical version. But now I see it finished, I kind of wonder how it could have gone otherwise. Paired with my stripy Dolores batwing top (see below), it looks pretty meant to be. 

That said, I did have real reservations about this project before I began. And in fact I'm not entirely won over just yet as I have't worn it out of the house yet (too frikkin' cold). Basically, I'm just not that into full skirts, either circle skirts or the gathered variety. I think they can look great on other women, but I can't help but feel they make me look wide round the hips. Plus, wearing them can make me feel like I'm all dressed up to go to a kid's birthday party, if you know what I mean. 


But when Jennifer from Jennifer Lauren Vintage sent round an email asking for testers for this pattern, I knew I had to give the Cressida a try. I think it was something about all those damn glorious buttons and the less exaggerated fullness of this style that made me feel it just might be for me. I didn't have time to help out as a tester at that point, but Jennifer generously sent me a review copy when the final version was released. So here I am a' reviewing....

Pattern:

The Cressida skirt pattern includes two different views (pictured above). Initially I was drawn to View 1. Like a moth to a flame, I can't resist a garment that is basically a canvas on which to display awesome contrast buttons. I'm not sure what changed my mind, but my allegiance slowly shifted to the slightly more understated View 2. Maybe it was the fabulous belt loops (which would be overkill if I added them to View 1), I cannot say.


Previously having had such an excellent experience of Jennifer's patterns in the form of the Bronte knit top, I was excited to give this one a go too. She really is such a good pattern producer, IMO. Not only are the styles and proportions always firmly on the wearable side of retro, but both the pattern and instructions are so clear and user friendly. Weirdly enough, although I will deliberately steer clear of certain sewing pattern brands' products if I have had bad experiences of them before, it's only just occurring to me that I could replicate a joyful sewing pattern experience with certain other brands!

I genuinely can't think of anything Jennifer should have done differently or better with this pattern. I pretty much followed the instructions to the T, only deviating from the order of construction a couple of times to avoid changing back and forth between my seam thread and topstitching thread too often.  


Fabric and Notions:

I'm going to shock you right now by telling you that this fabric was bought new from a fabric shop with this project in mind. I knew that I didn't have anything in Le Stash that would be suitable, and although I always prefer to sew with stash and/or reclaimed textiles for environmental reasons, I felt I could waver my usual practices on this occasion. My mum bought this and some awesome African wax fabric for me as part of my birthday present, thanks Mum! I addition to those two new lengths of fabric, I also bought one more amazing piece of new fabric at the end of last year (which I will share with you soon), which is the first time I've done so for a really long time. Normal stash/reclaimed-textile sewing will resume shortly and with vigour!

So this navy cotton was purchased on Goldhawk Road in London and is thoroughly lovely. I'm hopeless with fabric names, but it has a twill weave and a brushed, peach-skin kind of feel to it. Having made the skirt I now feel that it may be the teensiest bit stiff for the pattern, but seriously only a fraction and I'm hoping it'll soften slightly after a few washes.


I love a project that requires knuckling down to some neat topstitching. It's the closest I ever feel to anything remotely linked to zen. My first impulse was to use gold topstitching thread that would give it a jeans kind of vibe. I have a cone of the stuff that I literally found in a box on the street when I lived in Barcelona, I shit you not. But I changed my mind and thought this beige stuff would work better. I already had a couple of reels that I bought when working on my final collection at university thirteen years ago. Thirteen? Ouch!

The buttons were also from my stash (shock). I promise I wasn't planning to use anchor buttons, but I didn't have enough of any of the others contenders; as you can tell this is a pretty button-hungry sewing pattern. When I laid these bronze-y/gold coin-like ones on, they just looked so nice. Plus it seems silly to buy new buttons when I have so damn many sitting on my sewing shelves. These beauties came from when I worked at Traid. We had literally hundreds of this particular design of button, so I took about 20 and made a small donation to the 'karma tin'.  


