megan nielsen kelly skirt

kellyskirtturquoisegray01Look, a skirt! It is none other than the Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt. But boy oh boy did I learn a lot of lessons from this simple make. Let me just get the negative out of the way: I made a bad fabric choice and I did not properly grade/trim my seam allowances. This led to… a lot of frustrated moments.

kellyskirtturquoisegray27Let’s start with the fabric, wrong side first. I have no idea what it is. I bought it during the summer of 2012 in Taiwan. I finally sewed with it in November 2013 in Texas, an entire year later. All I can say that it is thick. And is not meant for garments, but how was I supposed to know that when I first started out? Fabric was fabric, and everything is game! Not.

kellyskirtturquoisegray28The right side has been screen printed (?) with small repeating tiles in a turquoise color. I think this fabric is canvas, and I say that only because I’ve stretched canvas for paintings before, and aside from the thickness, I think these are the same.

kellyskirtturquoisegray26The place where I bought it sold finished goods as well. Can you spot my fabric? Totes, pouches, notebook covers – I should have known this fabric was not meant for clothes.

kellyskirtturquoisegray02Oh well! I thought that since the Kelly skirt fabric suggestions included denim and corduroy, this thick mystery fabric would work perfectly, especially for making beautiful dramatic pleats.

kellyskirtturquoisegray03Cut cut cut cut. I love how simple this pattern is, essentially a bunch of rectangles. Sometimes a straightforward make is nice.

kellyskirtturquoisegray04I decided to “finish” my edges with this zig zag stitch and then just trim off the excess.

kellyskirtturquoisegray05Pockets were attached.

kellyskirtturquoisegray06Pleats were pinned.

kellyskirtturquoisegray07While pinning the waistband, I was very confused as to my notches weren’t matching up to anything, or even serving any kind of purpose.

kellyskirtturquoisegray08See the notch on the pattern piece?

kellyskirtturquoisegray29I double checked my .pdf… turns out that “notch” wasn’t part of the pattern piece, it was part of the .pdf to help you line up your pages while taping. But once you cut out your waistband, the 3D disappears and the triangle remains, which is why I thought it was a notch. So for anybody working with this pattern, don’t get confused like I did.

kellyskirtturquoisegray09I should have known once I saw those folds that this was not going to work. But I kept on.

kellyskirtturquoisegray10If there is one thing I love about this skirt, it’s these buttons I used. I found them here in Dallas at Benno’s Buttons. For those in the DFW area, this is where you should go – there’s no way you can’t find a perfect match button wise for your projects here. I love the buttons, but I did not love these buttons with thick fabric. You see, it is a PAIN to get these buttons through their buttonholes. Maybe because they are square, but I’m blaming the thickness of the fabric too.

kellyskirtturquoisegray24The bottom five buttons were fine as the fabric was thin(ner) and I had plenty of space to maneuver my movements to get the buttons through the hole. But it still wasn’t without effort. The top two buttons, at the waistband, are another story. A horrible story. A story of how I had to fight and curse and struggle to get the buttons through. You see, that area right there had a ton of layers. I’d say it was about 3-4 layers. You have the top and bottom seam allowances, then the placket seam allowance on the side. I hated this skirt just because no amount of force could get those top buttons through, especially while it was around my waist. Those thick layers of fabric would just not bend. When I have to take ten minutes to get just one button through a buttonhole, that is not a wearable garment anymore for me.

kellyskirtturquoisegray11So I let it sit for a few weeks… then one day decided that an effort must be made. So I unpicked some stitches with the seam ripper and trimmed down all those seam allowances as much as I could. After that, success! The fabric would bend more easily now that it was thinned down, allowing the button to pass through with less effort. Less, I say, because it still took some.

kellyskirtturquoisegray12In that process I sent the seam ripper right through that sliver of space between my nail and thumb. Who said sewing wasn’t gory?

kellyskirtturquoisegray13Welcome to my parents’ backyard in Texas. You will see lots of it until I find a job. I’m back home now, although this skirt did travel with me to Taiwan and back. PS a fun story. Why do we have a nice fresh new fence? That’s because one night a drunk driver drove through our old fence and left a big hole in it… then a few days later it was magically repaired. So that is the story of my new (free!) backdrop.

kellyskirtturquoisegray14Back to skirt talk. Even with the buttonholes fixed, I do not enjoy wearing this skirt. The fabric is just too thick.

kellyskirtturquoisegray15I realize now that even denim has more drape. In my head this fabric was just like denim, but reality proved otherwise. It refuses to work and move with my body, so I feel very restricted and forced in my skirt.

kellyskirtturquoisegray16I made a size L, but I should have mde a size XL because I gained quite a few pounds in Taiwan. Gaining weight is Taiwan is inevitable, if you don’t eat a lot your entire family will worry and fuss and lose sleep over why you can’t eat 24/7, then they cook even more food… so the only solution is to eat. It’s delicious food too! But nice to be back in TX where I control my meals. Also, the XL would sit lower on my waist, which I prefer. At the moment this is a bit too high waisted for me.

kellyskirtturquoisegray17Too stiff too stiff!

kellyskirtturquoisegray18I wore this skirt to eat hot pot in Taiwan. Hot pot is basically similar to fondue, but with soup. You have a big bowl of simmering hot soup and you get to cook your own veggies and meats in it. In other words, you drink a lot of liquids and you should only eat this while wearing knits or elasticized waistbands. After that meal I had to hurry immediately home because I wanted nothing more than to take this skirt off and let my stomach digest all that yumminess without a tight restrictive garment.

kellyskirtturquoisegray19I hope I’ve made it clear that all my negative feelings have nothing to do with the pattern itself – in fact I love this pattern! I just hate my fabric.

kellyskirtturquoisegray20I love the pockets, the pleats, and the simplicity. The instructions were well illustrated and the text was straightforward. No complaints there.

kellyskirtturquoisegray21Trust me, there will be more Kellys made later on. Just not out of this type of fabric.

kellyskirtturquoisegray22The future of this skirt is… a bag, or something, anything, that isn’t a garment. I will not wear this skirt again, these photos are the last time you’ll see it on me. Thankfully the entire skirt is a rectangle, so once I unpick the waistband and hem, the pleats will be released, and I’ll have a large piece of fabric to work with. PS this is the same fabric I used for my Cooper bag (which this fabric was perfect for), although the Cooper was completed after the skirt. I’m just slow to model and photograph projects I’m not fond of.

kellyskirtturquoisegray25I’ll salvage the buttons since they’re perfect and I can use them in a different project. Conclusion: A lovely beginner level pattern that results in a cute skirt if and only if you use the appropriate type of fabric and trim those seam allowances for the fabric to be flexible enough to let a button pass through a buttonhole.

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt
Fabirc: Mystery thick stiff and non drapey screen printed fabric from Taiwan

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