As soon as I saw Erin, it was love at first sight. She was chic, versatile, and understated. I knew she must be mine.
The Sew Over It Erin skirt, that is!
The Erin skirt is part of Sew Over It’s City Break Capsule Wardrobe ebook. The ebook is a collection of five patterns (with multiple variations) ideal for a weekend urban getaway.
I’m excited to sew all the City Break patterns, but I decided to start with the Erin skirt because it’s my favorite from the collection and the name is just perfect, tee hee.
The Sew Over Erin skirt has two lengths — just above the knee or just below the knee — and is intended for a midweight, non-stretch woven. I made the long version in a dark denim. Here’s my blow-by-blow account of the sewing project, including tips for sewing your own Erin skirt.
Construction of the Sew Over It Erin skirt
Denim is a great choice for this skirt. It presses like a dream. Nice, tidy, long edges benefit from a fabric that’s easy to press.
The versatility of this denim Erin skirt has my stylist’s brain racing! I can go cowgirl with it — boots and a denim shirt. Or I can tap my inner librarian with it — heels and a turtleneck.
The Erin skirt is a definite wardrobe builder that I’ll be remixing and reimagining for a long time to come. Picture this skirt in a light linen for summer with a matching tank. Switching seasons and fabric choices, it would be a showstopper in a plaid tartan for a classic cold weather look.
Because the pencil skirt is narrow, my gait is shorter when I wear it. If I’m going to walk a lot, I will unbutton one or two buttons at the bottom to increase my range of motion.
I went with faux leather shank buttons. The buttons are washable, which is critical, because I don’t get down with dry cleaning unless I can’t live without a garment or fabric.
I considered tortoise shell buttons, but my options at Jo-Ann weren’t cutting it. Many of them were too shiny. The pattern called for 25 millimeter buttons, which are fairly big. When buttons get big and shiny, they can seem juvenile, and this skirt is most certainly not juvenile.
When I wore the Sew Over It Erin skirt in the wild, I discovered that the buttons slid out of the button holes with surprising ease. Most of this issue is because I chose shank buttons that sit away from the skirt (vs. two-hole or four-hole buttons that sit flush). Pro tip: If you make this skirt with shank buttons, be vigilant for wardrobe malfunctions.
Buttonholes with flair
Because the buttons and skirt fabric were so dark, I considered adding decorative elements to the buttonholes. Threads magazine featured a cool article on decorative buttonholes (it starts on Page 14) — including how to hand sew buttonholes — and I was eager to try some decorative hand sewing.
I did one test buttonhole with a railroad whipstitch (above center). Then I stuck my button through the hole and discovered that my decorative stitching was covered by the button, except at the top and bottom of the buttonhole (above right).
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The whipstitching was a nice accent to the deep brown buttons and dark denim skirt. I knew I needed to make machine buttonholes before I could add any decorative stitching, so I committed to sewing those buttonholes before I made any decisions.
After I machine stitched the buttonholes, sewed on buttons, and tried on the skirt, it was clear the decorative stitching was superfluous. Adding a little somethin’-somethin’ to the top and bottom of each buttonhole would have taken away from the minimal design of the skirt. I’m glad I had the idea, and I’m glad I didn’t follow through on it!
Decorative buttonholes probably work best when they’re horizontal, where a button is pulled to one side (above left). Most of the buttonholes in the Sew Over It Erin skirt are vertical — the buttons sit in the middle of the hole. This experience was an a-ha moment for me!
Fabric choice regrets?
As much as I like the dark denim, I’ve got to tell you a secret about it. It stinks. It has a strong smell I suspect is from its manufacturing process.
I didn’t notice the smell until I prewashed the fabric. I walked into my laundry room and thought, “What is THAT?” As I pulled the denim out of the washer, I came to know the stinky truth.
I washed the denim again on a hot-heavy cycle with an extra rinse, and I added a cup of white vinegar to neutralize the smell. I also tossed in a Shout Color Catcher sheet to grab the navy dye.
The Color Catcher sheet caught a TON of dye. The sheet was dark blue even though I’d already washed the denim! The smell was still there, but not as strong.
After the denim was dried and I was pressing it, I spritzed it with a homemade essential oil spray (distilled water, witch hazel, and a bunch of drops of essential oil). It’s still smelly, and I think only time will wear down the odor. I don’t know what else to do. This isn’t unusual for denim; I have a pair of black Levi’s jeans that still smells weird after years of ownership.
Tips for sewing the Sew Over It Erin skirt
As you sew your own Erin skirt, keep these tips in mind:
Beware of pocket pattern piece typo
When stitching the pockets, the instructions call the front pocket bag the pocket facing. The pattern piece is called the front pocket bag (above), so when I got to directions asking for me to work with the pocket facing, I looked high and low for the pocket facing. That’s a simple correction Sew Over It could make to the instructions.
