I had purchased Adaku Parker’s book, Sewing with African Wax Print Fabric, because I was interested in incorporating vintage styles with African fabric and thought this book was excellent for focusing on making the most of such beautiful fabric, with patterns that are very easy to follow and could also be tweaked for a more vintage look.
First and foremost the circle skirt caught my eye as it’s something I can make quickly, as I love a twirl and wear petticoats under all my skirts. As I’m taking part in the runway at The Stitch Festival, Adaku sent me some fabric called Good Woman. It’s a lovely print because it’s bright, with a small to medium pattern, which is perfect as I like lots of colour with small shapes.
As with all African fabric I washed and pressed it beforehand – incidentally if you ever have the label on your wax fabric you should definitely follow Adaku’s helpful video on how to remove it and the stickiness before washing. I use it all the time and it works like a charm.
The instructions for sewing the circle skirt in this book are clear and to the point. If you are a beginner there’s lots of helpful pictures in the book for each step. For more advanced sewers it’s always reassuring to check over instructions to make sure you haven’t missed anything. For example these instructions use 3/8ths of an inch for seam allowances like a lot of vintage patterns whereas most from the big 4 will use 5/8ths.
The skirt has very few pieces – a front cut on the fold, two pieces for the back, four pieces for two pockets and a waistband. In addition you will need thread, an invisible zip, iron on interfacing and two catches.
When making dresses or blouses I usually cut my finished size, and make a toile of the top to check for fit. With skirts I tend to just cut a slightly bigger skirt and adjust the seam allowance if necessary as I don’t make a toile of them. For this skirt I went with a size 14 and then used a seam allowance on the sides and back of 5/8ths. I think a 12 with seam allowances of 3/8ths would have been fine but I’m always happy with lots of fabric in my skirts and will probably do the same when I make it again – as I will definitely do so.
The skirt was easy to cut out and I overlocked all seam edges before I started sewing the pieces together. I do this as it ensures my inside seams are neat and tidy and are easier to do rather than when the skirt is completed. If you have never put in a zip Adaku has very clear and simple instructions on how to do it. I always add a piece of iron on stabilizer to the zip area before I put in the zip as I find it gives fabric a greater stability – and if you ever have to unpick your zip your fabric will recover well as it was supported by the stabilizer. I regularly put in zips so I whizzed through inserting mine.
Every garment should have pockets – surely that should be the law!! And thankfully Adaku has provided them in this pattern. Once the pockets are in, the waistband is attached. It’s a deep waistband and as its fully stabilized, rather than just the front, it really sits up properly. I like to wear a belt with my skirts and so I tend to make pattern changes to get deep waistbands so it was nice not to have to make that adjustment here.
I think the only issue I had was the “stitch in the ditch” attaching the waistband, which is a particular bug bear of mine as I’m just sooo rubbish at it! I just pick a thread close to my fabric colour and hope it’s close enough!
I tend to leave my skirts to hang before measuring my hemline. One of my favourite parts of this pattern is the length of the skirt as the long version is around 30inches long. In Summer it keeps your legs cool and in weather like we’re having now it keeps your legs warm.
With my hemlines I like to use a bias binding as it’s a quick way of hemming a considerable amount of skirt edge and gives the inside of the hem a pretty colour too! As it’s a sturdy fabric the hem didn’t have any drop issues and made this an extremely quick sew.
All that was left to do was hand sew the catches on and I had a proper, full circle skirt ready to go. It’s a joy to wear as it swishes and twirls beautifully too.
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