My Colette Mabel knit skirt was one of those sewing projects where I had a case of the dum-dums. It’s a project that literally should take no more than two hours — including cutting time — and it stretched over several days.
Mabel is an easy knit sewing pattern that’s great for beginners. But to beginners I say this: PAY ATTENTION TO THE SEAMS YOU’RE SEWING. If you do this, you’ll be miles ahead of me.
My skirt turned out great, and it’s going to be a stretchy, sassy, multi-seasonal workhorse for me. And soon I’ll forget about all those seams I unpicked!
What Went Well with My Colette Mabel
I used a gloriously soft rayon-nylon-spandex ponte roma double knit from Mood Fabrics. (BTW it comes in several other colors.) The ponte was nearly as stable as a knit and easy to stitch. I wish it were a teeny-tiny bit weightier for the Colette Mabel. I like tucking tops (especially on high-waisted bottoms), but this Mabel gets a little bit lumpy with tucking. On that note, this fabric would be AMAZING for a cardigan.
I made this Colette Mabel with a high waist (vs. the mid-rise waist the pattern calls for). To get the narrower waistband over my hips, I added an invisible zipper. It was slightly tricky sewing the zipper with Mabel’s 3/8-inch seam allowance. I marked the seam allowance on the skirt, machine basted the zipper, and then did my final stitching (with an invisible zipper foot, natch).
Once again, basting delivers great results. I find it much easier to do a final line of zipper stitching over basting stitches vs. maneuvering around pins.
Oh baby, there are so few pattern pieces for this skirt, and I LOVE IT. But I always feel like I’m forgetting something when I have so few pieces to cut out!
In case you’re interested, for the skirt version I sewed (with the faux button placket), the pattern pieces are:
- Skirt front
- Skirt back
- Button placket
- Front waistband
- Back waistband
You do have cut front and back lining pieces for the waistband, but that’s everything! And all the pieces are EASY to cut — most straight and gently curved lines. #winning
Areas of Improvement for My Mabel
YOU GUYS, I spent SO MUCH TIME with my seam ripper on this one. So much time. I sewed the incorrect sides of pieces together more times than I want to admit. And, because I was sewing a knit, I was using my lightning stitch, and we all know how much fun it is to unpick that beast.
Maybe I was sabotaging myself because the pattern is so simple? Actually, it’s probably more likely that I was sewing when I had brain fuzzies (which I talk about in this post).
Hook and Eye
My invisible zip went in great (surprisingly no seam ripping involved, in spite of myself). BUT — I followed the install directions on my zipper packaging and placed the top of the zipper pull three-quarters of an inch below the edge of my waistband.
This wasn’t the WRONG thing to do, per se. But I ended up adding a hook and eye above the zipper pull to keep the seam edge of the waistband together. Without the hook and eye, the waistband splayed open in an unsightly fashion that I knew would drive me bananas and prevent me from wearing the skirt until I fixed it. So I fixed it.
When I make additional Mabels, I’ll definitely put the zipper pull at the top edge of the waistband.
My body type analysis showed that I am long hipped with short legs. High-waisted bottoms help me balance my figure.
The thing I didn’t think through was how much leg coverage I was going to lose when my skirt sat at my waist. (Pull the skirt up = skirt gets shorter. HOW DID I FLAKE ON THIS?) I was OK with the skirt length of Mabel in its MID-raise iteration — but not its HIGH-rise iteration.
In the end, I added a one-piece band to the bottom that increases the total skirt length by 1.5 inches. To my eye, that band height worked with the overall proportions of the skirt without looking tacked on.
When I make additional high-waisted Mabels, I will add length to the front and back skirt pattern pieces!
Short Skirts and Assumptions
I sent these photos to my husband. (And I didn’t notice the cat in the first pic until I was editing these photos, HA.) I texted him that I liked the skirt, but I thought I needed to add a band to the bottom. These images show the unhemmed length. He agreed with my assessment. (Hubs is a product designer and great to consult about WIPs.)
When he got home that night, he said I should wear heels when I photograph my Mabel, because my calves look nice in heels. I told him I felt the skirt was too short for heels, and he looked at me like, “What, is that possible?”
I explained that a short, tight skirt AND heels might be too sexy — for me. I like to balance sexiness in my outfits. If I’m wearing a revealing top, I like to go more modest on the bottom (and vice versa). In my head, this brings balance to an ensemble.
Now, when we had this conversation, I’m ashamed to admit that I said “hoochie” to describe how a short, tight skirt and heels can look. After I said it, I immediately regretted the comment, because talk like this reinforces rape culture. And that’s not me. This incident shows me I have more work to do on my own mind-set.
I wanted to share my slip-up with you as a reminder that other people’s clothes, bodies, and behavior are their own business and don’t require my/your judgment.
I did end up wearing heels (platform sandals) for my Mabel photoshoot. With the added skirt length and woven T-shirt (I covered this Sew Caroline Larchmont T in a blog post!), I think the sandals improved the proportions of my body, especially of the bottom half.
OK, sewing friends: How do you feel about knit skirts? What’s the shortest skirt you’re comfortable in? What are your thoughts about fashion, sewing, feminism, sexuality, misogyny, patriarchy, and how all this stuff intersects (or doesn’t)? It’s a lot to unpack, isn’t it? Let’s have a respectful conversation.
P.S. Here’s my post from last week, in case it slipped past you: A Modern Darling Ranges Shirt Dress: Megan Nielsen Pattern Review.
P.P.S. Here are some other deep-thoughts posts for you:
Behind the seams of the Saldana T
My body type analysis (aka, me in my underwear)
Creative inspiration: 7 times Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ spoke to sewists
Sewing and standing up for your body