Pin only at the edge of the waistband
Step 14 (stitching the end of the waistband) tells you to “fold the waistband in half right sides together so that the folded edge is in line with waist seam.” Then you stitch and turn the waistband edges right side out. Pin just at the (short) edge. You don’t need to pin across the entire waistband.
Turn corners with a seam gauge
As you work on the waistband, use a metal seam gauge to help turn the corners. This diminutive notion helped me get super-crisp corners.
Pin the waistband in the ditch
Step 15 has a typo. The step should read, “Fold the waistband in wrong sides together” instead of right sides together. The accompanying photo has it correct.
The Sew Over It instructions call for pinning the waistband in place on the wrong side (inside of the skirt) and transferring pins, one by one, to the right side (outside of the skirt). There’s no need to move pins. Instead, trust your sense of touch and pin in the ditch (the wasitband seamline). Check your progress as you pin to ensure the pins are grabbing the waistband on the wrong side.
Here’s how I would rewrite Step 15: Fold the waistband in half, wrong sides together. Align the folded edge just over (1 millimeter) the skirt seam. Gently press the waistband to set the fold; this will make pinning easier. Pin in the ditch from the right side.
Trust your stitching guide
Step 16 instructs you to topstitch around the waistband, 2 millimeters from the edge. I didn’t follow this exactly, and I suggest you do the same. Stitch as close to the edge as you please. For me, that meant using the tiniest increment on my seam guide foot (marked in red above). Without that guide, my topstitching gets messy.
If you’d like a more formal waistband, stitch in the ditch instead and omit the topstitching.
Be wise about notches
The center back notches on the waistband pattern piece don’t align (see white circles above), and this could confuse sewists. Sew Over It could improve this pattern by aligning the center back notches on the waistband pattern piece and also adding a center back notch to the skirt back pattern piece.
Another improvement Sew Over could make is noting that notches on either side of the waistband center notch align with the side seams of the skirt. Maybe that’s obvious to experienced sewists, but because the pattern is great for newbies, Sew Over It should call out that alignment tip.
Mark buttonholes before cutting
Step 18 instructs you to “mark your buttonholes using the guide on the pattern.” So, does this mean that you don’t mark them when you’re cutting the fabric? I question this advice.
I say mark buttonholes when you’re cutting fabric, because aligning the paper pattern pieces AFTER you’ve sewn so much of the skirt is asking for trouble. Give yourself a baseline for button/hole placement.
Use stitching to align overlap
The instructions, to me, weren’t clear about how to align the right front side (buttonholes) over the left front side (buttons). I lined up the right edge at the line of stitching on the left front side (marked in red above). I don’t know if this was correct, but it worked for me. Sew Over It could improve these instructions by clarifying where the right should overlap on the left side. A photo would be extremely helpful!
Encore for the Sew Over It Erin skirt
I can’t wait to make the short version of this skirt. The only hard thing about this versatile sewing pattern is choosing fabric and buttons. If you’re looking for additional Erin skirt inspiration, check out these resources:
Black denim Erin from Randomly Happy [blog post]
Erin with yellow buttons from Gabberdashery [blog post]
Erin, the short version, from Hollie Sews [blog post]
City Break Capsule Wardrobe from Sew Over It [22-minute video]
Behind-the-scenes at the City Break photo shoot from Sew Over It [5-minute video]
Over to you: What does your dream Sew Over It Erin skirt look like — buttons, fabric, thread color, etc.? Have you ever sewn a capsule wardrobe? What should I do about stinky denim? Please sound off in comments!
P.S. If you like this pattern review, check out my two cents on some other sewing patterns:
Anorak sewing pattern guide: 3 popular jackets, side by side
Shorts pattern review: High-waisted Seamwork Weston
Revealed: Retro Reno and Dakota swimsuit
Such a beautiful skirt, Erin. Your review is so thorough I am totally in love with it, so helpful to anybody considering making this skirt. I am a new blogger and am totally inspired by your style. Many thanks, Kathy
Thanks for reading, Kathy!
Super helpful review! Thank you! I can't believe SOI made so many typos…very poor work.
The skirt looks really good on you! Hope you will find something against the smell.
Thanks, Valeria! In my previous working life, I was a copy editor, so spotting typos is one of my superpowers!
Hi!! I Love the result!
I am just about to sew it but I dont have the description! Would you mind sending me the part where it says how to sew it please?
I would really appriciate it!!
Hi, Sophie! The skirt and instructions are part of the Sew Over It City Break ebook: http://sewoverit.co.uk/product/capsule-wardrobe-city-break-ebook/. It has five sewing patterns with instructions for £20 – a real steal for so many patterns!