I'd just like to start by echoing Handmade Jane: I wish I'd had this book when I first started sewing! Back then, it seemed only logical to me to focus on making simple skirts to begin with. No tricky bust fitting, no fiddly linings, just a growing collection of unique handmade skirts to brighten up my life and the growing confidence to take on more challenging techniques with every new project. If you're just starting out, you need this book!
A Beginner's Guide To Making Skirts, by Wendy Ward features eight very different skirt designs, and three variations for each, so you'll be hard pressed not to find enough sewing inspiration to keep you going from now until next summer. And the best part? You'll be picking up invaluable new techniques with each skirt you sew. From gathers to godets, pleats to pockets and everything in between, by the time you've sewn up a handful of Wendy's skirts, you'll be ready to tackle anything.
I settled on the Fallowfield, a darted woven (non-stretch) pencil skirt, which I made up in a classic 100% wool plaid from Fabworks, who very generously supplied us all with fabrics for this book tour. It was exactly what I've been wanting this winter - forest green (also emerald green, bottle green, army green etc...) is all I want to wear right now, and nothing says wearable winter chic to me more than a woollen pencil skirt and a fine knit jumper. Plus, in a stroke of serendipitous luck I happened upon the perfect cable knit cashmere turtle neck in TK Maxx for an absolute steal the other afternoon, the day after having received my fabric!
The pattern pieces are all laid out on three large sheets of paper, supplied in the back of the book, overlaid and in need of being traced off, Burda style (pun intended!). This doesn't bother me one bit as I am well aware that 8 skirt designs x 3 variations each on separate sheets would be a heck of a lot of paper, adding significantly to the weight and size of the book and needless to say, the price too (currently retailing for £11.99 on Amazon btw). Plus, it is always good practice to be in the habit of tracing your patterns, keeping the originals intact for the future.
My Fallowfield skirt came together quickly and smoothly, and fits beautifully. Sizes are determined by your hip measurement, and a full finished measurements chart is given for each pattern, so deciding on your size and whether or not you'll be needing any simple alterations is pretty straightforward. As well as a whole chapter of sewing techniques, you'll also find an indispensable section on fitting and alterations in the back of the book.
The only change I made was to substitute the given straight waistband for my own trusty curved waistband which I generally prefer; I have a small waist for my hip size, so I find that a curved waistband hugs and contours my figure better. I also graded in a smidge at the waist to get my hip to waist ratio spot on.
'Twas indeed a bright and blustery day when we took these pictures - that golden glow radiating from my face is not the effect of any photographic tricks or filters! And although I'm looking pretty squinty in all the pictures, I was very glad to have the warm sun on my face as my toes were going numb....!
Having sung its praises as the perfect beginner's book, I'd also like to point out that there's plenty in here for the more experienced sewist too. Whether it be to beef up your me-made wardrobe with a few more separates, or a quick fix to kickstart your sewjo after a holiday hiatus, I know this is a book I'll dip in and out of as time goes by. I've got my sights set on a drapey pair of the Roehampton culottes next...