Thoughts:

Hmm. Well as I say, I haven't really worn this skirt yet, so I can't give it a full review I suppose. And I knew it was going to be a challenge to bring a garment like this into regular, or even occasional, wardrobe rotation. But I have a plan for that (hint: MMM'15!). So at the moment I can only comment on this project as a sewing experience (which you will probably have gathered by now was a pleasure) and visually from trying this garment on. 

These photos have helped me acknowledge something I had been feeling subconsciously: it's a bit big. It would look better if it were sitting more firmly on my actual waistline. My measurements corresponded to a bit smaller than the size 12, but I went ahead and made the 12 because I didn't want to feel restricted when sitting down or having eaten something. I don't think that that was necessarily a mistake, but something I may take into consideration if I make another at some point. 

I also feel that my version looks quite a bit fuller at the hem than in the shots of Jennifer modelling her versions, although it does look quite like the spec drawings. I think I may reduce the fullness slightly in the fabled 'next version'! But those two things aside, I bloody love it. Despite some seriously annoying tension issue that my sewing machine is currently having, I think I've achieved a clean finish, just don't look too closely at the inside of this garment. The general feel of the garment fits well with my sense of style and it definitely won't be an orphan longing for a top it can be worn with. 

14 comments:

Marilla Walker said...

I'm awake ultra early so the first to so meant, yay! I think it looks great. I can see what you mean about the sizing maybe being a little too big, but it doesn't look silly big. Love the nautical detailing and it goes brilliantly with Dolores xxx

Shirley Ann said...

I love the whole outfit! It looks fabulous!

Philippa said...

You really have achieved a beautifully professional finish. I really like it and because it's a solid colour I think you will get a lot of wear out of it once your eyes have adjusted to the differnt silhoutte. X

Jo H. said...

Haha things found on Barcelona streets! We lived there for a bit and more or less furnished our flat from stuff found on street corners. When we moved away we labelled up everything that wasn't working (a broken cd player and highly temperamental microwave) so people wouldn't bother taking them unless they could use the parts :-)

I have the same thing with sizing skirts that sit on the true waist - always err on the large side because I don't like having my middle restricted and then regret it because it sits wrong. This skirt is really lovely though, and I love how it came out so unintentionally 'you'! Looking forward to hearing more about your intriguing MMMay plans too :-)

tialys said...

This is a really together outfit. Those buttons were perfect for the skirt and I can't tell you how much I envy your beautiful topstitching. I don't think I'd be brave enough to do mine in a contrasting colour and certainly wouldn't be taking close up shots of it. Something else to strive for......

Jane said...

I love the nautical look of your Cressida skirt Zoe, especially the top stitching and buttons. I feel exactly the same as you about this skirt - Ithere's something about the full shape that puts me off. haven't worn mine yet but never say never! I'm hoping I can rock it with a pair of wedges and a sleeveless shirt in the summer. I think yours might be better suited to warmer weather wear too, although it already looks awesome with the Dolores top! x

Fabric Tragic said...

I think it'll look great in summer, as jane says with a sleeveless top. Could you wear a belt with it to make it sit a little higher?

Andie L. said...

Gorgeous skirt! I love the buttons and it looks great on you. :)

navybluethreads said...

Looks great on you, and love the belt tab details. I already have a couple of JL's patterns on my to-buy list, but trying to be good...

Portia Lawrie said...

Hey lovely lady! I really like it on you! And as you say, the fabric may still be a tinch on the stiff side as it's new. That might account for the feeling of width at the hem? Something with more drape would, well, drape; and not feel as if it were standing out as much. It HAD to have anchor buttons though ;)
Gorgeous pic of you and the little lady btw!
Px

petiterepublic.com said...

love this nautical theme! you look lovely in the skirt!

Christals Creations said...

I have similar feelings about skirts. It looks good though. :)

Kirsty said...

I really like this on you! So perfectly paired with the dolores (which I've just bought..yay!). I second the comments from Jo. I always mess up the sizing at the waist and then hate how it sits!

Cherie said...

Oh, my, this skirt is so smart! It does NOT make your hips look wider, it just glides over them and makes a lovely swishy hem. Please wear it! And with your batwing top, a great outfit!!! (And your topstitching is impeccable!)

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